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M3 iMac reviews: Great performance, same design brings mixed feelings, no-gamers machine

Published Nov 6th, 2023 9:12AM EST
M3 iMac
Image: Apple Inc.

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After announcing a new iMac with the M3 chip during the Scary Fast event, some journalists and influencers were able to test this all-in-one desktop before it started being sold by Apple on November 7.

Apple claims the M3 iMac is twice as fast as the past model, but besides that, the company didn’t change anything with this desktop – no new colors, design, or inside changes. Here’s what reviewers say about this computer – and whether you should buy it or not.

Most of the publications, of course, focus on the M3 chip, which is the main change with this iMac. CNET, for example, says you should pay attention to the RAM:

The M3’s performance is a huge plus for everything from basic home office and school tasks to content creation. Just make sure you pick your configuration carefully with an eye toward how you’ll use it now and how that may change later. The 24-inch iMac seems especially well-suited as a family computer or if you want something other than a laptop to easily move from room to room. It’s small enough to squeeze into tighter spaces, like a kitchen nook, but big enough to spread out your work, kick back and stream a movie or do some casual gaming. 

TechRadar praises the new computer but notes that opting for the same design as the 2021 model, this machine brings old frustrations back:

However, sticking to the same design also brings back some old frustrations, such as the charging port on the bottom of the Magic Mouse, which means you can’t use it while it’s charging, plus a reliance on the increasingly obsolete Lightning connection for charging all of the peripherals, rather than getting with the times and using USB-C. And there’s the lack of larger screen options; this is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the new model, as 24 inches no longer feels that large, especially for power users who like to work on multiple apps and windows at once.

Pocket-lint suggests consumers spend a bit more on the version with the 10-core GPU, which unlocks several other benefits:

The jump to the iMac with the M3 chip offering a 10-core GPU automatically gives you the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which is really handy for unlocking your iMac, autofilling passwords and paying with Apple Pay, so I would recommend it as an upgrade if you opt for the base model. You also get Gigabit Ethernet within the power plug and two extra USB 3 ports on top of the two Thunderbolt ports, though no USB A or SD card reader. For the Thunderbolt ports, you can of course use adapters to connect to HDMI, VGA, DVI or DisplayPort monitors. A single external display is supported on the M3 chip (yeah I know, one extra would have been nice), but it can run up to a 6K display at 60Hz.

For gaming purposes, Tom’s Hardware made a few tests, but the publication doesn’t think this all-in-one desktop is what gamers should be getting:

The iMac has never been considered as much of a gaming PC, even when it was equipped with Intel Core processors. It has always been an entry-level desktop, and that remains the case with its M3 upgrade. However, I did attempt to see how the 10-core GPU would handle a handful of games.

In Resident Evil Village, I set the resolution to 1920×1080, disabled HDR, and changed the graphics preset to “Balanced.” With these settings, the game used 4.17GB of 14.01GB memory available. I average between 52 frames per second and 74 fps, depending on if I was outside or inside in the game. Things didn’t go so smoothly at 1080p in Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Highest), where we averaged 34 fps. Borderlands 3 (Badass) turned in a dismal 21.45 fps at 1080p.

Throughout all testing, the iMac stayed remarkably quiet. I barely heard any fan noise, but did feel the steady stream of warm air pouring out from the air vents under the massive chin.

BGR will keep adding other reviews as we discover the thoughts of other journalists and influencers regarding this M3 iMac.

M3 iMac review and unboxing videos

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.