Subscriber OnlyConsumer TechReview

Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch M3 Max: A sleek beast that delivers - but at a price

This device is so souped up that, for the average user, it will be overkill

Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch M3 Max
    
Price: €4349
Where To Buy: Apple

When Apple talked about ushering in the “post-PC” era in 2012, it clearly wasn’t encouraging people to ditch its MacBooks. On the contrary; the company has continued to revamp its notebooks, creating its own silicon to power them, and generally ramping up the competition in the market.

Which brings us to the latest version: the M3-powered MacBook Pro. To say that the new generation of MacBook Pro devices is impressive is putting it mildly. Apple’s latest silicon is available in all versions – M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max – right from the start, a new departure for the company, which previously staggered the release of the chips.

First, a bit of tech speak: the new chip is based on 3 nanometre technology, and comes with a new GPU architecture, packing even more transistors into the chip. In real terms it means improving speed and efficiency as well as power.

It also introduces some new features: dynamic caching, which means the system only uses as much memory as it needs; new rendering features such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading to improve graphics; an advanced media engine that now supports more power efficient video streaming.


So far, so impressive.

The version reviewed here is the 16-inch MacBook Pro running on the M3 Max. If you need a highly powerful notebook, the M3 Max-power MacBook Pro is certainly the top contender.

To put it mildly, it is a beast, albeit a nicely designed, sleek one. The version reviewed here came with 16 cores – 12 performance and four efficiency – and a 40-core GPU, with 48GB Unified Memory and 1TB of solid state storage. That can be bumped up to 128GB of memory and 8TB of storage, if you have deeper pockets.

The notebook can take everything you throw at it – 3D rendering, video editing, high-performance design work – without breaking a sweat, and come back for more.

It doesn’t come cheap. And for the average user, this device will be complete overkill. Apart from gaming, there are few reasons why the average MacBook user will need the top-of-the-range Max chip over the M3 Pro or the M3.

The new MacBook Pros come in 14- and 16-inch versions – bad news if you were a fan of the 13-inch MacBook Pro – but Apple hasn’t changed much else in the way of design. There’s the giant trackpad, and a well-spaced keyboard. The screen is still top notch, with thin bezels. The notch remains, love it or hate it, to make room for the 1080p FaceTime camera.

Apple hasn’t gone wild with the colour choices, either. The MacBook Pro comes in two options: silver and space grey, which is Apple’s version of black. Think of it less as a black laptop and more of a very dark grey. Apple has done some work on the finish so it is less fingerprint central, but it isn’t infallible; after a few days of use, the case picked up some smudges.

It works well for movies and video content too. Aside from the pin-sharp screen, the speakers are impressive, with volume and quality that would rival some external speakers – and do better, in fact.

And what about a key factor in choosing a laptop: battery life? There is no point in having all this power under the hood if the MacBook doesn’t have the power to keep going. The MacBook Pro has a 22-hour battery life on paper; in reality, that will depend on what you are using the device for.

The good news is that Apple has done its homework. A mix of basic document editing, internet use, video editing and streaming didn’t deplete that battery after more than a full day of use.


If you want power, the M3 Max-powered MacBook is the ideal choice. It barely breaks a sweat tackling some of the more difficult, power-intensive tasks. Multitasking is a snap. There is nothing that I could have asked the MacBook Pro to do that it would have sputtered to a halt.

The webcam is also high quality, which is important given that it looks like Zoom calls and remote working are here to stay.

Battery life is excellent, lasting more than a full day across a range of uses.


All that power comes with a steep price tag. The MacBook Pro will cost you minimum of €4,349 for the M3 Max, and while it earns the price tag, it is not going to be the standard MacBook purchase.

The 16-inch model gives you plenty of space to work, but it’s a bit less portable than the 14-inch version.

Everything else

The new “space grey” colour option is nice, and seems a bit more modern than the standard Apple silver. Still, it would be nice to see more colours in the MacBook Pro range other than silver or black.

The MacBook Pro uses magSafe for charging, which isn’t new – Apple reintroduced it in 2021 – but you can also charge via one of the USB C ports.

Some may mourn the loss of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has been relegated to the M2 model, but in its place you get the 14-inch device


Apple’s most powerful laptop may be pricey, but it delivers.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist