14-inch M3 Pro MacBook Pro review: The sweet spot for price and performance

Macworld

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

18GB unified memory standardQuietGood performance

Cons

Low performance advantage over M2 Pro

Our Verdict

The $1,999 standard configuration of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M3 Pro offers a balanced set of processor, memory, and SSD at a price that is not much higher than that of the base M3 MacBook Pro. The M3 Pro model is a much better performance value than the M3 model.

The $1,999 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro System on a Chip is $400 more than the base 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 SoC. While that higher price tag looks like a lot, the $1,999 laptop ends up being a better value. You get a faster CPU and GPU, more memory to work with, and more flexible connectivity options.

This review looks at how the $1,999 MacBook Pro compares to the $1,599 model. A full review of the $1,599 MacBook Pro M3 is available for a more in-depth analysis of that laptop.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro: Specifications

Apple offers two standard configurations of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with a M3 Pro chip. The model in this review is the $1,999/£2,099 version. Our guide to the M3 chips explains the differences in greater detail.

All of Apple’s laptops can customized with more memory and a larger SSD, which will raise the price.  Our review unit has the following specifications:

CPU: M3 Pro with a 11-core CPU (5 performance cores, 6 efficiency cores), 16-core Neural Engine

GPU: 14-core GPU

Memory: 18GB unified memory (150GBps memory bandwidth)

Storage: 512GB SSD

Display: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display; 3024-by-1964 native resolution at 254 pixels per inch; 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio; 1,000 nits sustained full-screen XDR brightness, 1,600 nits peak HDR content only, 600 nits SDR brightness; P3 color; True Tone; ProMotion

Ports: 3 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C; SDXC card slot; HDMI 2.1; MagSafe 3; 3.5mm audio

Networking: Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax); Bluetooth 5.3

Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.61 kg)

Dimensions: 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 centimeters)

Battery capacity: 72.4Wh

Price: $1,999/£2,099

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs M3: Similarities and differences

The M3 Pro MacBook Pro has the same design and size as the M3 MacBook Pro, but with three major differences. The first difference is that the M3 Pro has three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, while the M3 has two. The second difference is that the M3 Pro is available in Space Black, while the M3 is not.

The third difference is the external display support, which is more robust with the M3 Pro. Here’s what each laptop can do:

M3 Pro: Two external displays with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over ThunderboltOne external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one external display with up to 4K resolution at 144Hz over HDMI

One external display over HDMI at 8K resolution at 60Hz, or one display at 4K resolution at 240Hz

M3:

One external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz

Everything else about the two laptops is the same. There’s no difference with the display, webcam, speakers, keyboard, and trackpad.

MacBook ProM3 Pro vs. M3: CPU performance

The SoC inside our review unit is the slimmed-down version of the M3 Pro, which has 11 CPU cores (five performance cores, six efficiency cores). The base M3 has eight CPU cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency cores).

The M3 Pro that we tested also has more memory: 18GB, compared to 8GB in the M3. The M3 can be upgraded to 16GB, but not 18GB, and that upgrade will cost an extra $200, half of the price difference between the M3 and M3 Pro laptops. 

Both the M3 Pro and M3 laptops include a 512GB SSD. The M3 Pro has upgrade options for 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB, while the M3 options are only for 1TB or 2TB.

For the test of the CPU, we use Geekbench 6 and Cinebench 2024. The scores from each laptop are compared to gauge the performance of each and to note the differences.

Geekbench 6 benchmarks

In the benchmark results involving single-core performance, there are hardly any differences between the different M3 variants in Geekbench or Cinebench. That’s to be expected since all chips use the same core technology. 

The differences stand out with the multi-core test results. In Geekbench, the M3 Pro had a 44 percent boost over the M3. In the Cinebench test, the M3 Pro increases was 31 percent compared to the M3.

