Tue. Feb 20th, 2024

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

It was simply again in January that Apple upgraded its MacBook Professional from the M1 model that was launched in 2021 to the M2, however we’re already seeing the leap to the MacBook Professional M3, which is accessible now. 

When any new mannequin comes out, you most likely begin questioning if it is time to improve. If you have already got the M2, there’s actually no motive to improve to the M3 outdoors of the slight efficiency bump and new shade — Area Black. The specs on the M3 are higher than the M2, however not sufficient to warrant an entire new buy.

Additionally: MacBook Professional (M3 Max) overview: A desktop-class laptop computer for an AI-powered age

However you probably have the M1 MacBook Professional, the query of upgrading turns into just a little more durable. There are a couple of situations the place the M1 would higher go well with you, and there are a couple of the place the M3 is best. Should you’re making an attempt to resolve whether or not or not it is best to take the leap otherwise you’re merely out there for a brand new MacBook, here is a breakdown of the important thing shopping for causes.


M1 MacBook Professional

M3 MacBook Professional

Show size13 inch, 14 inch, and 16 inch14 inch and 16 inchColorsSilver, Area Grey
Silver, Area Grey, Area BlackTouch BarYes (on the 13-inch mannequin)No


‌M1‌ chip (5nm/N5)

M3 chip (3nm/N3B)

CPU and GPUUp to eight core for bothUp to 12 core and as much as 18 core

Unified reminiscence

As much as 16GB

As much as 128GB

StorageUp to 2TB SSD As much as 4TB SSD


Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports                

Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot

Battery58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery with as much as 17 hours wi-fi net and as much as 20 hours Apple TV app film playback
72.4-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery with as much as 12 hours wi-fi net and as much as 18 hours Apple TV app film playback  Camera720p FaceTime HD camera1080p FaceTime HD cameraPriceStarting at $999Starting at $1,599

You can purchase the M1 MacBook Professional if…

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET 1. You want extra battery life

When you would possibly anticipate the latest machine to have the higher battery life, the additional processing energy does take a toll. By way of pure battery life, the M1 beats the M3 by an honest margin. For basic use, the M1 has as much as 17 hours whereas the M3 solely makes it to 12. Solely on streaming, the hole lessens just a little at 20 hours in comparison with 18. 

Additionally: MacBook Professional vs MacBook Air: How you can resolve which Apple laptop computer to purchase

Now, it is value noting that most individuals do use their MacBooks plugged in, and going greater than half a day with out entry to an outlet is fairly uncommon. However, within the occasion that you simply usually end up in conditions the place an influence provide is not available and you’re employed very lengthy days, the M1 ought to be your selection. That is, after all, by Apple’s numbers.

2. You are doing principally web-based work or do not want absolutely the quickest choice

The MacBook Professional has turn into the machine of selection for creatives, together with designers, animators, engineers and builders. And whereas many packages utilized in these fields take loads of muscle, the M1 can deal with most of them simply high-quality. The truth is, ZDNET Editor in Chief Jason Hiner stated there was “virtually nothing I might throw at (the M1) that may sluggish it down.” 

Should you use primarily on-line purposes, the M1 will do the job. After all, the M3 does carry a efficiency enhance — 2.5 instances graphics rendering, Apple claims. So, for those who work in a area the place you are getting paid per job and want the quickest turnaround time attainable for manufacturing, look to the M3. However for those who’re high-quality with the method taking just a little extra time, go for the M1.

3. You favor a smaller general dimension and contact bar

The M1 and M2 variations of the MacBook Professional had a 13-inch choice, however that selection is lacking from the M3. So, for those who desire a smaller format to your MacBook, you will wish to look to the M1. Maybe the larger loss right here, although, is the contact bar, which is now not obtainable on any M3 mannequin. Whereas most individuals weren’t followers of the contact bar, which was primarily an OLED strip of buttons that modified relying on context, it nonetheless had its core customers. Are you one in every of them?

You can purchase the M3 MacBook Professional if…

Purchase a MacBook Professional with an M3 Professional chip on sale now.

Jason Hiner/ZDNET 1. You are working outdoors or in different very shiny environments

One of many largest variations between the M1 and the M3 is the general brightness. For SDR content material, the M1 tops out at 500 nits whereas the M3 triples that with 1,600 nits. In a normal workplace atmosphere, the previous could be simply high-quality. However in a sunny out of doors atmosphere or a really shiny indoor setting, that is going to be a noticeable distinction. There are some third-party apps that allow you to enhance the display brightness of the M1, however if you would like the very best brightness, you will must get the latest machine.

2. You are doing very intensive or time-sensitive duties

Whereas there’s little or no the M3 can try this the M1 simply cannot, the largest distinction comes all the way down to how briskly these duties take. Finds from ZDNET’s full overview recommend the M3 renders at greater than twice the pace of the M1, which is essential for customers in additional content material creation occupations. 

Additionally: MacBook Professional (M3 Max) overview: A desktop-class laptop computer for an AI-powered age

Should you’re working in a really fast-paced atmosphere (say, reside sports activities or leisure) and seconds make the distinction, it is perhaps value springing for the M3. After all, you will probably solely discover the efficiency distinction when coping with high-end graphics and video. However energy customers shall be proper at residence with the M3.

3. You desire a new-conditioned laptop computer

It has been virtually three years since Apple launched its M1-powered techniques, so the probabilities of you discovering one in brand-new situation right this moment are uncommon. As a substitute, the brisker MacBook Professional with M3 chip is assured to be obtainable at your native Apple retailer, third-party retailers, and extra. You too can anticipate higher offers on the M3 mannequin going into the vacation purchasing season. For the M1, it is shopping for a second-hand machine or maintaining your fingers crossed that someplace on the web continues to be promoting one in pristine situation.

Alternate options to think about

The MacBook Air with M2 chip is a step above the M1, and fairly near the M3. You may save about $500 for those who drop to the 13-inch and $300 on the 15-inch. 

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