Reports say that MacBook sales are in a slump compared to previous years, despite Apple rocking the best chips in town. But not even Apple can escape the economic downturn. It’s not just MacBooks that aren’t selling as well as they were during the pandemic. It’s the entire laptop industry that’s experiencing a slowdown.
Apple has already been making moves to improve MacBook sales. One of them is the next-gen M3 chip powering the late 2023 Macs that are just around the corner.
Even more exciting is the M3 Max MacBook Pro chip that just leaked. The new Apple System-on-Chip (SoC) will power the best 14-inch and 16-inch models next year. The specs leak tease monster performance and efficiency gains over the current top-of-the-line MacBook Pros. But it’s a different report that makes me realize how big the M3 upgrade might be.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said over the weekend that Apple is testing a new M3 Mac mini alongside updates to the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In a new report, Gurman says a developer informed him about Apple testing an M3 Max version for its 2024 MacBook Pro models.
The chip showed up in logs, which recorded some seriously impressive specs. The M3 Max in the test had 16 CPU cores. We’re looking at 12 high-performance cores and four efficiency cores. The chip has four more high-performance cores than the best M2 Max chip available to consumers right now. That teases a big performance jump over the predecessor — and the current M2 Max is already an absolute beast of a chipset.
The new M3 Max chip also features 40 GPU cores, at least two more than its predecessor. On the RAM side, we’re looking at 48GB of memory.
While logs from mysterious third-party Mac apps aren’t enough to confirm the specs of future MacBook Pro models, Gurman says that previous revelations from these logs turned out to be accurate for past Apple SoCs.
The M3 Max might not have any real rivals
The M3 Max specs leak isn’t surprising if you’re familiar with the cycle of MacBook rumors. But it’s a different report that should get you excited about the new M3 Max computers. Especially if you’re a professional looking for the best possible upgrade.
The M2 and M2 Pro/Max are Apple’s current Mac SoCs, delivering a big upgrade over their predecessors. You can still buy M1 MacBook Airs or M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pros, and you would end up with a terrific laptop. You’d get great performance, amazing battery life, and even better prices. The base M1 continues to be a better choice than an Intel-based machine, in my view.
With the M3 generation, Apple will move to the 3nm process. The upgrade should deliver the performance bump you expect from a next-gen SoC built on an even smaller process. But the real upgrade might concern battery life, where the M3 will really shine.
The A17 Bionic powering the iPhone 15 Pro models will also be a 3nm SoC.
Both the A17 and the M3 variants will come out of TSMC factories. And TSMC will deliver 3nm chips exclusively to Apple, thanks to what has been described as a “sweetheart deal” in a report from The Information.
If that report is accurate, TSMC will only supply 3nm chips only to Apple during its 12 months of production. That means rivals can’t place any orders for 3nm chips that could equip Windows-powered MacBook Pro rivals.
I wouldn’t expect the M3 Max to have a real competitor from Intel anyway in 2024. But The Information makes it sound like that will be an impossible task. Add in the performance and efficiency gains Gurman’s M3 Max leak teases, and the best 2024 MacBook Pro already looks like a computer that rivals will struggle to match.
Before we get there, we’ll see the base M3 chip come out this October, when Apple is expected to unveil the next-gen 13-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro.