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Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max): Unmatched Power & Style

The newest iteration of Apple’s prosumer laptop, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), stands out as a powerhouse. Featuring advanced M3 Pro or M3 Max chips and accommodating up to 128GB unified memory, it caters to demanding tasks, particularly those with graphic intensity.

One notable enhancement is the boosted GPU, complemented by macOS Sonoma’s Game Mode. Remarkably, this MacBook is now a viable option for gaming, marking a significant shift in its capabilities.

Prospective buyers should be aware of the premium price tag attached to this cutting-edge tech. Despite its remarkable features, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) may not be the right fit for everyone.

Pros:

Cons:

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max): Unmatched Power & Style

TWO-MINUTE REVIEW: Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3)

Apple’s October revelation of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) lineup took us by surprise, both in timing and risk. Only 10 months after the M2-based MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023), it raises eyebrows.

This daring move could irk recent M2 Max purchasers, feeling their high-priced laptop was swiftly overshadowed. While staying at the tech forefront is pricey, the M3 Pro and M3 Max reveal may leave a bitter aftertaste.

It also risks portraying the M2 generation as a misstep, especially with the sudden launch of the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max, bypassing the M2 in the new iMac and replacing 10-month-old laptops.

The silver lining is the $2,499 starting price, offering M3 series upgrades at the M2’s original price. However, recent M2 buyers may feel slighted by this swift transition.

Configurations abound with M3 Pro or M3 Max chips, up to 128GB unified memory. Choose wisely, as post-purchase upgrades are a no-go, and a richer spec sheet means a heftier price tag.

Unlike the 14-inch MacBook Pro, there’s no budget-friendly option with the base M3 chip. The 16-inch is a recommendation for those with the budget and need for a potent machine.

For the enthusiasts, this might be your go-to laptop. The dazzling 16.2-inch display boasts a 3456 x 2234 resolution, Liquid Retina XDR tech, and 1,600 nits peak brightness. ProMotion tech ensures a zippy 120Hz refresh rate for a smooth user experience.

An array of ports, including USB-Cs, HDMI, and a memory card reader, adds versatility for professionals on the move.

Performance-wise, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) excels. Testing it with various tasks, from editing 4K footage to running the latest games, showcased its prowess. Apple may have just turned its ‘Pro’ MacBooks into gaming powerhouses, breaking the all-work-no-play stereotype.

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3) REVIEW: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3) REVIEW: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) debuted on October 30, with an official release scheduled for November 7, 2023. This swift rollout, just over nine months since the previous model, raises eyebrows.

In an unconventional move, Apple discontinued the 16-inch MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips upon introducing the M3 Pro and M3 Max versions. This abrupt shift might irk recent M2 purchasers, who invested in what was then the latest and most potent MacBook less than a year ago.

The concern arises: will the new MacBook Pro 16-inch face obsolescence in just nine months? Though unlikely, Apple’s track record prompts caution. The rapid replacement of the M2 models within a year seems audacious, especially for a device of this caliber.

However, Apple maintained the starting price at $2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299, offering the M3 Pro chip with a 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU, 18GB unified memory, and a 512GB SSD. This translates to a substantial boost, including additional memory, at no extra cost.

While this is a welcome perk for those considering the M2 Pro version until recently, it might sting for recent M2 Pro buyers. Despite Apple discontinuing sales of M2 Pro and M2 Max models, other retailers still offer them, potentially at discounted prices, especially during Black Friday deals.

Additional configurations include the 16-inch model with the M3 Pro chip, 36GB memory, and 512GB SSD for $2,899 / £2,999 / AU$4,899.

For a more potent option, the M3 Max chip offers a 14-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 36GB unified memory, and a 1TB SSD at $3,499 / £3,599 / AU$5,999. The top-tier model with a 16-core CPU, 40-core GPU, 48GB unified memory, and 1TB storage costs $3,999 / £4,099 / AU$6,899.

Customization options extend to 64GB or 128GB of memory and up to 8TB SSD storage. The fully loaded version reaches an astronomical $7,199 / £7,299 / AU$11,699, targeting those with substantial budgets and specific performance needs.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro, a premium workstation laptop, comes with a hefty price tag. While this may deter many, those requiring robust hardware might view it as a worthwhile investment, albeit with lingering concerns about potential rapid follow-ups.

Unlike its 14-inch counterpart, the 16-inch MacBook Pro lacks a more affordable version with the base M3 chip, marking a departure in processor options between the two models.

