MacBook Pro 14 inch & 16 inch with M3, M3 Pro M3 Max Chip 2023
Distinct Subgroups in MacBook Pro Lineup
Curiously, though, Apple also seems to be dividing those professionals into more distinct subgroups. The more affordable $1,599 14-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with a plain M3 chip, featuring an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. Tailored for those seeking more than a MacBook Air but not requiring the power of a $2,000 machine, this addition to the lineup has 8GB of RAM and sacrifices a USB-C port on its right side, a limitation felt as browser tabs accumulate.
Multifaceted Pricing and Performance Options
For multimedia tasks, upgrading to the $1,999 14-inch M3 Pro model with an 11-core CPU and 14-core GPU is an option, while the full power of the M3 Pro with a 12-core CPU and 18-core GPU comes at a $2,399 price point. Demanding users can opt for the $3,199 M3 Max model, boasting a 14-core CPU and 30-core GPU. The pricing remains unchanged for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, starting at $2,499 with an M3 Pro chip, and both systems can be equipped with the 16-core CPU/40-core GPU M3 Max for maximum power.
Color and Design Variations
Both MacBook Pro models are available in a "Space Black" color, featuring a new anodization process to reduce fingerprints. Unfortunately, this color is not offered for the base M3 14-inch MacBook Pro, a drawback for that model. Despite appearing more charcoal gray in person, the "Space Black" color is darker than Apple's previous "Space Gray" MacBook Pros, attracting fewer fingerprints than the pure black "Midnight" MacBook Air. The classic silver option remains available.
Consistent Design and Display Excellence
Other than the new color, not much has changed in the overall design of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, which were refreshed in 2021. The refined all-aluminum design, a significant improvement from Apple’s older unibody cases, is consistent in both models. Featuring gorgeous 14- and 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR displays with HDR, refresh rates up to 120Hz with ProMotion, and up to 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, these laptops also retain the notch housing a 1080p webcam that garnered attention in the previous redesign.
Comparative Review of 14-inch and 16-inch Models
Reviewing both the 14-inch and 16-inch models together makes sense as they are practically the same machine with different screen sizes. The choice between them depends on individual needs, with the larger screen catering to video editors working on extensive projects. I tested the 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 chip and 16GB of RAM and the 16-inch model with an M3 Max and an impressive 128GB of RAM. While the 14-inch model performed well for general productivity, the 16-inch model was more suited for serious workloads. Performance
Benchmarks and Chip Advancements
In benchmark tests, both the M3 and M3 Max chips showed slight improvements over the M2 variants and significant advancements over the M1 family. Content creators may find the upgrade worthwhile for faster project completion, and for users still on an Intel system, the move to M3 hardware becomes more compelling.
Gaming Experience and Battery Power
Although Apple isn't aggressively targeting hardcore gamers, the upgraded GPU in the M3 improves the gaming experience. Games like Lies of P played smoothly on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and the 16-inch model delivered an even better experience. The most impressive aspect is that this performance was achieved on battery power, unlike dedicated GPUs in many PC gaming laptops that slow down considerably when unplugged.
Feature-rich MacBook Pro Models
Both MacBook Pro models retain Apple's excellent keyboard and trackpad, an SD card slot, full-sized HDMI connection, headphone jack, and three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (except for the base M3 model, which has two). Battery life has been improved, with the 14-inch MacBook Pro lasting 24 hours and 30 minutes in benchmark tests, and the 16-inch model reaching 24 hours and 50 minutes. Real-world usage showed both computers lasting almost two days before needing a recharge.
Display Quality and User Experience
Despite not having OLED screens, the Liquid Retina XDR displays with MiniLED backlights are bright and offer excellent color depth, especially beneficial for photographers. The high refresh rates contribute to a smooth user experience, and the 14-inch model strikes a great balance between screen size and portability.
Considerations on RAM and Pricing
Apple did not provide the base $1,599 M3 MacBook Pro for review, but based on observed memory usage, opting for at least 16GB of RAM is recommended. The inability to upgrade RAM on Apple Silicon means choosing the right amount upfront is crucial. While the 14-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM may attract those desiring the Pro badge, it seems geared towards users who may underestimate the downsides of limited memory. In terms of pricing, opting for more RAM upfront is advisable, as it can significantly impact performance. The efficiency and power of the M3 chips, coupled with the elegant design of Apple's MacBook Pro, make for a compelling choice, with the recommendation to aim for at least 16GB of RAM.
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