With the new M3 chip family, Apple was able to significantly improve the graphics performance of MacBooks. The company has now set its sights on a new target group: computer gamers.
Apple developed the silicon processors for the new MacBooks itself.
It’s rare that Apple offers a look behind the scenes. The launch of the M3 chip family was one reason for this. The company invited selected journalists to its European center for chip design in Munich. In an outwardly inconspicuous building, over 2,000 employees work on the further development of Apple’s in-house chips. Some of the results of this research have also been incorporated into the current iteration of Mac processors.
At the end of October, Apple showed the third generation of its self-developed Apple silicon processors: the M3, the M3 Pro and the M3 Max. Above all, they are intended to boost the recently sluggish Mac sales with improved graphics capabilities. After the iPhone 15, the Mac now also learns the real-time calculation of light rays using so-called ray tracing – a function that was previously reserved for dedicated PC graphics chips. It was emphasized on site that, among other things, work is being done in Munich on the energy efficiency of Apple chips – Apple is still setting the pace here.
New developments are being worked on at the Silicon Design Center in Munich.
We were able to test a new MacBook with a fully equipped M3 Max. Compared to an M2 Max, it offered significantly more raw performance in graphics-heavy applications like 3D modeling in Blender and virtually never broke a sweat. In addition to such special applications, Apple also wants to use the M3’s improved graphics performance to appeal to a target group for whom Macs have long been uninteresting: computer gamers. Apple representatives repeatedly emphasized the gaming capabilities of the new graphics chips and the increased collaboration with game developers such as Capcom and Hello Games.
It remains to be seen whether the calculation will work. Many top titles are still missing from the Mac, especially since Valve, the operator of the important gaming platform Steam, is increasingly distancing itself from Apple. Titles that have already been ported to macOS such as “Resident Evil: Village” or “No Man’s Sky” run excellently on Apple Silicon with full graphical details and show the potential of the platform. What’s impressive is that the Apple laptop doesn’t slow down even when running on battery and mostly works silently. The MacBook Pro’s fan only starts in full load scenarios and even then it is significantly quieter than comparable Windows laptops.
The M3 is the logical further development of Apple’s processors and underpins the platform’s leading energy efficiency, particularly in the mobile sector. Given the high prices, especially for the Max models – our test model costs around 4,700 francs – potential buyers should think carefully about whether they are really taking advantage of the performance. Mac users who neither game nor do CAD or 3D modeling might be better off with the cheaper M3 or M3 Pro models or the previous models. Even a two-year-old M1 MacBook does not perform everyday tasks such as office, web surfing or video editing and Photoshop work noticeably slower than Apple’s high-end model.