Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, M3 Max) review: a big step in a 3D direction

As a power user 3D animator, the new MacBook Pro M3 Max can take anything I throw at it.

The M3 Max, 16-inch MacBook Pro, held aloft in front of a brick wall.
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Macbook Pro M3 Max takes a significant step up over its older siblings, with a large leap in performance and a beautiful display in a sleek package. With up to 128GB RAM, 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU, there is an option for even the most performance-hungry user. No matter if you spend most of your time writing, working with still images, or rendering an 8K animation sequence, the MacBook Pro M3 Max could well be the best portable computer for you.

For

  • Excellent performance
  • Great battery life
  • Solid, reliable build quality

Against

  • Aimed at 3D, not 2D creatives
  • Limited upgrade options

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Apple has had a run of solid laptop releases over the last few years. Even the short-lived touch strip didn’t dent the reputation for performance blended with aesthetics, and each new generation of Apple silicon seems to live up to the promise. 2023’s MacBook Pro M3 Max makes similar claims, but is it just another iteration of the same format?

The answer to that is a resounding yes, but don’t be fooled into thinking that is a negative thing. The Macbook Pro format has been around for a long time now, with tweaks each year, some minor, others more significant. The clearest updates are almost always the processors which, since Apple’s move to its own silicon, has seen regular, large performance increases, solidifying the company's laptops claim to the top spots among the best laptops for graphic design, video editing and pretty much any resource-heavy creative task you can imagine.

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CPU:M3 Max chip, 16-core (12 performance, 4 efficiency)
GPU:40-core, with hardware-accelerated ray tracing
Memory:16-96GB RAM
Display:16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display. 3456x2234 native resolution
Battery:100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Storage:1TB as tested (can be configured up to 8TB)
Connectivity:SDXC slot, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, MagSafe3 port, 3x Thunderbolt 4 ports with support for DP, 40Gb/s TB 4/USB 4
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Benchmark scoresHeader Cell - Column 1
Cinebench 2024Multicore: 1674; Single core: 141; GPU: 13443
Geekbench 6Multicore: 21275; Single core: 3255; GPU: OpenCL: 93888
3D MarkSteel Nomad Light: 12036 @ 89.2fps.
Pugetbench PhotoshopOverall: 11471; General: 102; Filter: 129
Blender benchmarkMonster: 202.221208; Junkshop: 128.813197; Classrom: 90.574509
The Verdict
9

out of 10

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch M3 (2023)

The Macbook Pro M3 Max takes a significant step up over its older siblings, with a large leap in performance and a beautiful display in a sleek package. With up to 128GB RAM, 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU, there is an option for even the most performance-hungry user. No matter if you spend most of your time writing, working with still images, or rendering an 8K animation sequence, the MacBook Pro M3 Max could well be the best portable computer for you.

Rob Redman

Rob Redman is the editor of 3D World and ImagineFX magazines and has a background in animation, visual effects, and photography. As a 3D artist he created the mothership in the Webby winning Plot Device and was animator on the follow-up; Order up. He has created training for Cinema 4D and Blackmagic Design Fusion artists. He's been a published product and food photographer since the age of 15. As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, Rob is also an avid beard grower.

With contributions from