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M3 Chip Family Boosts Performance for MacBook Pros and 24-inch iMac

Bookended by spooky Halloween-inspired effects and set in darkened rooms at night, Apple’s pre-recorded Scary Fast product announcement unveiled the latest Apple silicon: the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max, along with the first Macs to incorporate the new chips, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 24-inch iMac. Although Apple’s calendar event was set for 2 hours, the presentation lasted just 30 minutes. The actual news could have been condensed far more, coming down as it did to “faster Apple chips powering slightly updated Macs.”

Tim Cook emerging from the shadows

All the new Macs are available to order now and will ship starting 7 November 2023, except for the M3 Max MacBook Pro models, which will ship in late November.

Shot on iPhone

The presentation itself was largely straightforward, apart from a few scattered skeletons and skulls used as set dressing. Sadly, none of the Apple presenters appeared in costume. The main thematic lines were Apple SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji emerging from the darkness and intoning “Welcome to my lab” in accented English, and VP of Hardware Engineering Kate Bergeron calling the M3 Max an “absolute beast.”

In the Scary Fast credits, Apple ended with “Shot on iPhone, Edited on Mac,” which I noted but didn’t particularly internalize until Apple published a behind-the-scenes look at how the entire production was shot using an iPhone 15 Pro Max in place of a $20,000 video camera. (Curiously, Apple changed the original quote that mentioned the $20,000 camera in an update.)

I remain of two minds about Apple talking about how the iPhone cameras are so good that they can be used in professional situations. On the one hand, it’s impressive beyond belief that a consumer-level smartphone can stand in for a $20,000 camera, and I bet hardly anyone noticed the difference. The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s image quality holds up against much more expensive cameras, even in dark lighting conditions.

On the other, the behind-the-scenes look makes it clear that Apple-level quality requires an award-winning director, in-house specialists who work on top Hollywood productions, a large staff, and oodles of equipment, including cranes, dollies, drones, and something called a custom SpaceCam rig. And that’s before the video is sent off to a post-production company. Apple doesn’t say, of course, but a friend who should know said the entire thing likely had a low seven-figure budget. That’s all appropriate for an Apple production but doesn’t imply the rest of us could achieve anything approaching the same quality with, you know, just an iPhone.

Heck, I can’t even get my iPhone 15 Pro to take crisp photos of fast-moving runners right in front of me.

M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max

Johny Srouji was given 8 of the 30 minutes to showcase the new M3 family of chips. They’re notable for being the first personal computer chips built using a new 3-nanometer process (the A17 Pro that powers the iPhone 15 Pro is also a 3-nanometer chip). Although the smaller number—previous M-series chips were made using a 5-nanometer process—does imply increased miniaturization, increased speed, and reduced power consumption, the number is essentially a brand name, not an agreed-upon measurement of anything.

M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max

Along with the 3-nanometer process, the M3 family of chips features a next-generation GPU that uses a new technique called Dynamic Caching to ensure that the GPU uses only the amount of memory it needs at any given moment rather than reserving the amount of memory demanded by the most intensive step of its task. The new GPU also boasts hardware-accelerated ray tracing (which provides more realistic shadows and reflections) and hardware-accelerated mesh shading (which improves geometry processing for more realistic scenes). Apple says rendering speeds are now 1.8x faster than the M2 family of chips and 2.5x faster than the M1 family.

CPUs are faster as well. Remember that Apple silicon has performance cores for processor-intensive tasks and efficiency cores for situations where conserving power is more important. The M3 performance cores are 15% faster than the M2’s and 30% faster than the M1’s, whereas the M3 efficiency cores improve even more, besting the M2 by 30% and the M1 by 50%. In fact, the M3’s CPU and GPU both deliver the same performance as the M1’s CPU and GPU while using half the power. The M3’s Neural Engine, which supports machine learning tasks, is 15% faster than the M2’s and 60% faster than the M1’s.

GIF showing M3 family performance graphs

As for the specific chips:

  • M3 has an 8-core CPU (4 performance, 4 efficiency), a 10-core GPU, and up to 24 GB of memory. Apple claims the CPU is up to 20% faster than the M2 and 35% faster than the M1, with the GPU up to 20% faster than the M2 and 65% faster than the M1. A binned 8-core GPU version is available at a slight discount. (Binning allows the use of chips with slight imperfections, thus increasing yield and offering additional price points.)
  • M3 Pro offers a 12-core CPU (6 performance, 6 efficiency), an 18-core GPU, and up to 36 GB of memory. Apple says the CPU is up to 20% faster than the M1 Pro, but I suspect roughly the same speed as the M2 Pro, given Apple’s reticence to compare. The GPU is up to 40% faster than the M1 Pro but only 10% faster than the M2 Pro. There’s also an 11-core CPU, 14-core GPU binned version.
  • M3 Max provides a 16-core CPU (12 performance, 4 efficiency), a 40-core GPU, and up to 128 GB of memory. The CPU significantly outperforms its predecessors, with Apple claiming that it’s 50% faster than the M2 Max and 80% faster than the M1 Max. The GPU also does well, besting the M2 Max by 20% and the M1 Max by 50%. The binned version has 14 CPU cores and 30 GPU cores.

GIF showing M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max details

Three differences may explain the M3 Pro’s lackluster improvement over the M2 Pro, as you can see in the screenshot below comparing those chips in three generations of the 16-inch MacBook Pro:

  • The M3 Pro’s CPU has 6 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores, whereas the M2 Pro’s CPU has 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores.
  • The M3 Pro’s memory bandwidth is only 150 GB/second, compared to 200 GB/second in its predecessors.
  • Although the new GPU has hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading, it has one less core than the M2 Pro: 18 versus 19.

MX Pro family comparison

Compared with the M2, the M3 has no such oddities, but there is one with the M2 Max and M3 Max—that “up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth” note you see below. When I looked on the MacBook Pro Tech Specs page, I found that the binned M3 Max with 14 CPU cores and 30 GPU cores manages only 300 GB/second memory bandwidth.

MX family comparison MX Max family comparison

The moral of the story would seem to be that those with M2 Macs, particularly M2 Pro models, might not see sufficient performance improvements to warrant upgrading to an M3 model. The improvements over the M1 chips are more significant.

Apple said nothing about an M3 Ultra, but it seems likely that one will appear in the next year to power the top-of-the-line Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Until real-world benchmarks come in, we also won’t have a sense of how the M3 Max stacks up against the M2 Ultra—I believe the M2 Ultra, with its additional CPU cores (24 vs. 16) and GPU cores (76 vs. 40) and faster memory (800 GB/s vs 400 GB/s), will retain its performance crown.

14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro

The first Macs to take advantage of the M3 family are the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apart from the M3 chips, there are only three changes:

  • Screen: The Liquid Retina XDR screen is brighter in SDR mode, moving from 500 nits max to 600 nits max. (With HDR content, the XDR brightness can still sustain 1000 nits and peak at 1600 nits as long as the ambient temperature isn’t over 25℃.)
  • Battery: The M3 14-inch MacBook Pro receives a longer battery life estimate with the same 70-watt-hour battery, presumably due to the efficiency of the M3. The M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro gets the same battery life estimate as its M2 Pro predecessor with a slightly larger 72.4-watt-hour battery.
  • Color: The M3 Pro and M3 Max models give you the option of silver or a new Space Black finish. The M3 14-inch MacBook Pro is available in silver or Space Gray.

M3 MacBook Pro specs card

Apple expanded the options for the 14-inch MacBook Pro, so there are now three configurations. Note that the CPU/GPU options are paired and constrain the memory choices but aren’t connected to storage.

  • M3 starting at $1599: It has an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8 GB of memory, and 512 GB of storage. You can (and probably should) jump to 16 GB of memory; 24 GB is also available. This model has only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and can drive just a single external display.
  • M3 Pro starting at $1999: You have two options here: 11 or 12 CPU cores and 14 or 18 GPU cores, and 18 GB or 36 GB of memory. These models feature three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and support one or two external displays.
  • M3 Max starting at $3199: The maxed-out configuration also sports two options: 14 or 16 CPU cores and 30 or 40 GPU cores, plus 36 GB of memory, upgradeable only to 96 GB. These models also have three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports but can drive up to four external displays.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro has only M3 Pro and M3 Max configurations:

  • M3 Pro starting at $2899: There’s only one option here, matching the beefier 14-inch M3 Pro model: a 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU configuration with 36 GB of memory.
  • M3 Max starting at $3499: The choices here are 14 or 16 CPU cores and 30 or 40 GPU cores. The lower-end configuration comes with 36 GB of memory and can upgrade to 96; the higher-end configuration has 48 GB of memory and has options for 64 GB or 128 GB.