We also included Geekbench results for the M2 Pro with a 12-core CPU. That M2 Pro actually performed better than the 11-core M3 Pro, because it has eight performance cores–two more than the M3 Pro. 

Cinebench 2024 benchmarks

During the test with Cinebench 2024, we used the powermetrics Terminal utility to display the core frequencies and power consumption of the CPU. The M3 Pro clocks both the efficiency cores and the power cores slightly lower compared to the M3. In terms of power consumption, we see an increase from the M3 with around 20 watts to the M3 Pro with around 23 watts. This is about 13 percent more, with a performance increase of 31 percent.

The MacBook Pro M3 Pro has two fans to maintain a proper operating temperature. These worked well and were very quiet even when all the CPU cores were working at maximum speed. With the MacBook Pro M3, its one fan had more and was louder.

Blackmagic Disk Test

Although the M3 Pro and M3 in our testing have the same sized SSD at 512GB, the M3 Pro’s drive was faster, especially when reading. In general use, however, this is probably only noticeable if you must write or read larger amounts of data.

When working on 362 images in the Photos app, we didn’t notice any hitches in performance on the M3 Pro, but we did see that the 18GB of memory was not enough for the app and several gigabytes of the SSD were used as virtual memory.

iMovie benchmarks

In iMovie, there are no unpleasant surprises when editing and exporting projects with the M3 Pro and its 18GB of memory–we had issues with the MacBook Pro M3 and its 8GB of memory. In addition, the M3 Pro handles editing of 4K video from an iPhone 14 much faster than the M3.

HandBrake 6.1 benchmarks

When converting a 6.7GB 4K movie with Handbrake, the M3 Pro is also finished faster than the M3, but only takes about as long as the M2 Pro.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs. M3: GPU performance

The M3 Pro in our test has a 14-core GPU, which is four more than the M3’s 10-core GPU. In Geekbench’s Compute Metal test, the M3 Pro has a significant performance increase of 44 percent compared to the M3. Compared to the 16-core GPU in the M2 Pro, however, the M3 Pro is slower.

Geekbench 6 Compute benchmarks

The Cinebench 2024 GPU test gives another picture. The M3 Pro surpasses the M3 by a whopping 65 percent, and the M2 Pro with 19-core GPU by 58 percent.

3D Wildlife Extreme benchmarks

When testing with 3D Wildlife Extreme the M3 Pro was 47 percent faster than the M3. The M3 Pro and the M2 Pro practically had the same results. We also noticed that the M3 Pro clocks the GPU minimally higher than the M3 and requires around 6 watts, which is around 35 percent more power than the M3.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs. M3: Battery life

After about ten hours of use, the MacBook Pro M3 Pro’s reached 19 percent, which is still enough for a two-hour movie in Amazon Prime. After watching the movie, the battery reached 10 percent. You can easily get over a working day with this laptop.

In a battery test with the Endurance: CPU Stress Test, the M3 Pro lasted about 2.5 hours before reaching the 4 percent mark at which the performance COU cores switch off. The M3 lasted two hours. Using only the clocked down efficiency cores, both laptops continued to work for 30 minutes. 

Fully charging the laptop battery took about 90 minutes using the 70-watt power adapter.

Should you buy the MacBook Pro M3 Pro?

The MacBook Pro M3 Pro proves to be a good work tool for everyday tasks. It’s noticeably faster than the MacBook Pro M3–the extra money you must pay to upgrade from the M3 to the M3 Pro is well spent money. The MacBook Pro M3 isn’t a bad laptop–it’s Apple’s pricing that is out whack.

As a replacement for a MacBook Pro from the Intel era, or a M1 MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the lower-end M3 Pro it is a great step forward. However, if you have an M2 Pro MacBook Pro, the lower-end M3 Pro does not offer any added value that makes a switch seem sensible–the lower-end M3 Pro just doesn’t provide enough of a boost over the M2 Pro.

This article originally appeared on Macwelt and was translated by Roman Loyola.

