M2 vs M3: How the new MacBook Pros compare

In addition to the new iMac, Apple announced new M3-powered versions of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro during its “Scary Fast” event on Monday. The new laptops can be configured with either the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max chip, all of which should offer greater performance gains than the last-gen M2 chip. Each MacBook Pro is currently available for pre-order online ahead of its November release date, with the M3 and M3 Pro models scheduled to arrive on November 7, while the M3 Max will ship later.

If you’re wondering how the new laptops compare to the M2 models on paper, we’ve rounded up everything we know so far based on specs and data from Apple. Also stay tuned for our full reviews, in which we’ll tell you how good the laptops actually are against Apple’s claims.

New entry-level MacBook Pro

First, the pricing structure of the MacBook Pro has changed now that Apple has dropped the $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar with M2 from its lineup. Previously, the 14-inch model only came with the Pro and Max chipsets and started at $1,999. This time, however, the base 14-inch laptop arrives with an M3 chip, half the RAM, 4TB less storage, and fewer GPUs and CPU, bringing its price down to $1,599. So, it’s now the new entry-level MacBook Pro, one that offers longer battery life, a better display, MagSafe charging, and no controversial Touch Bar.

Same shape, different color

Additionally, the gray laptop in the Pro and Max series has been replaced with a black shade, which Apple says is made of materials that will reduce fingerprints. (You can still get it in silver, too.) However, the base 14-inch model doesn’t come in black — you can buy it in gray and silver.

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Other than that, the MacBook Pros are very similar in design to their predecessors. For example, they all share the same Liquid Retina XDR displays. The 14-inch Pro continues to offer a maximum resolution of 3024 x 1964, while the 16-inch version has a resolution of 3456 x 2234. It also retains the same port selection, offering two or three USB-C ports (depending on which size you buy). , in addition to an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Some configurations of the new MacBook Pro now come in black.
Image: Apple

More memory and power-saving performance

Beyond the price and some cosmetic changes, the real changes happen under the hood. For example, unified memory has increased on the Pro and Max chipsets. The M3 Pro chipset now supports up to 36GB of RAM, a slight increase from the M2 Pro’s 32GB maximum. Meanwhile, the M3 Max features up to 128GB of RAM compared to the previous 96GB, a first for an Apple laptop.

Perhaps the most notable change relates to performance. The M3 chipset is manufactured based on the 3nm process, which is the same used in the new A17 Pro chipset in the iPhone 15 Pro. This translates to faster performance than previous models. Meanwhile, according to Apple, it also means that the M3 lineup is more power efficient, offering the same multi-threaded performance as the M1 while consuming about half the power. In total, each laptop in the M3 family should last up to 22 hours, which is longer than its predecessors.

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Graphics processing units and central processing units

When it comes to GPU and CPU, the M3 Max chipset offers more than its predecessor. The M3 Max features a 16-core CPU and up to 40-core GPU, with GPU performance 80 times faster than the M1 Max, according to Apple. Apple doesn’t offer a direct comparison between the M2 and M3, but that’s still a significant improvement given that Apple claimed the M2 Max — whose CPU and GPU maxed out at 12 cores and 38 cores — was up to 30 percent faster than M2 Max. M1 Max in graphics.

The picture looks a little different when it comes to the Pro-series chips. The 16-inch M3 Pro and M2 Pro chips both offer 12 CPU cores, but the M2 Pro actually offers one additional GPU core over the M3 Pro. However, Apple claims that it is 10 percent faster than the M2 Pro’s GPU and 40 percent faster than the M1 Pro’s GPU.

The new M3 chipset also brings other GPU improvements that the M2 series lacks. It supports dynamic caching technology, which can boost the performance of demanding games and applications by optimizing the amount of memory the device uses while performing tasks. The technology also brings new rendering features such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading. These should allow developers to easily enhance shadows and reflections as well as complex scenes in graphics-intensive games and applications.

In numbers

These are just some of the key differences between the M2 chipset and the new M3 laptops. If you want to delve deeper into how the two families will face off, feel free to explore the specifications below.

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