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Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max): maximum power, maximum price tag
5:09 pm | November 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Macbooks | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Apple’s October reveal of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) range was both an unexpected, in terms of its timing, and a risky one. We expected that Apple would bring out a successor to the M2-based MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023) at some point, but few Apple watchers thought it would happen a mere 10 months later.

It's a risky move for several reasons. For a start, it risks annoying people who bought the last MacBook Pro 16-inch – particularly the maxed-out M2 Max model – and who will have thought they’d have some time before the very expensive laptop they just purchased was superseded. While trying to stay at the cutting edge of computing products is a ridiculous and expensive pastime, and while the reveal of the M3 Pro and M3 Max doesn’t suddenly make the M2 versions redundant, I can see why this might leave a bitter taste in the mouth for a lot of people.

It also risks making the whole M2 generation look like a misfire which Apple is keen to move on from. While the leap from M1 to M2 wasn’t huge, it didn't feel like a misfire – at least not until Apple launched not just the M3 at its October Scary Fast event, but also the M3 Pro and M3 Max, along with replacements for 10-month-old laptops and a new iMac that completely skipped the M2 altogether.

The good news is that with a starting price of $2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299, you’re getting the performance upgrades of the M3 series for the same price at the previous generation started at; well, that’s good news for people who held off buying the M2 Pro or M2 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro, although it could be seen as yet another insult to anyone who did buy those laptops, especially if they did so only a few weeks ago.

As with previous models, you can choose a variety of configurations, including M3 Pro or M3 Max chips, and up to 128GB of unified memory – and you’ll want to make sure you nail your options before you buy, as you can’t upgrade the laptops afterwards. Of course, the better specs you go for, the more money this already-expensive laptop is going to cost.

Also, unlike the new 14-inch MacBook Pro, there isn’t a more affordable option with the base M3 chip, so I can only recommend the MacBook Pro 16-inch to people who have the budget and need for such a powerful machine.

If that’s you, then this could be your new favorite laptop. It keeps the same best-in-class screen from previous models, with a stunning 16.2-inch display with a sharp 3456 x 2234 resolution and Liquid Retina XDR tech, offering 1,600 nits of peak brightness for incredible vividness and dynamic contrast. The ProMotion tech also allows for 120Hz refresh rates, which keeps the macOS operating system, and any app you run (or website you scroll through) feeling fast, smooth and responsive.

A great array of ports, including plenty of USB-Cs, a HDMI and memory card reader, gives professionals plenty of flexibility when using the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) when out and about.

Performance-wise, this is an impeccable workstation, with Apple building on the already impressive M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBooks. There wasn’t a task the new 16-inch MacBook Pro couldn’t handle during my testing, even when editing 4K footage with multiple 4K and 8K video files, and it also did an impressive job of running the latest games. That’s right: with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro (and the 14-inch model), Apple might have just come out with the first gaming MacBook. No longer is its ‘Pro’ range of MacBooks all work and no play.

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) review: Price and availability

  • Official release on November 7
  • Starts at $2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299
  • Same starting price as previous model

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) was announced at Apple’s Scary Fast event on October 30, and is released on November 7, 2023. That makes it little over nine months since the last model was released, on January 24, 2023.

The launch may well have set a record (and not a terribly good one) for shortness of lifespan for a new device, as the 16-inch MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips were discontinued as soon as Apple announced the new M3 Pro and M3 Max versions. That’s sure to annoy a lot of people who only bought what was the latest and most powerful MacBook Pros less than a year ago.

You’d also be forgiven for wondering if this new MacBook Pro 16-inch will itself become outdated in just nine months. That seems unlikely, but I’d have said the same in January of this year – there was a gap of 14 months between the M1 Pro and M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pros and the M2 versions). And, while the M2 models, as well as the M1 models, are still supported by Apple, if no longer sold by it, I wouldn’t blame you for being cautious. Always having the latest model of a MacBook is going to be difficult – and expensive – at the best of times, but for a new model to be replaced in just nine months definitely feels a bit cheeky. Would Apple attempt to do that with an iPhone?

At least Apple has kept the starting price of the new MacBook Pro 16-inch the same, at $2,499 / £2,599 / AU$4,299, which gets you a version with the M3 Pro chip, which comes with a 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU, 18GB of unified memory and 512GB SSD.

That means you’re essentially getting a big boost with the M3 Pro, plus more memory (the rather odd 18GB compared to the M2 Pro model’s 16GB), for no additional cost. That’s nice for people who had been weighing up the M2 Pro version up until a few weeks ago, although it could be construed as another slap in the face for people who've bought the M2 Pro.

