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Apple M3 Max: everything we know

The Apple M3 Max chip is here after a surprise announcement at the Apple Scary Fast event, and it looks to be one of the most exciting chips Apple’s ever produced. 

The new M3 Max chip came as a surprise during the late October event, especially since most of the rumors around the new Apple M3 chip put the entry-level Apple silicon out into 2024 at the earliest, and we absolutely expected the Apple M3 Pro and M3 Max to be announced well after the M3 chip made its debut (all three chips were announced on October 30, 2023).

So what do we know about the follow up to the Apple M2 Max chip? Quite a lot, as it turns out, so let’s dig in.

Apple M3 Max chip: Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The follow-up to Apple’s M2 Pro chip
  • When is it available? Pre-orders live now, ships late November
  • What does it cost? Won’t sell on it’s own, but the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M3 Pro starts at $1,999 (around £1,640, AU$2,900) and the MacBook Pro 16-inch with M3 Pro starts at $2,499 (around £2,050, AU$3,625).

Apple October 2023 event

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple M3 Max chip: Release date

The Apple M3 Max chip will power the new Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch and Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch, which went up for pre-order on October 30, 2023, and will be available in 27 countries to start, with more to come later.

While you can pre-order now, you’ll have to wait about a week to actually get your hands on any new hardware with the Apple M3 Max chip – as the new MacBook Pro models will start shipping out in late November 2023.

We’re not sure when the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models with M3 Max will be available for purchase at Apple Stores and from other retailers such as Best Buy, but you can expect those in late November as well.

While we expect that the Mac Studio will eventually get an M3 Max upgrade, we haven’t heard anything about that at this time, so that is TBD right now.

Apple M3 Max chip: Price

The Apple M3 Max chip will not sell on its own, but will instead power the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. We don’t have word yet on pricing for the new M3 Max MacBook models, but we’ll update this page as soon as those prices go live. 

There’s no word yet on whether the Mac Studio will be getting the M3 Max, but considering that you can get the Mac Studio with M2 Max, we expect that device to eventually get upgraded to the Apple M3 Max chip as well down the road.

The Apple M3 Max die against a gray gradient

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple M3 Max chip: Specifications & performance

The new Apple M3 Max has some noticeable improvements over the Apple M2 Max.

For one, the CPU core count got a substantial upgrade, with a 16-core CPU featuring 12 performance cores and four efficiency cores compared to the M2 Max’s 12-core CPU. It also has support for up to 128GB unified memory, 32GB more than the M2 Max. The larger M3 Max also features a roughly 38% greater number of transistors than the M2 Max (92 billion compared to 67 billion for the M2 Max).

Performance wise, the M3 Max will be up to 80% faster than the Apple M1 Max, according to Apple, and while we don’t yet have any battery information to go off of, Apple says the M3 Max will have industry-leading battery life for a Pro laptop. Given the M1 Max and M2 Max battery performance we’ve seen so far, this isn’t out of the question at all.

The biggest improvement though comes with the massive 40-core GPU, which Apple says will be 50% faster than the M1 Max’s GPU. More importantly though, the M3 chips are the first Apple M-series silicon with support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, mesh shading, and something Apple is calling Dynamic Caching. 

This latter technology allocates memory to GPU-intensive tasks exactly according to the process needs, meaning that memory allocation will be far more efficient, getting far better performance from its memory overall.

Of course, we’ll have to see how well these technologies work in practice once we get one of the new MacBook Pro models in for review, but needless to say, we expect this to be one of the best mobile workstation processors around.

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