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ArcticBlue00

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 4, 2016
145
94
Planet Earth
Hi,

I'm currently using M1 Pro 14" MacBook Pro (32GB/1TB), and considering upgrading to 16" M3 MBP mainly because I want a larger display.

And these two are the top M3 Pro and the base M3 Max in-stock options:

Screenshot 2023-11-23 at 4.03.39 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-11-23 at 4.03.53 PM.png


I think M3 Pro would be good enough for me in terms of performance. (mainly for web/mobile dev and some basic data science tasks)
But considering a wider performance gap between M3 Pro and Max than the previous generation and some downgrades on M3 Pro (lower memory bandwidth and reduced performance cores), I'm wondering if investing $600 more to get a Max and doubled SSD would be a more reasonable option.

Which do you think is a better investment for me?
 

kitKAC

macrumors 6502a
Feb 26, 2022
657
621
You should be comparing them to what you've already got, since you only seem to be upgrading for the screen size and not performance, either would be fine.
 

ArcticBlue00

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 4, 2016
145
94
Planet Earth
You should be comparing them to what you've already got, since you only seem to be upgrading for the screen size and not performance, either would be fine.
Since my M1 Pro MBP 14” is 32GB/1TB, the M3 Pro with 512GB is actually a downgrade in SSD size.
I also considered a custom configured M3 Pro with an upgrade to 1TB which costs an additional $200, but it feels a bit wasteful to spend extra money on getting a cost-effective M3 Pro…
 
Last edited:

Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
34,261
49,450
In the middle of several books.
The lower memory bandwidth is really a non-issue and not something users will ever be impacted from in any noticeable way. It has been made out to be a "problem" by YouTubers who do nothing more than buy Macs for videos and revenue, run bench tests, and then return the Mac to Apple.

There is really no need to pay more for the Max unless you just want to spend more money.
 

Appletoni

macrumors 6502
Mar 26, 2021
434
176
Hi,

I'm currently using M1 Pro 14" MacBook Pro (32GB/1TB), and considering upgrading to 16" M3 MBP mainly because I want a larger display.

And these two are the top M3 Pro and the base M3 Max in-stock options:

View attachment 2315934 View attachment 2315935

I think M3 Pro would be good enough for me in terms of performance. (mainly for web/mobile dev and some basic data science tasks)
But considering a wider performance gap between M3 Pro and Max than the previous generation and some downgrades on M3 Pro (lower memory bandwidth and reduced performance cores), I'm wondering if investing $600 more to get a Max and doubled SSD would be a more reasonable option.

Which do you think is a better investment for me?
The upgrade is a very good idea for a lot reasons. The $600 for that improvement is nothing.
 

ArcticBlue00

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 4, 2016
145
94
Planet Earth
Thank you for your advices.

Another concern that I have about the Max is that M3 Max seems to run quite hotter than the previous M2/M1 Max according to some reviewers and that fans may run more often.

Would the difference in heat and fan noise level between 16" M3 Max and 16" M3 Pro be significant even when running non-GPU-intensive tasks like coding, web browsing, word processing, etc.?
Or would it be just a small difference that I can ignore?
 
Last edited:

Appletoni

macrumors 6502
Mar 26, 2021
434
176
Thank you for your advices.

Another concern that I have about the Max is that M3 Max seems to run quite hotter than the previous M2/M1 Max according to some reviewers and that fans may run more often.

Would the difference in heat and fan noise level between 16" M3 Max and 16" M3 Pro be significant even when running non-GPU-intensive tasks like coding, web browsing, word processing, etc.?
Or would it be just a small difference that I can ignore?
You can ignore the tiny heat difference.
 