Storage starts at 512 GB for the M3 14-inch model and 1 TB for the rest, with options for 2 TB, 4 TB, and 8 TB.

In some ways, the most interesting of the new models is the M3 14-inch MacBook Pro, which replaces the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar that hasn’t made any sense in the lineup for years. The problem was that the 13-inch MacBook Air boasted similar performance for less money in a lighter package.

However, the M3 14-inch MacBook Pro does suffer in two notable ways in comparison with its M3 Pro and M3 Max siblings. Like the M1 and M2 chips, the M3 supports only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports (although the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s MagSafe port means neither is required for power), whereas the Pro and Max MacBook Pros have always provided three such ports. Also, the M3 14-inch MacBook Pro can drive only a single external display, whereas the M3 Pro models can drive one or two, and the M3 Max models can drive up to four.

Putting all this together, if you want more power than an M2 MacBook Air, you have two choices. You could get the M3 14-inch MacBook Pro (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU) with 16 GB of memory (really, don’t hamstring it with 8 GB) for $1799, or you could upgrade to the entry-level M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro (11-core CPU, 14-core GPU) that comes standard with 18 GB of memory for $1999. You get more performance, more memory, another Thunderbolt/USB 4 port, and support for two external displays for just $200 more. Or if you’re quick, you might still be able to find a highly comparable M2 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro at a discount before they sell out.

In its press release for the MacBook Pro models, Apple also made numerous comparisons to Intel-based MacBook Pro models. Unsurprisingly, they fare poorly compared to even the low-end M3 14-inch MacBook Pro and are roundly trounced by the M3 Pro and M3 Max models. I suspect Apple is trying to encourage people with Intel-based Macs to upgrade to reduce the number of people who are unhappy when Apple stops developing macOS for Intel-based Macs, perhaps in 2025.

24-inch iMac

There isn’t much to say about the new M3 24-inch iMac. The only difference is the M3 chip, which still provides 8 CPU cores but now lets you choose between 8 and 10 GPU cores. The 10-core GPU might help a bit with gaming or video work. 8 GB of memory remains standard, but you can upgrade to either 16 GB (a good idea) or 24 GB (probably unnecessary for most people). Storage still starts at 256 GB, which isn’t much these days, particularly if you take a lot of photos or videos, and you can upgrade to 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB, depending on the configuration. The M3 also gets you Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, slightly newer versions than were in the M1 model.

Everything else remains the same, including the $1299 starting price, the odd split between models with just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and those with two additional USB 3 ports, the reduced color choices for the two-port models (no yellow, orange, or purple), and the non-Touch ID keyboard that comes with the two-port model. I recommend spending $50 more for the Touch ID keyboard.

M3 24-inch iMac specs card

Missing from the announcement was any mention of USB-C versions of the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse. Those accessories continue to use the Lightning connector and ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable for charging. They’ll undoubtedly be updated to USB-C at some point, perhaps alongside the next Mac mini or Mac Studio releases.

Needless to say, Apple gave no hints that it is considering a replacement for the popular 27-inch iMac that was replaced by the Mac Studio and 27-inch Studio Display. Although I was impressed with the 24-inch iMac’s 4.5K Retina display (see “Visiting an Apple Store: The Value of In-Person Impressions,” 11 November 2022), it’s yet another weird screen size that would be difficult to match with a second display. There has been speculation about a 32-inch iMac Pro, but given that the 32-inch Pro Display XDR alone sells for $4999, I can’t see how even M2 Pro Mac mini-class internals would result in an affordable price. We may simply have to acknowledge the utility of the external display that can outlive multiple Macs—I’d love to turn my extra 27-inch iMacs into displays, but I’m not sure I’m up to the hardware hacking.

Personally, I’m sticking with my M1 13-inch MacBook Air and 2020 27-inch iMac for a little longer because I’m not suffering performance issues with either. Eventually, I’ll have to decide how to get a multiple-monitor setup with an Apple silicon Mac—perhaps an M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro or a future M3 Mac mini with a pair of Studio Displays. But that’s a decision for another day. How about you? Do these new Macs change your thinking about upgrading from whatever you’re using now?

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Comments About M3 Chip Family Boosts Performance for MacBook Pros and 24-inch iMac

Notable Replies

  1. I can’t believe they didn’t update the accessories to USB-C.


    EDIT: Confirmed. Double WTF??

  2. They haven’t said, have they? The Apple Store app is working for me, I’ll poke around.

    I specked up my imaginary new MBP and wish-listed it though. And to answer my earlier question, what happens to replaced wishlist items, the answer is this: they vanish, without warning or indication.

    And, although it wasn’t expected to be long given all we knew from the usual leaks, I think this is the other shoe dropping on the iMac. Apple is telling former “pro” iMac users to grow into the long trousers, and buy a Studio. At their own expense, naturally.

  3. MBP 13" deleted.
    Replaced with M3 nothing 14".

    U̶n̶b̶e̶l̶i̶e̶v̶a̶b̶l̶y̶ Scarily the maxed out 16" with AppleCare costs an eye watering £7.7k ($9.5k) here in the UK. Wow.
    For comparison, my maxed out M1 from two years ago was ‘just’ £6.25k ($7.6k).
    Inflation or Apple adding tiers to chip and memory prices?.. the latter, mostly.

  4. The iMac box contents isn’t listed. The tech specs say nothing about the connector on the accessories. And as of right now they aren’t being sold separately.

    The MBP 13 was just weird, glad they deleted that. The Air is basically what the MBP 13 was, anyway. Although I love my MBA, it clearly isn’t enough for me, so although I haven’t got a need right now, I’m eyeing up an MBP 14. Meanwhile my desktop shall remain my (perfectly adequate) iMac 20 27-inch.

    Edit: and damn straight regarding the price rises. The previously equivalent spec machine was £6549, now £6999. I know we’re supposed to grin and bear it, and it’s probably not all profit, but still …

  5. It’s been confirmed in press sources. Along with the non-colour ones remaining the same: Lightning.

    Also, black colour only on Pro and Max chip MBPs, grey on M3 nothing MBPs (14" only get this chip). Silver for all.

  6. Jason Snell’s analysis of the announced new Macs.

    Note that the article was posted just about the time the event ended. He doesn’t type that fast; the article makes clear that he got an advanced look.

  7. MBP

    Love the new M3 MBPs. I got an M1 Pro 14" when they came out, now the same model as M3 Pro is actually $100 cheaper, so this time I’d probably get the M3 Max model which costs $240 more (HED price) but offers even more RAM.

    Truth is, I’d probably be just fine with a M3 14" 24/1TB which is $600 less than I paid for the M1 Pro 14" in 2021. :laughing:

    The M3 14" is a great idea. For those who need more ports or a better screen or speaker than the Air, here you are. And for those looking for a budget model there’s the great 13" MBA while the 15" MBA brings really large screens to budget customers. Overall the MacBook line-up hasn’t been this good in a long time IMHO. The superfluous 13" MacBook “Pro” couldn’t die soon enough.

    For now, I’ll probably just stick with my 14" M1 Pro 32/1TB – I really just don’t need more of anything from the hardware right now. But I’m very happy to see that if I drop my 14" in the ocean tomorrow, Apple has an awesome new M3 MBP waiting right there.

    Once again with MBPs, great job Apple! :slight_smile:


    IMHO there’s nothing wrong with thre M3 24" iMac. What’s wrong is not offering a 27" or 30" M3 Pro version. As long as Apple makes an M2 Pro mini (and rightly so!), there should be room for an M3 Pro iMac with a larger screen.

    The real atrocity IMHO however was retaining those Lightning peripherals. Seriously, WTH Apple? :confused:

  8. Similar situation here - I have a 14" M1 Max 32/1tb. The new ones look great and probably represent good value but as much as I follow the edict “you can’t have too much power or too much storage”, I’m yet to come across something where I find my current machine deficient.

