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Should you buy the M2 MacBook Pro or wait for the M3?

The MacBook Pro on a wooden table.
Digital Trends

It’s been over a year since the M2 was announced, with the chip first appearing in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air. With the M3 chip on the horizon, you might wondering if you’re better off waiting or just buying one of the current MacBook Pros?

While nothing about the M3 MacBook Pro is official yet, there’s been a lot of reporting about what we can expect from these next-gen laptops.

The M2 MacBook Pro of today

The keyboard and trackpad of the MacBook Pro 14-inch.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The M2 MacBook Pro is currently available in three sizes: 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch. Of course, you’d be wrong in thinking the difference between these are just screen sizes. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, in particular, doesn’t have the same options for the M2 Pro and M2 Max that the larger laptops have. It also uses an old-school design, doesn’t have the mini-LED screen, has a lower-resolution webcam, and sports significantly less ports. For the most part, it’s a laptop that no one should buy — so we’ll set that one aside and pretend like it doesn’t exist.

The current 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, however, are fantastic. Their performance is excellent, especially considering how quiet the systems are and how long the battery life lasts. They use some of the best displays on the market too.

But remember: the M2 MacBook Pros are almost identical to the M1 models. The redesigned chassis came in that first-generation that launched in 2021, and the biggest benefits are all present in those laptops. Even the performance difference between the M1 and M2 isn’t as significant as you might think. In other words, they’re still a terrific buy today, especially if you can find one on sale.

If you’re work doesn’t demand the absolute highest performance, I’d actually recommend sticking with used or refurbished M1 MacBook Pro, either with the M1 Pro or M1 Max. It’s a better deal for the money.

If you are, though, hoping for a significant jump in performance, the M3 might just be worth the wait.

Why the M3 could be a big deal

Apple MacBook Pro seen from the side.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

As mentioned above, the M2 wasn’t as big of a jump in performance over the M1 as some of us had hoped. The reason is because it’s built on the same TSMC 5nm node as the M1. The core configuration is different, yes, and the clock speeds are higher. So, while performance was better, it also resulted in a hotter system.

The M3, on the other hand, is looking like it will be a true next step for Apple Silicon. It’s reported to be moving to the TSMC 3nm process (also known as N3E), which means an actual bump in transistor count and efficiency. We don’t know much more than that, but you can expect a more meaningful increase in performance. We’ll have to wait and see if Apple has more tricks up its sleeve for these MacBook Pros, but you can at least take that extra performance to the bank.

The M3 MacBook Pros (14-inch and 16-inch) will likely not launch until at least spring 2024, though, and it could be even later than that. So, while I think these MacBook Pros will be worth the wait, it might be longer than you’re able to delay your purchase.

If you’re upgrading from an old Intel-based MacBook, or some older PC in general, you’ll be blown away by how fast and efficient even the M1 MacBook Pros are. So, unless you’re comfortable waiting six months or up to a full year, I’d recommend picking one up sooner rather than later.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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