AVBeatMan

macrumors 603
Nov 10, 2010
5,665
3,547
I currently have the 14 M1 Pro and am considering getting the M3 16". Main reason is that I did have the 14 connected to an Apple Studio Pro but, have recently had to use it hooked up to a work laptop. So am now using the 14" for my own personal use on my desk. My MackBook doesn't leave the house so portability isn't an issue. Just think the 16" would be better on my desk. My 14" is only 2 years old so should be able to sell for a decent price. Just my thoughts.
 

danwells

macrumors 6502a
Apr 4, 2015
765
596
I just upgraded to a 16" full-bore M3 Max (this was yesterday, so I'm going on 24 hours of setup and testing. This would run hotter than a base Max, and the only time I've heard the fan consistently is in Cinebench. The thing is incredibly efficient - it idles below 5 watts, depending on screen brightness. When I say "idle", I mean something like typing this forum post, not asleep. I have iStat Menus running right now, so I can see it idling away between 4.6 -5.2 watts as I type. That's iPad level power consumption - I don't think you're going to be hearing fans while word processing.

During typical photo editing, including really intensive noise reduction (DxO DeepPrime XD on hundred megapixel images), it ran up to about 35 watts with brief breaks up to 50 or more, and the fan didn't come on any more than briefly. Lightroom import (thousands of images) DID cause 70 watts and some fan activity, but it was still relatively brief.

When I ran Cinebench 2024, both CPU (multi-core) and GPU tests certainly did cause the fans to spin up, and the machine to run at or near 100 watts for extended periods of time - but Cinebench is a notorious (and quite deliberate) test of maximum power. Even in Cinebench, the fans were nowhere near as loud as my previous 16" Intel MBP.

Apple Silicon is insanely efficient. When it's loud, it's because it's doing something really hard, and it's generally doing it really fast.
 

AVBeatMan

macrumors 603
Nov 10, 2010
5,665
3,547
I just upgraded to a 16" full-bore M3 Max (this was yesterday, so I'm going on 24 hours of setup and testing. This would run hotter than a base Max, and the only time I've heard the fan consistently is in Cinebench. The thing is incredibly efficient - it idles below 5 watts, depending on screen brightness. When I say "idle", I mean something like typing this forum post, not asleep. I have iStat Menus running right now, so I can see it idling away between 4.6 -5.2 watts as I type. That's iPad level power consumption - I don't think you're going to be hearing fans while word processing.

During typical photo editing, including really intensive noise reduction (DxO DeepPrime XD on hundred megapixel images), it ran up to about 35 watts with brief breaks up to 50 or more, and the fan didn't come on any more than briefly. Lightroom import (thousands of images) DID cause 70 watts and some fan activity, but it was still relatively brief.

When I ran Cinebench 2024, both CPU (multi-core) and GPU tests certainly did cause the fans to spin up, and the machine to run at or near 100 watts for extended periods of time - but Cinebench is a notorious (and quite deliberate) test of maximum power. Even in Cinebench, the fans were nowhere near as loud as my previous 16" Intel MBP.

Apple Silicon is insanely efficient. When it's loud, it's because it's doing something really hard, and it's generally doing it really fast.

What did you upgrade from? The 14?
 

Kotsos81

macrumors member
Dec 26, 2023
31
23
I have this exact M3 Pro config shown in the photo. I use it to run some reasonably heavy simulations (optimization algorithms) in Matlab, with a fairly large number of variables and demanding computations (matrix inversions, SVD, etc.). It is super fast - depending on the simulation under consideration, it takes anything from 1 up to 10 minutes (we are talking here about thousands of simulation runs/iterations, large matrices, alternating optimization algorithms etc.).

The base max will be faster (say anywhere between 25%-35% of a boost in multi-core performance), but for your workload, I don't know if you will see any meaningful difference which justifies the additional money that you would have to spend.

I mean, in my case, 25% faster means that 10 minutes of simulation runs becomes 7.5 minutes. Ok, so what? In order to enjoy meaningful performance gains, I should have a simulation that now requires, say, 100 minutes (i.e., 1h40mins). Then, I would save 25 mins of run time. But at the speed of M3 Pro 12C/36GB and my workload, it is highly unlikely to find a use case where I need more than 15, mayyyybe 20 mins of simulation runs; therefore we are talking about saving 5 minutes at best.

