The arrival of this updated iMac is a big deal because it's been over two years since Apple launched the original 24-inch iMac with its groundbreaking M1 chip. In the time since we've seen the entire M2 chip era of Apple silicon come and go without the 24-inch iMac getting an update, though that's not hugely surprising since this Mac always seemed designed primarily for students, families and others for whom power is not paramount when purchasing a PC.
And indeed, if you need an all-purpose all-in-one the 24-inch iMac is a compelling choice. In my Apple iMac (24-inch) review from 2021 I said a lot of nice things about the quality of the all-in-one's 4.5K display, speakers and webcam. On a surface level, the new 2023 model we just met appears to be basically identical.
The new iMac M3 appears to once again come in a slew of fun color options and sport a six-speaker sound system, a 1080p FaceTime camera and "studio-quality" microphones for video calls. Unfortunately, it also comes with the same design and color options (limited by price) as the original iMac M1, right down to the fact that the entry-level iMac M3 isn't available in certain colors and doesn't come with as many ports as the pricier $1,499+ models.
But under the hood the upgraded M3 chip should make even the entry-level iMac M3 a significant upgrade over the old iMac M1. Apple, for example, claims this new iMac M3 is up to twice as fast as the old iMac M1 and you should expect apps to launch up to 30 percent faster.
That's thanks to the optimization work the company claims to have done on the M3 chip, including its built-in GPU. Apple claims to have introduced a new feature to the M3 GPU called "Dynamic Caching" which enables the M3 to allocate local memory in real time. Put simply, the M3 can allocate exactly the amount of memory needed for a given task to that task, in real time. The company claims this tech makes the M3 GPU far better optimized and more readily utilized, which should lead to an increase in gaming and rendering performance performance.
Specifically, Apple claims the M3 chip inside the new iMac 2023 is capable of handling hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading, a first for the Mac desktop. Supposedly it can also achieve rendering speeds up to 2.5x faster than the original M1, and the cores of the M3 CPU are 30-50% faster than the CPU cores of the old M1 chip.
Since Apple's M-series chips are optimized for (and have media engines dedicated to) encoding/decoding video you can expect the M3 chip to give this iMac some solid video-editing chops, including the ability to edit up to 12 streams of 4K video.
And as far as gaming goes, well, Apple claims this new iMac M3 is the best yet at playing games. We received an early look at the new iMac M3 and Apple showcased some demos of how well it can handle advanced graphical effects like hardware-accelerated ray tracing, as well as an early look at a remake of Cyan's 1993 classic game Myst running on the M3 chip.
So while we'll have to wait until we get one in for testing and review to see for ourselves how good of a gaming machine this iMac really is, it's clear Apple is trying to position its products as a great place to game.
One nice thing I didn't appreciate about these iMacs before reviewing one—since they're powered by Apple silicon they can natively run games and other apps off Apple's App Store, so that beautiful 24-inch 4.5K touchscreen display can be used to play your favorite iOS and iPadOS games at over 4K resolution (as well as whatever other games you download from the Mac App Store, Steam and elsewhere).
The new iMac M3 is available for pre-order now at a starting price of $1,299, and Apple claims units will start shipping and appearing in stores on November 7. For more details, check out our Apple October Event live blog for all the latest news on the new iMac, the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros and the new M3 chips powering them all!
The arrival of the iMac M3 isn't going to revolutionize the desktop computing industry, but it does give Mac fans a nice new option to consider when setting up a home office.
This 24-inch all-in-one is a great all-rounder, and if you don't want to rely on a Mac laptop for getting things done the new iMac M3 is basically your new sweet spot in terms of price for performance. It's now faster than the Mac mini M2, and while it's more expensive the iMac also comes with its own keyboard, mouse and monitor. And it's cheaper than the 27-inch 5K Apple Studio Display, so if you know you don't need to take your Mac anywhere, the iMac M3 is a pretty compelling alternative to even the best MacBooks on the market.