I’ve been using the MacBook Pro M1 Pro for a couple of years as my main laptop, so I was eager to review the MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 (from $1,599), especially since its starting price is $400 less. Think of this laptop as the sweet spot between the MacBook Airs and the even more powerful new M3 Pro MacBook Pros.
So how does the new MacBook Pro M3 stack up? The M3 chip delivers serious power, boasting 60% faster performance than the MacBook Pro M1, as well as a big graphics boost. You can even play games on this laptop with console-like visuals, thanks to hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing.
So why get this Apple laptop over the 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook Air? In addition to the faster M3 chip, you get a more vivid 120Hz mini-LED display, more ports (like HDMI and SD Card slot) and even longer battery life based on our testing.
The even faster MacBook Pro with M3 Pro/M3 Max (starting at $1,999) is still the choice for the most demanding creative pros, but the MacBook Pro M3 does everything I need and more. As you’ll see in my MacBook Pro M3 review, this is a beast of a laptop with epic battery life — even if you can’t get it in the shiny new Space Black — and it earns a spot both on our best MacBook list and overall best laptop list.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Specs
|Price||from $1,599||$1,999 as tested|
|Chip||M3 (8 core CPU, 10-core GPU)||M3 (8 core CPU, 10-core GPU)|
|Display||14.2 inches Liquid Retina XDR (120Hz, 3024 x 1964)||14.2 inches Liquid Retina XDR (120Hz, 3024 x 1964)|
|Ports||2 Thunderbolt/USB 4, 3mm headphone, HDMI, SDXC||2 Thunderbolt/USB 4, 3mm headphone, HDMI, SDXC|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3|
|Colors||Space Silver, Space Gray||Space Silver, Space Gray|
|Dimensions||12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches||12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches|
|Weight||3.4 pounds||3.4 pounds|
MacBook Pro M3 review: Release date and price
The MacBook Pro M3 has a release date of November 7 and it starts at $1,599. For that price you get a 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s a fairly small amount of memory, but you can upgrade to 16GB for a hefty $200 or 24GB for $400.
Other storage options include 1TB ($200) and 2TB ($600). Our configuration costs $1,999, which comes with 16GB of memory and 1 TB of storage. Those looking for more power can just jump up to the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M3 Pro chip, which starts at $1,999 with a 11-core CPU, 14-core GPU, as well as 18GB of memory and 512GB of storage.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Design and ports
The bad news is that the MacBook Pro M3 doesn’t offer the cool new Space Black color. This design is reserved for the pricier M3 Pro/M3 Max model. You’re stuck with Space Silver and Space Gray, but otherwise this is a very sleek and sturdy machine.
The unibody aluminum design still feels very solid, and it weighs a very manageable 3.4 pounds. I also appreciate how easy the lid is to open via the front lip, and how cool and quiet the system runs overall. The notch at the top of the display remains a bit of an eyesore, but it generally doesn’t get in your way.
The left side of the MacBook Pro M3 houses the MagSafe charging port, as well as two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll find the HDMI port and SD Card slot on the right of the system.
Note that you get one less Thunderbolt port here versus the pricier MacBook Pro M3 Pro, and you’re limited to one external display in terms of output compared to two for the M3 Pro. So it’s worth keeping that in mind before you buy.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Display
The MacBook Pro M3’s 14-inch, mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display is still one of the best you’ll find on any laptop, even if it’s not as rich as an OLED panel. And Apple has boosted the brightness on the latest model when viewing SDR (standard dynamic range) content.
I saw the difference when I put the MacBook Pro M3 and 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro side by side while viewing the trailer for The Marvels. Brie Larson’s character was more vibrant on screen, and this is backed up by our lab test results.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Brightness (nits)||Color Reproduction (DCI-P3)||Accuracy (Delta-E)|
|MacBook Pro M3||555.8 / 1,551 (HDR)||81.1%||0.11|
|MacBook Pro M2||449.6 / 1,491||83.5%||0.19|
|Dell XPS 15 OLED||371.2||137.9%||0.24|
|Surface Laptop Studio 2||495 / 648 (HDR)||72.1||0.21|
|Asus Zenbook 14X OLED||360||77.5||0.23|
We measured an average brightness of 555.8 nits for the MacBook Pro M3’s screen, compared to 449.6 for the MacBook Pro M2 Pro. The Dell XPS 15 OLED and Surface Laptop Studio 2 were both behind, as was the Zenbook 14X OLED.
When displaying HDR content, the MacBook Pro M3 reached a searing 1,551 nits, compared to 648 nits for the Surface Laptop Studio 2. However, we still need to test the Dell and Asus to compare for HDR performance.