The good news, however, is that while Apple has stopped selling the M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch models, other retailers are still selling them, and they will likely be quite keen to clear inventory to make way for the M3 generation. That means you may be able to pick up an M2 Pro or M2 Max model with a big price cut, especially during the upcoming Black Friday deals event – and because those laptops are less than a year old, you could get yourself a still-excellent laptop for a bargain price.

You can also get the 16-inch model with the same M3 Pro chip, 36GB of memory and 512GB SSD for $2,899 / £2,999 / AU$4,899.

The next step up comes with the more powerful M3 Max chip, which features a 14-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 36GB unified memory and 1TB SSD for $3,499 / £3,599 / AU$5,999. Finally, you can get a model with the M3 Max with a 16-core CPU, 40-core GPU, 48GB Unified Memory and 1TB of storage for $3,999 / $4,099 / AU$6,899.

You can also configure the new 16-inch MacBook Pro to come with 64GB or 128GB of memory, and up to 8TB of SSD storage.

The fully-specced out version will set you back an immense $7,199 / £7,299 / AU$11,699. If you’re one of the few people who can a) afford this and b) need this kind of power, you’ll need to allow for two to three weeks for it to be delivered.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is certainly a premium workstation laptop with the price tag to prove it, and while this will put many people off, for many others who require seriously strong hardware for work, may see this as a good investment – despite fears that Apple could drop a follow-up nine months later.

Unlike the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3) which launched alongside it, the 16-inch model doesn’t come with a more affordable model with the base M3 chip. This is the first time the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have differed (apart from their screen sizes).

  • Value score: 3/5

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3): Specs

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3): Design

  • Same design as earlier model
  • New Space Black color option
  • Still the best screen you can get on a laptop

When it comes to the design of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), Apple has hardly deviated from the previous model – the only change is a new color option, called ‘Space Black’, which Apple claims is made with a “breakthrough chemistry” that reduce the retention of fingerprints by creating am anodisation seal.

Apple sent me a MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) in that color, and it looks great. Black can sometimes not be the most exciting color for tech to come in, but there’s a nice metallic finish to Space Black that gives it a depth that other laptops of a similar hue often lack. It looks serious and professional, which is what you want from a mobile workstation like the 16-inch MacBook Pro. It would be nice to have some more vibrant colors with the next MacBook Air, however. I can also confirm that whatever (space) black magic Apple used to banish fingerprints works a treat – after handling it for days, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) showed not a single fingerprint, whereas other MacBooks would be beginning to look a bit smudged by now.

There is a bit of a design oversight, I feel, as while the braided charging cable comes in black to match the color of the MacBook Pro it came with (much like with the 24-inch iMacs), the power brick that you plug into the wall socket remains white, which looks a bit ugly with the rest of the Black Space-colored MacBook Pro.

I should also point out that while I liked the new Space Black color, a few of my colleagues – especially the ones who usually use MacBooks – weren’t too impressed, noting that it didn’t look like a MacBook, and more like a standard black laptop. One even commented that it looked like a gaming laptop – which is interesting as Apple has been pushing the gaming abilities of its M3 lineup.

Aside from that, things are identical to the model released at the beginning of 2023, which itself was the same as the model from 2021, but to be honest, I don’t mind. I feel Apple nailed the design of the first 16-inch MacBook Pro two years ago – the keyboard is comfortable and responsive (banishing the poor reputation older MacBook Pro keyboards suffered from), the Touch ID button lets you securely sign in and pay for things with a quick tap, and there’s an excellent array of ports (SDXC memory card slot, three Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, a full-sized HDMI port and headphone jack.

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

There was a fashion a few years ago to keep make laptops thinner and lighter, and that often came at the expense of ports. While that’s fine for regular laptops, for workstations where you’re likely going to want to plug in a lot of peripherals, such as hard drives, external monitors or projectors and memory cards, having only two USB-C ports, one of which often gets used to charge the laptop, just isn’t enough.

With the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), you can leave pretty much all of your adapters at home, and plug everything directly in to the laptop – making it a far more convenient device for people who travel a lot. With the quality of the screen (I’ll get to that in a moment), six-speaker sound system, studio quality mics and 1080p FaceTime HD webcam, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) continues what I appreciated so much about the previous versions – that it offered excellent quality with its built in features which meant you didn’t necessarily have to plug in external screens, microphones or speakers, which gives a level of flexibility to creatives working in film, animation, music and photography.

