Posted on

Apple M2 vs M3 Chip Comparison

Apple M2 vs M3 Chip Comparison

In October 2023, Apple unveiled its third generation of silicon chips: the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. But what is the difference between M3 and M3 chips, and is it worth upgrading to the latest Apple chip? Let's dive in and explore the differences.


Benchmark Comparisons

M2 vs M3 CPU Comparison

The M3 chip is built on a 3-nanometer architecture, allowing for a 25% increase in transistors within a smaller footprint compared to the M2’s 5-nanometer design—rising from 20 billion to 25 billion transistors. What does this mean in practical terms? Essentially, it enhances efficiency and results in longer battery life.

Geekbench 6 tests reveal that the base M3 8-core chip delivers a 15% improvement in single-core performance and a 17% boost in multi-core performance compared to the base M2 8-core chip.

 



M2 vs M3 GPU Comparison

Although the M2 and M3 chips have the same number of GPU cores, we found a 16% improvement in performance when benchmarking using Geekbench Metal. This improvement is attributed to new GPU features like Dynamic Caching, which allocates only the exact amount of memory needed for each task, thereby enhancing both performance and energy efficiency.


 

The M3 chip offers an improvement in terms of performance and efficiency. With its advanced 3nanometer process technology and increased transistor count, it marginally outperforms the M2 chip in both CPU and GPU tasks.

 

Chip Processor Technology Transistor Count Single-core Performance Geekbench 6 Multi-core Performance Geekbench 6 GPU Cores GPU Performace Metal Benchmark Memory Bandwidth

5nm

20 billion

2619

10137

8-core
10-core

41394
46109

100 GB/s

3nm

25 billion

3009

11815

8-core
10-core

41381
47358

100 GB/s


M2 Pro vs M3 Pro CPU Comparison

Comparing the M2 Pro and M3 Pro is not straightforward. Surprisingly, the M3 Pro has fewer transistors, with 37 billion compared to the M2 Pro's 40 billion. However, the M3 Pro leverages new 3nm technology, making its CPU more efficient. Despite the lower transistor count, the M3 Pro's 11-core design offers slightly better performance due to this increased efficiency. Benchmark results show a 17% increase in single-core tasks and a 15% improvement in multi-core tasks compared to the M2 Pro's 10-core configuration.

The M3 Pro 12-core also achieves a 7% higher multi-core score compared to the M2 Pro 12-core, despite having a lower transistor count.




M2 Pro vs M3 Pro GPU Comparison

In an unexpected move, Apple has equipped the M3 Pro with either 14 or 18 GPU cores, down from the M2 Pro's 16 or 19 GPU cores. This reduction has predictably led to a decrease in GPU performance when comparing the base and upgraded models across the two generations. The reason behind Apple's decision to reduce the GPU cores in the M3 Pro is unclear. However, the M3 Pro compensates with advanced features like Mesh Shading and Hardware-Accelerated Ray Tracing, which are not available on the M2 Pro.

 


Chip Processor Technology Transistor Count Single-core Performance Geekbench 6 Multi-core Performance Geekbench 6 GPU Cores GPU Performace Metal Benchmark Memory Bandwidth

5nm

40 billion

2642

12140

16-core
19-core

73839
81451

200 GB/s

5nm

40 billion

2644

14241

16-core
19-core

73839
81451

200 GB/s

3nm

37 billion

3087

13959

14-core
18-core

68209
78232

150 GB/s

3nm

37 billion

3100

15247

14-core
18-core

68209
78232

150 GB/s


M2 Max vs M3 Max CPU Comparison

The M3 Max showcases the most significant performance boost. With 92 billion transistors, up from the 67 billion in the M2 Max, it achieves a 15% increase in single-core performance and a 30% increase in multi-core performance when comparing the M2 Max 12-core to the M3 Max 14-core. The M3 Max also has an upgraded 16-core CPU option, which has an impressive 43% increase in multi-core performance when compared to the M2 Max 12-core.




M2 Max vs M3 Max GPU Comparison

The M3 Max GPU starts with 30 cores and offers an optional upgrade to 40 cores, surpassing the M2 Max's maximum configuration of 38 cores. Benchmark scores reveal that the 30-core GPUs of both generations have a performance difference of less than 1%. However, the M3 Max's 40-core GPU demonstrates a 12% improvement over the M2 Max's 38-core GPU.



Chip Processor Technology Transistor Count Single-core Performance Geekbench 6 Multi-core Performance Geekbench 6 GPU Cores GPU Performace Metal Benchmark Memory Bandwidth

5nm

67 billion

2696

14891

30-core
38-core

124429
136794

400 GB/s

3nm

92 billion

3102

19130

30-core
40-core

123910
153799

300 GB/s
400 GB/s

3nm

92 billion

3104

21106

30-core
40-core

123910
15399

300 GB/s
400 GB/s


M2 Ultra vs M3 Ultra Comparison

Apple has not yet introduced the M3 Ultra chip, so a direct comparison with the M2 Ultra is not possible. The M2 Ultra has double the transistors of the M2 Max, with an impressive 134 billion transistors. Featuring a 24-core CPU (16 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores), the M2 Ultra achieves a 43% increase in multi-core performance compared to the M2 Max.

The M2 Ultra offers the choice between a 60-core or 76-core GPU configuration. The most notable improvement lies in GPU performance, especially with the M2 Ultra's 76-core GPU displaying an impressive 43% increase compared to the M3 Max's 40-core option.


Chip Processor Technology Transistor Count Single-core Performance Geekbench 6 Multi-core Performance Geekbench 6 GPU Cores GPU Performace Metal Benchmark Memory Bandwidth

5nm

134 billion

2770

21316

60-core
76-core

202342
219776

800GB/s


List of devices with the M2 chip


Device Release Year Chip

2022

M2

2023

M2

2022

M2

2022

M2

iPad Pro 12-inch 6th Gen

2022

M2

iPad Air 6th Gen

2024

M2

Vision Pro 2024

2024

M2

2023

M2 / M2 Pro

2023

M2 Pro / M2 Max

2023

M2 Pro / M2 Max

2023

M2 Max / M2 Ultra


List of devices with the M3 chip


Device Release Year Chip

MacBook Air 13-inch

2024

M3

MacBook Air 15-inch

2024

M3

iMac 24-inch

2023

M3

2023

M3 / M3 Pro / M3 Max

2023

M3 Pro / M3 Max


We have a wide selection of refurbished M2 and M3 series devices available for immediate dispatch, including refurbished 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.