    It wasn’t lost on me how many times they mentioned “compared to an Intel Mac”. I think this is a serious push to get the last recalcitrants to move into the realm of Apple Silicon and it’s easy to see it working. One slide said 11 times faster than the fastest Intel - it’s hard to ignore that.

  9. Well, I’ve a 16” M1 Max and have yet to hear my fans so I’m clearly no longer pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Though I would have thought my 102Mp RAW files are exactly that. Just to note, em, my top spec i9 iMac has no particular issues with them either, hmmm.

    How many of us edit multiple strands of 8k video? I do wonder if the reality is most MBPro users would be fine with an Air. And most editors of multiple strand 8k video would use a Studio or a Pro.

    Perhaps one of Apple Silicon’s issues is that it has outpaced a lot of people’s usage, and all that “work and how hard it is” footage at the front is a bit of boosterism to people’s perception of their needs rather than actual needs.

    But the power ratio, yes, excellent. M3 bring it on. Looking forward to the day when they offer all week charging. They’re clearly also listening to the GPU challenges the platform faces.

    Interesting that FCP got only one minor mention, with DaVinci Resolve color grading on screen, and Premiere Pro got two.

    I’d still loved to have seen a 27” iMac Pro. Though I suspect they see that as potentially gutting Studio/Studio Display sales.

  10. I’d gladly upgrade from my Intel 27” iMac to one powered by Apple Silicon … if one existed.

    This classifies me among the “recalcitrants”? :wink:

  11. In the nicest possible way :slight_smile:

    Hopefully they’ll (you’ll) get there one day. Most of the machines at our office are 27" iMacs and a direct replacement would be good. ATM they’re being replaced with Mac Minis and third party monitors so Apple are definitely missing out on some business.

  12. Unfortunately, maybe there’s another reason Apple didn’t compare M3 to its M2 predecessor. Yikes!

  13. They haven’t, but it’s clear from what is listed as included in the box:

  14. Indeed, I yesterday I noticed the 150 GB/s figure for M3 Pro on Apple’s spec page. Kind of lept out at me at first. But actually, I’m not too concerned really.

    1. The previous mem b/w specs were HUGE. Far beyond any competitors. I’m sure if Apple felt these new lowered overall b/w figures had the potential to bottleneck the entire CPU package, they would have not “down-spec’ed” the M3 Pro. My guess is they realized this is an easy sacrifice that allows them to achieve an overall better trade-off (power, heat, clock, area, execution pipeline, etc.).
    2. If somebody is convinced they need the absolutely best possible mem b/w, they already before would likely have opted for the Max with its 400 GB/s. And indeed once again, if you get the M3 Max, you’re not only getting the best mem b/w, at 400 GB/s you’re getting no less than you ever got before.

    So although I realize this perhaps doesn’t look great on paper, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a problem in the real world or among real users.

    I will say though, this M3 intro to makes it look like Apple is trying to increase differentiation among their 3 (and likely eventually 4) CPU classes. And that leads to primarily the M3 Pro having to change compared to M1 and M2.

    • Base M3 has base performance (although it has the same great P/E cores as its pricier siblings) and basic limitations such as one external display (discounting that DisplayLink allows for more) or only two TB4 ports (yes, the 14" M3 model has no TB4 on the right hand side) or 24 GB max RAM.
    • Max is best performance with heavy emphasis on graphics and memory performance. It offers full connectivity (external displays, TB4 bandwidth) and most expansive mem config options
    • Ultra likely will be just 2x Max for the Studio and Pro
    • … and so Pro needs to be slotted somewhere in between: it offers all the connectivity of Max, but its performance is slotted lower, especially when it comes to graphics.

    I think these 3/4 lines have never been as clearly differentiated before. It’s a reflection of Apple having now fully transitioned to Apple Silicon and adapting Apple Silicon to the Mac line-up Apple needs it to serve.

    Finally, that all said, I still think it’s quite odd that Apple seemed to go out of their way not to compare M3 to M2. Obviously, even they will likely not think a several months old M2 MBP now needs to be replaced by M3, but would they ever make that stance public? Certainly not. So go ahead, compare to all previous CPUs: M2, M1, and Intel.

  15. Yeah, I mean honestly, the main reason I’m gunning for an MBP is the port configuration and the more RAM. Performance-wise the MBA really is great for me.

  16. I hear you.

    Do you need all 3 TB ports or would 2 be enough? Do you need support for native dual external displays or would one cut it? If 2x TB3 and a single native external are fine, the 14" M3 could be ideal. Otherwise the M3 Pro has it all for $400 more. The question is if the 3rd TB port (plus I guess TB4 vs. TB3) and 2nd external native display are worth $400 to you. But you do get this simple choice now. And IMHO that’s a good thing. :slight_smile:

  17. I think it’s also worth seeing this emphasis as a gentle reminder that Apple will stop supporting Intel-based Macs in a couple of years. I’m sure they want to transition as many people as possible to Apple silicon before that so dropping Intel support in macOS affects fewer people.

  18. Yep, I really do want that third port. That was the kicker, and I’d pay more for that. I’ll see about trading up. This is definitely the upgrade I want.

    And concerning the iMac accessories: damn.

    I looked again, but I still didn’t find this under “What’s in the box” in the app. Curiously, it’s on the Tech Specs page, but yes, that definitely says Lightning. This really is a shame. The keyboard, trackpad and battery pack are the only accessories still using Lightning for me now, and although it’s clearly less of a problem for peripherals connected to a computer, it does still mean keeping those cables on standby and in the battery case having to actively swap whenever charging my phone directly. Oh, well. Perhaps next year we can finally be rid of the scurge that is Lightning? :)

  19. I’m one of those “recalcitrants” still keyboarding on a 2019 16" MacBook Pro. I’m also 76, no longer earning the income I used to, and saddled with 76 yo eyes and body. The sheer WEIGHT of the 16" chassis is enough to make me consider a 14 inch version. Living in Bozeman MT means at least a 500 mile trip to “visit” one of the new machines, but I’ll be visiting my son in NYC all next week which should give me a chance to attempt leaving fingerprints on the new space black chassis (is plural “chasses?” Nope, “word hippo” says it’s—wait for it—“chassis!”

    I do think it’s time for me to update, even though I know I don’t tax my processors, and I still have about 90 GB available on my 512 GB internal SSD. At 76, s/p cataract extractions and previous corneal haircuts for myopia, the competing imperatives include the infirmities of advancing age, plus the obvious hope of avoiding software and OS incompatibilities. For those with experience toting BOTH 14" and 16" models from place to place, I’m curious how you rate other factors; e.g.

    1. Keyboard Spacing (is it the same on 14" and 16" models?)
    2. Screen readability (biggest contributor to differential weight is probably screen size)
    3. Totability (even though more and more TSA agents permit me to leave shoes on (age 76) and devices sheaved, that ballistic nylon bag is still HEAVY with an 11" iPAD Pro, iPhone 14Pro, 16" MacBook Pro, external SSD clone, chargers, etc., all weighing it down
    4. Number of TB ports (I rarely need more than 2, and with one TB/USBc port now freed up by the return of MagSafe, I doubt that I’ll EVER need more than 2.

    And, I’ll bet the reason the new iMac is still tied to peripherals and accessories by lightning cables has something to do with corporate inventories of unsold cables, keyboards, AirPods, and Apple TV remotes. The transition to USBc was forced by the meddlesome EU government, although it certainly ENABLES accelerated communications with other devices for iPhones, but for low-bandwidth-requiring devices like mice, keyboards, and their charging infrastructure, there’s no real functional mandate for USBc other than a reduction in carrying case clutter.

    1. Keyboard Spacing

    I’ve got the 14 which replaced a 2015 15 inch model MBP…the keyboard is the same on both. The screen is so much better than the old Intel models and the dot pitch is about the same on both sizes so it’s just more pixels wide and tall…much easier to read even for old eyes like you and me.

    1. Screen readability (biggest contributor to differential weight is probably screen size)

    Readability is the same…although I don’t have experience with the 16 I’ve looked at both side by side in the store.

