I posted my review of the MacBook Pro M3 Max earlier this week and suffice to say, I was quite impressed. I like the Space Black color and the GPU performance in particular blew me away.
But one configuration of the new MacBook Pro flew a little more under the radar: the M3 Pro model. Apple wasn’t interested in sending this exact unit to reviewers, instead leading with its much stronger foot, the M3 Max. And although the M3 Max and Pro were a little closer in performance in the M2 generation, this time there seems to be more of a disparity.
There are two surprising specifications regarding the M3 Pro. Firstly, the core counts have been changed, reconfiguring what the M2 Pro used. This time, the 12-core M3 Pro has six performance cores and six efficiency cores, while the M2 Pro had eight performance cores and four efficiency cores. It also has reduced memory bandwidth, from 200 GB per second to 150 GB per second. Meanwhile, Apple has started selling the base configuration with 8GB instead of 16GB of RAM, prompting its own minor backlash. Nothing of that sounds Well, in the end what really matters is performance.
The first performance leak revealed some of the first Geekbench scores that were released last weekend that showed very disappointing results. They showed a single-core score of 3,035 and a multi-core score of 15,173, which YouTuber Vadim Yuryev points out It is practically equivalent to the performance of the M2 Max. Compared to the results from my own MacBook Pro, it’s 28% slower than what I got with the M3 Max.
Of course, this doesn’t refer to the graphics, which are where the biggest gains are found in the M3 generation. So I think you would still see an improvement going from the M2 Max to the M3 Pro. But it still doesn’t look good.
One of the first comprehensive reviews of the M3 Pro came out of Ars Technica on Thursday and confirmed many of the initial concerns. The M3 Pro is clearly an improvement over the M2 Pro and M3, but it doesn’t compare as well to the Max model. While the M2 Pro was often too powerful to make sense in the lineup, even causing awkward chip placement in the previous generation, the M3 Pro is a much more modest upgrade over the base configuration. This review shows that the M3 Pro is only 13% faster than the M2 Pro (on the Mac mini) in graphics in the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme benchmark.
Meanwhile, prices have remained the same. So while the M3 Pro does its job in the line, it seems to be mainly there to push people to opt for the more expensive M3 Max. If nothing else, it certainly guarantees that Apple is making more from M3 Pro buyers.
None of this means you should necessarily avoid the M3 Pro MacBook Pro entirely. For some, it may be enough performance at the right price. But I think it’s becoming a smaller and smaller demographic compared to the M3 or M3 Max models.