Why I returned my M3 Pro MacBook Pro and switched to an M3 Max

Macworld

When Apple released the M3 MacBook Pro at its “Scary Fast” event last week, I  ordered one—specifically a 14-inch M3 Pro with 36GB of RAM to replace my entry-level 14-inch M1 Pro with 16GB of RAM. Apple gave me more than $900 via a trade-in—more than half of what I paid for it—so it was something of a no-brainer to upgrade.

My focus with the upgrade was memory. When I bought the M1 Pro model in early 2022, I thought 16GB of memory would suffice. It hasn’t. When I have more than a handful of tabs open with Photoshop and Zoom, things tend to slow down a bit. So even though the base model technically comes with more RAM than the M1 (18GB vs 16GB), I opted to max out the memory for an extra $400, bringing the total to $2,599.

But over the weekend, I saw the first Geekbench 6 results for the 12-core M3 Pro processor and it confirmed my fears. While the M3 Pro CPU has more cores than my M1 Pro (12 vs 8), my two-year-old model has the same number of performance cores (six) as the new model. That’s actually two less than the 12-core M2 Pro, which had eight performance cores.

The M3 Max MacBook Pro offers a much bigger boost over its predecessor.

Foundry

As a result, the M3 Pro doesn’t seem to be much faster than the M2 Pro, with unverified scores of 3035 (single-core) and 15173 (multi-core) compared to an average of 2644 and 14229, respectively, for the M2 Pro. Granted, both of those numbers are significantly higher than my M1 Pro, but they pale in comparison to our own benchmarks for the M3 Max chip.

And it’s also worth noting that Apple seemingly hasn’t sent any M3 Pro models to early reviewers, opting instead to focus solely on the M3 Max. But based on the unconfirmed Geekbench scores, here’s how the numbers break down:

M1 Pro: 2362 (single); 10,310 (multi)

M2 Pro: 2644 (single); 14229 (multi)

M3 Pro: ~3000 (single); ~15000 (multi)

M3 Max: 3219 (single); 21545 (multi)

While the M3 Pro is definitely better than the M2 Pro, the boost is fairly academic compared to the huge jump offered by the M3 Max. Normally I’d simply look for a deal on the M2 Pro instead of springing for an M3 model, but I really want one in that Space Black color.

So I ordered an M3 Max model instead and will return the M3 Pro model when it arrives. It seems to be something of a purposeful move by Apple, pushing people to the next tier with a more enticing speed boost. The M3 Pro is a good upgrade but the M3 Max is a great one. And if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the M3 Max is the way to go.

Since the M3 Max model starts at 36GB of RAM, the actual upgrade cost was $600 (or $400 when you factor in the extra storage cost), which is a worthy investment and a machine I’m likely to keep for several years—especially when you consider that the GPU gains are likely to be even greater than the CPU. Maybe I don’t need the power of an M3 Max. But I’d certainly rather have it than want it.

MacBook

​Macworld Macworld

When Apple released the M3 MacBook Pro at its “Scary Fast” event last week, I  ordered one—specifically a 14-inch M3 Pro with 36GB of RAM to replace my entry-level 14-inch M1 Pro with 16GB of RAM. Apple gave me more than $900 via a trade-in—more than half of what I paid for it—so it was something of a no-brainer to upgrade.

My focus with the upgrade was memory. When I bought the M1 Pro model in early 2022, I thought 16GB of memory would suffice. It hasn’t. When I have more than a handful of tabs open with Photoshop and Zoom, things tend to slow down a bit. So even though the base model technically comes with more RAM than the M1 (18GB vs 16GB), I opted to max out the memory for an extra $400, bringing the total to $2,599.

But over the weekend, I saw the first Geekbench 6 results for the 12-core M3 Pro processor and it confirmed my fears. While the M3 Pro CPU has more cores than my M1 Pro (12 vs 8), my two-year-old model has the same number of performance cores (six) as the new model. That’s actually two less than the 12-core M2 Pro, which had eight performance cores.

The M3 Max MacBook Pro offers a much bigger boost over its predecessor.Foundry

As a result, the M3 Pro doesn’t seem to be much faster than the M2 Pro, with unverified scores of 3035 (single-core) and 15173 (multi-core) compared to an average of 2644 and 14229, respectively, for the M2 Pro. Granted, both of those numbers are significantly higher than my M1 Pro, but they pale in comparison to our own benchmarks for the M3 Max chip.

And it’s also worth noting that Apple seemingly hasn’t sent any M3 Pro models to early reviewers, opting instead to focus solely on the M3 Max. But based on the unconfirmed Geekbench scores, here’s how the numbers break down:

M1 Pro: 2362 (single); 10,310 (multi)

M2 Pro: 2644 (single); 14229 (multi)

M3 Pro: ~3000 (single); ~15000 (multi)

M3 Max: 3219 (single); 21545 (multi)

While the M3 Pro is definitely better than the M2 Pro, the boost is fairly academic compared to the huge jump offered by the M3 Max. Normally I’d simply look for a deal on the M2 Pro instead of springing for an M3 model, but I really want one in that Space Black color.

So I ordered an M3 Max model instead and will return the M3 Pro model when it arrives. It seems to be something of a purposeful move by Apple, pushing people to the next tier with a more enticing speed boost. The M3 Pro is a good upgrade but the M3 Max is a great one. And if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the M3 Max is the way to go.

Since the M3 Max model starts at 36GB of RAM, the actual upgrade cost was $600 (or $400 when you factor in the extra storage cost), which is a worthy investment and a machine I’m likely to keep for several years—especially when you consider that the GPU gains are likely to be even greater than the CPU. Maybe I don’t need the power of an M3 Max. But I’d certainly rather have it than want it.

MacBook 

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