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

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch featuring the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips hit store shelves earlier this year, but Apple is reportedly gearing up to launch their respective successors in 2024.

In his latest Power On newsletter (via MacRumors), Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman once again claims that Apple won’t release new MacBook Pros in 2023. Even if Apple debuts its rumored M3 chip in late 2023 as Gurman expects, it's unlikely the company will release M2 and M3-driven 14- and 16-inch laptops in the same year. To that end, a 2024 launch seems possible.

Gurman has a solid track record with his Apple coverage but it’s still wise to take his reports with some skepticism. After all, even if he's 100% accurate Apple could still change course.

Still, Apple will undoubtedly release MacBook Pros powered by a successor to the M2 processor at some point. That being the case, prospective MacBook Pro buyers have a choice to make.

Should you buy an M2 MacBook Pro now or wait for the inevitable M3-powered models? Let’s go over the reasons for and against each.

Reasons to wait for M3

The potential power of M3

MacBooks with Apple M2 chips are among the most powerful laptops on th emarket, frequently matching or exceeding the best Windows laptops. As great as the M2 chip is, its various iterations didn’t offer the same leap in power seen when Apple switched from Intel chips to its own silicon with the M1 processor. However, it’s possible the M3 chip could be revolutionary.

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Unlike the M1 and M2 chips, which both utilize TSMC’s 5nm process, the M3 chip uses the manufacturer’s new 3nm process. According to an App Store developer log Mark Gurman claims to have obtained, the M3 Pro will pack a 12-core CPU, an 18-core GPU and support up to 32GB of unified memory (RAM). In contrast, the M2 Pro chip features a 10-core CPU, a 16-core GPU and 16GB of RAM. That’s two extra CPU and GPU cores, along with double the memory.

If the previous claim is true then the core count increase over the M2 Pro would be identical to the jump from M1 Pro to M2 Pro. That’s to say the Apple M3 chip could potentially deliver incredible performance gains over M2, perhaps by as much as 20%, according to Vadim Yuryev from the Max Tech YouTube channel.

Power users (video editors, gamers) who own older Intel-powered MacBooks or who want to dive into the Apple ecosystem would do well to hold out for MacBook Pros packing M3 chips. If these laptops are as powerful and energy efficient as we expect, they could be a true game changer.

Price drops on M2 MacBook Pros 

There's another great reason to wait for M3 MacBooks: potential price drops on existing M2 models. 

Apple doesn’t normally offer steep discounts on its products but we often see places like Best Buy and Amazon slash a few hundred dollars off older MacBooks when newer models arrive. The MacBook Air M1, for example, starts at $999 but we’ve seen it discounted below $799 at certain points. This is also true for some of the best iPads and the best MacBooks.

If you’re not in a hurry to buy a MacBook and want to save a few hundred dollars, it’s in your best interest to wait for M3 MacBook Pros to arrive to see what kind of amazing deals you can get on current M2 MacBook Pros.

Reasons to buy M2 now

M2 offers incredible performance 

If what we’ve heard about the M3 chip is true, then it could offer a huge upgrade over M2 laptops — worthy of inclusion in our best MacBooks list. That said, the M2 MacBook Pros won’t suddenly become obsolete. Even if these laptops aren’t as cutting-edge as the M3 models, you’d still get an extremely powerful and energy-efficient laptop.

As our in-house benchmark tests demonstrate, Apple laptops with an M2 chip deliver killer performance and exceptional battery life. In the Geekbench 5 multi-core CPU performance test, the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 scored 8,911, which is quite good. That’s on par with both the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Air 15-inch, and much better than the 7,521 score the M1-equipped MacBook Pro earned two years prior.

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

When we benchmarked the MacBook Pro 14-inch with an M2 and M2 Max chips, we weren’t surprised to see these chips helped the laptop perform even better than MacBooks with the vanilla M2 processor.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Single-core scoreMutli-core score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro1,94114,965
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max1,92614,939
MacBook Air M2 (13-inch)1,9118,965
MacBook Air 15-inch M21,9088,932

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. In the same Geekbench test, 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.

Our full benchmark reports go into greater detail but suffice it to say the M2 chip is a computing beast. If you get a MacBook packing M2, you won’t be disappointed — even when M3 MacBook Pros arrive.


Outlook 

Apple hasn’t officially announced the long-rumored M3 chip so it’s important to take everything here with a grain of salt. That said, it’s not unreasonable to assume that M2’s successor is on the horizon.

Gurman says we’ll see the first MacBooks with M3 debut in October — which could mean they’ll get announced at Apple’s expected September event. If that happens, then Pro laptops with the reported M3 Pro and M3 Max chips shouldn’t be too far off.

As for whether or not to wait for M3 MacBooks, I suggest waiting until at least the first wave of M3 laptops arrives. That way, you can see what they have to offer over M2 and if these notebooks are worth it. Waiting is also a good idea if you want to save on existing M2 MacBooks. However, if you own an ancient Intel MacBook and need a more powerful Apple laptop now, then I say get an M2-powered MacBook Pro or 15-inch MacBook Air.

More from Tom's Guide

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.


  • dstrauss
    Do Not Wait. The M2 MacBook Pro, 14 & 16, have hit the Apple refurb site already, with most if not all configurations showing up during the week. I was able to pick up the 10c/16c base unit, with 1tb ssd, for $1869 today - a $330 saving. You'll probably get 9-12 months of use before the M3 Pro even gets launched. Since the first generation M1 Pro still outperforms most everything in the market, and the M2 Pro is even faster, why is anyone "waiting" for even more...
    Reply