Apple held their first evening special event on October 30, titled “Scary Fast,” where they unveiled their new M3 chips. This marked the first time that an entire generation of Apple silicon for Mac was revealed simultaneously, including the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max models. It is predicted that an M3 Ultra chip will be released in 2024 as part of a Mac Studio update, but it is essentially two M3 Max chips combined in a single package, so it is not expected to bring any major surprises.
Apple has recently announced the key specifications for the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. Any statements regarding performance are solely from Apple and should be confirmed through independent testing, which we will be conducting shortly.
M3 processors compared
Interested in quickly comparing the main distinctions among these chips? Check out this table!
Neural Engine cores
8 (4P + 4E)
8 or 10
11 (5P + 6E) or 12 (6P + 6E)
14 or 18
14 (10P or 4E) or 16 (12P + 4E)
30 or 40
Enhancements to the central and graphical processing units throughout the M3 series.
The M3 processor line is based on a 3nm manufacturing process and shares the same architecture as the A17 Pro for its GPU and media engine.
The high-performance cores in the CPU are 15% faster than the M2 and 30% faster than the M1. The efficiency cores have also been upgraded, with a 30% increase in speed compared to the M2 and a 50% increase compared to the M1.
The graphics processing unit (GPU) experiences a larger increase in performance compared to the central processing unit (CPU), utilizing a design comparable to the A17 Pro used in the iPhone 15 Pro. A revolutionary technology called “dynamic caching” enables the hardware to constantly manage the allocated memory for the GPU, rather than relying on applications to determine the amount during compilation. The GPU also boasts support for mesh shaders and accelerated hardware ray tracing. According to Apple, it can provide up to 2.5 times faster rendering speeds for professional applications compared to the M1.
The media engine has the capability to use the A17’s codecs, which include H.264, HEVC, ProRes ProRAW, and AV1 decoding.
The M3 generation sees an improvement in the Neural Engine, a specialized hardware designed to enhance AI and Machine Learning processes. While there was a significant increase in performance from M1 to M2, the jump from M2 to M3 is less significant. According to Apple, the Neural Engine in the M3 is 15% faster than that of the M2, and 60% faster than that of the M1.
The M3’s CPU will consist of 8 cores, split between four high-performance cores and four low-power efficiency cores. Its GPU can range up to 10 cores (the starting iMac has 8 cores, while all M3 MacBook Pro versions have 10-core GPUs). Additionally, M3 laptops can now be equipped with a maximum of 24GB RAM.
M3 Pro specs
The M3 Pro has two extra efficiency cores in its CPU, but it has also removed two performance cores compared to the M2 Pro. This results in a 6+6 configuration. This is a notable difference from the M2 Pro, which had 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores.
The graphics processing unit (GPU) will have a maximum of 18 cores, one less than the M2 Pro. However, Apple claims it will be 10% quicker than the M2 Pro’s GPU and 40% faster than the M1 Pro’s GPU.
The M3 Pro chips will be able to accommodate a maximum of 36GB of RAM, which is a slight increase from the previous maximum of 32GB for the M2 Pro.
M3 Max specs
The M3 Max is equipped with a large chip, consisting of 16 CPU cores, with 4 dedicated to efficiency and 12 for performance.
The number of cores in the GPU is 40, which is two more than the M2 Max.
The M3 Max chips can accommodate a maximum of 128GB of RAM, which is a significant increase from the 96GB limit of the M2 Max.
This autumn, the feature will be available on various Mac computers.
In November, the M3 line will be introduced in several new Mac updates. Preorders for the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are currently open and they will begin shipping on November 7. The 14-inch model will now offer a base M3 option for the first time.
The M3 processor is being added to the 24-inch iMac by Apple, and can currently be ordered with shipping beginning on November 7.