Alongside a refreshed iMac and new entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro featuring the M3 chip (and sans Touch Bar), Apple is introducing upgraded models of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro and M3 Max processors today. Design-wise, they retain the exact same look and port layout as their predecessors but now come in a new “space black” color that replaces space gray.
The machines raise the bar in several ways, ranging from sheer performance to configurability. For example, the M3 Max MacBook Pro can be ordered with up to 128GB of RAM — a new high for Apple’s laptops. Preorders start today, and M3 Pro models will be available on November 7th. M3 Max units will take a bit longer to ship and are due to arrive sometime later in November.
Apple says its new space black finish should be less of a fingerprint magnet than the dark blue “midnight” MacBook Air. The company attributes this to “a breakthrough chemistry that forms an anodization seal to greatly reduce fingerprints.” That said, I can’t imagine that the seal will do much to prevent scratches or scruffs, which tend to shine through as bright silver if they’re deep enough. And this, friends, is exactly why I go with silver every time. Even so, I do appreciate that this shade appears quite a bit darker than the prior space gray. It just looks more ominous and powerful.
And more powerful these machines certainly are. The M3 Pro has a 12-core CPU and up to an 18-core GPU, with speed gains of up to 40 percent compared to the M1 Pro. You can outfit it with up to 36GB of RAM, a slight increase from the previous 32GB ceiling. The M3 Max steps things up with a 16-core CPU and up to a 40-core GPU. The latest Apple Silicon makes it up to 80 percent faster than the M1 Max chip from two years ago.
The M2 chips were already speedy powerhouses, so this time around, Apple is mostly hyping up graphics enhancements. That’s where the big leap is for the 3-nanometer M3 chips; they’re all capable of hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which could be a boon for Mac gaming, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading. The beefed-up GPU performance is thanks to a feature that Apple calls Dynamic Caching, whereby “the GPU allocates the use of local memory in hardware in real time so only the exact amount of memory needed is used for each task.”
Apple says you can expect up to 22 hours of battery life from the new MacBook Pro — in the 16-inch M3 Pro model, at least. The Max’s endurance is typically slightly less since all of those GPU cores eat up some power. Most everywhere else, these MacBook Pros are identical to the M2 Pro / Max laptops released at the beginning of this year; they’ve still got the bright, contrasty Mini LED display, an excellent speaker system, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and a MagSafe connector for charging. The screens can now reach up to 600 nits of brightness for SDR content, which is 20 percent brighter than before.
Pricing for the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro starts at $1,999, with the 16-inch model coming in at a base price of $2,499. Those prices quickly climb if you opt for the Max chip or start tacking on more storage and memory: a fully kitted-out 16-inch MacBook Pro with 8TB of storage and 128GB of unified memory costs $7,199.
If these particular laptops are more than you’re looking to spend, there’s always the new 14-inch MacBook Pro with the regular M3 chip that starts at a more palatable $1,599 — if you can live with its 8GB of memory.