The MacBook Pro M3’s color performance is also impressive. I was fully immersed watching the trailer for Echo on Disney Plus, with a dark red blood dripping from Kingpin’s trembling hands contrasted against his crisp white suit. We measured a DCI-P3 color coverage of 81.1%, which is better than the Surface and Asus but behind the Dell XPS 15 OLED.
Creative pros will appreciate that the MacBook Pro M3’s display offers the most accurate colors in its class. On the Delta-E test, where 0 is perfect, the new MacBook Pro scored 0.11, which beats all of its competitors.
The six-speaker sound system on the MacBook Pro 14-inch remains stellar. The whisper-like vocals from Olivia Rodrigo on Can’t Catch Me Now on Spotify balanced beautifully with the strumming guitar. The bass got a bit lost on the faster Shut Up and Dance from Walk the Moon, but there’s still plenty of snap.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Performance
The MacBook Pro’s M3 chip is the first 3 nanometer processor for the Mac lineup, which crams in more transistors while also featuring a next-generation GPU. This laptop never flinched during my everyday workload, which includes having dozens of Chrome tabs open at a time across different windows, Slack running and quick photo edits in Pixelmator Pro.
On Geekbench, which measures overall performance, the MacBook Pro M3 scored 3,138 on single core and 12,018 on multi-core, which is about 20% faster than the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2. The M3’s single-core score is also 27% faster than the MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, but it’s multi-core score is slightly lower.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Geekbench (single / multi-core)||Video transcode (Handbrake)||Photoshop|
|MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch)||3,138 / 12,018||5:37||1,051 / 4:13|
|MacBook Pro M2 (13-inch)||2,587 / 9,630||6:51||872 / 4:54|
|MacBook Pro M1 Pro (14-inch)||2,388 / 12,344||4:51||806 / 4:54|
|MacBook Air 15||2,613 / 9,993||7:46||868 / 5:04|
|MacBook Pro M2 Pro||2,686 / 14,738||4:06||951 / 4:38|
How about video editing? In our Handbrake test, which we use to transcode a 6.5GB 4K video to 1080p, the MacBook Pro M3 finished in 5 minutes and 37 seconds. That’s over a minute faster than the previous MacBook Pro M2 and over 2 minutes faster than the MacBook Air 15, but the MacBook Pro M1 Pro was speedier.
We also run the PugetBench PhotoShop test, which assigns a score based on how effectively the laptop uses scripts to apply a series of filters and other adjustments to a number of high-res photographs. The M3 MacBook Pro turned in the highest score of any MacBook we’ve tested, including the M2 MacBook Pro, and it needed the least amount of time.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Geekbench (single / multi-core)||Video transcode (Handbrake)|
|MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch)||3,138 / 12,018||5:37|
|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 2||2,577 / 12,793||5:11|
The MacBook Pro M3 beats the Windows competition on Geekbench single-core but falls a bit behind those systems on the multi-core test. And it’s video editing time is a bit slower than those laptops. However, keep in mind that our MacBook Pro M3 configuration costs $1,999, compared to $2,499 for the Dell XPS 15 OLED, $2,399 for the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 and $3,299 for the Surface Laptop Studio 2.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||SSD Speed (Read / Write)|
|MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch)||2,769 / 2,904 MBps|
|MacBook Pro M2 (13-inch)||2,794 / 2,953 MBps|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2||3,760 / 4620 MBps|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2||3,145 / 2,793 MBps|
Don’t expect the fastest SSD performance from this Apple laptop. On the Blackmagic Disk Speed test, the MacBook Pro M3’s 1TB drive turned in a read speed of 2,769 MBps and 2,904. That’s on a par with the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 but behind the Surface Laptop Studio 2. And the 15-inch Air has a faster read speed but slower write speed.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Graphics and gaming
The MacBook Pro M3 features an all-new, 10-core GPU with new Dynamic Caching technology that dynamically optimizes on-chip memory. And this is paired with both hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing for improved geometry processing and more realistic lighting effects.
I had a chance to play the Lies of P on the MacBook Pro M3, and Apple’s built-in tool reported I was getting a very smooth 60 frames per second on high performance mode at 1920 x 1200 pixels as I swung my sword at various enemies. When I upped the graphic presets to very high, the action was a still playable 45 fps.
We also benchmarked using Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and the MacBook Pro M3 hit 33 fps at 1920 x 1200. The Dell XPS 15 OLED with RTX 4070 GPU hit a predictably higher 67 fps and the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra (RTX 4050) reached 54 fps.
