Category Archives: M3

Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro

M3 Series Mac mini expected to be released in March 2024

Apple Mac mini M3 $999.00 ?? minimum as recommended below
Apple Mac mini M3 Pro $1299.00 ?? minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

Mac mini computers are amazing machines with one caveat. Do not upgrade them too much. If you upgrade them too much, the next higher model will make more sense.

Mac mini M3

There are no expected changes to the Mac mini M3, except the M3 processor itself. The M3 processor is out already, so we know exactly what to expect.

Mac mini M3 Pro

There are no expected changes to the Mac mini M3 Pro, except the M3 Pro processor itself. The M3 Pro processor is out already, so we know exactly what to expect.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

That said, even though the Mac mini M3/M3 Pro is not out yet, we know exactly how it will perform.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

M2/M2 Pro

M3/M3 Pro

M3 DAW performance has improved decently over the M2. M3 Pro DAW performance is pretty much a wash over the M2 Pro. The M3 Pro 11 core CPU is actually a slight downgrade in DAW performance compared to the M2 Pro 10 core CPU. The M3 Pro 12 core CPU is improved compared to the M2 Pro CPU, but only very slightly.

The M3 Pro is a great system for DAWs, I highly recommend it. However, I would not upgrade an M2 Pro for DAW performance alone. Maybe if you wanted more cores, memory or SSD capacity, but also be mindful of the price point it makes more sense to upgrade to the Mac Studio M3 Max, which is a serious DAW performance upgrade.

Of course, realistically the mass majority of musicians are going to use less than 100 tracks. If you need more, I’d wait for the Mac Studio M3 Max to come out which you can see makes quite a jump up in DAW performance.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been over 3 years, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

macOS 14 Sonoma: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Sonoma has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Sonoma. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

The 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M3 are a bit tight for musicians and creators, but can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. The 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M3 Pro are better for musicians and creators. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port.

You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C and find the 2 legacy USB-A ports good for USB hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

Mac mini hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future or get the appropriate system.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

More soon, check back!

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac mini M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple 24″ iMac M3

24″ iMac M3 was announced October 30, 2023

24″ iMac M3 $1899.00 16GB 512GB minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

There is not a lot to say about the Apple 24″ iMac M3. It is pretty much the same thing as the Apple 24″ iMac M1 with the M3 processor. The memory upgrades to 16GB or 24GB. Wi-Fi is 6E and Bluetooth is 5.3.

If you are a musician or creative be sure to get the 8 CPU cores, 10 GPU cores model and upgrade the memory. This model also has 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports and 2 USB 3 ports, instead of just 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/imac-24/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple iMac M3 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple MacBook Air M3

13″ & 15″ MacBook Air M3 expected to be released in March 2024

Apple 13″ MacBook Air M3 $1599.00? minimum as recommended below
Apple 15″ MacBook Air M3 $1899.00? minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

M3 versions of the MacBook Air are expected to be exactly the same as the M2 versions, except with the M3 processors.

Other than that, there is not much to say for the moment. I will certainly update this page as more information becomes available.

CPU Performance Benchmarks

DAW Performance Benchmarks

Soon…

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/macbook-air/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple MacBook Air M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple M3 Processor Series

Understanding possibly five Apple M3 Series processors

Apple M3
Apple announced the M3 series of chips on October 30, 2023, along with the new MacBook Pro and iMac. The M3 is based on the 3 nm process and contains 25 billion transistors, a 25% increase from the previous generation M2. It has 8 CPU cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency) and up to 10 GPU cores. Apple claims CPU improvements up to 35% and GPU improvements up to 65% compared to the M1.

Apple M3 Pro
The M3 Pro is a more powerful version of the M3, with six performance cores, six efficiency cores, 14 to 18 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 36 GB unified RAM with 150 GB/s memory bandwidth, and 48% more transistors. It is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple claims the CPU performance is 30 percent faster than the M1 Pro and the GPU is 40 percent faster than the M1 Pro.

Apple M3 Max
The M3 Max is a larger version of the M3 Pro, with ten or twelve performance cores, four efficiency cores, 30 to 40 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 128 GB unified RAM with up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and more than double the transistors. It is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple claims the CPU performance is 80 percent faster than the M1 Max and the GPU is 50 percent faster than the M1 Max.

Apple M3 Ultra is currently unreleased
Wikipedia 

The M3 series uses the N3E architecture 3nm process. The N3E process is purported to have a 15% performance boost and a 30% power saving improvement over the N5P process in the M2.

Apple says the M3 Series is 30% faster than the M1 Series, and 15% faster than the M2 Series.

The M3 series is improved but probably not enough for most people to upgrade from a M2 equivalent. The M3 series is improved enough for many people to upgrade from an M1 equivalent but not all people will find value even in that upgrade.

The brilliance of Apple silicon is the components of each one are the same. There are just more or less of them in each type.

Performance of the various M3 processors, just like their predecessors really will boil down to the base M3 processor performance.

The CPU/GPU core counts are a bit unexpected, in some cases fewer than M2 Series. Also notice the M3 Pro memory bandwidth is down to 150GB/s and M3 Max 14 CPU core, 30 GPU core is 300GB/s.

Apple has re-balanced the M3 Pro and M3 Max with a larger performance gap between them. The M3 Pro has more emphasis on power efficiency than performance improvement. The M2 Pro already punches hard and power efficiency is always a good thing in a laptop, but in many ways the M3 Pro is a sidegrade from the M2 Pro. In other words in a similar performance range.

The M3 Max is a different story though. In CPU benchmarks, the M3 Max outperforms the M1 Ultra. In GPU benchmarks, the M3 Max tests close to the M1 Ultra.

The M3 Ultra, when it is released, should significantly push Apple silicon to new performance levels.

The ‘Extreme’ permutation has yet to become real, but is surmised to be the next logical step up, should that be possible.

** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.

ComponentM3M3 ProM3 MaxM3 Ultra ?M3 Extreme ?
Efficiency CPU Cores464816
Efficiency Clock2.75GHz2.75GHz2.75GHz2.75GHz2.75GHz
Performance CPU Cores45 or 610 or 1220 or 2440 or 48
Performance Clock4.05GHz4.05GHz4.05GHz4.05GHz4.05GHz
Neural Engine Cores1616163264
GPU Cores options8 or 1014 or 1830 or 4060 or 80120 or 160
Unified Memory options8GB 16GB 24GB18GB 36GB36GB 48GB 64GB 96GB 128GB64GB 96GB 128GB 192GB 256GB128GB 192GB 256GB 384GB 512GB
Memory Bandwidth100GB/s150GB/s300GB/s or 400GB/s800GB/s1600GB/s
Video Decode Engines11124
Video Encode Engines11248
ProRes Encode-Decode Engines11248

Assuming a 2 year processor life cycle, before the end of 2025 the M3 Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M4 Processor Series in newly released products.

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

Buying an Apple M3 Series computer

Any Apple M3 Series computer will be an incredible experience compared to music and video production on Intel hardware. However it is highly recommended to get at least 16GB of memory (or more) and 512GB storage (or more) if you select an M3 Series system.

There are 9 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M3 Series processors expected, 5 laptops and 4 desktops.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.