Is the new MacBook Pro M3 a good value?

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

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Apple has lowered the price of the 14-inch MacBook Pro by $400 with the new MacBook Pro M3. The bad news is that it costs $300 more than the model it replaces. 

It's a bit confusing, but the bottom line is that the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 is now discontinued, and that laptop started at $1,299. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro with Apple's M3 chip starts at $1,599. This is the new MacBook lineup overall. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
New MacBook Lineup
Row 0 - Cell 0 Starting Price
MacBook Air M1$799
MacBook Air M2 (13-inch)$1,099
MacBook Air M2 (15-inch)$1,299
MacBook Pro M3 14-inch$1,599
MacBook Pro M3 Pro 14-inch$1,999
MacBook Pro M3 Pro 16-inch$2,499

That seems like a pretty good spread of prices at first glance, but now that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is gone, creative pros have a very interesting choice if they're willing to spend over a grand on a new laptop.

At the $1,299 price point, the 15-inch MacBook Air is the sole option, and its M2 chip is quite fast. But you don't get the same graphics might made available by the M3 chip, nor the rendering capability of that silicon if you're a video editor, designer or coder. 

The M3 chip packs a new GPU with a technology called Dynamic Caching, which enables the GPU to allocate local memory in hardware in real time instead of software. Because only the exact amount of memory is used for each task, this improves GPU utilization and performance when using demanding pro apps. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Gamers will also appreciate the jump to M3, as it offers hardware accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing. Mesh shading enables the MacBook Pro to handle more visually complex scenes because it can handle geometry processing much faster. And hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which started on the iPhone 15 Pro series with the A17 Pro chip, allows the MacBook Pro M3 to deliver more accurate lighting effects and shadows. 

In addition to those performance gains, the MacBook Pro M3 14-inch is rated for 15 to 22 hours of battery life. Compare that to 15 to 18 hours for the 15-inch MacBook Air, depending on the task. Also keep in mind that the 14-inch MacBook Pro has more ports, including an additional Thunderbolt 4 port, an HDMI port and SD card slot, which pros will appreciate. 

So is Apple justified in charging $300 more over the 15-inch MacBook Air even though it has a bigger screen? I'd say yes, but it remains to be seen how long it will take for an M3 chip to trickle down to the Air, at which point the new MacBook Pro could be a harder sell.

The bigger question some may have is whether the 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 is worth $300 more than the now-retired 13-inch Macbook Pro M2. You get a bigger and brighter mini-LED display, as well as more ports, a sharper 1080p camera (vs 720p) and a more powerful speaker system, plus up to 4 more hours of rated battery life.

Our full MacBook Pro M3 review will have the final verdict, but the bottom line is that you'll have to pony up a lot more for the best MacBook now if you want to go Pro. 

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Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.