M3 iMac vs Intel iMac: Here are all the upgrades and a few downsides

Thinking about upgrading your Intel iMac? Or are you wondering how different Apple's all-in-one PC is now that it's equipped with the third generation of a custom processor? Follow the instructions for an in-depth comparison of the M3 iMac vs Intel iMac.

Table of Contents

  • M3 iMac vs Intel iMac (21.5 and 27 inches)
    • CPU, GPU, Memory, Neural Engine
    • Display
    • M3 iMac vs Intel iMac I/O
    • Colors and sizes
    • Price
    • M3 iMac vs Intel iMac

M3 iMac vs Intel iMac (21.5 and 27 inches)

CPU, GPU, memory, neural engine

Compared to the 2019 21.5-inch Intel iMac and 2020 27-inch Intel iMac, the 2023 iMac with M3 chip includes a more powerful 8-core processor, up to a 10-core GPU, up to 24GB of unified memory and allocated memory. media engine.

The M3's lower specification than the Intel iMac is memory with a maximum of 24 GB. But keep in mind that the new unified memory is fine-tuned across the entire M3 SoC.

M3 iMac 21.5″ Intel iMac 27″ Intel iMac
CPU 8-core 6-core Intel i7 processor up to 3.2 GHz 10-core Intel i9 processor up to 3.6 GHz
GPU 8 or 10-core Up to AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 Up to AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT
Media engine H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW with hardware acceleration , video decoding engine, video encoding engine, ProRes encoding and decoding engine, AV1 decoding
Storage Up to 2TB SSD Up to 1 TB Fusion Drive Up to 8 TB SSD
Memory Up to 24 GB Up to 32 GB Up to 128 GB
Neural engine 16-core

Another characteristic that is lower in 24- The 1.5-inch iMac M3 has up to 2TB of SSD capacity, and the 27-inch iMac allows up to 8TB of SSD storage.

But compared to the 21.5-inch Intel iMac, Apple says you're a total The M3 iMac should be 4 times faster.

Apple says the M3 iMac is 2.5 times faster than the most popular
27-inch Intel-based iMac models. .” The company doesn't specify which 27-inch iMac it is, but it likely has average specs.

Apple also says the 8-core processor is up to 35% faster than the M1, while the 10-core processor is up to 35% faster than the M1. nuclear GPU – up to 65% faster than M1.

Taking a first look at the M3 iMac benchmarks, the single-core and multi-core results were close to the 35% mark.

  • The M3 Mac benchmark results show whether the performance lives up to Apple's claims.


The iMac M3 features a 4.5K Retina display, P3 wide color gamut, True Tone, and 500 nits brightness.

For comparison, the resolution you get is between the 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs, and the physical display size is also in the middle.

M3 iMac 21.5″ Intel iMac 27″ Intel iMac
Size 24 inches 21.5 inches 27 inches
Resolution 4480 x 2520 (4.5K) 4096 x 2304 (4K) 5120 x 2880 (5K)
Aspect Ratio 16:9 16:9 16:9
Brightness 500 nits 500 nits 500 nits
Retina display
Wide color P3
True Tone
LED backlight
Nanotexture option

The one thing you won't get from the current iMac M3, which the 27-inch iMac offers, is the low-reflective nanotexture. glass option.

M3 iMac vs Intel iMac I/O

With the M3 iMac you get some nice I/O upgrades over the Intel iMac. This includes Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, improved audio, and optional Touch ID with Magic Keyboard.

M3 iMac 21.5″ Intel iMac 27″ Intel iMac
Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 2
Thunderbolt 3/USB3 2 2
USB 3 Type-C 2 on mid-range and higher models (0 on basic models)
USB-A 4 4
Gigabit Ethernet Optional for base models, included in mid-range models and above (in the power supply)
10Gb Ethernet Optional
SDXC slot
WiFi WiFi 6E WiFi 5 WiFi 5
Bluetooth 5.3 4.2 5.0
Touch ID Optional for base models, included in mid models and above
'Hey Siri support
Web camera ISP FaceTime 1080p HD + M3 FaceTime 720p HD FaceTime 1080p HD
Video output 1 external display up to 6K @ 60Hz Up to 2 external 4K 60Hz or 1 5 or 6K 60Hz Up to 2 external 6K 60Hz 60 Hz
6 speaker system
Wide stereo sound
Dolby Atmos support
Studio quality 3-mic array
3.5 headphone jack mm

Unfortunately, like the M1 iMac, the M3 iMac is still limited to supporting only one external display. This may not be as big of an issue as with a MacBook since you already have a 24-inch built-in display with the iMac.

But it's still a little disappointing. when a few years ago, 21.5- and 27-inch Intel iMacs supported up to two displays.

Colors and size

The iMac M3 colors are the same as the iMac M1. This includes 7 choices for 4-port models and 4 colors for 2-port models. This is 6 more options than the Intel iMac.

M3 iMac 21.5″ Intel iMac 27″ Intel iMac
Colors Blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (all with white frames) Silver (black frames) Silver (black frames)
Weight 9.87 lbs (4.48 kg) 12.1 lbs (5.48 kg) 19.7 lbs (8.92 kg)
Height 18.1 inches (46.1 cm) 17.7 inches (45 cm) 20.3 inches (51.6 cm)
Width 21.5 inches (54.7 cm) 20.8 inches (52.8 cm) 25.6 inches (65 cm)
Depth with stand 5.8 inches (14.7 cm) 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) 8 inches (20.3 cm)

Physical design The M3 iMac is ultra-thin at 11.5mm (14.7cm including stand). The remaining dimensions are thinner than older Intel iMacs. However, the large chin remains.

As with the M1, the iMac M3 has one drawback: there is still no model with a black frame.


Apple has kept the starting price of the iMac unchanged for many years. It's an affordable $1,299 for the base model, $1,499 for the mid, $1,699 for the higher and $2,699 for the top model.

M3 iMac 21.5″ Intel iMac 27″ Intel iMac
Base Model $1,299 Orig. US$1,299 Orig. $1,799
4 ports 256/8 GB $1,499
4 ports 512/8 GB $1699
4 ports 2 TB/24 GB $2,699

Review of M3 iMac and Intel iMac

Reasons for purchase

If you've been waiting for a new version of the iMac and like the all-in-one form factor, then the iMac M3 is a great iterative upgrade option for users with light to medium computing needs.

With most 4.5K or 5K external displays selling separately for $1,000, the iMac M3, with a crisp display and a cutting-edge Apple Silicon processor starting at $1,299, is a solid price.

Unless you have a high-end 27-inch iMac, you'll find that the M3 iMac performs 2 to 4 times faster than the Intel iMac.

Reasons for failure

Unfortunately, the new iMac does not have the M3 Pro option. So, if you want to equip your new Mac with a more powerful processor, GPU, memory, etc., you can choose Mac mini or Mac Studio. They have the option to upgrade to M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips (all of which are more powerful than the M3). Plus, you can use up to 192GB of unified storage.

Other reasons to skip the iMac M3 include if you need to support more than one external display or if white bezels aren't a deal-breaker.

Specs Tips

If you do buy an iMac M3, keep in mind that you won't be able to upgrade the chip, memory, or internal storage after the fact. So if you can afford it, set it up exactly the way you want it (thinking about how long you want to keep it can help).

You can purchase an M3 iMac at Apple. Amazon, Adorama and others.

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