    1. Totability (even though more and more TSA agents permit me to leave shoes on (age 76) and devices sheaved, that ballistic nylon bag is still HEAVY with an 11" iPAD Pro, iPhone 14Pro, 16" MacBook Pro, external SSD clone, chargers, etc., all weighing it down

    Unless you’re doing things professionally that require the larger pixel screen or never leave the house, I find it hard to recommend the 16 based on weight. The 16 is actually just about the same size and weight as the old 15 “ models was and a little smaller and lighter than the Intel 16 due to smaller bezels…but it’s still too heavy to schlep around a lot IMO.

    1. Number of TB ports (I rarely need more than 2, and with one TB/USBc port now freed up by the return of MagSafe, I doubt that I’ll EVER need more than 2.

    All the MBPs have the same port config…3 TB/USB-C, MagSafe, headphones.

  20. Agreed. I got a 16 two years ago and it’s pretty hefty. I wish I’d gotten the 14.

  21. The low-end 14” plain M3 only has 2 TB/USB-C ports. They all also have HDMI ports and SD card slots, too.

  22. You’re right…shoulda looked better at the specs instead of just the picture when I was answering before.

  23. The 14" and 16" have identical KBs. Just like the 13"/15" MBA.

  24. Neil and Simon, thanks so much for your replies. It adds to my interest in an after-midnight trip to NYC’s 5th Avenue Apple Retail Store (in the interest of my sleep, I’ll probably do it in the early hours of 11/8 rather than 11/7, although the question brings to mind ANOTHER excursion, this time to visit my sister in Traverse City, MI a few decades ago. UA took me from SFO to ORD in the morning rush hour with no problem, but shortly after I arrived incoming Chicago traffic was reduced to almost nothing and outbound totally shutdown by day-long thunderstorms, which prevented ground crews from venturing outside. It got SO bad that there were no visible lines anywhere, just an enormous mélange of people with little room to move. To make matters worse, UA had offloaded customer telephone support to India, where the agents were always friendly but sorely lacking in any knowledge of American geography. By 3 pm I assumed I’d be sleeping on the floor at O’Hare, so I tried to book a nearby hotel, but thousands of similarly inconvenienced passengers had tumbled to that awful reality before me, So, I decided I’d just rent a car, loop around the bottom of Lake Michigan and up its coast to Traverse City. Hertz, however, had other ideas, specifically “no cars available today, but you can rent one tomorrow morning.”

    “What TIME tomorrow,” I asked.

    “12:01 am” was the reply(!). So, at least SOME cities never sleep, but I’ll be on vacation and won’t be in desperate immediate need of a new laptop at precisely that moment, so I’ll wander in probably a bit BEFORE midnight on the evening of 11/7. Of course the absence of sales tax in Montana will drive my purchase location choice as well, but it looks as though I’ll opt for smaller screen real estate.

  25. I think it took longer to read the article than to view Apple’s presentation!

    There’s a typo in the Color section. You refer to the 14" MacBook Air rather than the bottom-end M3 MacBookPro.

  26. The low-end 14” plain M3 only has 2 TB/USB-C ports. They all also have HDMI ports and SD card slots, too.

    I’ve not needed an HDMI port since retiring in 2019 (just about the time I bought my 2019 Intel 16 - incher). However, last month a dozen of my closest med school buddies and I assembled on Cape Cod for a 50th reunion that included migratory bird watching expeditions, cycling on the Cape Cod bike trail, crab and lobster feasts, and also “what have you been doing for the past 50 years” presentations.

    Most other attendees were happy to send bundles of JPEGs to one of us who assembled them into .PPT files on his Windows laptop, but of course I eschewed that MS crud for a Keynote presentation from my Mac crafted with background transitions, photo and movie fades, etc. (the guy wrangling the JPEGS for everybody else also brought a Dell LCD projector that was equipped with HDMI input. Only one problem: I forgot my TB3/USBc<->HDMI adapter! So, after managing to wend my way through the impossible 17th-18th century maze of horsecars paths surrounding Logan Airport that Boston calls “streets,” I wasted time making my way into and out of Boston’s “big dig” tunnel—originally meant to expedite vehicular traffic—only to creep along at 0-2 mph for probably an hour or two before getting to my chosen Apple Retail Store (THANK YOU, Siri, iOS 16, and Apple Maps for helping me survive that) just to get an adapter.
    However, for some reason an incompatibility between my laptop and the projector meant that when I launched Keynote in Ventura, the image from his projector blinked on and off incessantly, and even my “massive” 16" laptop screen didn’t suffice for me to tell my story to the audience.

    The alternative was to convert my Keynote file to PPT (sacrificing a bunch of the video goodies in the process) the next day, then presenting it from the coordinator’s Windows laptop . Only problem with THAT was that my file was almost 1.5 GB in size, and his Windows laptop was equipped only with USB-A ports of some prior generation bereft of bandwidth.

    I reminded my impatient buddies of the current market capitalizations of Dell and Apple, and also of Michael Dell’s “futurist” creds back when Steve Jobs was on “sabbatical” to NeXT. Mr. Dell had been asked what he’d recommend as a solution to Apple’s then serious financial and mission problems; his response had been something akin to "sell the office furniture, pay off the debts (of course, even then, Apple HAD none) and return whatever cash is left to the shareholders!

    Actually, I have NO idea whether having a native HDMI port on my laptop would have prevented that embarrassing delay in my presentation, but it DID bring back memories.

  27. Probably, but I didn’t talk nearly as fast and included nit-picky little details. It certainly took me a lot longer to write! :slight_smile:

    Fixed, thanks! I hope that’s the only mistake—it’s really tricky to write out all these product names repeatedly.

  28. One other thing to note is the pace of change here, M1 - M2 - M3 in as many years and while M2 was more of a boost and M3 a bigger step, it’s still a lot of change in a short period of time. How that might affect buyers, I wonder if they should have skipped the M2 and kept with the M1 for another year and then done this big step. Might have reduced confusion and FOMO, there’s a lot of overlap, I suspect that’s another reason we keep getting Intel comparisons. Which is better, an M1 Max or an M2 Pro?

    Or are we heading into an approach more akin to the phone, where the major jumps are seen between multi-year model numbers, the 11 to the 15 for example and the incremental updates are less significant.

  29. I’ve been trying to Navigate Apple’s “buy now” configurator for the 14" MacBook Pro with the M3 Pro processor. As best I can tell, it’s not possible to select the base model but upgrade JUST the storage from 512 GB to 1 TB. Is that what others see?

    Also, the charging block is more robust on the $2399 model (so differences include additional 1 additional CPU and 4 additional GPU cores, twice the storage, and the beefier charger for a $400 price difference. One curiosity is that “fast charging” is listed only for the M3Max models, but “fast charging” is also available on an m2 MacBook Air. What’s THAT all about?

    I haven’t figured out how to configure even more RAM or storage. They’re listed as options but without price quotation. The way I understand “Apple Silicon,” each of these means a different SIC. Is that the case?

    One more question: in the past, what I’ve done in my family Apple ecosystem is pass down my retiring device to a family member, but I’m thinking that the benefit of that, at least for my children, might be short lived, because for a techie needing to keep OS and apps updated even the most recent Apple laptop will see its utility and financial value drop off a precipice within one or two more OS revisions, and the computer is still worth >$500 as a trade in now. Any suggestions as regards HOW to manage that so far as the actual OS/data installation transfer from one machine to the other is concerned? My options would include computer to computer (delaying a bit the effect of my trade in) or integrating the data from either an external rotating platter Time Machine or SSD SuperDuper! clone backup in Sonoma from the Intel installation to the new machine.

  30. I agree, and I think M2 was delayed, probably due to the pandemic, which resulted in the M2 MacBook Pros coming out in the same year as the M3 MacBook Pros.

    Given the iPhone example, it seems like Apple can keep this pace of chip evolution going, but it’s weirder in the Mac world, where people want to compare the chips because they’re the main differences between models. (In the iPhone world, I’d argue that the camera is the main difference, or industrial design if there’s a big change.)

    Maybe we just have to get used to not having the latest M-series chip and it not mattering.

  31. [TLDR summary]: Am I the only one who feels his current computer is as fast and as capable as he can imagine ever needing?