The slimline bezels around the screen still feel nice and modern (just compare it to the older 13-inch MacBook Pro to see what a difference a thin frame around the display can make), and yes, the ‘notch’ around the webcam remains, dipping down into the menu bar at the top of the desktop. The controversy over this was overblown back in 2021 when it debuted with the new 16-inch model, and it remains a non-issue now. macOS Sonoma, like the previous versions of macOS, adapts to it well, moving menu items to either side of the notch, and with the large 16-inch screen, you really don’t notice it, as you get a large, unobscured workspace.

The 16.2-inch screen remains the best display you can get on a laptop, with a sharp 3456 x 2234 resolution and Liquid Retina XDR tech, offering 1,600 nits of peak brightness for incredibly vivid colors and dynamic range, especially with HDR footage. Mini-LEDs and local dimming help make dark scenes look absolutely superb, and the P3 wide color gamut and support for 1 billion colors allows for accurate tones that will be essential for video editors and photographers in particular.

Perhaps my favorite part of the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s screen (which is also found in the 14-inch model), is the ProMotion technology, which supports up to 120Hz refresh rates, and can automatically adjust that rate to match onscreen content. This can be particularly noticeable when scrolling though websites or documents. Text, images and even moving footage all scroll smoothly and remain visible no matter how fast you scroll up and down. TV shows and movies also benefit from this – as well as computer games. Apple has been keen to emphasise the M3 line up’s prowess when it comes to playing graphically-demanding games, and ProMotion is key selling point (high refresh rate screens are increasingly common in premium gaming laptops).

ProMotion also helps extend battery life of the MacBook Pro by reducing the refresh rate when it detects static content.

Finally, there’s a MagSafe 3 port for easily connecting (and safely disconnecting) the power supply. It’s good to have, especially if you forget the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) is plugged in and pull it away, as the charger will disconnect safely without damaging any ports. It also means you don’t lose one of the USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports when it needs to be charged – though you can use one of those ports to top up the battery if you leave your MagSafe 3 cable behind.

So, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) doesn’t do anything new design-wise, but that really isn’t a bad thing. Why tinker with such a great design? Sure, Apple could have added a touchscreen, or even *shudder* resurrect the Touch Bar above the keyboard, and at 1.62kg (3.6lbs), it is a heavy laptop to carry around, but honestly, this would just be tweaking for tweaking’s sake – and could come at a cost (such as dropping some of the ports for a lighter and thinner design). I don’t want Apple getting complacent, but for now, I am perfectly happy that the company has stuck to a tried-and-tested design.

  • Design score: 5/5

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3): Performance

  • Superb performance
  • Big leap over M1 Pro and M1 Max
  • Can play modern games

Apple made some big claims about the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips at its launch event in October, and it sent me the MacBook Pro 16-inch with the high-end M3 Max (with 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU) and 48GB of unified memory, which is the most expensive preconfigured MacBook Pro 16-inch you can buy.

There are less powerful models, and you can also configure the MacBook Pro 16-inch to come with more memory and SSD storage, and I recommend you think carefully about what configuration suits your needs. The model I received will be overkill for a lot of people, unless you’re planning on doing some seriously intensive workloads when it comes to graphics rendering and video, but as this is an Apple device, it’s notoriously impossible to upgrade yourself, which means the specs you choose before you buy are going to be the ones you’ll have to live with.

If you do go for a lower-specced model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro (M3), then you won’t get the exact experience I got with the highest-end model, but even at the lower specs, you’re going to get a very good experience.

According to Apple, the M3 Max inside the 16-inch MacBook Pro delivers up to 45% faster CPU performance than the M2 Max, and up to 20% faster graphics performance. That’s not a bad step up in just 9 months, and is probably enough of a gap to make M2 Max owners regret their purchase. However, it’s not enough to justify replacing an M2 Max model with the M3 Max – even if you get a good trade-in price.


Here’s how the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R24 CPU: Single-Core: 140; Multi-Core: 13,122
Geekbench 6 Single-Core: 3,219; Multi-Core: 21,345
Blender: Monster: 207.7; Junkshop: 125.5; Classroom: 87.8
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 24 hours and 35 minutes

When it comes to the older M1 Max, the gap is more pronounced, with Apple claiming 80% faster CPU speeds, and 40% faster graphics performance. However, it’s clear that when Apple talks about performance gains, it really wants to address owners of Intel systems (be they older MacBooks or Windows 11 PCs), and here the performance gains are much larger, with Apple claiming the M3 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro is up to 5.3 times faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. 