MacBook

​Macworld Macworld

At a glanceExpert’s Rating
Pros18GB unified memory standardQuietGood performanceConsLow performance advantage over M2 ProOur VerdictThe $1,999 standard configuration of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M3 Pro offers a balanced set of processor, memory, and SSD at a price that is not much higher than that of the base M3 MacBook Pro. The M3 Pro model is a much better performance value than the M3 model.

The $1,999 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro System on a Chip is $400 more than the base 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 SoC. While that higher price tag looks like a lot, the $1,999 laptop ends up being a better value. You get a faster CPU and GPU, more memory to work with, and more flexible connectivity options.

This review looks at how the $1,999 MacBook Pro compares to the $1,599 model. A full review of the $1,599 MacBook Pro M3 is available for a more in-depth analysis of that laptop.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro: Specifications

Apple offers two standard configurations of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with a M3 Pro chip. The model in this review is the $1,999/£2,099 version. Our guide to the M3 chips explains the differences in greater detail.

All of Apple’s laptops can customized with more memory and a larger SSD, which will raise the price.  Our review unit has the following specifications:

CPU: M3 Pro with a 11-core CPU (5 performance cores, 6 efficiency cores), 16-core Neural Engine

GPU: 14-core GPU

Memory: 18GB unified memory (150GBps memory bandwidth)

Storage: 512GB SSD

Display: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display; 3024-by-1964 native resolution at 254 pixels per inch; 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio; 1,000 nits sustained full-screen XDR brightness, 1,600 nits peak HDR content only, 600 nits SDR brightness; P3 color; True Tone; ProMotion

Ports: 3 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C; SDXC card slot; HDMI 2.1; MagSafe 3; 3.5mm audio

Networking: Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax); Bluetooth 5.3

Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.61 kg)

Dimensions: 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 centimeters)

Battery capacity: 72.4Wh

Price: $1,999/£2,099

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs M3: Similarities and differences

The M3 Pro MacBook Pro has the same design and size as the M3 MacBook Pro, but with three major differences. The first difference is that the M3 Pro has three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, while the M3 has two. The second difference is that the M3 Pro is available in Space Black, while the M3 is not.

The third difference is the external display support, which is more robust with the M3 Pro. Here’s what each laptop can do:

M3 Pro: Two external displays with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over ThunderboltOne external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one external display with up to 4K resolution at 144Hz over HDMI

One external display over HDMI at 8K resolution at 60Hz, or one display at 4K resolution at 240Hz

M3:

One external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz

Everything else about the two laptops is the same. There’s no difference with the display, webcam, speakers, keyboard, and trackpad.

MacBook ProM3 Pro vs. M3: CPU performance

The SoC inside our review unit is the slimmed-down version of the M3 Pro, which has 11 CPU cores (five performance cores, six efficiency cores). The base M3 has eight CPU cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency cores).

The M3 Pro that we tested also has more memory: 18GB, compared to 8GB in the M3. The M3 can be upgraded to 16GB, but not 18GB, and that upgrade will cost an extra $200, half of the price difference between the M3 and M3 Pro laptops. 

Both the M3 Pro and M3 laptops include a 512GB SSD. The M3 Pro has upgrade options for 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB, while the M3 options are only for 1TB or 2TB.

For the test of the CPU, we use Geekbench 6 and Cinebench 2024. The scores from each laptop are compared to gauge the performance of each and to note the differences.

Geekbench 6 benchmarks

In the benchmark results involving single-core performance, there are hardly any differences between the different M3 variants in Geekbench or Cinebench. That’s to be expected since all chips use the same core technology. 

The differences stand out with the multi-core test results. In Geekbench, the M3 Pro had a 44 percent boost over the M3. In the Cinebench test, the M3 Pro increases was 31 percent compared to the M3.

We also included Geekbench results for the M2 Pro with a 12-core CPU. That M2 Pro actually performed better than the 11-core M3 Pro, because it has eight performance cores–two more than the M3 Pro. 

