With the launch of three new MacBook Pro laptops, the new 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 stands out as a new entry-level laptop with the latest Apple Silicon. With awkward choices around the specs, design, and pricing, Apple has better options for consumers lusting for a Pro laptop.
Let’s be clear: professionals who need as much power and performance as possible for their work—such as creatives and developers—will be looking towards the new M3 Pro and M3 Max laptops and wondering if their IT departments have enough equipment budget for an upgrade.
This is about Apple’s latest consumer-focused MacBook Pro, the 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro.
Apple has some good bullet points it can use to sell the machine; it’s the first MacBook with the new M3 chipset, it replaces the anaemic Touch Bar with helpful physical keys, and it ups the screen from 13 inches to 14 inches. Even if the starting price has risen from $1299 to $1599, Apple presents this as a solid upgrade. Before you consider the latest macOS laptop, there are several factors that you should consider.
Once you note the extra inch on the screen and the new M3 chipset, you’ll find very little change in the offering. Are those elements worth the $300 price increase? Given Apple has removed the 13-inch MacBook Pro from sale, you don’t have much choice.
There are new cosmetic options for the late-2023 MacBook Pro models, but Apple’s new Space Black colour isn’t available on the base model. If you want the new look, you will buy a more expensive laptop.
Apple has also cut down on the various I/O options. For the professionally focused 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, you have three Thunderbolt ports; one of which has been ripped out for this entry-level model. It’s a decision that limits the potential of this MacBook Pro and arguably is another attempt to upsell consumers to a more expensive machine.
A word about Apple’s curious decision around RAM: the entry-level version comes with a paltry 8 GB of RAM. Apple’s argument over this decision is that the efficiencies in using Apple Silicon mean 8 GB RAM on a MacBook is equivalent to 16 GB of RAM on an Intel-based laptop. That’s a controversial claim and one that many reviewers disagree with. If you’re looking for the 16 GB of workable RAM, be prepared to spend an extra $200 for the missing 8 GB.
As for performance, the M3 offers around ten percent more performance than the M2 chipset. Given those looking for a significant uplift in performance will have moved straight to the M3 Pro and M3 Max options, you have to ask yourself how much difference in day-to-day use the M3 offers the M2.
I’ll put aside the option of a MacBook Air, which offers slightly less performance but every other benefit of a Macbook (but it should be considered). Apple has something that offers far more value for money for those who need to have a “Pro” macOS laptop in their life… the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Processor.
The M3 and M2 Pro performance is broadly similar but running at a much cooler temperature. You have a selection of I/O ports that are faster and more plentiful. While Apple no longer has this MacBook Pro available to purchase new, it is available in the Apple Refurb section of the Store. Here, you’ll find a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Pro chipset, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage for the same $1599 price as the less capable M3 MacBook Pro.
If you look beyond the shiny new images, consumers have a much better choice from Apple than the new M3 MacBook Pro.
Now read the review on Apple’s top-of-the-range MacBook Pro with the M3 Max chipset…