Should you buy a MacBook M2 now or wait for the M3 chip?

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 sitting on a patio table
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you were waiting for Apple to release new MacBooks with an M3 chip, we have some potentially bad news. That isn’t official, but numerous sources, including Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and prolific leaker Revegnus, claim Apple won't release M3-powered MacBooks or iPads in 2023. According to the latter, TSMC can’t produce enough M3 chips for Apple’s next-gen tablets, laptops and desktops. iPads and Macs with the new generation of silicon will only appear in 2024.

Gurman claims the 3 new MacBooks reportedly launching at WWDC 2023 will have “processors on par with the current M2 chip” instead of the rumored Apple M3 chips. We’re not sure how these supposed M2 chips will differ from the ones found in laptops like the MacBook Air M2 or MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023, but it’s likely they won’t offer a major boost in performance.

If these reports are accurate and MacBooks with M3 don't release in 2023, we have to ask: should you get one of the currently available M2 MacBooks or wait for the M3 models to arrive? Below, we’ll go over the reasons for and against each.

Why you should wait for M3

The Apple M3 chip is a rumor but what we’ve heard about it is intriguing. According to a report from the China Times (via Wccftech), the new Apple M3-series chip will use TSMC’s N3E 3-nanometer process, a more advanced production than many have predicted.

If the report is accurate, Apple would be the first company to use this advanced process node. In practice, this would make the next MacBook Air and iPad Pro far more powerful than their predecessors which use TSMC’s 5-nanometer technology.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2023

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If Apple’s upcoming tablets and laptops pack an M3 chip, it could mean a significant boost in power and performance — especially over the still-impressive Apple M1 chip.  Laptops like the MacBook Air M2 featured impressive performance and battery life but it didn’t completely obliterate the MacBook Air M1.

However, this might not be the case if Apple goes with the N3E node. The new chip should offer better battery life and a performance boost by as much as 20%, according to a leak from Vadim Yuryev from the Max Tech YouTube channel. For folks who own M1 MacBooks or the even older Intel Macs, this would be one heck of an upgrade.

Though this year’s M2 MacBooks will likely offer nominal upgrades, they won’t be anything monumental. Because of that, it’s better to wait for M3 MacBooks.

Why you should buy an M2 MacBook now

Even if the M3 MacBooks offer a substantial upgrade over M2 laptops, that won’t automatically make them obsolete. There’s a reason every M2 laptop released has landed on our best MacBooks list. They’re incredible computers offering exceptional battery life and performance.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We benchmarked 2022’s MacBook Pro 13-inch, which was the first laptop to sport the M2 chip. The configuration Apple sent us packed a 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM and an M2 chip with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU. At the time, it was the most powerful M2 you could buy.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Geekbench 5.4Handbreak video transcodingPugetBench PhotoshopSid Meier's Civ VI: Gathering StormRise of the Tomb Raider
MacBook Pro 13-inch M28,9116:5181751 fps24.94 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro12,4774:5180646.1 fps73.87 fps
MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max12,6834:4887746.1 fps39.33 fps
MacBook Air M15,9629:1565337 fpsDNR
MacBook Pro 13-inch M15,9257:4464938 fps25.78 fps

In the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU performance test, the M2 helped the laptop earn a score of 8,911, which is quite good. That’s better than the 7,521 score the M1-equipped MacBook Pro earned two years prior. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also trounced many of the best Windows laptops including the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P CPU (7,150).

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

We also benchmarked the MacBook Pro 14-inch with an M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. No surprise, but they performed even better than the base M2 processor. The M2 Pro version we tested offers a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. The M2 Max model we tested packs a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 64GB of memory and 2TB of storage.

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Single-core scoreMutli-core score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro1,94114,965
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max1,92614,939

On Geekbench 5, which measures CPU performance, the MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro version delivered a single-core score of 1,941 and the M2 Max version hit a similar 1,926. Both models cleared 14,900 on the multi-core test but the M2 Pro was once again a bit faster. Of course, Geekbench isn't the only way to measure performance, but we were surprised to see the MacBook Pro M2 Pro finish a bit ahead of the M2 Max chip here.

You can read our full benchmark reports to see how the M2 chips stacked up in the other performance tests we conducted, but the long and short of it is that the M2 chip is a computing monster. Even if MacBooks with the M3 chip offer superior performance, you won’t be stuck with a bad laptop if you choose to buy the current M2 MacBooks or the new ones allegedly coming this year.


I should note that this article is based on reports and leaks about the M3 chip. While folks like Mark Gurman have a solid track record, we can’t take what they say as gospel. It seems unlikely Apple will release M3 Macs of any kind in 2023, but we can’t say for certain.

Even if the Apple M3 chip doesn’t arrive this year, it’s a safe bet that the Cupertino-based tech giant will inevitably release a proper successor to the M2 in the future. Because of that, deciding whether to wait for an M3 MacBook or if it’s better to get an M2 laptop now is still a relevant question.

If you’re using an older Intel MacBook or want to switch from Windows 11 to macOS, getting an M2 MacBook now wouldn’t be a bad idea. And you don’t even have to break the bank as the awesome MacBook Air M2 starts at $1,199. As our benchmarks show, it’s an overall great laptop. And while the latest MacBook Pros are more expensive, they offer exceptional performance, have vibrant mini-LED displays and come with plenty of ports.

But if you want what are likely to be the most powerful MacBooks yet, it would be a good idea to wait for the inevitable M3 laptops.

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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.