Apple’s M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max: A Critical Review

by Adeel Younas
Apple M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max

Apple’s latest 3nm family of Mac chipsets, which includes the M3, M3 Pro, and the M3 Max, has been subject to scrutiny in a recent report. While the M3 Max receives praise, the base Apple Silicon and M3 Pro face criticism for not bringing substantial improvements.

Apple’s M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max Review

In this analysis based review, we delve into the details of these chipsets’ performance and capabilities.

The M3: A Modest Upgrade

The base M3 chipset has an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. It’s considered a minor refresh when compared to the M1. However, it doesn’t offer a substantial upgrade that demands an immediate switch. In benchmark tests, the M3 equals the M2 Pro’s 10-core CPU in multi-core performance and surpasses it in single-core performance, signifying gradual enhancements.

“The M3 doesn’t move the needle considerably from the M2, but it’s a nice refresh coming from the M1. The company says the 2023 iMac is about twice as fast as the 2021 version with the older chip.”

The Disappointing M3 Pro

In contrast, the M3 Pro disappoints with only a 6 percent improvement over the M2 Pro in Geekbench 6’s multi-core test. Despite incorporating a pair of power-efficient cores, it fails to distinguish itself significantly from its predecessor. The M3 Pro’s lackluster performance in the graphics department and minimal core count increase leaves much to be desired.

“The M3 Pro isn’t much of a game-changer, simply adding a pair of power-efficient processing cores and not gaining much in the graphics department over the M2 Pro.”

M3 Max: A Remarkable Feat

The M3 Max stands out as the star of the lineup. Featuring a 16-core CPU, it outpaces the M2 Ultra with its 24-core CPU configuration. This top-end chipset offers reasonable performance improvements, allowing users to have a laptop with 16 main cores and 40 graphics cores. Additionally, it supports up to 128 gigabytes of memory, placing its performance on par with desktop machines like the M2 Ultra Mac Studio and Mac Pro.”

“The M3 Max is quite a feat, adding more main processing cores and graphics cores, plus the ability to top out memory to 128 gigabytes in a laptop. Users can now carry around a laptop with 16 main cores and 40 graphics cores, putting its performance in line with desktop machines like the M2 Ultra Mac Studio or Mac Pro.”

Transistor Count Comparison

Another noteworthy aspect of the M3 series is the transistor count. The M3 Max exhibits a remarkable 37 percent increase in transistor count compared to its predecessor, making it the highest gap observed in any M-series chipset. In contrast, the M3 Pro features fewer performance cores and lower memory bandwidth than the M2 Pro, signalling a deviation from the usual trend.

User Opinions and Future Prospects

As Mark Gurman’s assessment highlights, the M3 series has received mixed reviews. While the M3 and M3 Pro offer modest improvements, the M3 Max is a standout performer. The diverging transistor count strategies indicate Apple’s varied approach within this chipset family. User opinions on the new 3nm Apple Silicon range remain divided.

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