Which M3 Series MacBook Should You Buy?

Which M3 Series MacBook Should You Buy?
(Image credit: Future)

This evening, Apple launched its M3 series MacBook Pro lineup, and at first glance, it looks impressive. We're not going to point out that Apple is still comparing newer chipsets to Intel Macs released four years ago or that they also compared the M3's performance to the M1's but not the M2's. All that glitters from the Wonka Factory in Cupertino must taken at face value during launches. 

All finicky journalist complaints aside, the M3 series of MacBook Pros featuring chip foundry TSMC's 3nm process chipset boasts a 60% performance boost over the M1 that altered laptop history four years ago. Apple has retired the 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro, with there now only being 16 and 14-inch versions launched. 

Apple announced that there are three versions of the M3 chipset, those being the M3, M3 Pro, and the M3 Max. The more exciting thing to mention is you can now get up to 128GB of RAM with the M3 Pro and Max chipsets with a max of 24GB for the entry-level M3.

All MacBook Pro models feature a brilliant Liquid Retina XDR display with a 20% increase in brightness, according to Apple. Apple also mentioned improved GPU performance thanks to Dynamic Caching, which uses local memory in hardware in real time to accelerate GPU performance. Add all that to an estimated 22 hours of battery life, and the fruit monikered tech barrons from Cupertino could have a massive win. Let's look at which MacBook Pro may be the best choice for you. 

MacBook Pro M3 14

Which M3 Series MacBook Should You Buy?

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro M3 14-inch variant, to quote Apple, "is for users pursuing their passions. Students and business owners. Apple is also seeking to further cement its legendary status with content creators of every genre. The Cupertino-based tech behemoth states that this 14-inch M3-powered MacBook is 60% faster than the 13-inch M1 and renders video in Final Cut Pro 7.4% faster than the Intel Core i7-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro. Why are they bullying such an old system? I do not know, but there it is. 

Obviously, it is faster and more powerful than last year's M2, which was pretty darn powerful and a great lightweight laptop to carry around and handle all of your on-the-go content creation and document pushing. 

Apple shared that the starting price for the M3-powered MacBook Pro 14-inch will be $1,599. It's not a small sum, but it's well priced for all it can handle in such a small form factor, with serious battery life, to boot. 

If you're looking for a potent laptop for your entering college student/ burgeoning film student, this could be the one. Still, it's definitely a potent entry into the content creator market and may make it onto both our best laptops for video editing and photo editing pages. 

MacBook Pro M3 14 & 16 Pro 

Which M3 Series MacBook Should You Buy?

(Image credit: Future)

These MacBook Pro M3 14 & 16 inch Pro laptops are for users with more demanding workflows like coders, creatives, and researchers. MacBook Pro with M3 Pro provides even greater performance, supports more unified memory, and is now up to 40 percent faster than the 16-inch model with M1 Pro.

According to Apple, you will notice a 3X performance boost in Adobe Photoshop which is estimated to be 40% faster than the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 chipset. For those who skipped upgrading to the M2 series, the M3 boosts in power make the choice of moving up a level a lot more enticing, and one you should consider as it should be about time to upgrade. 

This next-level M3 Pro-powered MacBook Pro will run you $1,999 for the 14-inch version and $2,499 for the 16-inch iteration. If you are a professional creator, these laptops will appeal to you the most and make for a nice tax write-off. 

MacBook Pro M3 14 & 16 Max

Which M3 Series MacBook Should You Buy?

(Image credit: Future)

The M3 Max series of MacBook Pros are the cream de la cream, beast mode content creator laptops meant for professionals who have massive film and music projects, as well as those folks trying to create a T1000 to keep those pesky neighbor kids off of your grass. 

With the M3 Max loaded with 128GB of Unified RAM (sure, it will cost you 1.5 kidneys), you should never experience laggy performance or slow render speeds. It should allow you to create amazing 3D graphics and animation quickly. I'm very excited about the M3 Max, having used the M2 Max with 96GB of RAM and having tried everything possible to hurt its feelings and slow it down. 

Apple makes amazing professional content creator laptops, and this will be the maker's most powerful to date. The Max version M3 MacBooks will become available towards the latter part of November, with a starting price of $3,199. 

For this price, you will get the 14-core CPU, 30-core GPU M3 Max chipset, 36GB of unified RAM, 1TB SSD for storage, and the 14-inch Liquid Retina display. Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, and MagSafe charging port. 

Again, if you're a pro-level content producer, this is a good choice for you and an excellent write-off come tax season. 

Final thoughts

I'll be very excited when our MacBook Pro M3 series laptops come in for review. I am a fan of the potent performance and magical near 20-hour battery life Apple squeezes out of them. We know these new MacBook Pro M3 laptops will do well in several benchmarks, possibly outclassing laptops on our best laptops list. 

However, it is very telling that during this launch, Apple only compared the M3 series MacBook Pros to models launched 4 and 5 years ago. When you're three iterations into your breakthrough chipset but have to compare them to nearly five-year-old Intel-powered MacBooks and the first run of M1 MacBooks, it's a red flag. If this were a date, I would wonder if my date was hiding something. 

The obvious thing to have done would have been to compare the M3 to the M2, and not doing so leads me to believe it will be a wiser move to buy a soon-to-be-discounted M2 Pro Max 16 or 14-inch MacBook Pro than spend my hard-earned money on the M3 series. 

Which of the M3 series Macbook Pros is best for you? That depends on your use case and budget. If you're an entry-level content creator, the 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 is more than you'll need for a few years and a solid investment. If you're already getting a lot of professional content production work, the M3 Pro 14 or 16-inch is best for you. If you're a professional filmmaker or producer dealing with massive video files or 3D animations, then the M3 Max is meant for you.  

However, if you want to do all those things and still save some money, I would wait and see what the best early Black Friday MacBook Pro M2 deals currently are. 

Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.