Hands-On, Laptop

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3) Unboxing & Hands-on: Space Black Is In!

Just yesterday, Apple started selling the M3-powered MacBook Pro in Malaysia. Not only is the laptop faster than its predecessor with the M3 chip, it also comes in a sleek new colour option: Space Black. It’s not just a new dark aluminium finish either – it also has an “anodisation seal” to greatly reduce fingerprints.

Beyond that, this is the same 14-inch MacBook Pro we are familiar with, which is not necessarily a bad thing. For folks who are on older Intel-based MacBooks and are looking to upgrade, the new M3 MacBook Pro is certainly a compelling option.

Unboxing the 14-inch MacBook Pro almost feels like opening up an iPhone with the pull tabs on the back of the box. With the box unsealed, the MacBook Pro itself is front and centre, covered in a paper packaging. Underneath the laptop are the power adapter and USB-C to MagSafe 3 charging cable.

Of course, as is the case with other MacBooks, the MagSafe 3 cable matches the colour of the MacBook Pro. As this is the Space Black model, a nice charging cable finished in black is bundled with the laptop. This is a bit more unique than the silver or grey cables found on previous MacBook Pros.

Compared to the Space Grey MacBook Pro, the new Space Black colour is quite a bit darker, though some folks may think it’s not “black” enough. The texture of the new colour also feels more…tacky, but in a good way. It allows me to get a better grip on the laptop, which can be attributed to the “anodisation seal” of the finish that also does a good job of reducing fingerprints. All in all, I’m a fan of how the new colour looks and feels, how ever weird that may sound.

Aside from the colour difference, the M3 14-inch MacBook Pro is practically indistinguishable from the M2 model that I currently use as my daily driver. It has the same dimensions, keyboard, and port selections. That being said, it does have a slightly bigger 72.4Wh battery compared to its predecessor’s 70Wh cell, though the quoted battery life remains the same at up to 18 hours for this 14-inch model.

Okay, technically, there is also one other difference between the M2 and M3 14-inch MacBook Pro: the latter can display brighter SDR content. More specifically, it is 20% brighter (600 nits versus 500 nits), though it’s not exactly easy to pick up on the difference at a glance.

Nonetheless, it still has a stunning, bright and vibrant 14.2-inch 3024 x 1964 Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display. Personally, I think this mini-LED panel is comparable to an OLED screen, thanks to its deep, dark blacks. Naturally, colours are well-calibrated too, and there’s no noticeable backlight bleed either.

As for the notch, I don’t think I’ll ever notice it in everyday use. I barely paid attention to the same notch on the M2 model I’m currently using.

In the performance side of things, the 14-inch MacBook Pro I have here is powered by the highest-end M3 Max chip with 14-core CPU and 30-core GPU. On top of that, it also has 64GB of unified memory and a 2TB SSD, bringing up the grand total of this configuration to a cool RM19,199.

I haven’t put the new M3 Max chip through its paces just yet, but the laptop does feel very fast and responsive in my brief time with it so far. Given Apple’s track record with its chips, I am confident the M3 Max will be able to deliver excellent performance, and I’ll be sure to compare it to the M2 Max in the full review.

On that note, I personally cannot wait to try out AAA games like Death Stranding and Resident Evil 4 on the MacBook Pro; it’s exciting that gaming on a Mac is now an increasingly feasible option.

Anyway, let’s get back to the pricing of the M3 MacBook Pro. Though this M3 Max configuration is close to the RM20,000 mark, the laptop actually starts at RM7,499, thanks to the addition of a new base model with the standard M3 chip. The M3 Pro model, on the other hand, retails from RM9,999, while the most powerful M3 Max option goes from a cool RM14,799.

At these price points, the M3-powered MacBook Pro models continue to be positioned as premium laptops, even if the starting price has been lowered with the introduction of the base M3 version. Granted, for that kind of money, you are getting what many people (myself included) consider to be one of the best productivity laptops in the market.

That being said, if you’re an existing M2, or even M1 MacBook Pro user, then you probably don’t need to upgrade to this 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 chip. But on the other hand – as I mentioned earlier – if you’re still on an Intel-based MacBook Pro and you’re looking to upgrade, then you should really consider the new M3 MacBook Pro lineup. The performance difference alone is worth the upgrade, in my opinion.

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