Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) M3 review

The 2023 M3 MacBook Pro offers enhanced performance capabilities, ideal for professionals in demanding fields. It boasts a high-quality display, strong connectivity features and market-leading battery life, but its design is starting to look bulky compared to sleeker alternatives like the MacBook Air.

The M3 chip adds significant power, but for those who already own a recent MacBook Pro, the upgrade isn’t a game changer. And those who don’t require this much power, the MacBook Air is a much better fit. 

With that said, the M3 MacBook Pro is a beast. It’s the most powerful laptop on the market, it just isn’t for most people and that’s fine. This is a specialised tool for specific professional needs.

Pros

  • Massive battery life
  • Excellent performance capabilites
  • Great-looking display
  • Loads of ports

Cons

  • Expensive
  • “Boxy” design is looking dated

Price

The 14-inch 2023 M3 MacBook Pro comes in a variety of configurations. Each of them can be upgraded with certain features as well:

ChipCPUGPUUnified MemoryStoragePrice
M38-Core10-Core8GB512GB SSD$3,199
M38-Core10-Core8GB1TB SSD$3,549
M3 Pro11-Core14-Core18GB512GB SSD$3,999
M3 Pro12-Core18-Core18GB1TB SSD$4,699
M3 Max14-Core30-Core36GB1TB SSD$6,099

If you want to upgrade to 16-GB of Unified Memory it will cost an extra $350 and for 24GB, it will cost $700.

To upgrade to a 1TB SSD it will cost an extra $350 and a 2TB SSD costs an extra $1,050.

For our review device we were given an 8-Core CPU, 10-Core GPU, 16GB of Unified Memory and 1TB SSD model.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) M3 review

Design

The 14-inch device is the smaller of the two options. There’s a 16-inch version and a 14-inch version, replacing the 13-inch model. I like this. The 13-inch model always felt a bit cramped and pointless, and it’s amazing what one extra inch can do to make a laptop feel bigger.

The MacBook Pro has always been the bulkier, uglier sibling when compared to the MacBook Air and the same can be said for this latest model. Its aluminium chassis, while sturdy, looks a bit outdated, it’s somewhat boxy, contrasting with the sleeker, more modern MAcBook Air.

The 1080p camera is fine, allowing for decent video calls, the three-microphone array works very well, offering clear audio, and the six-speaker sound system, with two woofers and two tweeters, provides impressive sound for a laptop.

Connectivity is an area where the Pro triumphs, featuring two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, an SDXC port, a headphone jack, and MagSafe charging; it’s a lot more than the measly two Thunderbolt 4 ports found on the MacBook Air.

Touch ID is here adding convenience, and the keyboard has been improved, now no longer coming with a Touch Bar. The keyboard design on the MacBook Pro features a uniform colour scheme, where the keys are bordered by the same colour as their backdrop, rather than reflecting the laptop’s base colour. In our case, the entire keyboard presents a sleek, dark black appearance, which looks fine.

Available in Silver and Space Gray, the Pro maintains its position as being the more boring of the two Apple laptops. Both are bland options.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) M3 review

Display

The 2023 14-inch Apple MacBook features the same display as the previous model, a Liquid Retina XDR with 3024 x 1964 resolution.

The display uses 10,000 mini-LEDs and an LCD panel that supports a 120Hz refresh rate through Pro Motion technology, which also adjusts the rate based on content. While Apple hasn’t introduced much innovation here, it didn’t need to, the display is brilliant.

It’s HDR capable, enhancing contrast and brightness and boasts 1600 nits peak XDR brightness and 400 nits peak SDR brightness it’s also bright enough to be used comfortably outside in direct sunlight.  

Interestingly the M3 version can be connected to one external display while the M3 Pro and Max models are compatible with two external displays. 

Performance

To evaluate the performance capabilities of the 2023 MacBook Pro, we conducted thorough tests using two industry-standard tools: Geekbench 6 and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test.

Geekbench 6 provided us with a comprehensive benchmark of the MacBook Pro’s processing power, assessing both single-core and multi-core performance, which is crucial for understanding its capabilities in handling various tasks, from basic computing to more intensive operations. Additionally, Blackmagic Disk Speed Test was used to measure the read and write speeds of the MacBook Pro’s internal storage. This test offered insights into how quickly the device can handle large file transfers and data-intensive tasks, a key aspect for professionals in video editing and content creation:

GeekBench 6 results:

Single CoreMulti Core
MacBook Pro (2023) M3312512125
MacBook Air (2023) M2265410064
MacBook Pro (2023) M2 Max203715173
Mac Studio M1 Max175412327

The Geekbench 6 scores, with a single-core score of 3125 and a multi-core score of 12125, indicate exceptional processing power. The high single-core score shows that the MacBook Pro is extremely efficient in handling everyday tasks and applications that do not require multiple cores. The multi-core score, reflects its capability to handle more demanding tasks like video rendering, 3D modelling, and other intensive applications that can leverage multiple cores simultaneously.

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test:

Write Speed (MB/s)Read Speed (MB/s)
MacBook Pro (2023) M33021.92852.3
MacBook Pro (2023) M2 Max61735060
MacBook Air (2023) M23036.52833.4

In terms of storage performance, as indicated by Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the write speed of 3021.9 MB/s and read speed of 2852.3 MB/s are noteworthy. These speeds show that the MacBook Pro’s storage can quickly write and retrieve data, which is crucial for tasks that involve large files, such as high-definition video editing. The high write speed ensures that saving large files and exporting videos will be quick and efficient, while the impressive read speed suggests that loading software, opening large files, and booting up the system will be exceptionally fast.

While it isn’t quite as good as the very powerful M2 Max, the M3 is still easily able to do everything.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) M3 review

Battery

The 2023 MacBook Pro’s battery life stands out as one of its most impressive features. Offering up to 22 hours of video playback and 15 hours of wireless web browsing, it sets a high standard for laptop battery performance. This exceptional battery life means that you can confidently use their MacBook Pro throughout the day without worrying about recharging it. 

It can be charged using either the MagSafe port, which offers a quick-release magnetic connection for safety, or the Thunderbolt 4 port.

Verdict

The 2023 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro is a powerhouse, ideal for professionals in demanding fields like VFX and 3D animation. Its top-notch performance, evidenced by strong Geekbench 6 scores, and fast storage speeds, is only getting better with every iteration of Apple’s System on a Chip technology. 

The excellent display and long battery life further enhance its appeal for professional use. However, for the average user, its high price and advanced features are likely overkill. And if you already have a MacBook Pro with an M chip, the M3 isn’t so good that it demands an upgrade – unless you have a very specific need. 

In short, this MacBook Pro is not for everyone; it’s a specialised tool meant for “pros.” And if you have a MacBook Pro from the last 3 years, it probably isn’t worth upgrading to.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Price
Design
Performance
Display
Battery
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-macbook-pro-14-inch-2023-m3-review The 2023 M3 MacBook Pro offers enhanced performance capabilities, ideal for professionals in demanding fields. It boasts a high-quality display, strong connectivity features and market-leading battery life, but its design is starting to look bulky compared to sleeker alternatives like the MacBook Air. The M3...

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