That’s an impressive boast, but bear in mind that the last MacBook Pro to come with an Intel chip was back in 2020, but Apple is referring to the 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch model, which came with a 9th generation Intel Core i9-9980HK in its top configuration.

In our own independent benchmark tests, we definitely saw a good leap between the M3 Max and M1 Max MacBook Pro 16-inches, with a 35% increase in Geekbench 6 in single core CPU performance, and a huge 69% increase in multi-core performance.

Cinebench R24 saw a similar leap, with a 25% gain in single-core performance, and 98.9% increase in multi-core. This tracks, with the M3 having more cores that perform better, so multi-core performance increases as you’d expect.

The GPU performance also brought big increases according to the Cinebench test, with a leap of 188% for the M3 Max. These are all very impressive results.

But what do they mean for real-world use? In our Handbrake encode test, where we take a 4K video and re-encode it at 1080p, the M1 Max completed the task at 61fps (frames per second), while the M3 Max did it at 107fps, an increase in 76.6%, and with the higher fps, the task completed much more quickly – and this is how the new M3 series of chips can impact you, as there’s a noticeable cut in the time it takes to complete workloads, especially graphics-intensive ones.

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

In my day-to-day use of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), I was really impressed with how fast macOS Sonoma ran, allowing me to have a large number of applications open and running at once, plus a Chrome browser full of open tabs. The performance of the MacBook Pro 16-inch with M3 Max makes working on the laptop fast and fluid, and again, it feels like it’s an experience that’s been designed to speed up workflows, especially for creatives. Opening up and editing 4K videos in Premier Pro was incredibly quick, and I was able to add effects and use AI-enabled tools and see the results instantly, rather than having to wait for scenes to render. By speeding up workflows like this, I was able to complete the editing much more quickly, and for professional video editors, this means projects can be completed faster, which could enable you to take on more work. Suddenly, this very expensive laptop looks more like a wise investment.

One of the most exciting developments with the M3 family of chips is Apple’s focus on gaming performance, and I was keen to put this to the test.

Running games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I was able to get 108fps at the highest settings at 1200p resolution (twice what we managed on the M1 Max), and in Total War: Warhammer III, it hit 58.2fps.

I also loaded up Baldurs Gate 3, a turn-based RPG that’s just launched, and is a popular game with a version made for Apple’s M3 lineup. On the M3 Max-powered MacBook Pro 16-inch, the game looked fantastic, with many graphical settings on ‘Ultra’. The ProMotion display also puts in good work, allowing me to cap framerates at 120fps, and while I might not often hit that in a graphically-busy game like Baldurs Gate 3, the ability to reach higher frame rates makes for a much smoother experience. There were a few times when odd graphical glitches appeared, such as strange lines in shadows, but they were only temporary, and it could be down to driver support for the new M3 chips.

I also played Baldurs Gate 3 on the new iMac 24-inch (M3), and while it was nice to play on an iMac, the power difference was clear, as the graphical settings had to be lowered, and there were still hitches in performance.

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3), then, has the potential to rival many of the best gaming laptops based on this showing – and it even looks the part if you go for the Space Black color option. Impressively, while the fans did kick in, they never got as loud as most gaming laptops get when powering through games, though the part of the chassis just above the keyboard did get noticeably hot to touch while gaming.

  • Performance score: 5/5

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3): Battery life

  • Over 24 hours in benchmark test
  • Shorter for intensive tasks
  • Gaming drains it even faster

Since the switch to Apple silicon, the battery lives of all flavor of MacBook have been seriously impressive – especially the 16-inch models, which come with physically larger batteries, along with all the efficiency features of the M3 lineup.

Apple claims that the new MacBook Pro 16-inch ‘delivers that longest battery life ever in a Mac’, with a lithium-polymer battery with 100 watt-hours of capacity, offering up to 22 hours of video playback and 15 hours of web browsing.

In our battery life benchmark, where we ran a looped 1080p video until the MacBook Pro turned off, the battery lasted just over 24 hours – that’s incredibly impressive. Now it’s unlikely you’re going to be using the MacBook Pro 16-inch for just watching a local video file, but it shows how far we’ve come – the fact that such a powerful laptop with a relatively large and bright screen can hit those kind of numbers is a real credit to what Apple has achieved with its M3 lineup.

M3 Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

When using the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) for more intensive tasks, the battery will deplete faster, but during my time with it, I never felt the need to charge it halfway through a day. The performance also remained consistent whether the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) was plugged into the charger or not – which is definitely nice to see, as some laptops reduce performance when on battery power to lengthen the time before it needs to be charged.

