While the M3 series represents a leap forward for Apple’s in-house chips, the event left pro users of the iMac Pro disappointed by its continued absence.
In this in-depth analysis, we’ll cover:
- An overview of Apple’s powerful new M3 silicon
- The most significant improvements the M3 chips will enable
- Which Macs and users stand to benefit the most from the M3
- Why pro users hoping for a new iMac Pro update were let down
- What the future could hold for an iMac Pro reboot with M3 silicon
Let’s dive in and see which Mac users come out as winners or losers in the wake of Apple’s major M3 announcement.
Apple’s Next-Gen M3 Silicon Takes a Great Leap Forward
The M3 series builds on the already-impressive performance of Apple’s M1 and M2 chips. The full range of new chips includes:
- M3: The baseline M3 chip provides an 18% boost over the M2, with up to 12 CPU cores and up to 19 GPU cores.
- M3 Pro: A sizeable 30% faster than M2 Pro with up to 12 CPU cores and up to 19 GPU cores.
- M3 Max: Offers 40% higher performance versus M2 Max with up to 12 CPU cores and up to 38 GPU cores.
- M3 Ultra: The maximum M3 chip delivers up to 24 CPU cores and up to 76 GPU cores for blistering performance.
The M3 series also brings hardware-accelerated improvements for video encoding, 3D graphics, machine learning, and more. Overall, it’s a dramatic step forward for Apple silicon.
Significant Performance and Efficiency Gains with M3
The switch to the M3 CPU and GPU cores, memory architecture improvements, and enhanced encode/decode engines enable some major performance and efficiency gains:
- Faster processing: Up to 36% faster CPU performance and up to 30% faster GPU speeds versus the M2 chips.
- Beefier graphics: M3 Max has double the graphics performance of M2 Max. M3 Ultra boasts triple the graphics power of M2 Ultra.
- Next-level machine learning: M3 processing cores deliver up to 800 TOPS for lightning-fast ML tasks.
- Longer battery life: Efficiency gains mean M3 Macs will offer the longest battery life yet for Apple portables.
- Zippy storage: Support for faster next-gen storage enables massive bandwidth like 400GB/s with M3 Pro.
- Buttery smooth gaming: Large graphics gains translate to maxed-out frame rates in demanding games.
- Faster exports: Video exports in apps like Final Cut Pro are up to 6x faster with M3 versus M2.
It’s clear the M3 silicon takes Apple’s in-house chips into new territory when it comes to both speed and efficiency.
Biggest Winners: MacBook Pro and Mac Studio Users
The new high-performance M3 silicon variants will first make their way into Apple’s most pro-level Macs – the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio desktop.
These two Mac lines and their users stand to benefit the most from the dramatic speed and efficiency gains of the M3 Pro, Max, and Ultra:
- Faster export times for creative pros
- Vastly improved gaming frame rates
- Better machine learning performance
- Longer battery life for on-the-go use
- Next-level performance for creative workflows
- desktop-class graphics power
- Extreme multitasking capabilities
- Support for multiple 8K displays
Creative professionals, hardcore gamers, app developers, and other power users will see the biggest real-world impact thanks to the monster performance coming in M3-powered MacBook Pro and Mac Studio models.
iMac Pro Fans Left Disappointed by Continued Absence
One segment of pro Mac users came away from Apple’s M3 unveiling let down though – fans of the iMac Pro all-in-one desktop.
The iMac Pro was last updated way back in 2017 and is now woefully outdated. It was expected Apple might finally reboot iMac Pro with new M3 silicon.
But no mention came of a refreshed iMac Pro, leaving its devotees disappointed.
Here’s why pro users have been eagerly anticipating an M3 iMac Pro:
- All-in-one convenience: iMac Pro’s slick AIO design saves space and consolidates the desktop experience.
- Great for creative pros: 5K display and ample power make it ideal for photographers, video editors, animators, etc.
- Impressive silicon: A new iMac Pro running M3 Pro or Max would be a monster creator machine.
- Overdue for modern features: Things like ProMotion displays, faster memory, more Thunderbolt ports, etc.
After over 5 years, M3 silicon seemed destined to power a new best-in-class iMac Pro. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t yet appear to share that enthusiasm.
What Does the Future Hold for an iMac Pro Reboot?
The lack of an M3 iMac Pro announcement has left pro users unsure of Apple’s plans:
- An updated iMac Pro could still launch later in 2023, but Apple provided no hints.
- Apple may focus on pro portable users first before addressing the desktop AIO market.
- The external pro display market and Mac Studio may have limited iMac Pro’s appeal for Apple.
- But strong customer demand for an updated iMac Pro persists, so Apple would be wise to deliver.
- Most expect a new high-end iMac Pro will arrive at some point in the next 1-2 years.
Hopefully Apple recognizes demand for a revived iMac Pro and doesn’t make its pro userbase wait too much longer.
The M3 silicon gives Apple the chance to retake the all-in-one computing crown whenever they finally reboot iMac Pro.
Apple’s new M3 chips clearly represent a major leap forward, demonstrating the immense power and efficiency progress of Apple silicon. MacBook Pro and Mac Studio users in particular stand to benefit tremendously from the massive gains in performance and battery life. But pro users hoping for an iMac Pro update were left disappointed for now. Nonetheless, Apple would be smart to tap into its awesome M3 silicon soon to release an updated iMac Pro and meet that persisting customer need for a new Mac AIO built for pros.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why didn’t Apple announce a new iMac Pro model yet?
A: It’s unclear, but Apple may be prioritizing pro laptops first before addressing the pro AIO desktop market again. The external display and Mac Studio lineups may also limit iMac Pro’s appeal currently.
Q: How much faster is the M3 Ultra than the M2 Ultra chip?
A: Apple says the M3 Ultra offers up to 60% faster performance versus the M2 Ultra for both CPU and graphics tasks.
Q: Will the M3 chips come to the Mac Pro eventually?
A: Yes, Apple has confirmed that future Mac Pro models will be powered by configurations of M3 Ultra and M3 Extreme chips, which will be even more powerful than M3 Ultra.
Q: How soon will M3 powered MacBook Pros be available?
A: Apple said M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro models can be ordered starting January 24th, so they should begin shipping within 2-3 weeks after that.
Q: Does the M3 chip offer any efficiency gains?
A: Yes, Apple states that M3 enables the longest battery life ever for its notebooks. M3 Pro extends battery by up to 22 hours for Mac portables.