    [Colorful elaboration]: In the past, each successive Mac I’ve purchased (my first was an SE/30) has scratched an “it could be better” itch, either in making me wait less time for it to complete a task, or in the size of task it could take on. But over time, the “itches” started getting less intense. Then I got a MBP M1 Pro in '21, and I’ve stopped itching entirely. I never wait for it to perform a task; everything happens (nearly) instantly. I don’t have any tasks that are “too big” for it to tackle. For me, it is “fast enough.”

    Now, my needs certainly don’t include editing multiple streams of 8K video, or training an AI model, or anything requiring massive computer muscle. But I think the needs I do have are those of the majority of computer users. The performance gains of the subsequent Mx family of chips is impressive from an engineering perspective, but for me they provide no motivation to buy a new Mac equipped with one. I liken it to buying a car with a bigger engine. So what if it will top out at 200mph, where my current one will “only” do 160. I can’t drive either car at its top speed anywhere, so the improvement is meaningless.

    Maybe some must-have killer app will be developed in the future that will require the horsepower of the M3 chip and beyond. But I just don’t see why anyone with a typical computer workload would consider getting one now, especially if you already have something with a M1 chip in it.

  32. Well, that’s interesting. Apple changed the director’s quote in the behind-the-scenes article from:

    “We were able to get the same complex shots with iPhone 15 Pro Max,” says Oakes. “It’s amazing to see that the quality from a device that is so small and so portable can rival a large $20,000 camera.”


    “We were able to get the same complex shots with iPhone 15 Pro Max,” says Oakes. “Everything is there to be an extension of someone’s vision or personality. The image quality of iPhone definitely democratizes the access.”

    I wonder who squawked such that Apple felt the need to make the change?

  33. I’ve read since that Apple compared to Intel and M1 in the presentation because they believe that almost all upgraders will be coming from one of those platforms; they don’t expect anybody with an M2 to be upgrading.

    The web site section on the M3 does compare to both the M1 and M2, though. If you look at the MacBook Pro page, scroll down a bit to the “three giant leaps”, there should be a button at the bottom to “Go deeper on the M3 chips”. There they compare performance to MBP models with Intel, M1, and M2.

  34. I think the reason is more that people generally wait several years before upgrading their Macs. I had my last one for 7 years. I don’t think I’ve every expected to keep current with new CPUs when buying a computer. My expectation is that it’s one of the best/fastest CPUs when I buy the computer, but it will then be eclipsed by at least two and probably more before I buy my next one. And there was a time when we used to expect yearly CPU updates for Macs (and PCs). So I’m not sure that the fast pace of iteration with the M-series chips will make people less likely to buy them. It feels like a return to the days before the stagnation which set in in the latter Intel years.

  35. The Geekbench results are beginning to trickle out and seem to confirm Apple’s claim of a 15% improvement of the M3 over the M2 and a 25% improvement over the M1.

    The odd chip is the M3 Pro with 6 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores. That is 2 fewer performance cores than the M1 and M2 Pros. Even though the M3 efficiency cores are faster (due to an increased clock speed, I believe) the ultimate multicore performance might not be as good. This doesn’t bother me as most of the cpu intensive things I do use one thread. (Except for Xcode). It is hard to imagine why they would need so many (efficiency) cores for background housekeeping tasks.

    I was thinking of upgrading my M1 Pro 16" with 16 GB of RAM to one of the M3s since the RAM is getting tight and I am seeing some yellow in Memory Pressure. If I replace it with a Max, the economics don’t make sense as I would get modest performance improvement for a great deal of increased cost. So, I’ll keep my machine and be careful of memory usage (impossible when using the iOS simulator which pegs the ram usage).

    By the way, it seems that most of the improved performance in the M1->M2->M3 is due to increased clock speeds, something which is the chief benefit of a RISC machine: a simpler instruction set which allows higher clock speeds. The M3 runs at 4 GHz.

  36. I’m still using my 15" 2017 MBP. My demands on my Mac are pretty modest, and honestly that 2017 model still performs well enough for me. But, I’ve gritted my teeth for enough years with the butterfly keyboard, and Tech Tool Pro warns me it’s about time for a second replacement battery. Also – it won’t run Sonoma, and so begins its gradual slide into obsolescence. With all that in mind, the M3 announcement is what I was waiting for as an excuse to upgrade.

    My only hesitation was which way to go from my 15" – 14 or 16? The difference in price made that decision for me, and that difference was significant enough that I didn’t even go to the Apple Store to have a look in person. I hope I don’t regret it, because I live walking distance from an Apple Store and have no excuse!

  37. Don’t forget they have a 14 day return policy :slight_smile: FWIW I went from a 2015 15" MBP to a 14" M1 and have never regretted the decision.

  38. Well given no USB-C accessories, I think it likely we’ll see them in late Jan/ Feb 2024 when new M3/M3 Pro Mac Mini’s are almost a necessity to arrive (given it’ll have been a year since previous release.)

    Likely the Studios (and Mac Pro) will get their new chips in June at WWDC.
    While this is enough time (12 months) since the previous M2 variants were released, I still think it’s looking more and more odd to buyers seeing machines on previous chips for over six months, when everyone knows the next variants are out and about on other Macs.

    So the question now is whether Apple is going to change this, and get the Studios/Pros on the new ones quicker?

    Somehow the pessimist in me thinks they won’t, unfortunately.

  39. It’s silly Apple force this annual cycle on Macs and Mx chips too. Just as it is for macOS. Nobody says they have to have a new Mx CPU or new Macs every 12 months. Nobody says they have to release a major version of macOS every year. They are putting themselves in this situation and it’s not helpful in terms of QA or customer satisfaction. The only thing it does accomplish (apart from pleasing their marketing drones) is to obsolete certain systems earlier.

    I think we’d be perfectly fine getting a new Mx chip every ~ 2 years if OTOH that also meant sizable gains in either performance or battery life. That would also allow Apple to update various lines on their own schedules. Not all systems need to receive the latest and greatest Mx chip at the same time. It makes sense that a MBP or Mac Studio are upgraded on a more aggressive schedule than say a budget 24" iMac.

  40. Not only will a 14" MBP get you a better keyboard, it will also offer far better battery life, much nicer screen and speakers, substantially less heat, and less noise compared to your 2017 Intel 15" MBP. You’ll love the 14" M3.

  41. It’s genius-level marketing. The annual cycle is like fall TV premiere season used to be, with months of speculation and rumors coming, breathless announcement sessions, and then the actual airing of the shows (the analogy fails a bit there because most of the shows would get cancelled). It builds a rhythm and expectation that helps make it incredible news and helps Apple dominate the cycle repeatedly. We’re literally at the point where media outlets are actually basically begging Apple for an event (there’s been a wave of stories over the last few years where people essentially say “Hey, isn’t it time for an event?” at the beginning of September, etc). The invitations get parsed over and analyzed. The only one better at this kind of marketing is Taylor Swift (hmm, maybe Tim Cook should start showing up for Chiefs games?)

    Does it have drawbacks in other terms? Of course! But it means that Apple thrives as a business, something I’m highly in favor of, and that allows them to do something like develop their own chips in ways that has leapfrogged Intel.

    Side notes:

    1. While people complain about there being more bugs or dropping customer satisfaction, I’ve not seen actual evidence for either of those being worse than previously – ie, not anecdata about specific bugs or someone complaining online about how they don’t like this. Does that evidence exist? IE, rate of serious bugs per Mac OS release? A survey of customer satisfaction?

    2. I think the transition from Intel means we’re going to see Apple obsoleting older models pretty quickly so they can close the door on non-Apple Silicon machines.

  42. I agree, but two things are at play here: user perspectives and business sense.

    From a functionality user perspective, new OS updates yearly are a source of frustration, as you have loads of ‘newness’ to spend hours of your time working out… Is the new OS stable enough to update (on release, or point 1/2/3)?; are my apps compatible and work properly on the new OS?; are any of the new features worth using and if so then working out how to use them or not; changing workflows to fit new features; and so on. This is all quite annoying in many aspects as we know, given our main task is trying to use machines to, ya know, get things done!

