As expected, Apple successfully introduced new Mac models during its "Scary Fast" conference on October 30. These powerful and expensive models are all powered by the new M3 series chips, delivering impressive performance.
Apple took everyone by surprise by announcing a new keynote barely a week in advance for October 30. Only the ever-reliable Mark Gurman of Bloomberg hinted at the arrival of new Macs before the end of October. Despite this, many were anticipating the announcement of a few new, insignificant products via press releases. This assumption proved wrong as the "Scary Fast" keynote took place the night before Halloween, following an unusual schedule, starting at 5 PM in California, which translates to 8 PM on the East Coast and 1 AM for many. Fortunately, the last-minute announcements were indeed of significance. Apple unveiled a new lineup of processors: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max, along with high-end MacBook Pro models to harness their power.
Apple's "Scary Fast" Event
Entirely Filmed with iPhone For a change, let's start at the end. After Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, summarized the day's announcements, a final screen revealed that the entire 30-minute event from October 30-31, 2023, was entirely filmed using the iPhone 15 Pro Max, including drone shots, edited later on a Mac. This filming choice showcases the exceptional video capabilities of the latest iPhone, particularly its LOG capture mode, appreciated by imaging professionals.
M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max: Peak Performance
The star of the event was undoubtedly the new M3 chip series. Apple didn't just announce one new processor but three: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. Even when setting aside Apple's customary superlatives, the promised performance gains are remarkable. The basic M3 is set to be up to 60% faster than the M1 chip introduced in 2021 and 40% faster than the M2 from less than a year ago. The M3 Pro is expected to be 40% faster than the M1 Pro and 20% faster than the M2 Pro. While the details for the M3 Max are less clear, Apple compared its rendering performance in 3D scenes in Cinema 4D to be up to 2.5 times faster than an M1 Max and up to 2 times faster than an M2 Max. This performance specifically appeals to imaging professionals, leveraging the new architecture of graphic computing cores, the GPU.
As the name suggests, the M3 chip series naturally succeeds the M1 and M2. Nevertheless, the M3 represents a more significant technological leap than the transition from M1 to M2. The M3 is the first Mac chip to benefit from a 3nm (nanometer) process, premiered by the A17 Pro processor in the iPhone 15 Pro. This method allows for the creation of transistors so thin that, according to Apple, you could fit 2 million of them in the width of a human hair. Apple often compared the new M3 to the first generation of M chips rather than the second, affirming that the M2 chips were merely a minor step in the "house" chips' lineage.
The new fineness of the M3's structure facilitates the performance gains mentioned earlier while maintaining low energy consumption. According to Apple, the M3 achieves the same performance as the M1 while consuming half the power. Notably, Johny Srouji, Apple's VP of Hardware Technologies, compared the M3 to a 12-core Intel PC, stating that the Apple chip delivered the same level of performance while consuming four to five times less energy. This further justifies Apple's abandonment of Intel processors.
MacBook Pro M3: A Unified Lineup
Apple's third generation of M processors is accompanied by a new MacBook Pro range. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, which struggled to justify its existence compared to the MacBook Air, has finally been discontinued. The MacBook Pro lineup has officially bid farewell to the Touch Bar, the long horizontal screen designed to replace the traditional function keys on Mac keyboards, introduced with the 2016 MacBook Pros. While it never truly convinced, the newer base model now features the same high-quality 14-inch display previously exclusive to models with M Pro or M Max chips. This does result in a higher price for the entry-level MacBook Pro, but at least it's worthy of its 'Pro' title now.
The 2023 MacBook Pro catalog now spans from M3 to M3 Max, available in 14 and 16-inch screens, with the M3 Max supporting up to 128GB of RAM. However, these memory upgrade options remain expensive at Apple, with the base models still equipped with only 8GB of RAM. Even the transition from 8 to 16GB, the presumed minimum, continues to cost €230. The same goes for the upgrade from 512GB to 1TB of storage.
iMac M3: Faster but not Larger
For its traditional "One More Thing," Apple also announced the update to the iMac, now powered by an M3 chip. This was one of the most anticipated announcements, as the M1 iMac had remained unchanged since its launch in May 2021. However, apart from the M3 chip, which delivers significantly improved performance and a maximum memory capacity increase from 16 to 24GB, the iMac M3 only constitutes a minor update. It retains its 23.5-inch diagonal screen and range of colors. There's still no sign of a successor to the 27-inch iMac, which has been missing since the transition to M chips. Moreover, despite Apple's enthusiasm about transitioning the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro to USB-C during the September keynote, the iMac's accessories (keyboard, mouse, or trackpad) are still Lightning-based. If there was a good time to announce accessory updates, it was alongside the introduction of the new machines that primarily use them.
The most impatient customers can now order all MacBook Pro M3 and M3 Pro models, with deliveries starting from November 7. The M3 Max model is also available for order but will be delivered a little later in November.