Apple iMac M3 (2023) review

The Apple iMac (2023) M3, while showcasing Apple’s trademark vibrant design and impressive performance capabilities with its new M3 chip, falls short in innovation. 

The design, though visually appealing, disappoints with its lack of adjustability and contrasting colour scheme. Performance-wise, the M3’s advancements, though notable, aren’t significantly impactful for average users, especially when compared to the M1 model. 

The display, despite its clarity, remains unchanged from the 2021 version, a missed opportunity for Apple to showcase technological advancement. 

Overall, the iMac M3 feels like a missed chance for Apple to truly innovate, offering more of the same… but now with an M3 chip.

Pros

  • Fantastic performance
  • Vibrant design

Cons

  • Very little innovation
  • Can’t adjust the screen vertically
  • Thick bezels are looking dated

Apple iMac (2023) M3 review: TL;DR

If you’re familiar with the previous iMac, you can skip a lot of this review. All you need to know is that the iMac now has an M3 chip. That’s the ball game.

Price

The iMac pricing is confusing. There’s so many possible variations that it’s pretty difficult to figure out which is the best offering for you.

The iMac comes in three base models, you can see their specs and prices below:

ModelCPUGPUStorageMemoryDisplayPortsKeyboardPrice (incl. GST)
18-Core8-Core256GB8GB unified24-inch 4.5K RetinaTwo Thunderbolt/USB 4Magic KeyboardNZ$2,499.00
28-Core10-Core256GB8GB unified24-inch 4.5K RetinaTwo Thunderbolt/USB 4, Two USB 3, Gigabit EthernetMagic Keyboard with Touch IDNZ$2,899.00
38-Core10-Core512GB8GB unified24-inch 4.5K RetinaTwo Thunderbolt/USB 4, Two USB 3, Gigabit EthernetMagic Keyboard with Touch IDNZ$3,249.00

If you opt for the lesser of the three models you can purchase Gigabit Ethernet capabilities for an extra $50 and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID for an extra $70.

You can upgrade any of the three models to 16GB of unified memory for an extra $350 or 24GB for an extra $700. You can also expand the first two models to a 512GB SSD for an extra $350, and all three can be upgraded to 1TB for $700 or 2TB for $1,400.

It’s a confusing number of options, however if you want the very best iMac with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 2TB SSD storage, 24GB of Unified Memory, and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, it costs $5,000.

For our review device we were given the $2,499 M3 8GB RAM model.

Apple iMac M3 (2023) review

Design

Apple’s 2023 iMac sticks to a familiar vibrant, colourful design, the base model comes in eye-catching colours like Blue, Green, Pink, and Silver, while higher-end versions add Yellow, Orange, and Purple options. We reviewed the Green variant, and it looks great, adding a lively touch to any workspace.

Despite its slim 11.5mm profile and lightweight build at just 4.5kg, the iMac’s design isn’t without its quirks. The white bezels clash with the green body, and the large green section beneath the screen feels somewhat out of place. I was hoping for some changes here as its starting to look a tad dated.

Turning to the back, the power port, which connects magnetically, is a neat touch, eliminating the need for forceful plugging. There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports here as well. It’s also a nice touch that the cords and accessories – keyboard & mouse – match the colour of the device, maintaining a cohesive aesthetic.

In terms of functionality, the iMac sticks to its familiar design, mirroring the M1 iMac. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the lack of at least one USB-C port is a noticeable miss. On the upside, the 1080p FaceTime HD camera and three-mic array perform well, ensuring clear communication with reduced background noise. The six-speaker sound system, with its force-cancelling woofers and high-performance tweeters, delivers an impressive audio experience as well.

I was disappointed that the screen is not vertically adjustable though. Tall users will probably have to find something to sit the screen on if you want to get it set up ergonomically correct.

Display

The Apple iMac (2023) features a 24-inch 4.5K display with a resolution of 4480 x 2520, providing clear and vibrant visuals.

The brightness level is set at 500 nits, which is suitable for indoor use. However, there have been no improvements in the display compared to the 2021 M1 model.