Cinebench 2024 benchmarks

During the test with Cinebench 2024, we used the powermetrics Terminal utility to display the core frequencies and power consumption of the CPU. The M3 Pro clocks both the efficiency cores and the power cores slightly lower compared to the M3. In terms of power consumption, we see an increase from the M3 with around 20 watts to the M3 Pro with around 23 watts. This is about 13 percent more, with a performance increase of 31 percent.

The MacBook Pro M3 Pro has two fans to maintain a proper operating temperature. These worked well and were very quiet even when all the CPU cores were working at maximum speed. With the MacBook Pro M3, its one fan had more and was louder.

Blackmagic Disk Test

Although the M3 Pro and M3 in our testing have the same sized SSD at 512GB, the M3 Pro’s drive was faster, especially when reading. In general use, however, this is probably only noticeable if you must write or read larger amounts of data.

When working on 362 images in the Photos app, we didn’t notice any hitches in performance on the M3 Pro, but we did see that the 18GB of memory was not enough for the app and several gigabytes of the SSD were used as virtual memory.

iMovie benchmarks

In iMovie, there are no unpleasant surprises when editing and exporting projects with the M3 Pro and its 18GB of memory–we had issues with the MacBook Pro M3 and its 8GB of memory. In addition, the M3 Pro handles editing of 4K video from an iPhone 14 much faster than the M3.

HandBrake 6.1 benchmarks

When converting a 6.7GB 4K movie with Handbrake, the M3 Pro is also finished faster than the M3, but only takes about as long as the M2 Pro.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs. M3: GPU performance

The M3 Pro in our test has a 14-core GPU, which is four more than the M3’s 10-core GPU. In Geekbench’s Compute Metal test, the M3 Pro has a significant performance increase of 44 percent compared to the M3. Compared to the 16-core GPU in the M2 Pro, however, the M3 Pro is slower.

Geekbench 6 Compute benchmarks

The Cinebench 2024 GPU test gives another picture. The M3 Pro surpasses the M3 by a whopping 65 percent, and the M2 Pro with 19-core GPU by 58 percent.

3D Wildlife Extreme benchmarks

When testing with 3D Wildlife Extreme the M3 Pro was 47 percent faster than the M3. The M3 Pro and the M2 Pro practically had the same results. We also noticed that the M3 Pro clocks the GPU minimally higher than the M3 and requires around 6 watts, which is around 35 percent more power than the M3.

MacBook Pro M3 Pro vs. M3: Battery life

After about ten hours of use, the MacBook Pro M3 Pro’s reached 19 percent, which is still enough for a two-hour movie in Amazon Prime. After watching the movie, the battery reached 10 percent. You can easily get over a working day with this laptop.

In a battery test with the Endurance: CPU Stress Test, the M3 Pro lasted about 2.5 hours before reaching the 4 percent mark at which the performance COU cores switch off. The M3 lasted two hours. Using only the clocked down efficiency cores, both laptops continued to work for 30 minutes. 

Fully charging the laptop battery took about 90 minutes using the 70-watt power adapter.

Should you buy the MacBook Pro M3 Pro?

The MacBook Pro M3 Pro proves to be a good work tool for everyday tasks. It’s noticeably faster than the MacBook Pro M3–the extra money you must pay to upgrade from the M3 to the M3 Pro is well spent money. The MacBook Pro M3 isn’t a bad laptop–it’s Apple’s pricing that is out whack.

As a replacement for a MacBook Pro from the Intel era, or a M1 MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the lower-end M3 Pro it is a great step forward. However, if you have an M2 Pro MacBook Pro, the lower-end M3 Pro does not offer any added value that makes a switch seem sensible–the lower-end M3 Pro just doesn’t provide enough of a boost over the M2 Pro.

This article originally appeared on Macwelt and was translated by Roman Loyola.

MacBook 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *