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Apple’s M3 Max appears to keep up with Intel’s top desktop CPU

Apple revealing the M3 Max processor.
Apple

The first benchmarks of Apple’s M3 Max processor just leaked, and it looks like it’s going to be one speedy chip. Found in the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, the M3 Max pushes the capabilities of Apple silicon to new heights — so much so that it can keep up with Intel’s best desktop processor, all the while consuming far less power.

The exciting results come from a Geekbench 6 test. The chip listed under Apple M3 Max scored 2,943 in single-core and 21,084 in multi-core tests, respectively. Those are numbers that used to be pretty unreachable for a thin and light laptop just a couple of years ago, but they’re comparable to Apple’s M2 Ultra found in the latest Mac Pro (21,182 multi-core) and Mac Studio (21.316 multi-core).

While the M3 Max is on par with the M2 Ultra, it beats its predecessor by a large margin. It’s around 45% faster than the M2 Max found in the last-gen 16-inch MacBook Pro, which scores 14,495 in the multi-core Geekbench test. Apple initially claimed that the M3 Max would be around 50% faster than the M2 Max, and it seems to be living up to that expectation.

Another interesting comparison is between Apple and Intel, because the M2 Max is actually almost on par with one of Intel’s top CPUs, the Core i9-13900KS. On average, that desktop chip scores 3,096 in single-core tests and 21,734 in multi-core operations. Sure, the M3 Max is a little behind, but it’s a negligible difference when you consider that the Apple silicon is found inside an ultra-thin laptop, while the Intel CPU is a bulky, power-hungry beast built for desktops.

Apple M3 Max
Geekbench

Announced during Apple’s recent Scary Fast event, the M3 chip is coming out in three configurations right off the bat, which is something most of us didn’t expect. The company unveiled the M3, M3 Pro, and the M3 Max, promising to deliver more than just a minor upgrade over the M2. This rings true now based on these benchmarks.

You’ll have to pay a hefty price for a MacBook with the M3 Max chip, though, but that should come as no surprise. The 16-inch MacBook Pro will start at $3,500, but there’s a wide range of options with all three M3 chips, where the cheapest 14-inch MacBook with the base M3 chip starts at $1,600. On the other end of the spectrum, a completely maxed-out 16-inch MacBook Pro costs an eye-watering $7,200. We have a handy buying guide if you’re not sure which configuration suits you best.

As always with early benchmark results, take the scores above with a healthy bit of skepticism. Once the laptops are out and the M3 Max is widely available, these averages might change. However, even if the lead over the M2 Max drops by a few percent here or there, it’s safe to say that the M3 Max marks yet another proof that Apple made the right move by switching to its own silicon. The generational leap is there, and it seems mighty impressive.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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