I’m buying the new 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 instead of the M3 Pro — here’s why

MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 2023
(Image credit: Future)

Apple just ruined my plans. I was prepared to buy the rumored, but now confirmed, 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 in 2024. Now, three new MacBook Pros sporting Apple M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips arrive this year on November 7! While I generally don’t like my plans being disrupted, I can’t get mad in this instance.

Apple (finally) decided to kill off the 13-inch MacBook Pro. In its place, we’ll get a 14-inch entry-level machine featuring the base M3 chip for $1,599 / AU$2,699. The company is also offering a 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro at $1,999 / AU$2,999 and a 16-inch MacBook Pro starting at $2,499 / AU$4,299. That’s three new MacBook Pros in total.

Though I’m intrigued by the potential power of the M3 Pro and M3 Max, I’m going for the entry-level MacBook Pro 14-inch with the base M3 chip. Read on to find out why.

Apple M3 performance 

Apple M3

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple M3 chips are the first consumer processors utilizing TSMC’s 3nm process, which allows more transistors to be packed into a smaller space and thus improves speed and efficiency. The 5nm Apple M1 and Apple M2 chips blew us away, and the M3 processor outstrips them both, according to Apple.

The entry-level M3 chip features 25 billion transistors — which is 5 billion more than the M2. This chip has a 10-core GPU that's 65% faster than M1 for graphics performance. It also features an 8-core CPU that’s 35% faster than M1 for computing performance. The base M3 supports up to 24GB of unified memory.

While I occasionally dabble with video editing or might test a video game for work, I generally use computers for writing (naturally), surfing the web or watching videos on YouTube. Technically, I can buy the still powerful M1 MacBook Air for $899 since it suits all of my needs. However, I like future-proofing by getting the latest tech possible (if I can afford it). If M1 Macs are still reliable three years after their respective launches, I can only imagine how long an M3 MacBook Pro will last me.

Mac gaming 

Resident Evil Village on a Mac

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Gaming on Macs has made slow and steady progress in recent years. Not only has the M-series allowed graphically demanding games like Resident Evil Village to run on Mac, but more and more game developers are jumping on board the Mac gaming train. Who would’ve ever imagined Hideo Kojima appearing at an Apple event? Now with M3, Mac gaming can take things to the next level.

The M3 lineup has a “next-generation” GPU that's meant to boost Apple silicon’s graphical capabilities. A new feature called Dynamic Caching allocates the use of local memory in hardware in real time and only uses the exact amount of memory needed for specific tasks. According to Apple, this feature is an industry first and will increase the performance of demanding applications and video games.

Hardware-accelerated ray tracing makes its debut on Mac thanks to the new M3 chips. The new GPU also brings hardware-accelerated mesh shading to Mac. This should all result in higher-quality graphics with more accurate lighting and detailed environments. Apple says the M3 GPU delivers the same performance as M1 at half the power — up to 65% more performance at its peak.

Those numbers are well and good, but how does that translate into the real world? During a press briefing, we got an early look at the upcoming Myst remake on the iMac 2023 — which sports the same M3 chip as the new 14-inch MacBook Pro. The graphics were impressive thanks to the hardware-accelerated ray tracing. We were able to make out intricate shadows on a boat floating through the water as the camera panned out. The lighting effects bouncing off the wet dock were also realistic.

Now, this isn’t to say we’ll see games like Cyberpunk 2077 with all its ray-traced glory on Macs any time soon — but the notion isn’t so far-fetched. As a lifelong gamer, I’m eager to see how games run on M3-powered Macs.

The price is right

I tend not to focus on price when purchasing tech since my main goal is buying something that will last for half a decade at minimum. That said, I won’t pass up a good deal if I see one — and the $1,599 / AU$2,699 MacBook Pro seems too good to miss.

Granted, $1,599 / AU$2,699 is a good chunk of change. However, that’s still $400 less than the $1,999 MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 Pro I was ready to purchase. The main reason I wanted that system over the $1,299 MacBook Air M2 is due to the thinner laptop's skimpy port selection. With the 14-inch MacBook Pro M3, I get a laptop with a faster processor than M2 and with more ports than the Air offers — and for less money than I expected to spend.

Yes, the MacBook Pro M3 Pro offers even more CPU and graphics cores along with more unified memory. And you can output to two displays at once instead of just one for the MacBook Pro M3. And only the pricier M3 Pro model comes in the new sleek Space Black. But I can live with these trade-offs. 

Bottom line 

I’m glad I waited for these M3 MacBooks Pro to arrive because they seem like the best MacBooks yet. And for my purposes, the entry-level M3 MacBook Pro is the best deal of all.

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Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.