Value Score: 3/5

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): SPECS

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): SPECS

Explore the specifications of our MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max) review unit, featuring various configurations:

MacBook Pro M3 Pro 512GBMacBook Pro M3 Pro 36GB MemoryMacBook Pro M3 Max 1TBMacBook Pro M3 Max 48GB Memory
Price:$2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299$2,899 / £2,999 / AU$4,899$3,499 / £3,599 / AU$5,999$3,999 / $4,099 / AU$6,899
CPU:Apple M3 Pro (12-core)Apple M3 Pro (12-core)Apple M3 Max (14-core)Apple M3 Max (16-core)
Graphics:Integrated 18-core GPUIntegrated 18-core GPUIntegrated 30-core GPUIntegrated 40-core GPU
RAM:18GB unified memory36GB unified memory36GB unified memory48GB unified memory
Screen:16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR display (mini-LED, 1,000 nits sustained brightness, wide color P3 gamut, ProMotion technology)16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR display (mini-LED, 1,000 nits sustained brightness, wide color P3 gamut, ProMotion technology)16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR display (mini-LED, 1,000 nits sustained brightness, wide color P3 gamut, ProMotion technology)16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR display (mini-LED, 1,000 nits sustained brightness, wide color P3 gamut, ProMotion technology)
Storage:512GB SSD512GB SSD1TB1TB
Ports:3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 33x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 33x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 33x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3
Wireless:Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Camera:1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight:4.7 lbs (2.2kg)4.7 lbs (2.2kg)4.8 lbs (2.2kg)4.8 lbs (2.2kg)
Dimensions:14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches (356 x 248 x 17mm)14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches (356 x 248 x 17mm)14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches (356 x 248 x 17mm)14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches (356 x 248 x 17mm)
APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): DESIGN

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): DESIGN

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) retains the familiar design with a notable addition: the new Space Black color option. Apple asserts that this color, formulated with breakthrough chemistry, minimizes fingerprint retention through an anodization seal.

In the Space Black variant, the metallic finish adds depth, giving it a serious and professional appearance. Notably, the anti-fingerprint technology works effectively, leaving the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) spotless after days of use.

However, the design choice of a black braided charging cable doesn’t align with the white power brick, creating a visual inconsistency. Opinions on the Space Black color vary, with some finding it less distinctive and more akin to a standard black laptop.

Despite minor color-related debates, the design remains unchanged from the earlier 2023 model, which itself closely resembled the 2021 version. Apple’s initial design excellence, featuring a comfortable keyboard, secure Touch ID, and an array of ports, persists.

Unlike the trend of slimming down laptops at the expense of ports, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) embraces a practical approach. With an abundance of ports, including an SDXC card slot, three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, HDMI, and a headphone jack, users can connect peripherals without hassle.

The slim bezels contribute to a modern feel, and the ‘notch’ around the webcam, criticized upon its debut, remains a non-issue. The macOS Sonoma adapts seamlessly, utilizing the 16-inch screen effectively and providing an unobscured workspace.

The standout feature remains the 16.2-inch display, unmatched in laptop displays. Boasting a sharp 3456 x 2234 resolution, Liquid Retina XDR tech, and ProMotion technology supporting up to 120Hz refresh rates, it offers unparalleled visual quality.

Promotion not only enhances the display but also aids in conserving battery life by adjusting the refresh rate based on content. MagSafe 3 makes a return, simplifying power connections and ensuring safe disconnection.

While the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) doesn’t introduce new design elements, it wisely maintains a proven and successful formula. Apple’s decision to stick to a tried-and-tested design receives a solid score of 5/5.

Design score: 5/5

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): PERFORMANCE

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): PERFORMANCE

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) stands out with exceptional performance, representing a significant leap beyond the M1 Pro and M1 Max models. Apple’s bold claims about the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips were put to the test with the high-end M3 Max variant, featuring a 16-core CPU, 40-core GPU, and 48GB unified memory – the most expensive preconfigured option.

Considering various models and configurations, it’s crucial to align specs with specific needs. While the top-tier model caters to intensive graphics and video workloads, lower-specced versions still promise a commendable experience.

According to Apple, the M3 Max offers a substantial 45% boost in CPU performance and a noteworthy 20% increase in graphics performance compared to the M2 Max, marking a significant advancement in just nine months.

BENCHMARKS:

TestMacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max)
Cinebench R24 CPUSingle-Core: 140; Multi-Core: 13,122
Geekbench 6Single-Core: 3,219; Multi-Core: 21,345
BlenderMonster: 207.7; Junkshop: 125.5; Classroom: 87.8
Battery Life (a movie test)24 hours and 35 minutes

Compared to the older M1 Max, the M3 Max showcases a remarkable 80% improvement in CPU speeds and a 40% boost in graphics performance. Apple strategically targets Intel system users, claiming the M3 Max is up to 5.3 times faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro.