    IMO, these changes are much more pronounced with macOS than the other Apple OS’s, as users almost certainly mass store data on their Macs (often with externals), likely synced via iCloud (or other service) for download and usage more ad-hoc on iOS/iPadOS, given how iOS stores data somewhat differently (and yes, I know you can store purely locally on iOS, it’s just that most users probably don’t). So on macOS users are always much more wary of things not working properly, or items wrongly being deleted in the background they didn’t notice much later that have disappeared due to some bug, or simply changes that screw-up how our minds understand using something. This all creates additional cognitive load and potential levels of stress, so yes, doing this each and every year is burdensome.

    However, the marketing user perspective and related business perspective is the expectation of new stuff regularly, like it or not. How regularly is the question? iPhones are obvs the biggest item, so Apple have to release new ones no matter what every September now, as the ‘marketplace’ (press/stock market/users expectations) all expect them, with sales dwindling in the few months beforehand (accessories are now part of this, especially Apple Watch, which is effectively an extra cherry-on-the-cake sale for Apple and deliberately released to generate extra income at exactly the same time as new iPhones). The marketing has to include new OS’s with new features, otherwise what’s the need for all this new hardware improvement?

    Other things are less cyclical, hence delays in iPads this year. But at the moment at least, Apple is heavily invested in pushing M-series Mac adoption, as it’s quite clear they’re releasing regular new chips in a sustained effort to push users away from older Intel machines and onto M-series ones. Then you have the issue of matching chips between iOS devices and Macs now, with essentially the same underlying architecture for both arriving at the same time, which again the marketplace can see, and therefore expects Apple to do, both matching user and market expectations. Realistically, it looks like this is the new normal given this, so new machines have to have those new OS’s, matching the marketing reality new iPhones are in.

  43. Interesting first performance figures for the new M3.

    Its P core clocks in 26% higher than M1 (4.05 GHz vs. 3.2 GHz), so remaining gains are due to actual design improvements. M3 single-core comes in around 3k in Geekbench, so ~30% higher than M1 (~2300). But multicore is much more impressive obviously due to all the other changes:

    • M3: ~11,700 (+20% vs. M2, +41% vs. M1)
    • M2: ~9,700 (+17% vs. M1)
    • M1: ~8,315

    Multicore M3 Max shows a staggering 21,084 (peak recording) which is truly impressive considering M2 Ultra (with Ultra ~= 2x Max) on average just matches that. For multicore, M3 Max beats M2 Max by ~45% and M1 Max by a whopping ~73%.

    M1 was released Nov 2020. So we’re seeing ~ 30-41% raw gains in 3 years but without increasing power or decreasing battery life. Pretty sweet.

  44. Competitors are starting to catch up - Samsung is getting ready to release a 4 nm process PC chip that supposedly matches the M2, with tons more neural core capacity, presumably interesting for AI uses. Intel and AMD won’t stand still, either. Apple really has no reason not to continue pressing on while they have a lead like this.

    And most consumers (90%+?) just don’t care. They but a new computer every x years and don’t really pay attention to incremental model releases. We all manage with yearly updates to vehicle models as well. It seems weird for Apple not to improve their most powerful laptop and processor as often as yearly if they are able to do just that. We’re all smart - we’ll figure out which upgrades are right for us.

  45. Nor is anybody telling them to. What people are saying is to release a new Mac when the CPU for that line is ready rather than on some fixed schedule determined by marketing apparatchiks. In hindsight, M2 was clearly late and nobody really felt it made a whole lot of sense to update a mid range product on a 10-month schedule. However, keeping the Studio/Pro and high-end MBPs on the latest and greatest is imperative, regardless if it happens to fall on Sep/Oct or not.

  46. Yes, there’s definitely this too. The likes of Qualcomm and NVidia are no slouches, Apple’s leap past Intel needs forward momentum to build a sense of inevitability.

  47. I’ve seen no evidence that M or A processor upgrades are marketing-driven at all, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone complain about yearly upgrades to Macs besides you really. In fact, there used to be a lot more griping in the Intel years when Apple didn’t update their line when Intel had processor improvements that would have fit.

  48. “ iPhone sales made up approximately 48.5 percent of Apple’s total revenue in the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year 2023. iPhone sales usually contribute to half or more than half of Apple’s overall sales revenue. Apple’s other businesses such as the Apple Watch and the iTunes Store have been bringing in growing shares of revenues, from around five percent in 2017 to over ten percent in the third quarter of FY 2023.”

    Having brand new, super duper, gorgeous and powerful new iPhones, Macs, iPads, etc., debut around holiday and back to school seasons every year is one of the biggest reasons why Apple continues to be an extremely profitable industry leader. The more iPhones, Macs, etc. they can sell, the bigger the profits on their bottom line. They release new models in the fall because it’s back to school and start of the holiday shopping season, always the very best sales times for consumer and b2b retailers.

  49. And they always will be.*

    *not really, but this is the equivalent of [this unreleased product is] is an “iPhone killer.”

  50. The marketing apparatchiks are the ones who help Apple make billions a year. I remember when Apple couldn’t advertise its way out of a paper bag and I much prefer this, thanks.

  51. It’ll be interesting on when they release M4-series chips using the N3E 3-nanometre process – will they be on a Mac (and iPhone 16 Pros A18 chip) a year from now in Autumn 2024 on this new annual schedule?

    Closer to home, as I previously mentioned, when do people think we’ll see the Mini and Studio/Pro updates to these new M3-series?
    Mini getting the M3+M3 Pro in January 2024 is reasonably fast if they do this as expected. However to buyers of the Studio & Pro it’s going to seem extremely silly buying if not needed immediately over the next 6-months (especially the Max chip version most likely buy) while waiting for these machines to get the same chips that are clearly already available right now. How does Apple square that circle of delay?

  52. Remember how 1984 changed the world? It’s still considered the best and most effective commercial in history by many:

    And the commercial didn’t even show a picture of a Mac.

  53. Just because M3 and M3 Pro are available in the numbers needed for mini, does not mean M3 Max is available for MP and Studio. But even so, M2 Ultra roughly matches M3 Max, so any Studio or MP user with an Ultra will have nothing to worry about an M3 Pro in a Mac mini.

    They will arrive when they’re ready to ship in appropriate volume. I think if there’s anything we’ve learned so far with M1-M3 is that you buy the Mac you need with the specs you like when you need it. Things like form factor, screen quality, or battery life usually are for more important distinctions than the slight performance gains from Pro to Max or M1 to M2. Apple Silicon just performs much too well for an individual increment to really change the big picture by all that much IMHO.

  54. I was surprised by the M3 Max matching the M2 Ultra, but Howard Oakley is dubious that Geekbench is showing the full picture:

    Although we’re going to hear a lot of results from benchmarking apps like Geekbench, remember that the tests they run don’t simulate real-world CPU usage. For instance, they’re designed to run the same processes on each core when being used to measure multicore performance. In reality, macOS should manage distribution of the very different threads running in real-world use, to make best use of the cores available. Benchmark results are but part of the evaluation of performance.

    When you hear anyone making claims that the 6P + 6E design of the M3 Pro is merely 50% more than a regular M3 chip with its 4P + 4E, or slightly over half an M3 Max at 12P + 4E, get them to show you their evidence. Measuring and comparing the performance of Apple’s new M3 chips has become much more complicated, and that’s before we’ve even considered the GPU.

    Finally, be very wary of what you see in Activity Monitor’s CPU History window. While it does show broad trends in the distribution of workload across different cores, it doesn’t take account of frequency. There’s a world of difference between an E core running at 100% and a frequency of 1 GHz and a P core running at 100% and well over 3 GHz. If you want the full picture, then you have to resort to tools like powermetrics.

  55. Yes we know all that, most should buy if needed. I’m not talking about owners of current machines not having to care about M3 Max being as good as M2 Ultra (though Ultra is double the price, remember!), but rather completely new buyers.

    More precisely, I’m obviously talking from a marketing perspective here. Users buying Studios/MP’s are not average joe consumers who don’t really care much, quite the opposite. And they can see the new M3 Max chip is clearly shipping in MBP’s right now, so will be wondering why the (likely most popular) Studio Max doesn’t have these new chips sooner than the expected HALF-A-YEAR(!) from the M2 Studio release. They don’t care if it had been just a day since the M2 Studio’s were released, nor about supply constraints; they can see the next chip is here today in other Macs so they’ll wonder why such a massive wait to put these in Studios/MP’s.