On 3DMark, which measures overall graphics performance, the MacBook Pro M3 scored 7,810 on the Extreme test with 46.8 fps. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chip scored 6,819 and 40.83 fps. That’s a 13% boost.
Overall, the graphics in the MacBook Pro M3 are impressive, but if you want more power you’ll want to spring for the M3 MacBook Pro with 14-core GPU.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Battery life
One look at the below table tells you everything you need to know about why MacBooks continue to kick the collective ass of Windows 11 laptops. Apple silicon is just way more efficient than any Intel laptop out there right now and nothing comes close.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Hours:Mins|
|MacBook Pro M3 (14-inch)||17:25|
|MacBook Pro M2 (13-inch)||18:20|
|MacBook Pro M2 Pro (14-inch)||14:23|
|MacBook Pro M1 Pro (14-inch)||14:08|
|MacBook Air 15-inch||14:48|
|Dell XPS 15 OLED||8:58|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2||9:31|
|Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra||8:48 (120Hz) / 10:01 (60Hz)|
On the Tom’s Guide battery test, which involves surfing the web at 150 nits of screen brightness, the MacBook Pro M3 lasted an epic 17 hours and 25 minutes. That’s over 3 hours longer than the MacBook Pro M2 Pro and over 2 hours longer than the 15-inch MacBook Air. The smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 did last an even longer 18:20.
The Dell XPS 15 OLED, Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Galaxy Book 3 Ultra didn’t even break 10 hours. Well, Samsung’s laptop barely did, but we had to lower the refresh rate to do it. The MacBook Pro was in ProMotion mode (120Hz).
In my testing, the MacBook Pro M3 easily lasted several hours during normal work tasks, but gaming definitely took a total. In a little under 2 hours of playing Hitman on Steam, the battery had dipped to about 20%.
MacBook Pro M3 review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam
I don’t want to bore you so that’s why I left the keyboard and touchpad for nearly last. And that’s because they’re pretty close to perfect. The MacBook Pro’s keyboard provides plenty of travel and feels nice and clicky when typing.
The power button continues to integrate a Touch ID button for easy logins, but I wish Apple would embrace Face ID on the Mac to make it even faster.
The TrackPad is very wide and easy to use, making it a breeze to perform multi-touch gestures. And cursor navigation is as accurate as ever.
The 1080p FaceTime camera on the MacBook Pro is good, and it’s aided by the image signal processor (ISP) and Neural Engine in the M3 chip for better video quality. I took a shot of myself using the webcam in front of a Christmas tree, and my hair and shirt looked clear and my skin tone was accurate. My face was a bit out of focus but overall this webcam is very good for video calls.
MacBook Pro M3 vs MacBook Pro M3 Pro
While we haven’t tested the MacBook Pro with M3 Pro chip yet, you can expect more performance from its 11-core CPU and 14-core GPU, as well as the 18GB of unified memory standard. The MacBook Pro M3 has an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and just 8GB of memory to start. Video editors and coders will especially appreciate the extra power.
The MacBook Pro M3 Pro also benefits from 3 Thunderbolt ports vs. 2 for the MacBook Pro M3 and the ability to support dual external monitors. The MacBook Pro M3 supports just one monitor at a time. Just keep in mind that the MacBook Pro M3 Pro starts at $1,999, which is $400 more than this laptop.
MacBook Pro M3 vs MacBook Air M2
If you’re trying to decide between the $1,599 MacBook Pro M3 and the $1,099 13-inch MacBook Air M2 or the $1,299 15-inch MacBook Air M2, you will definitely see more power and especially better graphics performance. But what happens when the Airs eventually get the M3 chip?
The MacBook Pro M3 will still be the better choice for speed because its thermal design enables better sustained performance. Plus, the MacBook Pro M3 offers a brighter and more colorful mini-LED display, as well as an HDMI port and SD card slot, which some pros count on. But the Airs will remain the better laptops for everyday use and better value picks.
MacBook Pro M3 Review: Verdict
The 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 is a stellar replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Yes, it costs $300 more, but think about all the upgrades you get. This laptop packs a bigger and more colorful display, a sharper webcam, more ports and a big performance boost. The 17 hours of battery life is also pretty amazing.
Should you buy this if you have a MacBook Pro M1 Pro? I’m still happy using it, but if you have an older Intel Mac or you need something more powerful than the MacBook Air it’s worth the splurge. I just wish you didn’t have to give up an extra port at this price vs. the MacBook Pro M3 Pro.
The MacBook Pro M3 isn’t the thinnest laptop in its class, but it packs in a heck of a lot of performance and endurance along with an amazing display, comfy keyboard and great sound. It’s the most well-rounded MacBook for the money.