When gaming on the battery, the battery depletes even faster, and if you're playing a graphically-intensive game, you're looking at around three to four hours of battery life. That may sound shocking for a MacBook, but even the best gaming laptops often only last that long.

With the 140W USB-C Power Adapter included in the review sample I received, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) charged up quickly, taking less than an hour to go from empty to 100%.

  • Battery life score: 5/5

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3): Should you buy it?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 Max (2023) review: the Mac gaming rig is here
5:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Macbooks | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Spec Sheet

Here is the MacBook Pro (M3 Max, 2023) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: Apple M3 Max (16-core)
Graphics: Integrated 40-core GPU
RAM: 64GB [Unified LPDDR5]
Screen: 14.2-inch, 3024 x 1964 Liquid Retina XDR display 600 nits (1,600 peak nits with HDR content) brightness, wide color P3 gamut
Storage: 2TB SSD
Ports: 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port, SDXC, HDMI
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 3.6 pounds / 1.24kg
Size: 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches / 31.26 x 22.12 x 1.55cm; W x D x H)

The story of the new MacBook Pro 14 is less about a new laptop on the block than it is about Apple showcasing the raw power of Apple's newest silicon, the M3 chip. Stuffed inside my brooding Space Black portable is Apple's apex M3 processor, the M3 Max. I tell you this so that you don't mistakenly expect that your $1,599 / £1,699 / AU$2,699 MacBook Pro 14 with an M3 chip will provide the same performance as what's cooking on my $4,299 / £4,399 / AU$7,249 review unit.

The base-model M3 will still support hardware-based ray tracing and mesh shading. It'll still have that blazing-fast neural network. But you'll have many fewer CPU and GPU cores, and much less memory; the M3 Max model has 64GB. You're buying a casually powerful Pro system. The M3 Max MacBook Pro came to play hard and work hard (it's tough to say which it'll go at harder).

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

From the impressive design and materials (aluminum chassis with a brand-new anodizing technique for the Space Black finish that finally cuts down on fingerprints) to the expressive keyboard that is now my favorite MacBook typing experience, to a versatile macOS Sonoma platform that supports every activity from entertainment and gaming to email, web browsing, and intense photo and video work, there is not one hint of performance disappointment in this system.

It's without a doubt the best MacBook I've ever used, and I think it stands a chance of giving some of the best gaming laptops a real run for their money.

This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an affordable laptop, and if you're looking for thin, light, relatively budget-friendly, and are not working on massive CAD files, 4K video streams, or playing the latest AAA games, then perhaps the still-stellar MacBook Air M2 (no M3 yet) is more your style, or even the MacBook Pro 14 with M3. As mentioned, that model starts at $1,599 / £1,699 / AU$2,699 – that's $100 cheaper than the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 in the US, but is also a reminder that there's no $1,299 tier in MacBook Pro space. 

There's little doubt in my mind that the complete lineup of MacBook Pro 14 M3 machines, from the base M3 to the M3 Pro and this M3 Max, will take their places among the best laptops money can buy. And, yes, the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max could  also snare a spot on our best gaming laptops list.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Price and availability

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • M3 range starts at $1,599 / £1,699 / AU$2,699
  • Tested model costs $4,299 / £4,399 / AU$7,249
  • No 13-inch option (which would have cost less)

Apple announced the new MacBook Pro 14-inch range at its October 30 Scary Fast event, alongside new 16-inch MacBook Pros. The 14-inch MacBook Pro now comes with a choice of M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips, the latest generation of Apple's own silicon. Meanwhile, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is only available with the higher-end (and more expensive) M3 Pro and M3 Max. There's also a new iMac 24 running on the base M3 SoC.

Preorders are live now, and the new M3 and M3 Pro MacBooks will go on sale and ship from November 7, while the M3 Max models will begin shipping later in November.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 range starts at $1,599 / £1,699 / AU$2,699 (it's worth noting that Apple has discontinued the 13-inch MacBook Pro). As configured, our Space Black MacBook Pro 14-inch with an M3 Max SoC, 64GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive has a list price of $4,299 / £4,399 / AU$7,249.

  • Price score: 4/5

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Design

  • Same design
  • More power squeezed into the same space and weight
  • An awesome new color option

Apple has changed virtually nothing about the MacBook Pro design from the 14-inch model it launched earlier this year with an M2 chip. The dimensions are the same, with a thickness of 0.61 inches / 1.55cm, a width of 12.31 inches / 31.26cm, and a depth of 8.71 inches / 22.12cm.

