Apple has always been known for being a symbol of status, wealth, and social inclusion. Whether that’s a good thing or not, it’s beside the point. Apple has hosted a live event for a teaser of new product lineups—the M3 family (M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max), the 14-and-16-inch MacBook Pro, and iMac—on 31st October 2023, at 8 am.
This isn’t going to be a teaser on iPhones; iPhone products have just been released last month. The clever use of the wordplay ‘scary’ was used in the right month to showcase the capabilities of these new products we’re expecting before the event launch.
The New M3 Chips are Here
Apple’s Spooktober event introduces a new generation of processors—the M3 chips. The lineup comes in three variations, each better than the last: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max, all of which use 3-nanometer technology and “Dynamic Caching” for GPU architecture.
In other words, they improve the average utilisation of the GPU to avoid spikes and troughs of performance during intensive tasks, improving overall performance.
The M3 chips also feature a new Neural Engine that is up to 50% faster than the previous generation, which enables new features and capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence to adapt to the new digital world that all revolves around AI.
John Ternus, Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering of Apple, has claimed that these chips are also capable of rendering Mesh Shading and Ray-tracing for visually complex scenes. A capability we once saw in Apple’s Bionic A17 chips in the iPhone 15 Pro Max is now present in Apple’s M3 chips in the MacBook Pro as well.
M3 Chips—For Everyday Users
The MacBook Pro comes in two sizes: 14, or 16 inches. Either of the models has the selection of the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max chip variations. (except that 14-inch MacBook Pro only supports M3 chip).
Similar to iPhone’s A17 Bionic chip, M3 chips are designed for everyday tasks. From light video editing, and opening up web browsers to running applications and gaming, M3 chips are capable of rendering 3D models and ray-tracing used in both desktop designs and video games. Light laptop users such as university students, office workers, and casual gamers benefit well from this M3 chip.
We’re starting to see a pattern here. Maybe Apple is slowly warming up to the possibility of integrating games into their products to win more people over. Back then, we knew that buying an iMac or MacBook was only for productivity-related tasks; gaming wasn’t an option for Mac users because not many games could support MacOS or Mac hardware.
So, if Apple’s latest launch introduces the new MacBooks that can run games with their new chips, we may see a market shift in computer-related products. Right now, the market share for macOS is relatively small compared to Windows OS.
But if these M3 chips are really that powerful to the point they can run heavy titles, this will be a game-changer. There will be options for users when it comes to picking up the right device for them to game and work.
But why now?
They may be targeting the younger generation that is slowly replacing the older ones.
If we take a look at the 2021 survey by Newzoo, 81% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers play video games, compared to 52% of Gen X and 29% of Baby Boomers. Gen Z gamers also spend an average of 7 hours and 20 minutes per week playing video games, while Baby Boomers only spend an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes per week gaming.
So, if they do introduce the possibility of gaming in their computer products in the event launch, they may attract several potential customers from this generation. It would open up even more accessibility to gaming for them.
But these, of course, are purely theoretical. We don’t know for sure if this is their intention, but it is a possibility.
M3 Pro—For Advanced Users
Kate Bergeron, the Vice President of Hardware Engineering of Apple, then introduced both 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro that run on M3 Pro chips. This MacBook Pro is dedicated to users with more demanding workflows (coders, creative pros, and researchers).
Whilst this might sound doable in the M3 chip itself, the M3 Pro chip can render all of the work whilst being simultaneously connected to two external high-resolution displays for a smoother workflow. That said, the M3 Pro chip has made multitasking a lot easier.
She then introduced the MacBook Pro with the M3 Max chip.
M3 Max—For The Extremes
The MacBook Pro with M3 Max has all the max capabilities they can offer. Because of the strength of this processor, M3 Max is designed for users with extreme workflows i.e., AI developers, 3D artists, and video professionals (sound engineers, motion graphics artists, camera operators, editors, etc.).
