Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 review
There’s a new MacBook in town and it finally makes going Pro a little more affordable
What we love
- Affordable starting price
- M3 chip offers plenty of power
- Incredible battery life
- Great build quality
- Solid sound, display and extras
What we don’t
- 8GB RAM isn’t really enough
- Upgrading can make it expensive
- No Space Black on cheaper model
There’s a new MacBook in town and it finally makes going Pro a little more affordable. The fully rebooted 14-inch model now starts from just £1,699 – that might still sound expensive but it’s far less than last year’s Pro laptops. You couldn’t pick up a 2022 14-inch Pro without spending over £2,000 which is what makes this year’s version so much more enticing.
Not only are things a little cheaper in 2023 but also a lot more powerful thanks to the addition of the latest M3 processor. There’s no question that this Apple-made silicon is blisteringly fast and we honestly doubt most users will find anything this laptop struggles with.
Photo retouching, video editing and general digital tasks are all performed without a hint of a stutter and that’s even when using the entry-level model.
There’s also a stunning 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display which offers a 20 percent brightness boost plus you get all the usual Pro features such as a fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner, smart MagSafe charging and plenty of additional ports to plug in all those dongles, SD cards and external displays. Incredible speakers and a market-leading Force Touch trackpad also add to the premium feel.
There’s not much to loathe about the basic MacBook Pro 14-inch laptop although you don’t get access to the new Space Black colour – that’s reserved for the more expensive models.
It also ships with a measly 8GB of RAM. That’s really baffling considering this is a Pro machine and could be an issue if you think you might start pushing things to the limit. You also need to ask yourself if you really need to go Pro as the brilliant MacBook Air 15-inch is a top choice and is also £300 cheaper.
That said, this is a very good MacBook at a very reasonable price and it’s tough not to recommend this device for anyone wanting a Pro-branded laptop without the need to spend a small fortune.
MacBook Pro 14-inch M3: Full review
Ever since Apple switched to its own silicon back in 2021 it’s been pushing the boundaries when it comes to performance. Every year things get faster and more efficient thanks to the M-series of chips and 2023 is no different. We now have laptops powered by the latest M3 brain which is taking power up yet another notch. In fact, the new M3 series are the first chips for a personal computer built using the industry-leading 3-nanometer technology. Apple even boasts that these chips deliver the biggest leap forward in graphics architecture.
It all sounds impressive. The big question is, should you upgrade yet again or stick with what you’ve already got?
Express.co.uk has been testing out the new 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 and here’s our full review.
Apple MacBook 14-inch Pro review
What MacBook did we test?
For this review we took delivery of the entry-level model which comes with the standard M3 processor (there’s also M3 Max and M3 Pro versions available) with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU plus 8GB of RAM. Amazingly, this portable PC with 512GB of storage starts from just £1,699 making it seriously good value when compared to other Pro machines.
M3 chips now power these Pro machines
Performance and battery life
The MacBook has been getting better and better ever since Apple switched from Intel brains to its own in-house silicon back in 2021. Now things are even faster with the M3 chip offering a serious boost to performance.
In fact, it’s around 60 percent faster than the original M1 MacBook Pro and you certainly feel the difference. We edited video, retouched photos, browsed the web for hours on end and played a few games during our time with the 2023 14-inch Pro and, for the average user, there’s more than enough oomph to power through all those daily digital tasks.
Our only gripe is the measly 8GB of RAM which feels far too low for a Pro machine. It’s fine if you simply want to surf websites or do some word processing but is nowhere near enough for those times you might need to multitask or open numerous applications at the same time. Anyone who loves gaming on their laptop would also be wise to upgrade to at least 16GB RAM.
Boosting things will cost at least £200 more but it could be well worth the price if you think you’re going to be pushing things to the limit.
The M3 chip isn’t just about overall performance with it also providing some ludicrously impressive efficiency. Taking on basic tasks will easily see you get through a day’s work without needing to go near a plug and when things do run low it’s easy to refill the battery via Apple’s iconic MagSafe charging. If you need a laptop that won’t let you down on a long-haul flight the new 14-inch Pro should be top of your wishlist.
Other Pro features, is anything missing?
The MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 gets all the usual extras you’d expect including a very bright Liquid Retina XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range) screen which makes content, photos and films truly dazzle.
There is a decent 1080p FaceTime camera, a great keyboard and a market-leading Force Touch trackpad which its Windows rivals are still no closer to matching.
A Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which sits neatly at the top left-hand side of the keyboard, lets you log in without needing a password and there’s instant access to Apple Pay so you can buy things securely using just the tip of your finger.
Apple’s brilliant speakers are also tucked under the aluminium chassis and there’s a studio-quality three-mic array to help you get heard during those morning Zoom meetings.
USB-C ports are helpfully positioned on both sides plus there’s a headphone socket and an SDXC card slot for easy transfer of files.
It’s a shame there’s still no sign of Apple’s brilliant Face ID technology – despite the screen having an iPhone-style notch – but other than that there’s very little this M3-powered laptop is missing.
The new MacBook comes in Space Black but not if you buy the entry level model
No Space Black?
The new MacBook Pro range comes in a striking new Space Black colour which is definitely a nice option if you want to stand out from the crowd. This subtle shade looks stunning but if you buy an entry-level Pro laptop you’ll only get Space Grey and Silver to choose from.
We’re guessing it’s all about upselling devices but Apple isn’t offering Space Black to those buying this standard £1,699 machine.
To get the new look, you’ll need to splash at least £2,099 for the 14-inch with M3 Pro chip inside.
It’s not a deal-breaker but it’s definitely annoying that Space Black demands that more premium price tag.
The MacBook Air conundrum
Now here’s where things get a little complicated. As you can read in our full MacBook Air M2 15-inch review, we’re massive fans of this very light and portable device. It looks incredible, is super light and offers plenty of power for those daily tasks.
Its starting price is also much cheaper with owners saving around £300 by taking delivery of an Air over a Pro. Of course, you get a slightly better screen, extra power from the M3 processor and more ports if you opt for the new MacBook Pro.
Just make sure you really need all of those extras before splashing the cash.
The M2 Air is truly a tremendous laptop. It should be taken seriously and will ultimately save you money.
The M3 14-inch MacBook Pro starts from that impressive £1,699 price which is a bit of a bargain. However, it can start to get very expensive the more extras you add.
For example, pop a 2TB hard drive inside (the standard version includes a 512GB disk) plus 24GB of RAM and things jump to £2,699 – that’s £1,000 extra.
Those switching to the ultimate MacBook Pro with M3 Max processor, 8TB of storage and 128GB RAM will find themselves facing a bill of over £6,000.
Because it’s now difficult to upgrade MacBooks after they have been purchased, make sure you get the right machine, a big enough hard drive and the correct amount of memory before hitting the buy button.
Apple MacBook 14-inch Pro review
Apple’s MacBooks continue to reign supreme and things have just gone up another notch thanks to the latest M3-powered laptops. These machines are blisteringly quick, will last all day without going near a plug and get all the usual bonus MacBook features such as a stunning display, Force Touch trackpad, epic speakers and loads of ports.
The fact that prices now start from just £1,699 makes going Pro even more attractive and makes recommending one really easy.
If you need a new MacBook you’re really not going to be disappointed if you order the 14-inch M3 machine – just make sure that the 8GB of RAM in the entry-level model is enough for your needs.
Also, don’t discount the 15-inch Air as it’s cheaper and is still plenty fast enough for the average user.
Apple’s in-house silicon continues to impress and the M3 Pros are going to be very tough to beat.