In independent benchmark tests, the M3 Max outperformed its predecessor, with a 35% increase in Geekbench 6 single-core CPU performance and a substantial 69% rise in multi-core performance. Cinebench R24 exhibited similar trends, emphasizing the M3’s enhanced multi-core capabilities.

Real-world implications shine in tasks like video editing. In a Handbrake encode test, the M3 Max demonstrated a 76.6% increase in performance compared to the M1 Max, completing the task noticeably faster.

Day-to-day use of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) showcases impressive speed, especially evident in graphics-intensive applications like Premier Pro. This enhanced efficiency translates to quicker project completions, making the high price tag seem like a wise investment for professionals.

Apple’s emphasis on gaming performance with the M3 family is noteworthy. Testing games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Total War: Warhammer III revealed impressive frame rates, showcasing the MacBook Pro 16-inch’s potential as a gaming powerhouse.

In conclusion, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) earns a perfect performance score of 5/5, excelling in both professional workflows and gaming experiences.

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): BATTERY LIFE

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3): BATTERY LIFE

Exceptional battery performance characterizes the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), enduring over 24 hours in our benchmark test. Apple’s switch to silicon has notably enhanced MacBook battery life, particularly for the 16-inch models with their larger batteries and M3 lineup’s efficiency features.

Claiming the “longest battery life ever in a Mac,” Apple attributes this feat to a 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Officially, it boasts up to 22 hours of video playback and 15 hours of web browsing. In our rigorous 1080p video loop test, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) surpassed expectations, clocking in at just over 24 hours – a testament to Apple’s strides with the M3 lineup.

For daily tasks, the battery depletion remains reasonable, ensuring a full day of use without needing a midday charge. Notably, performance consistency prevails whether the laptop is plugged in or running on battery power – a positive departure from laptops that sacrifice performance for prolonged battery life.

Engaging in gaming on battery power accelerates depletion, offering approximately three to four hours for graphically intensive games. While this might seem modest for a MacBook, it aligns with the endurance of top-tier gaming laptops.

Charging the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) is swift with the 140W USB-C Power Adapter, taking less than an hour to reach a full 100%.

Battery Life Score: 5/5

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3 MAX): SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

APPLE MACBOOK PRO 16-INCH (M3 MAX): SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max) Score Card

AttributesNotesRating
ValueSame base price, but overall expensive3/5
DesignStriking Space Black, top-tier display, diverse ports5/5
PerformanceM3 Max delivers exceptional power, even for gaming5/5
Battery lifeImpressive 24+ hours in our benchmark5/5

Buy it if:

  • You seek the most powerful MacBook. Whether M3 Pro or M3 Max, it excels at demanding tasks.
  • You’re a traveling creative professional. Its power, stunning display, and versatile ports make it an ideal companion.
  • You’ve yearned for a gaming MacBook. The M3 Max transforms it into an impressive gaming machine.

Don’t buy it if:

  • You own the M2 Pro or M2 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro. The newer models don’t warrant an upgrade.
  • Budget is a concern. While unchanged in price, it remains a costly machine. Consider the more affordable 14-inch version.
  • You’re a casual user. For regular use, the MacBook Air 15-inch (M2, 2023) offers ample performance without the heft.

ALSO CONSIDER

ModelPriceCPUGraphicsRAMScreenStoragePortsWirelessCameraWeightDimensions
MacBook Pro 16-inch M3 Pro 512GB$2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299Apple M3 Pro (12-core)Integrated 18-core GPU18GB unified memory16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR512GB3x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC, 3.5mm, MagSafe 3Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.31080p FaceTime HD4.7 lbs14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches
Dell XPS 17 (2022)$1,749 / £2,099 / AU$3,999Intel Core i7-12700H (8-core)Intel Iris Plus; Nvidia GeForce RTX 305032GB DDR517-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,400) touch512GB4 x Thunderbolt 4, SD, audio jackKiller Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, Bluetooth 5.0720p IR webcam4.79 lbs14.74 x 9.76 x 0.77 inches
LG Gram 16 (2023)$1,799 / £1,649 / AU$2,609Intel Core i7-1360P (12-core)Intel Iris Xe16GB LPDDR516-inch, 2560 x 1600, IPS512GB2 x Thunderbolt 4, 2 x USB-A, HDMI, Micro SDIntel Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.11080p IR webcam2.64 lbs13.96 x 9.53 x 0.66 inches

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