Such extreme capabilities allow rendering and modelling of complex 3D content in Cinema 4D in Redshift, as well as rendering and editing videos with max resolution in video editing software (Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, etc.). All of this is possible with both the processor and the ProRes engine in the MacBook Pro.
It is undeniable that editing videos on a Mac is smooth and stutter-free. It’s because of the ProRes engine, the hardware accelerator that helps with encoding and decoding ProRes video. Considering the outstanding performance it has shown in M1 and M2 chips, the M3 chip will be no different, if not better.
It’s also worth mentioning that the MacBook Pro with M3 Max also supports up to 128GB of memory; the same capacity found in the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra. Compared to the M3 and M3 Pro chips, This M3 Max chip is capable of supporting up to four high-resolution displays—perfect for extreme workflows.
Some Thoughts Worth Mentioning
There’s one key point that stands out more than the rest during her delivery.
Bergeron mentioned that the MacBook Pro is capable of delivering consistent performance, regardless of whether it’s plugged in. This has always been a tedious issue in resource-hungry laptops (gaming laptops, mostly)—they need to be plugged in to ensure enough power to power up the dedicated graphics card to ensure consistent performance throughout. If what she has claimed regarding the performance is true, then it will be something to be taken note of by the other companies.
Other notable features of the new MacBook Pro include long battery life (we’re talking up to 22 hours), a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a six-speaker sound system, Magic Keyboard, and advanced connectivity.
Exclusive only to MacBook Pro with M3 Pro and M3 Max, they come in Space Black with a dark aluminium finish. The enclosure is made from a custom alloy that uses 100% aluminium. Considering the durability of the iPhone 15 Pro Max with the same aluminium finish, let’s hope that they have made some improvements to ensure their durability is as claimed by Bergeron herself.
(If you are interested in our thoughts on the latest iPhone 15 releases, check out our article here.)
Introducing… The New iMac
They didn’t leave iMac behind this time around.
The new 24-inch iMac (the previous iMac came in 21.5 and 27-inch variations) also benefits from the M3 chips. They perform just as expected as you would with a MacBook Pro: users can perform multitasking with productivity apps, use creative tools such as photo editing software, or play games.
iMac also mostly has the same features as a MacBook Pro:
- a 1080 FaceTime HD camera
- six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
- studio-quality microphone
- Neural Engine and Media Engine
- Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
The only exception for the MacBook Pro and iMac is that MacBook Pro is portable. iMac is not. It still integrates well with all Apple devices (as expected), though. So, if you have an iPhone to work with the iMac, you can do so with no problems whatsoever.
Any apps that can run on the iPhone, integrate well within the macOS Sonoma. Not to mention that you can pick up calls directly from the iMac as well, so there’s no need to pick up your phone if you have it lying or charged somewhere in the room you’re in.
Again, Apple’s ecosystem is unmatched, as expected.
And Now… The Prices
Of course, the prices aren’t going to be cheap.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro, whilst initially starting at $1999 (roughly RM9.5k), now starts at $1599 (about RM7.5k). That’s the cheapest you can get; the other models, 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro or M3 Max start at $2499 (that’s almost RM12k).
The iMac isn’t as pricey as the MacBook Pro, but the price is no joke either. The 24-inch iMac with the M3 chip starts at $1299 (RM6,299 in Malaysia).
The numbers are spooky to look at (not sure if that’s their intention of releasing the event during Spooktober, but it works). But if what they’re promising the potential buyers of the capabilities of these models delivers, then it’s worth every penny. Especially the part where the consistent performance regardless of the devices being plugged in was mentioned in the event—that is indeed a game changer.
Apple is taking steps in the right direction. If the performance of these devices truly is delivered as promised, then the jokes about Mac not being able to game can already meet their maker.
There will be reviewers testing all these products once they are officially launched across the globe. Until then, we have to hold Apple to their promises about all the fascinating features they offer in this Spooktober event. Maybe in the next few months, we will start to see the rise of MacBook gamers on Steam—who knows?