John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, had this to say after the introduction of the MacBook Pro with M3-series chips. Cutting-edge industrial design, great hardware performance, and an equally unique macOS – I’d have to agree; next to the iPhone, the MacBook Pro is arguably my favorite Apple product.

When the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup was first announced two years ago, I used the phrase “the next five years” to describe the new generation of Pro-class MacBook laptops. With the timely release of the M3 chipset, this new generation is now in its third year, and after getting my hands on the new MacBook Pro for a short time, I’m here to talk about my own experience with it, and to share some thoughts on the MacBook Pro as it stands today.

Pro-class MacBooks, ushering in the true next generation

While the new MacBook Pro is virtually unchanged in terms of its overall form factor, the MacBook Pro lineup actually gets a complete refresh with the next-generation Apple silicon architecture.

With the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip dropping and the 14-inch model with the M3 chip taking its place, the MacBook Pro lineup has finally unified its design language, with all three models adopting the 14/16-inch form factor molds that were introduced two years ago. As the last model to feature the Touch Bar, its departure marks the end of the last generation of MacBook Pro laptops: the much-talked-about Touch Bar is truly history, and we say goodbye.

The unification of the three MacBook Pro models is also more clearly defined: a basic version with the M3 chip for everyday use; a Pro version with the M3 Pro chip for more demanding professional use; and an advanced version with the M3 Max chip for even more power and the ability to explore the possibilities of what a Mac computer can do.

And while there are still only two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports, the MacBook Pro with M3 chip catches up a little bit: The SDXC slot and HDMI port, which were only available on the Pro and Max models, are now available on the base version of the MacBook Pro.

Black is professional, not just a color change

The new Deep Black color is what Apple calls a “professional-grade device at a glance,” and it’s true. For starters, Deep Sky Black is only available on MacBook Pro models with the M3 Pro / M3 Max chips, while the M3 chipset remains available in the original Deep Sky Gray color.

While some may feel that this is actually an attempt to differentiate the higher-priced models by color, I don’t think so. Here’s how Apple describes the MacBook Pro’s Deep Sky Black in its press release: The look uses a groundbreaking chemical composition that creates an anodized seal that dramatically reduces fingerprints. A new process creates a new look, which inevitably costs more, so it should make sense that no new color options have been devolved for the time being.

The new process has made the deep black aluminum much more resistant to smudges, and even after intense use, there were very few smudges or fingerprints on the enclosure. I even felt that the new MacBook Pro’s case was more or less similar to the titanium frame on the iPhone 15 Pro, in that not only is it more resistant to smudges, but it’s also much easier to clean, with a few minor marks on the case coming off with a simple hand wipe.

I hadn’t used my previous MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip for a while because I use my Mac mini more at home, and when I got the new MacBook Pro, I saw that it still had a few smudges on the case that required a bit of scrubbing to remove. It’s fair to say that the new deep black color not only looks better, but it actually works better, and I like the change.

Many of you will agree with me that the MacBook Pro is finally getting a blacker MacBook Pro, and for me, who chooses black when I can, the MacBook Pro’s Deep Space Black is “brilliant”, with an understated look and a sense of sophistication that has always been a hallmark of Apple’s products.

It’s worth noting that the MagSafe power cable that comes with the MacBook Pro is also available in black, which makes the MacBook Pro less visually obtrusive when it’s connected to a power source, but it’s a shame that the power adapter is still in white; Apple doesn’t seem to have released a black power adapter yet, so as a fan of the color black, I’m hoping to see one of these in the future. As a fan of black, I’d love to see one in the future.

However, like other Apple products that come in deep black, the black on the MacBook Pro is actually not that black, and in bright light I think it has a slight bluish effect.

That feeling is even more pronounced when you lift up the computer. Because the new MacBook Pro continues to be paired with a keyboard recess that was previously double-anodized, the difference in color is even more pronounced when contrasted with a keyboard area that’s really close to solid black. But since the keyboard recess uses a process that allows for two colors on a single piece of aluminum, is it safe to assume that we’ll be seeing an even blacker MacBook Pro in the future, and it’s something to look forward to, though this year’s Deep Space Black has been quite satisfactory to me?

Sexy enough to wait for the future

After the iPhone 15 Pro series was the first to adopt the 3nm A17 Pro chip, the MacBook Pro followed suit, becoming one of the first PCs in the industry to adopt a 3nm chip. Ever since the Apple silicon architecture was first introduced, it’s been an unspoken consensus that Mac computers are capable.

The MacBook Pro I have here comes with the 16+40-core M3 Max chip, so naturally, I ran the scores on Geekbench, and the M3 Max chip scored 3,118 single-core and 21,009 multi-core CPU points, which is about the same as the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Max chip. On the CPU side, the M3 Max chip scored 3118 single-core points and 21009 multi-core points, which is 2736 and 14498 respectively on the M2 Max chip-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro. On the GPU side, the M3 Max chip’s Meta Graphics score was 155744, which is also a bit faster than the M2 Max chip’s average score of 131889 points.

With this MacBook Pro connected to both my Studio Display and LG UltraFine 4K monitor, editing RAW photos in Pixelmator Pro with dozens of tabs open at the same time was also noticeably faster and faster than the wait time on my previous M1 Pro model. However, some people have noticed that this year’s M3 Pro chip has actually been downgraded compared to the previous M2 Pro chip, with the number of performance cores reduced by two to the number of energy-efficient cores, the number of graphics cores reduced by one, and the memory bandwidth lowered by a quarter, which is naturally due to a combination of cost and longevity considerations, but also to keep the majority of the users’ experience unaffected. As for the specific performance of this M3 Pro chip, I believe more comparison tests will reveal us.

The other big change in the M3 series is that it supports the same hardware-level ray tracing technology as the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro, a change that I think makes more sense for mobile platforms than anything else. In the App Store, we can also see console titles like the recent hit Lies of P, Resident Evil: The Village, and other classic console titles like Death Stranding and Resident Evil 4 are available for pre-order, and will be coming to the Mac in the near future.

While it goes without saying that as a console user I’ve already played almost all of these titles, I do think it’s important that more platform users have access to these classics and many other great titles, as well as a good enough experience to play them. The fact that so many big names are responding to the call to bring their titles to the Mac is a testament to Apple’s power.

However, even with the current computing power of the M3 series, and even with the ray tracing technology that makes the playing experience better, it’s easy to see from the postings and videos in the App Store that the experience is still some way off from the consoles. That’s not really the problem, it’s that after all this, the pricing of these titles does seem a bit high to me, at the same level as console games. I would have loved to experience some of the best games of the current generation on a Mac, but I didn’t have to because of the price tag, so I can’t tell you what the experience was like.

Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Although many people have been criticizing Apple’s 3A gaming ecosystem, I’m still optimistic and looking forward to what kind of games I can play on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac in the future, especially now that Apple has taken the first step through hardware technology and software ecosystems, especially with the Vision Pro that we’ll soon be seeing, so maybe Apple can make a different approach to the gaming world. Maybe Apple can do something different in the gaming field.

While we often talk about how overpowered the Apple silicon architecture is and how the MacBook Air and even the Mac mini are enough for most people, the Pro class Macs have always been a much better experience, and it took Apple more than two years to complete the migration of the entire Mac lineup to the Apple silicon architecture. With the MacBook Pro in its third year of the new generation, I also think it’s a good time for older users to migrate over to the new generation as well.