The weight is roughly the same, though the M3 Max 14-inch MacBook Pro is, at 3.6lbs / 1.24kg, the heaviest of the 14-inch bunch.

The screen size is the same, and on the M3 Max and M3 Pro 14-inch MacBooks the port placement is unchanged from the previous generation, as are the number and types of ports. You get three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an HDMI port, an SD card slot, and a MagSafe charge port (if you opt for the base M3 model you only get two Thunderbolt ports)

If you stack the MacBook Air 13-inch M2 on top of the MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 Max, the latter doesn't look that much larger, but it is substantially thicker and heavier. When I opened it up to reveal that familiar Liquid Retina XDR display and backlit Magic Keyboard, I noted that the keyboard and trackpad are, from a size perspective, exactly the same as on the MacBook Air. Apple uses the extra chassis space on the Pro to accommodate a six-speaker system that's split to sit on either side of the keyboard; the larger chassis also provides just a bit more space to rest your palms.

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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

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As with the previous 14-inch MacBook Pro, the matte keyboard feels as good as it looks. It's expansive, and there's enough key travel to make every touch sure and satisfying; it's a pleasure to type on. The power button still doubles as a Touch ID biometric scanner, which I use to unlock the laptop and sign into various online services. I still hope for the day that Apple introduces Face ID to the FaceTime camera notch that sits at the top of the display. 

But enough about everything that's the same. I want to talk about the new Space Black finish. Sure, Apple has done colorful and even inspired finishes before, but I'd argue there's never been anything quite like the new Space Black finish on this new MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (the 14-inch M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBooks are available in Space Black or silver, while the M3 model comes in Space Grey or silver). 

It's not just black – it's a light-swallowing black. I noticed this when trying to photograph the new laptop, and watched as it basically devoured my studio lighting. The surface is just shy of being matte black, and that low reflectivity really stops the light from bouncing back at you. The new color gives the laptop a bold, aggressive, and no-nonsense look. I think any gamer would be proud to cart this laptop into their next tournament.

Apple has developed a new anodizing process for the Space Black color to create a fingerprint-resistant surface, and I can report that it did repel most of my handprints. That said, I have dry hands, and I did note that the sweatier the palm, the more visible the marks left on the laptop's surface, although even those fingerprints were faint. Just remember that this is a fingerprint-resistant MacBook Pro, not a fingerprint-proof one.

  • Design score: 5/5

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Display

  • Same resolution
  • Still excellent
  • It's brighter! (With standard imagery)

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

In typical fashion, Apple has managed to not change anything about its MacBook Pro Liquid Retina XDR display, but has still managed to squeeze some extra performance out of it thanks to the new and more efficient 3-nanometer M3 Max chip. 

The screen has the exact same resolution as the last display panel (3024 x 1964), and the same one million-to-1 contrast ratio. Even the same peak brightness of 1,600 nits with HDR content is unchanged, although for day-to-day brightness with standard content we now get 600 nits, as opposed to the 500 nits on the last MacBook Pro. 

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

(Image credit: Future)

In real-world use, I found that the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M3 Max is quite capable of beating back even direct sunlight; I'm convinced I could work pretty much anywhere on this laptop.

Overall, this is a beautiful screen. Thanks to bright colors and inky blacks, everything on it gets a premium look. Do I mind the FaceTime camera notch? Not really. Video usually plays in letterbox format and well below it, and it doesn't interfere with the business part of apps and web browsing. Even when I played games – and I played a lot of them – I didn't notice it.

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Display score: 4.5/5

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Performance

  • Apple silicon at its finest
  • Good luck finding a task it can't handle
  • AAA gaming can chew through battery life

Here’s how the MacBook Pro (M3 Max, 2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R24CPU: Single-core: 140; Multi-core: 1,588, GPU: 12791; MP Ratio: 10.94
Geekbench 6 Single-core: 3,160; Multi-core: 21,236; GPU Metal: 158,215; OpenCL: 92,159
Battery life: 10 to 12 hours with mixed use

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

(Image credit: Future)

I really like the way Apple makes its chip series more powerful. It uses a standardized architecture, and then wraps more and more cores around it. The benefit is that all systems running the base 3-nanometer process M3 SoC share the same impressive features, but some perform faster than others.

