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Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro: Benchmark Results and Performance Insights


Apple’s latest MacBook Pro lineup introduces the M3 Pro chip, a successor to the M2 Pro. This detailed comparison of the Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro MacBook Pro, examining design, display, audio, internal hardware, and various performance benchmarks to answer the crucial question: Is the M3 Pro worth the upgrade, or should you stick with a discounted M2 Pro?

Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro

When comparing the Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro, we start with the design. The new M3 Pro maintains the sleek aesthetic of its predecessor but brings subtle refinements. Display quality remains exceptional with both models, yet the M3 Pro promises even better brightness and color accuracy.

Design and Display

The first noticeable change with the M3 Pro MacBook Pro is its new Space Black color. This aesthetic update has garnered mixed reviews, with some users praising its sleek appearance and others noting that it isn’t as black as expected under certain lighting conditions. Nonetheless, the matching MagSafe cable and overall build quality remain top-notch, consistent with Apple’s design standards.

MacBook Pro M3 chip
Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro: Benchmark Results and Performance Insights 1

In terms of the display, both the M2 Pro and M3 Pro MacBook Pros are nearly identical, with the exception of brightness. The M3 Pro can achieve 600 nits in SDR mode compared to the 500 nits of the M2 Pro, offering a slight edge in visual performance under bright conditions.

Audio and Webcam

Interestingly, despite no official mention from Apple, the M3 Pro’s speakers appear to be quieter than those in the M2 Pro, a trend seen in previous models. The webcams on both models are 1080p with studio-quality microphones, but the M3 Pro boasts a new image signal processor. This could theoretically enhance video quality, though user feedback suggests minimal perceptible difference.

Internal Hardware

Opening up the MacBooks reveals some significant internal changes. The M3 Pro features a larger heat block, suggesting improved thermal management. However, one major change is the reduction in NAND memory channels. The M3 Pro has only four channels compared to the M2 Pro’s eight, which limits the maximum RAM capacity to 8TB, previously achievable only with the M3 Max variant.

SSD Performance

The SSD performance sees a noticeable improvement in the M3 Pro. Tests show read speeds of 4,600 MB/s and write speeds of 4,200 MB/s, compared to the M2 Pro’s 2,900 MB/s read and 3,300 MB/s write speeds. This boost in SSD performance is a welcome upgrade for those requiring fast data access and transfer rates.

CPU and GPU Benchmarks

Geekbench 6

Running Geekbench 6, the M3 Pro, despite having fewer transistors (37 billion vs. 40 billion in the M2 Pro), demonstrates an 18% increase in single-core performance (3,720 vs. 3,135) and a 15% increase in multi-core performance (13,692 vs. 11,915). This is impressive given the M3 Pro’s fewer performance cores but higher efficiency cores, which seem to compensate well.

Graphics Performance

However, in the realm of graphics, the M3 Pro shows mixed results. While its Metal compute score is lower (68,900 vs. 75,600), indicating a roughly 10% decrease in graphics performance, other tests like 3D Mark’s Wildlife Extreme suggest an 8% improvement (72.4 vs. 66.9). The discrepancies highlight that while the M3 Pro may falter in some areas, it excels in others, particularly in gaming and tasks optimized for the new architecture.

Real-World Applications

Figma and Logic Pro

In real-world application tests, the M3 Pro demonstrates its prowess. For instance, exporting high-resolution layers in Figma is 20% faster on the M3 Pro. Logic Pro benchmarks, however, show a surprising result: the M2 Pro handles more audio tracks (153 vs. 142), likely due to the M3 Pro’s reduced RAM bandwidth.

Cinebench and Lightroom

Cinebench tests reveal a 15% gain for the M3 Pro, aligning with Geekbench results, while Lightroom Classic shows a staggering 47% improvement in export times, showcasing the M3 Pro’s capability in intensive photo editing tasks.

Blender and Final Cut Pro

Blender benchmarks, particularly with the 4.0 beta utilizing ray tracing cores, highlight the M3 Pro’s strength, finishing renders in less than half the time of the M2 Pro (57 seconds vs. 2 minutes and 13 seconds). Final Cut Pro results are nearly identical between the two, indicating that for video editing, the performance boost is less pronounced.

Battery Life

One of the most significant improvements in the M3 Pro is battery life. Despite extensive testing and the screen set to 600 nits, the M3 Pro retains 27% battery life compared to the M2 Pro’s 13%, showcasing the efficiency of the new cores and architecture.

Conclusion Apple M2 Pro vs M3 Pro

Bottom Line
Apple 2022 MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, 1080p FaceTime HD Camera. Works with iPhone and iPad; Space Gray
M2 Pro MacBook Pro
Powerful performance with fewer cores
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Bottom Line
The M2 Pro MacBook Pro offers robust performance with a solid balance of CPU and GPU capabilities, along with excellent thermal management. It is a strong contender for professional workloads, particularly in audio production.
Solid CPU and GPU performance.
Better graphics performance in some benchmarks.
Good for audio production
Reliable thermal management.
Lower SSD speeds compared to M3 Pro.
Shorter battery life.
Heavier and thicker heat block.
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Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M3 Pro chip with 12‑core CPU, 18‑core GPU: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 18GB Unified Memory, 512GB SSD Storage. Works with iPhone/iPad; Space Black
M3 Pro MacBook Pro
New chip with mixed results and better efficiency
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Bottom Line
The M3 Pro MacBook Pro introduces a new architecture with improved efficiency and battery life, delivering notable gains in SSD performance and specific CPU-intensive tasks. However, it shows mixed results in GPU performance and has reduced RAM bandwidth.
Improved SSD performance.
Better single-core and multi-core CPU performance.
Significant gains in specific real-world tasks (e.g., Lightroom, Blender).
Enhanced battery life.
New Space Black color option.
Mixed GPU performance results.
Reduced RAM bandwidth.
Fewer performance cores compared to M2 Pro.
Lower maximum RAM capacity due to fewer NAND channels.

The M3 Pro MacBook Pro is a compelling upgrade with notable improvements in SSD performance, CPU benchmarks, and battery life. However, it also introduces some downgrades, particularly in graphics performance and RAM bandwidth. For photo editors, 3D designers, and users requiring robust CPU performance, the M3 Pro offers clear advantages. Yet, for audio professionals or those prioritizing GPU tasks, the M2 Pro might still be a better value, especially at discounted prices.

Apple 2023 MacBook Pro M3 Pro chip with 12‑core CPU, 18‑core GPU

Original price was: $2,499.00.Current price is: $1,999.00.

Ultimately, the choice between the M2 Pro and M3 Pro depends on specific use cases and budget considerations. Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, despite its controversial changes, proves to be a formidable machine, but the M2 Pro remains a strong contender for those looking to save.

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