    How does Apple square that circle of delay in marketing terms? I don’t believe they can. Which is a problem when you drip-feed-over-time releases of devices such as these that get regularly updated.

    Although, it’s not like Apple have always cared in the past about massive gaps between releases, though under different circumstances, given the timeframes they often left between releasing new devices (eg. Mini 2014 to 2018, et al.). So probably they’re not going to care here either.

  56. Oh, that’s depressing. I didn’t find it necessary to replace my early 2008 iMac until 2019, so I wasn’t expecting to replace my present machine (21.5-inch 2019 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i3) before 2030. It still does everything I want it to at an acceptable speed.

  57. I missed your point about the $20K professional video camera compared to the iPhone. Was the price higher or lower or what? And who cares?

  58. 11 years is an astonishing run. I generally feel that anything over 5-6 years is good.

    It’s not so much about speed as compatibility and security. Even if you don’t worry about security because the last version of macOS you can run is no longer receiving security updates, at some point, the compatible Web browsers you can run will stop being able to access some websites.

    Simply that a $1200 iPhone 15 Pro Max can take the place of a professional video camera that costs $20,000. That’s an incredibly impressive technical feat.

    As to who cares, only really professional video people, since the rest of us aren’t buying $20,000 video cameras. That’s my other point—that just because the iPhone can stand in for the camera doesn’t mean that the rest of us can even begin to approximate what Apple did.

    A friend who should know says that he suspects the budget for Apple’s Scary Fast presentation would have been in the low seven figures.

  59. That’s the big point for me.

    Although my main Mac at home is a 2018 mini, I also use a 2011 Mac Book Air (entry-level model - 11" screen, 4G RAM, 128G SSD). Which works great for what I use it for - web browsing, streaming video and light use of office apps when I don’t want to be in my office.

    The last version of macOS that can run on it is High Sierra, and I’m actually still running Sierra on it because I never thought Apple fixed some its APFS growing-pains bugs before they moved to the next version.

    MS Office hasn’t received updates for several years, but I don’t care because I only open documents that I create.

    But Firefox is dropping support some time next year. And a web browser needs to be kept up to date, both for security and because web sites will become incompatible. So I’ll be forced to upgrade this 12 year old computer next year, even though, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still working great.

    (Yes, I could probably install Linux on it, but if I’m going to switch to a Linux laptop, I’d rather do it on PC hardware. And I don’t want to use a Linux laptop when traveling.)

  60. They ignore it for six months until the Studio gets updated.

  61. Dunno, but probably not.

    Can someone please remind us (me) what Apple Silicon is actually all about? It’s just that every time I’m at the point of thinking about how I’ll upgrade my perfectly good, perfectly fast, top-end iMac '20, I suddenly realise the sharp divide that exists between need and desire. It also helps that I bought this iMac just as Apple Silicon was being earnestly speculated about, and I didn’t want to be left without a Windows box if it all went wrong. (Even now, sadly, my need for Windows can’t be entirely met by a VM, but it’s getting closer as screen readers adapt.)

    So I guess no, you’re probably not. But it’s interesting to step back and take a fresh look at the question every so often. In truth, all the speed you need is actually the correct assessment of what you have. That doesn’t mean opposition to innovation, or refusal to recognise legitimate needs. It just means being ready to be content with what one already has. I just moved from a 1G/150M cable connection to a 3G/3G FTTP connection; I would rather (read: strongly prefer/desire to) not go back, but I’m comfortable that I could, if the need arose. The FTTP connection is about so much more than just speed–congestion free, symmetrical speed, exceptionally low latency, and these things together clearly represent future progress. But these things though desirable aren’t essential either, and the most that one can say of them is that every good citizen ought in principle to be able to enjoy them today, while future potential uses for them for the great unwashed are dreamed up tomorrow.

  62. Based on a recent Eclectic Light article, apparently using benchmarks like Geekbench to evaluate M3 performance may be misleading

    Although we’re going to hear a lot of results from benchmarking apps like Geekbench, remember that the tests they run don’t simulate real-world CPU usage. For instance, they’re designed to run the same processes on each core when being used to measure multicore performance. In reality, macOS should manage distribution of the very different threads running in real-world use, to make best use of the cores available. Benchmark results are but part of the evaluation of performance.

    When you hear anyone making claims that the 6P + 6E design of the M3 Pro is merely 50% more than a regular M3 chip with its 4P + 4E, or slightly over half an M3 Max at 12P + 4E, get them to show you their evidence. Measuring and comparing the performance of Apple’s new M3 chips has become much more complicated, and that’s before we’ve even considered the GPU.

    Finally, be very wary of what you see in Activity Monitor’s CPU History window. While it does show broad trends in the distribution of workload across different cores, it doesn’t take account of frequency. There’s a world of difference between an E core running at 100% and a frequency of 1 GHz and a P core running at 100% and well over 3 GHz. If you want the full picture, then you have to resort to tools like powermetrics .

  63. And he’s certainly right about that.

    His tests focus on tight code loops of basic arithmetic. That’s very useful to gauge the performance of a P or E core, learn how they’re clustered, how their clocks behave, compare cores to each other, and learn how macOS distributes load among them. But I also like seeing more integrated benchmarking besides such tight testing because it does attempt to replicate a more common workflow such that we learn something about interfaces to other components (eg. memory bandwidth) or things like load balancing between CPU and GPU cores. In fact, Howard has never claimed to benchmark GPU core performance, which quite obviously, is also an important part of the Apple Silicon sauce.

    IMHO he’s right to caution people against judging these new Mac solely by a Geekbench score. I also believe that Geekbench scores, just like his FPO/s tables do give us valuable clues as to how these new Macs perform and why they perform the way they do.

  64. Count me in as another person that has managed to keep older computers going. I have a early 2009 24" iMac running El Capitan as a Daily Driver. I installed an additional 4GB of RAM to bring it up to 8GB, added a FireWire enclosure with an SSD as a boot drive, spinning hard drives for time machine. It still has its original HD, but I run the machine with it unmounted. Performance is decent for such an old machine and I rather not upgrade the OS with OpenCore as it would prevent some perfectly good apps from running on it, and the performance would degrade. I use Chromium as a current Web Browser as support for all of the popular ones have ceased. I can also remote into my M1 MacBook Pro if needed.

  65. I think you’re both right, and nevertheless, I feel with Apple Silicon it’s the reason to upgrade that changes, not the urge.

    I would argue for most people (myself included) the M1-M3 we’ve so far seen offer ample performance for 99% of our tasks. So I doubt CPU core improvements or clock adjustments or mem b/w increases or any other direct CPU tweak will be an immediate reason to upgrade. In that sense I completely get why a lot of people are now finding themselves feeling “why should I get a new M3 Mac, my M1 is still awesome at everything”.

    But I also know that beyond just CPU performance there’s a lot I could see improve and when it does I know I’ll want to jump on a new Mac at once. I’ll admit, much of it pertains more to mobile computing than desktop. (That said, these days my desktop reality is mobile computing because rather than a Mac Studio plus say MBA, I just use a beefed up MBP with a nice docking station and fancy screen for my desk work).

    • Working in bright sunshine. The screen can never be too bright. Once we get even brighter displays or perhaps micro LED that to me would be a very good reason to upgrade my MBP.

    • Non-tethered mobile. Tethering works but it’s always a bit finicky and it tends to run down the iPhone battery fast. One day I suppose MBPs will come with an eSIM and native cellular capability. That is an upgrade I’d jump on. Not because of dire need (there is tethering), but because of convenience.

    • 80 Gbps Thunderbolt 5: To this day the fastest external storage you can get is ~2.8 GB/s read and ~2.1 GB/s write. That’s fast, but it’s also 2-3x slower than the Mac’s internal flash. The reason for that bottleneck is the “40 Gbps TB4” that effectively offers 32 Gbps peak data transfer which then in reality translates to sub-3 GB/s. So when the next MBP with TB5 comes out (which should finally get external storage b/w at least into the vicinity of today’s internal flash), you can bet I’ll want to upgrade along with getting new TB5 docking stations.

