M3 MacBook Pro benchmarked: Ready for AAA gaming?

MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 playing Lies of P with PS5 controller
(Image credit: Future)

We’ve just reviewed the M3 MacBook Pro, and the turbo-boosted MacBook Pro 16-inch M3 Max option. Spoiler alert: they are both faster than their previous-generation counterparts, but how much faster are they?

And most importantly to gaming fans out there, are Apple’s claims of M3’s graphical prowess to be believed? Could this finally be the time for MacBook gaming to become an actual thing?

Pure power — in work and gaming

Through our in-depth benchmark testing, we always aim to answer one key question: how fast is it? Proven in numbers, we can see M3 and M3 Max have seen some healthy increases in Geekbench 6 CPU testing — particularly in single-core scores — as well as speedy video transcoding times.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Geekbench (single / multi-core)Video transcode (Handbrake)
MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch) 3,138 / 12,0185:37
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max)5,561 / 7,5942:34
Dell XPS 15 (OLED) 2,462 / 12,478 5:01
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra 2,270 / 12,405 5:26
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 22,577 / 12,793 5:11

But while we can prove the obvious, which is that the M3 speeds up the key processes prosumers work hard on, that’s not the big question on the lips of many here. You see, Apple went hard on talking about M3’s graphical capabilities, and dedicated a good chunk of its keynote to mentioning the gaming potential. 

Could it be that the Cupertino crew is finally starting to care about MacBook gaming? That’s the real question here: how good is the M3 chip at gaming performance? Well, we certainly got our answer, and it's a huge boost over the M2 models when you look at the 3DMark testing.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Wild Life Unlimited
MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch) 8,259 / 46.8 fps
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max)31,271 / 187 fps
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2 Max)13,000 / 77 fps

Numbers like these for both games optimized for Apple Silicon and titles that remain unoptimized is incredibly encouraging that we may see a gaming renaissance on Mac. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of having to carry a separate Steam Deck in my bag for gaming alongside my MacBook. 

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider (frames per second)
Header Cell - Column 0 1920 x 12003,456 x 2,234
MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch) 33n/a
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max)11847
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2 Max)5720

Apple’s laptops are pricey to say the least, and I think it’s only fair that you expect them to be as performant by day with your workload, as they are for playing games once you clock off. This seems to be an encouraging step forward — particularly when you look towards the Max.

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Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.