It’s perhaps The Addams Family’s favorite time of year, but Apple’s pre-Halloween “Scary Fast” event was neither mysterious nor spooky. Thanks to M3 chip leaks and rumors, all of the company’s announcements were largely expected. And though the showcase inexplicably took place in the evening, it’s hard to imagine Tim Cook ever cutting a ghostly figure.
Anyway, Apple had a bunch of product refreshes to discuss, namely in the new MacBook Pro and iMac lineups. The event anchored around a trio of new chipsets that, unsurprisingly, Apple is touting as its most powerful yet.
Apple unveiled a trio of M3 chips at Scary Fast: the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max. While they're certainly going to be faster than the previous M2 chipsets, the company not-so-subtly hammered home the notion that they're far more powerful than their M1 equivalents, just in case folks who are using devices with first-generation Apple silicon chips are starting to yearn for an upgrade.
Notably, these are the first three-nanometer chips for PCs. On the GPU side, Apple has factored in hardware-accelerated ray-tracing and mesh shading to offer more realistic lighting and better geometry handling.
The base M3 has an eight-core CPU (four performance cores and a quartet of efficiency cores) and a 10-core GPU, with support for up to 24GB of unified memory. The M3 Pro has six performance and six efficiency cores for a 12-core CPU, along with an 18-core GPU. The mid-range chipset can support up to 36GB of RAM.
As for the M3 Max, that's up to 80 percent faster than the M1 Max, according to Apple. The company's current most powerful chipset features a 16-core CPU (with 12 performance and four efficiency cores), a 40-core GPU and support for a whopping 128GB of RAM, in case you're feeling flush or need a lot of memory.
The chips should be major upgrades for anyone making the switch from an M1-powered device or an Intel-powered Mac. That means better performance for productivity, creativity and even gaming as high-profile titles such as Death Stranding Director's Cut make their way to Apple's ecosystem.
M3 MacBook Pro
Of course, those fancy chips aren't going to be very useful unless they're plugged into some capable hardware. As such, Apple showed off some upgraded MacBooks of the Pro variety that run on M3 chips.
There are new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros for you to get your hands on. The 14-inch variant starts at $1,599 for a model with a base M3 chip. That's the lowest ever price for a new 14-inch MacBook Pro. There wasn't a version with a base M2 chip. Instead, you would have had to shell out $1,999 for an M2 Pro-powered unit if you wanted to go with that form factor. You can now opt for a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro, which will likewise run you $1,999.
On a similar note, the 16-inch MBP starts at $2,499 for a model with an M3 Pro. An M2 Pro-powered model started at $2,499 as well.
Don't expect major hardware changes elsewhere on the latest models. This is by and large a spec bump. One notable tweak, however, means that the laptops' Liquid Retina XDR displays are now able to display SDR content with 20 percent more brightness, up to 600 nits.
Perhaps the best thing about the new MBPs is that Space Black chassis. I'm more tempted than ever to make the switch from Windows to Mac for that colorway alone. The extra power that the M3 chips offer seems like a bonus — though the Space Black option isn't available for the base 14-inch MacBook Pro, unfortunately.
However, not everything about the refreshed MacBook Pros is a Halloween treat. The base 14-inch model has a paltry 8GB of RAM, which maybe doesn't quite align with Apple's promise of significantly better performance in the new MBPs.
Pre-orders for the new MacBook Pro models are now open. Apple will start shipping them on November 7.
The new 24-inch iMac is pretty much the same as the last 24-inch iMac, save for a new chipset and a few other tweaks. Apple says the M3-powered system is up to twice as fast as the previous version, which ran on the M1 chipset.
The company claims that Safari and productivity apps like Microsoft Excel will run up to 30 percent faster than on the M1 iMac. There will be support for up to 12 video streams in 4K resolution, three times as many as on the last iMac. Image processing and video-editing apps will be up to twice as fast too, according to Apple.
There are some minor upgrades on the connectivity front too. The M3 iMac supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, which improve on the previous model's Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The M3 iMac starts at $1,299 for a model with an eight-core GPU and eight-core CPU. Unfortunately, Apple's only offering 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage with that configuration, so you may want to bump those up a bit. Pre-orders for the M3 iMac are open now and the revamped desktop will arrive next week.
Other than the M3 chips, new MacBook Pros and refreshed iMac, Scary Fast was notable for what Apple didn't talk about. First, you had to read between the lines to realize that the company has ditched the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That means we're waving farewell to the much-loved and much-loathed Touch Bar, at least for the time being.
It was widely expected that Apple would update several of its accessories to include USB-C ports as it shifts away from Lightning to a common charger. That wasn't the case at Scary Fast. For the time being, you'll still need a Lightning cable on hand at least for your Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse.
Although we couldn't really shake the notion that Apple would reveal an M3-powered iPad or two, the company declined to do so on Monday. As such, you'll need to wait a while longer for tablets with its new chips.
Follow all of the news from Apple’s "Scary Fast" October event right here.