M3 iMac vs M1 iMac: Is it worth upgrading?

Following the original Apple Silicon iMac with the M1 chip released in 2021, this first refresh of Apple's all-in-one desktop has arrived. Read our in-depth comparison of the iMac M3 and iMac M1 when it comes to performance, display, features, I/O, and more.


  • iMac M3 vs iMac M1
    • CPU, GPU, memory, neural engine
    • Display
    • M3 iMac vs M1 I/O
    • Colors and size
    • Price
    • Conclusions M3 iMac vs M1 iMac

M3 iMac vs M1 iMac

CPU, GPU, Memory, Neural Engine

Enhancements beyond the speed and efficiency of the M3 processor include up to 24 GB of memory, a more powerful media engine, and a GPU with up to 10 cores.

iMac M3 iMac M1
CPU 8-core 8-core
GPU 8 or 10-core 7 or 8-core
Media engine H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW with hardware acceleration, video decoding engine, video encoding engine, ProRes encoding and decoding engine, decoding AV1 H.264 and HEVC with hardware acceleration, video decoding engine, video encoding engine
Storage Solid-state drive up to 2 TB Up to 2 TB SSD
Memory Up to 24 GB Up to 16 GB
Memory bandwidth 100 GB/s 66.67 GB/s
Neural mechanism 16-core 16-core

While many Macs had both M1 and M2 chips, the iMac switched from M1 to M3, which Apple says means 2x faster performance than the M1.

And if you're using a 21.5-inch Intel iMac (2019 and earlier), you'll see 4x faster overall performance.

Apple also claims that the iMac M3 is nearly 2.5 times faster than “the most popular
27-inch Intel-based iMac models.”

The above claims are about overall performance. In terms of CPU and GPU, especially in the M3 chip, Apple claims the 8-core processor is up to 35% faster than the M1, and the 10-core GPU is up to 65% faster than the M1.

Our first look at the M3 iMac benchmarks brought single-core and multi-core scores closer to the 35% mark.

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


The iMac M3 has the exact same display as the iMac M1. It's no small feat – you get a fantastic 4.5K Retina display, P3 wide color gamut, True Tone, and 500 nits of brightness.

M3 iMac M1 iMac
Size 24 inches 24 inches
Resolution 4480 x 2520 (4.5 KB) 4480 x 2520 (4.5K)
Aspect Ratio 16:9 16 :9
Brightness 500 nits 500 nits
Retina display
P3 wide color
True Tone
LED backlight
Nanotexture option

The only thing you don't get with Apple's Studio Display and Pro Display XDR offerings is low-reflective nanotexture glass.

iMac M3 and M1 I/O

Are you considering smaller I/O settings for the iMac M3, such as WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.

The general layout of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 is the same: two or four ports, depending on the model you choose. The speaker and microphone system is the same as before.

M3 iMac M1 iMac
Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 2 2
USB 3 Type-C 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models) 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models)
Gigabit Ethernet 2 on mid- and high-end models (0 on base models) Optional for base models, included in mid- and high-end models
10Gb Ethernet
SDXC slot
WiFi WiFi 6E WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.3 5.0
Touch ID Optional on base models, included on mid and higher models 2 on mid and high models class (0 on base models)
' Hey Siri support
Web camera FaceTime 1080p HD + M3 ISP FaceTime 1080p HD + M1 ISP
Video output Single external display up to 6K @ 60Hz Single external display up to 6K@60Hz
6-speaker system
Wide stereo sound
Dolby Atmos support
3-microphone array studio quality
Headphones 3.5 mm jack

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

Colors and size

The M3 iMac colors are the same as the M1. This includes 7 choices for 4-port models and 4 colors for 2-port models.

iMac M3 iMac M1
Colors blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (all with white border) blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (white frames)
Weight 9.87 lbs (4.48 kg) 9.88 lbs ( 4.48 kg)
Height 18.1 inches (46.1 cm) 18.1 inches (46.1 cm)
Width 21.5 inches (54.7 cm) 21.5 inches (54.7 cm)
Depth with stand 5.8 inches (14.7 cm) 5.8 inches (14.7 cm)

The physical design of the M3 iMac matches that of the M1 with an ultra-thin depth of 11.5 mm (14 .7 cm, including the stand). Other size and weight characteristics remain the same.


Apple has kept the price the same with the new iMac: starting price is $1,299 for the base model, $1,499 for mid and $1,699 for the top model.

The top iMac M3 is slightly more expensive than the M1 as 24GB storage is a new option this time.

M3 iMac iMac M1
2 ports, 256/8 GB $1299 $1299
4 ports 256/8 GB $1499 $1499
4 ports 512/8 GB $1699 USD 1699
4 ports 2 TB/24 GB USD 2699

Conclusion M3 iMac vs M1 iMac

Reasons for purchase

If you've outgrown your iMac M1 or Intel iMac and like the all-in-one form factor, the iMac M3 is a great but iterative upgrade. Considering that most 4.5K or 5K external displays sell 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.

The main improvements are the ability to increase memory. , a more powerful chip, as well as the latest versions of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Reasons to refuse

Best comment from ð #ðºðððð»ðððð·ðððððð

7 people liked it

No, it’s not worth updating. The M1 iMac is still a good computer with a shelf life of over 3 years. If your computer is already outdated and it's time to upgrade, then yes, this is a great price considering its performance. I don't know why Apple is the only company that suggests you should ditch the one you just bought and buy a completely different one. Especially considering the quality of the product and its service life.

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If your M1 iMac or other Mac is still working fine, there are no huge upgrades for the M3 iMac that would be very tempting. Alternatively, you might consider using a Mac mini or MacBook for greater flexibility with both form factor and hardware upgrades.

Specifications Recommendations

If you do choose to purchase an iMac M3, keep in mind that you won't be able to upgrade the chip, memory, or 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 buy an M3 iMac from Apple. , Amazon and other retailers coming soon.

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