Your use case/workload might be different, I don't know, but from my limited experience with small projects, I don't expect compile times of 100 minutes or so; thus, I don't expect meaningful performance gains from base m3 max over full-spec m3 pro.

On the other hand, I have to note the following: 1) You might have higher storage needs than me (512GB for me seems fine for now). To this end, you might go for the 1TB config of M3 Pro 12C/36GB, which is another $200. Then, jumping to the next level (base M3 Max) becomes more intriguing, because you are almost there.... I know! This marketing practice is disgusting and brilliant at the same time. (Keep in mind, though, that opting for the 512GB config and adding some external SSD storage might be a workaround to the above "problem".) 2) There is always the notion of "future proofing". You probably want to keep your new machine as many years as possible, and M3 Max 14C CPU is for sure better on this front. (36GB of memory might become a bottleneck faster than the CPU itself in the - not so near - future, I believe).

I forgot to mention that regarding single-core performance (everyday tasks like web browsing, office applications, video streaming etc.), both machines have the same performance since they utilize M3 cores and they are really fast (in fact, some of the faster single-core CPU performances across both PC and Mac worlds).

No matter what you will choose, they are seriously Pro machines and you will enjoy them. They will certainly fit the bill for your use case (with base M3 Max might being a little bit overkill, but not much). At the end, if you like the base M3 Max and you have the money, don't overthink it, just go for it. The fact that you want it is, in many cases, good enough reason!
 
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danwells

macrumors 6502a
Apr 4, 2015
765
596
What did you upgrade from? The 14?
Last-generation Intel 16". Enjoying about 4x the speed AND 1/2 the idle power. I have read (probably from the same sources that many people here have) that the 14" really shouldn't be paired with the M3 Max CPU, especially the full-bore version.

Obviously, that's about high-power tasks, not reading and writing - but why buy a Max if you're ONLY reading and writing? The great thing about the Max being so incredibly civilized at idle power is that most power users do both. My high-power use is photography, but I also spend plenty of time doing low-power things. Having a computer that idles like an iPad AND runs like a big desktop when doing intensive noise reduction is the best of both worlds.
 

brgjoe

macrumors 6502
Nov 6, 2014
492
445
Central IL, USA.
I was inbetween those two configurations as well. I decided to go ahead and upgrade to the 14/30 for the extra RAM, bigger HD and the extra performance. Though I got a refurbished one, so that made the price difference even less.

It's a big laptop for sure. But I think it's worth it to have the extra screen real estate. As my eyes ain't getting any younger. Good luck with your decision.
 

Xavier

macrumors demi-god
Mar 23, 2006
2,782
1,438
Columbus
I went with the Max for more GPU cores.

I hardly notice the fans or don't even notice them at all. The heat isn't that much of an issue for me but I havent had an instance where it was hot yet for typical work and general use scenarios. I do graphic design and photography, so I typically have a large photo catalog, as well as photoshop and other programs running at the same time.

The only time it got significantly hot was using Crossover.
 

danwells

macrumors 6502a
Apr 4, 2015
765
596
It's not even a big laptop for its performance level. It's under 5 lbs, with a reasonably sized power adapter. Have you SEEN the power supplies for some of the big mobile workstations and gaming rigs? The three prong wall cord for some of them weighs almost as much as Apple's entire adapter (and the adapter itself can be well over two pounds).

It also has absurd battery life! up to 20 hours, and four or five even doing many high-power creative tasks. It's rare for any other big laptop to break FOUR hours running Word or browsing the web, and they can easily end up under an hour editing photos or videos. Yes, you CAN drain a MacBook Pro in an hour, but it raises the question of why you were exporting a feature film without a power adapter...
 
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