This is disappointing. Though its undoubtedly a very good screen, I was hoping for some enhancements to see what Apple has to offer, but there’s none to be found here.

Apple iMac M3 (2023) review

Performance

In regard to performance capabilities, it can be difficult to determine where Apple’s M chips sit when compared with each other. To help, here’s a chart we’ve created showing best performance to worst performance. This highlights Apple’s performance claims and some real-world tests from trusted sources:

ChipCPU CoresGPU CoresNeural Engine CoresMemory Bandwidth (GB/s)Max. Unified Memory (GB)Transistors (billions)
M2 Ultra247632800.00192134.0
M3 Max164016400.0012897.0
M1 Ultra206432800.00128114.0
M3 Pro121816150.003637.0
M2 Max123816400.009667.0
M2 Pro121916200.003240.0
M1 Max103216400.006457.0
M1 Pro81616200.003233.7
M381016100.002425.0
M281016100.002420.0
M1881668.251616.0

The Apple iMac (2023) is powered by the new M3 chip, enhancing its performance significantly – Apple claims its 2x faster than the M1. This upgrade makes it highly capable for a variety of demanding tasks. Whether it’s editing 4K videos, using Photoshop, or doing 3D animation work, the new iMac handles them with ease. The increased power of the M3 chip ensures smooth, efficient operation in these intensive applications and lends itself to more efficiency with hardware like the FaceTime camera.

However, when considering real-world usage, the performance improvements of the M3 chip over its predecessor, the M1, might not be as impactful for the average user. While the new iMac can comfortably perform these tasks, so could the M1 iMac. The true potential of these performance upgrades may be more apparent in more demanding contexts, such as gaming or professional-grade applications. For example, on PC, as games continue to evolve with better graphics and higher visual fidelity, a more powerful computer is necessary to meet these requirements. Unfortunately, at the moment, the Mac platform currently has limited options in this area.

For the average user, the significant performance boost in the new iMac may not translate into a noticeable difference in everyday use. While the iMac (2023) is undoubtedly more powerful, for many users, this increase in performance does not justify an upgrade as the 2021 M1 iMac will already be handling their needs effectively.

Performance tests:

Geekbench 6 provides two key scores to assess a computer’s performance:

  1. Single-Core Score: This score reflects the performance of a single processor core in the computer. It indicates how well the computer can handle tasks that require the processing power of only one core.
  2. Multi-Core Score: This score measures the combined performance of all processor cores in the computer. It shows how effectively the computer can handle tasks that can be split and processed simultaneously across multiple cores.

Essentially, a higher single-core score means better performance for tasks that don’t need multiple cores, while a higher multi-core score indicates better performance for tasks that can utilise several cores at once.

Single CoreMulti Core
iMac (2023) M3285111254
MacBook Air 2023 M2265410064
MacBook Pro 2023 M2 Max203715173
Mac Studio M1 Max175412327
Apple iMac M3 (2023) review

Verdict

While the iMac (2023) M3 is a powerful and visually appealing machine, its value and appeal largely depend on individual user needs and preferences, especially considering the lack of significant changes in design and display.

The design retains Apple’s signature vibrant and colourful look. However, the non-adjustable screen and the contrasting colour scheme might not suit everyone’s taste or ergonomic needs.

Performance-wise, the new M3 chip significantly boosts capabilities, excelling in tasks like 4K video editing and complex graphics work. But, the real-world impact of these improvements might not be as noticeable for average users, especially when compared to the previous M1 model.

The display, while clear and vibrant, hasn’t seen any notable upgrades from the 2021 version, leaving something to be desired in terms of innovation.

But, if you’re in the market for a new iMac, the good news is that you can now buy one with an up-to-date M3 chip. Which begs the question “Why didn’t Apple give the iMac the M2 chip?” But that’s one for another day.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Price
Design
Performance
Display
Innovation
Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.
apple-imac-m3-2023-review The Apple iMac (2023) M3, while showcasing Apple's trademark vibrant design and impressive performance capabilities with its new M3 chip, falls short in innovation.  The design, though visually appealing, disappoints with its lack of adjustability and contrasting colour scheme. Performance-wise, the M3's advancements, though notable,...

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