While the bare-bones M3 in the base-model MacBook Pro 14-inch (with one fewer Thunderbolt ports) has an 8-core CPU (four efficiency cores and four performance cores), and a 10-core GPU, the M3 Max chip in the machine I tested has a 16-core CPU and a 40-core GPU. According to Geekbench 6, the system is running a 4.1GHz (single-core) and an estimated 3.3GHz (multi-core).

I ran a lot of benchmarks for raw performance scores, because that's what you do. Unsurprisingly, the GeekBench 6 numbers were startling, and while Apple has taken pains to compare the base M3 to the three-year-old M1 performance, comparing my MacBook Air M2 to the M3 Max was a real eye-opener. Granted, the M3 Max and the base M2 are not really directly comparable, but I think these figures do give you a sense of why you might pay so much for an M3 Max system stuffed with, in my case, 64GB of unified memory (you can, by the way, get a more expensive system with up to 128GB of unified memory and 8TB of storage).

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max Geekbench Benchmarks

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max Geekbench Benchmarks (Image credit: Future)

It's easy to forget that Apple silicon is running on the ARM-64 platform, and that not all MacOS apps run natively on it. The reason I often forget this? Everything works. There's never been a moment in my three years of experience with Apple silicon where the MacBook throws up its digital hands and says, "Sorry, I can't run this app." Part of this is down to the rapid adoption of Apple silicon by Apple partners, and also because the Rosetta 2 system (which can translate between x86 code and Apple silicon) runs quietly in the background, managing all apps that are still looking for an x86 platform.

Okay, the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max is not perfect on the compatibility front. The x86-compatible Steam, which I used for most of my games, did crash. But weirdly, so did iMovie, repeatedly, and that's an ARM native, and later the ARM-friendly Adobe Photoshop 2024. At least the system as a whole never crashes, and doesn't even know the meaning of a blue screen.

Since we're mostly not thinking about compatibility, we can just focus on performance, and the M3 Max is stunning. To be clear, I'm not a professional video editor or doctor analyzing 3D MRI scans, but I did my best to press this system and found it shrugged off all tasks. I opened 40 or so browser tabs on both Safari and Chrome (normally a soul-crushing task for any system), launched Apple TV+, installed Steam, and then played Tomb Raider Legacy. I might as well have been composing something in Notes (oh, wait, I was doing that, too). I loaded up FinalCut Pro with 4K 30fps video as well as some 4K 24fps ProRes HDR content, and edited and manipulated them with ease.

While not visually evident, I think it's also safe to assume that some of the system's speed and ease with all these apps – often running concurrently – is the new Dynamic Caching technology. This is essentially a more efficient way of using available memory. Instead of X number of registers always being used for the same task, the system only applies the memory needed for each, explicit task. The result is a lot less wasted memory and more left over for managing other critical tasks.

Apple spent considerable time during its Scary Fast event telling us how it engineered the new M3 SoC with features specifically designed to handle graphics-intensive tasks like, obviously, AAA games. Hardware-based ray tracing and mesh shading might improve how some of your most expensive apps look, but we all know that it's really all about gaming.

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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Shadow of Tomb Raider (note framerate in upper left). (Image credit: Future)
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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Shadow of Tomb Raider benchmark test (Image credit: Future)
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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Running FinalCut Pro and editing multiple 4K videos. (Image credit: Future)
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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Lies of P with Benchmark window open (Image credit: Future)
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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Rise of the Tomb Raider gameplay. (Image credit: Future)
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MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

Lies of P Benchmark window (Image credit: Future)

Naturally, I played some games. First, a few hours of the engaging Rise of Tomb Raider, which I will note is not that easy when you're using the keyboard. The eight-year-old game looked good, and gameplay was smooth and immersive. I usually wore my AirPods Pro (they connected instantly) so as to not annoy people around me.

Next, I installed Lies of P, a brand-new game seemingly inspired by Pinocchio, that is at home on all major consoles and now, thanks to Steam, the MacBook Pro, too.

It's a beautiful and quietly atmospheric game that starts in an old, deserted train station. Everything is rendered in such exquisite detail and, thanks to all the M3 Max's onboard graphics power, every surface looked about as real as they can in a game of this nature. 

The system seemed to keep up with the action quite well (I played this game with a Bluetooth-connected PlayStation 5 controller; the system supports Bluetooth 5.3, which has just 100ms of latency). I used Terminal for a real-time view of Frame rates and found that, depending on the action, they bounced between 30 and 60fps. Action generally looked smooth in most sequences, including fast-paced puppet-on-puppet battles. 

l also played Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the highest possible resolution of 3024 x 1964, and with every atmospheric element turned to the absolute highest. At times, the fans were so loud that they drowned out the game sounds, but the gameplay and graphics were all at their cinematic best, and in the game's benchmarks I could achieve 108fps at 1920 x 1200 mode and 56fps at the highest, native resolution settings. Pretty impressive.

When I cranked all of Total WarHammer III settings to, where possible, ultra, (with 1920 x 1220 resolution), the fan churned on high, and there was some object (or sprite) flickering in the benchmark test. But the detail was all there, and the system reported an average frame rate of 56.1. Then I reran the test at the MacBook Pro's highest native resolution. The gameplay looked even better, naturally, though, the fps dropped to 33.8.

I won't claim to be a hardcore gamer, but it's clear to me that game developers are now thinking about the Mac as a viable platform, using the Game Porting Toolkit Apple released at WWDC 2023 to bring AAA games to the platform on the same date they arrive on your best console. It's not just that the games arrive on the Mac; it's that they're as playable and as immersive as anything on a Windows 11 gaming rig.

Overall, a quick look at all the benchmarks comparing the M1 Max to this M3 Max system shows a quantum leap across every aspect of performance. And, yes, the single number that is lower, AI Turn Time in Civilization VI, is also an improvement, as it shows the system taking less time than before to make that turn.

MacBook Pro 14 M3 max benchmarks

(Image credit: Future)
  • Performance score: 5/5

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Audio and video

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) in use

(Image credit: Future)

Thanks to the larger system chassis, Apple fits three speakers on either side of the keyboard that can produce loud, clear sound. I played a wide variety of music, video, and gaming content through them. It all sounded great, with voices sharp and high notes clear as a bell. What this sound system lacks, though, is any discernable bass. Now, I wouldn't really expect the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max's relatively tiny speakers to provide chest-thumping sound. Still, when I played White Stripes Seven Nation Army and Eminem's Lose Yourself I was struck by how flat some of the drums and backbeats sounded. It's not completely devoid of the richness necessary to deliver a nice drum solo, but I found the base side a bit hollow, robbing the tunes of their head-banging essence.

Remarkably, the MacBook Pro 14 still ships with a 3.5mm headphone jack. I'm sure audio and video professionals use it in their work, but for most people, the support you'll find for your best AirPods Pros (especially the head-tracking spatial audio) will be more than enough in-ear audio support.

The MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max comes equipped with the same 1080 FaceTime camera as its predecessor. I can tell you that it gives your callers a nice clear view of you and, thanks to the new native Sonoma webcam features, I can use gestures to set off fireworks, drop confetti, pop up thumbs-up emojis, and release balloons during any video call. My wife wasn't as amused as I thought she'd be.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023) review: Battery life

  • Rated for 18 hours
  • Lasted in our tests over 12 hours with varied use
  • Charges quickly

You may have read some reports that the new MacBook Pro can manage up to 22 hours of battery life. That's the promise for the 14-inch M3 model; however, for my more powerful and more power-hungry M3 Max 14-inch MacBook Pro, the maximum I can expect is 18 hours, and that's only if I do nothing but, say, stream virtually all episodes of Ted Lasso. The number drops down to 12 hours if I'm browsing the web over Wi-Fi. And, in my experience, the duration truly plummets if you play a AAA game like Lies of P or even Tomb Raider Legacy on battery power.

When I started playing the latter game I had about 73% battery life left. Within a couple of hours, it was below 20%. It's clear that the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max will give you all the gaming power you want and need (I usually played in High Power mode), but there's probably also an assumption that you're playing while plugged in.

My average battery life has been roughly 12 hours of mixed use, which is a little bit less than I was expecting from this more efficient 3-nanometer SoC.

I do have some good news. Fast charging works as promised, and I topped off to 50% in 30 minutes using the included 96W charge adapter and the woven black USB-C-to-MagSafe cable that strikes a discordant note when plugged into the perfectly white adapter (I'm not sure why Apple didn't make that Space Black too).

  • Battery life score: 4/5

Should you buy the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max, 2023)?

Buy it if…

 Don’t buy it if…

First reviewed November 2023

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Testing scorecard

How we test

I've spent decades reviewing Apple products, including many of its laptops and desktop systems (I've used Macs on and off since 1985). 

For this review, I spent many hours with Apple's newest MacBook Pro and what it says is the most powerful silicon it has ever produced. I did my best to run it through a variety of tasks and played multiple games on it. I also ran a battery of benchmark tests to assess raw performance. We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained, regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test