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Unlocking Performance: Exploring the Apple iMac M3 Chip

by AM Tradez 16 Apr 2024
Unlocking Performance: Exploring the Apple iMac M3 Chip

The new Apple iMac M3, starting at AED 5,499 in the UAE, resembles its 2021 counterpart but features the all-new Apple M3 chip, providing improved performance, upgraded connectivity, and support for modern graphics tech. Despite similar appearance and flaws, it deserves recognition as one of the top computers.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Design

The new iMac M3 appears quite similar to its predecessor in terms of design, which isn't necessarily a bad as the 24-inch iMac M1 was well-received. Previously, all iMacs had a consistent "big monitor wrapped in silver aluminum" look, so seeing a colorful pink computer on the desk still feels fresh and enjoyable.

The back of the iMac M3 houses all the necessary ports and the power button, conveniently placed for easy access. Although accessing ports without spinning the display around may require some blind fumbling, the limited number of Thunderbolt/USB-C ports reduces this inconvenience, as they are all grouped together neatly.

However, like its predecessor, the iMac M3 still comes with the same aluminum stand, which may frustrate users. While it allows slight tilting of the screen forward or backward, there's no option for adjusting height or rotation.

Not having the ability to rotate the display or adjust its height could be seen as limiting, especially for users outside a certain height range. This necessitates either makeshift solutions like stacking books for elevation or investing in additional accessories like a VESA mount adapter for more ergonomic positioning.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Display

The 24-inch 4.5K (4,480 x 2,520 pixels) Retina display stands out on the iMac M3, just like it did on the 2021 model. Users enjoy playing games and streaming movies and TV shows because of the vibrant colors and brightness, without encountering any graphical or screen issues.

However, the iMac's screen lacks support for HDR (high dynamic range) and related technologies like Dolby Vision, which is a bit disappointing considering their growing popularity in media.

Despite this, the quality of viewing experiences on the iMac M3 remains impressive. Games also look fantastic, although some colors may appear overly sharp and bright in certain titles.

Comparatively, the iMac M3's display surpasses that of the HP Envy 34 all-in-one in terms of brightness and color accuracy. It's also comparable to the 27-inch Apple Studio Display, making it a noteworthy consideration for those looking to build a desktop Mac setup. While the standalone 5K display from Apple offers slightly better brightness and color vibrancy, the difference is not significant.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Connectivity


The port setup on the iMac M3 remains mostly unchanged from its predecessor. Similar to the iMac M1, the entry-level iMac M3 features only two Thunderbolt 4 ports at the rear and a headphone jack on the left side of the display, which may feel limited.

For some extra amount, users can upgrade to a model with two extra USB 3.0 Type-C ports added at the rear alongside the Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports, along with a Gigabit Ethernet port on the power adapter.

Those who prefer wireless connectivity should note that the iMac M3 supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, an improvement over the Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 supported by the older iMac M1 models from 2021.

While it would be nice to see more ports on the entry-level iMac, the simplicity of the current port selection isn't a major concern. Even with the expanded four-port setup on pricier models, some users may still find it lacking for their needs. However, since the iMac is intended to sit on a desk, users can easily supplement any missing ports by purchasing adapters, dongles, or hubs to connect additional devices.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Performance

The iMac, even with the new M3 chip, maintains its reputation as a reliable but not powerhouse performance machine. The M3 chip enhances its capabilities for multitasking, gaming, and productivity tasks compared to previous models.

Streaming movies and playing games are enjoyable experiences, though they do not match the quality of the best gaming PCs. This is partly due to the iMac's lack of support for advanced graphics technologies like variable refresh rate and HDR, and partly because the standard M3 chip struggles to run many games well at the iMac's native 4.5K resolution.

Despite this, the iMac M3 offers significant performance improvements over its predecessor. Benchmark tests show higher scores in CPU performance and disk read/write speeds compared to the iMac M1. Surprisingly, the iMac M3 performs similarly to the Mac mini M2, particularly in video editing tasks.

Gaming performance, however, is a bit lacking. Even when reducing game settings to 1080p resolution, the iMac M3 struggles to achieve satisfactory frame rates in modern games. For example, in Sid Meier's Civilization VI, it reaches a peak frame rate of 35.9 FPS at 1080p, dropping to 20 FPS at native resolution.

While the older Mac mini M2 performs similarly in gaming tests, it lacks support for advanced gaming features like hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh caching available on the M3 chip. Those seeking a Mac for gaming might consider the new MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips for better performance.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Audio

The iMac M3 features a six-speaker sound system delivering clear audio with decent bass. It supports Dolby Atmos and Apple's Spatial Audio, offering a 3D-like experience. Even without these features, music and movies sound crisp. While external speakers may offer better quality, the iMac's built-in speakers surpass most other all-in-one PCs.

Apple IMac M3 Chip: Camera

The iMac M3 boasts a 1080p FaceTime camera positioned at the center of the top bezel, ideal for selfies and video calls on platforms like Facetime and Zoom.

Its triple-mic array functions effectively, though it may not be suitable for tasks requiring top-notch audio quality, such as podcast recording. However, it performs well for basic functions like FaceTiming with family.

With the M3 chip, users can expect enhanced audio and picture quality, along with access to features like gesture-triggered video reactions introduced with macOS Sonoma.

Final Thoughts

The 2023 iMac M3 is a great choice for those in the market for a new Mac, offering improved performance and features at a starting price of AED 5,499. However, for current iMac M1 owners, the upgrade may not be worth it due to minimal performance gains and retained weaknesses. Despite this, the iMac M3 remains a speedy and aesthetically pleasing all-in-one solution, making it one of the best computers of the year.
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