    • Battery life. My 14" makes it through a full work day on one charge, sure. But if I’m spending lots of it on wasteful apps like Zoom and I perhaps also have to crank up my screen real high because I’m sitting for hours at an airport with lots of sun shining into the waiting area and onto my screen, I’ll be having to keep an eye on battery nevertheless. And I’m not inclined to carry around battery packs forever or go chase after outlets. So the moment we get MBPs with 24+ hr spec’ed battery life, I’ll definitely want to upgrade to that.

    And that’s just my list. I’m sure others would have other points (10G Ethernet perhaps? Or touchscreens? :wink: Faster/better mem card slot? Colors?). Either way, even if performance is overkill and we’re already sufficiently happy with speed and responsiveness, I think there will eventually be plenty things left that will get people to upgrade their Apple Silicon Macs outside of Mx upgrades. I have a suspicion Apple will try to entice folks to get new Macs by marketing the heck out of Mx renewals, but that it will be other things like above that will get Mx owners to actually get a new Mx Mac.

  66. Thanks, I follow Howard’s articles religiously and agree that the multicore Geekbench results can be misleading. The single core results are probably more reliable and show Apple’s claimed improvements of 15%.

    The Geekbench tests also reveal the clock speed which is 4 GHz for the M3 chips - this is partly responsible for the speed increases and I would think is one of the chief benefits of the 3 nm process. (M2 chips are clocked at 3.7 GHz). Of course another benefit of the process is lower power consumption.

  67. That’s a dangerous question.

    On the one hand, I don’t do anything that stresses my current hardware that much. So its safe to say (as I have said) that everything sold today by every manufacturer (not counting companies selling complete junk) would be able to do what I need. I could probably meet all my personal computing needs with a Raspberry Pi and enough USB storage to hold my media collection.)

    But that’s very different from “can imagine ever needing”. I can imagine quite a bit. I think I would really like a voice assistant that’s completely self-contained, only accessing the Internet services that I explicitly authorize. Sort of like an off-line Siri. We may be getting close the the time what that becomes possible. I can also imagine needing much faster GPUs in order to handle future streaming media programming (holographic immersive programs? Integration with VR/AR hardware?). I can easily imagine Star Trek level computing tech (just watch the show). Not counting future requirements (like being able to fly a starship), a lot of what they show is stuff I could imagine wanting and maybe even needing, should it become reality.

    So I don’t think computing will ever get as fast as I can ever imagine needing.

    But then we can fly to the complete opposite drection. What do I actually need? For my employer, I obviously need enough computing to do my job. Which means a modern office suite, software developer tools for a wide variety of embedded platforms, fast enough to meet our customers’ requirements.

    For my personal life, however, I don’t need computing at all. I could track everything I need tracking using paper notebooks. I could (and until about 12 years ago did) pay all my bills by mailing paper checks. Although I certainly like my iPhone, I could get by just fine with a land-line and no other capabilities. We’re not yet at the point where it’s impossible for function without computers, although we might be getting there in the next 5-10 years.

    But that’s just like most things in life. We don’t need streaming TV services. We don’t need TV at all.

    But the fact that I don’t need something doesn’t mean I don’t want it. The fact that I can get all of my entertainment from books, board games and the radio doesn’t mean I don’t want my home theater system, Apple TV and PlayStation game console.

  68. Another “me, too!”

    I’m still using a 2010 MacPro5,1 running Mojave. My wife has a 2012 13" MacBook Pro, also running Mojave. Both computers are more than enough for our needs. However, with web browsers now dropping support for Mojave it may be time to move on.

    I just ordered an M3 24" iMac (16Gb, 1TB) to replace the MBP. The M3 will seriously outperform the 2012 MBP and the nuances discussed here will be mostly irrelevant. :grinning: We’ll evaluate how that goes and then I’ll decide if I want to replace my MacPro.

    Opinion: The MacPro up through 2012 may have been the high point of Mac desktop computers with expandability, capability, and price. The 2013 expandability was limited and the 2019 was priced too high.

  69. You and Han Solo. :grinning:

  70. Yes, the ports and the bigger screen speak for the M3 MB Pro, but the Air is more than a pound lighter. That weight difference make me tend towards the Air.

  71. I wish when a presentation was aimed at an English speaking audience that all presenters would have English as their native language. I struggle when not.


  72. Is no one going to mention the fact that the production advisor for the “Scary Fast” shoot was a guy named Jeff Wozniak?

  73. My solution to the single external display support on the lower end MacBooks is to use a DisplayLink-supported dock/hub. That will happily drive two external displays at up to 4K each.

  74. Here’s an odd one. The presently shipping M3 MBPs (regular M3, not Pro) ship with Ventura that claims 13.5 is the latest version it can update to. That they ship with Ventura is no surprise since Apple has likely been stockpiling for a while already, but that these MBPs don’t suggest the Sonoma update is a bit odd. Fortunately, folks can download the installer straight from Apple and then get 14.1 that way.

  75. Some reviews have started to appear:

  76. No relation. But a pretty famous visual effects producer.

    How much of that £1700 is VAT? Which you are technically supposed to pay if you import a computer from another country.

  77. Although I have no interest in getting any of these devices, I’ve been following this conversation with interest. For those who haven’t seen it, there’s now this posting on MacRumors.

  78. I don’t find the news that the lowest level of RAM specced for the M3 MacBookPro is insufficient. That’s been generally true for all Mac models since multiple versions have been available. The only time I’ve bought t a Mac with the base amount of RAM was when it was easy for the user to add more (ancient MacBooks and the 27-inch iMac). I usually ordered the additional RAM from a 3rd party at the same time I ordered the Mac so that I could install it immediately.

    In general, I’ve found that if a consumer product is available at several price levels, the lowest one is a loss leader, either deficient in some way or needs some vital options.

  79. I fully agree there’s been consensus that 8GB is only sufficient for basic work. But I also think previously in most people’s minds this was linked to capacity (“mem pressure”).

    I suppose the actual news here is that it also has such a strong impact on performance. With the heavily integrated and high-b/w flash in our systems since M1, there has been this notion that swap results in less of a penalty than it used to on Intel Macs. This data shows that even so, you don’t want to skimp on RAM if you care anything about not bottlenecking M3’s performance. It’s a $200 upsell, but likely one that makes sense for most any buyer that’s in the market for MBP over MBA.

  80. This is probably true. I’ve heard it from far too many reliable sources.

    But even if there is zero performance penalty, it’s still a bad idea, because large amounts of swapping means large amounts of writing to the file system. I wouldn’t want to burn through my SSD’s precious write because of swapping.

    I don’t have a problem with Apple selling base models with only 8GB RAM, but it is really frustrating that if you want any more (without moving up to a much larger CPU), it has to be a BTO option. There are no stock configurations of an otherwise baseline model with 16GB RAM, meaning you can’t get that capacity from a retail store (e.g. Costco or Best Buy) for any amount of money.

  81. Howard Oakley today has an excellent summary of changes going from M1 Pro to M3 Pro. Including a very simple way to help judge if perhaps the jump could be worth it. Despite all the interesting details he manages to get across, he’s truly a master at making the complicated simple. :+1: :slightly_smiling_face:

    The biggest surprise to me is that background tasks on a lightly loaded M3 Pro could run slower than on M1 Pro (E core min frequency dropped), but that on a heavily loaded system, background tasks running on the E cores can actually still complete faster than on M1 Pro because the entire cluster runs at the same clock and the max freq for E cores on M3 Pro has actually been increased.

  82. For those of you who are interested in the hardware details of the M3 family, I thought this was a very interesting video. Two issues stuck out to me:

    1. While M1 and M2 were basically two chips designs (M1 vs. M1 Max/Pro/Ultra), M3 now is based on 3 separate designs (M3 vs. M3 Pro vs. M3 Max/Ultra) which is what has resulted in many early reviewers regarding M3 Pro as a “downgrade” compared to M1/2 Pro.

    2. The M3 GPU is entirely new and its dynamic shared cache system could be considered a game changer.

  83. More excellent analysis by Howard Oakley on the M3 Pro here. The first is mainly about efficiency and energy use. The second discusses different numbers of cores M1 vs. M3 and how that affects virtualization as well as Game Mode.

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