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Apple M4 vs. M3: Assessing the Performance Differences in Apple’s Latest Chips

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Apple continues to push the boundaries of technology with its latest silicon chips. The new M4 chip is a testament to Apple’s relentless innovation, promising enhanced performance and efficiency over its predecessor, the M3.

Apple M4 vs. M3

This blog delves into the key differences between the M4 and M3 chips, evaluating their specifications, performance benchmarks, and practical applications.

Introduction to Apple Silicon

Apple Silicon has revolutionized the tech industry, setting new standards for performance and power efficiency in personal computing. With each iteration, Apple aims to deliver significant improvements. The M4 chip is the latest in this series, following the M3, which is a remarkable upgrade over earlier models.

Specifications overview

Specifications Overview

CPU and GPU Enhancements

The M4 chip features a 10-core CPU, compared to the M3’s 8-core CPU. This upgrade results in a noticeable performance boost. Benchmarks indicate that the M4’s CPU is up to 21% faster in multi-core performance than the M3, making it more suitable for demanding tasks and multitasking.

On the GPU front, the M4 includes up to a 10-core GPU, similar to the M3. However, Apple claims that the M4 GPU is nearly twice as fast as the M3’s, offering substantial improvements in graphics performance. This makes the M4 ideal for graphics-intensive applications like video editing, 3D rendering, and gaming.

Memory and Storage

The M3 and M4 chips support up to 24GB of unified memory, but the M4 offers higher memory bandwidth at 120GB/s compared to the M3’s 100GB/s. This increased bandwidth facilitates faster data transfer and improves the overall efficiency of memory-intensive applications.

The M4 supports up to 2TB with the iPad Pro and potentially up to 8TB in future Mac models, matching the M3’s maximum capacity but likely improving storage speed and reliability.

Process Technology and Transistor Count

The M4 chip is built on a second-generation 3nm process, an upgrade from the M3’s 3nm process and a significant improvement over the M2’s 5nm process. This advanced manufacturing technology allows the M4 to house 28 billion transistors, compared to the M3’s 25 billion and the M2’s 20 billion. This increase in transistor count translates to better performance and efficiency.

Performance Benchmarks

Performance Benchmarks

CPU Performance

Benchmark tests reveal that the M4 chip’s CPU scores around 3,700 in single-core performance and approximately 14,000 in multi-core performance. In comparison, the M3’s CPU scores about 3,100 in single-core and 12,000 in multi-core performance. These results indicate that the M4 is up to 18% faster in single-core tasks and 21% faster in multi-core tasks than the M3.

GPU Performance

The M4’s GPU also shows significant improvements. Early Metal benchmark scores for the M4 iPad Pro indicate an average score of 53,000, compared to the M3’s 46,571. This 13% increase in GPU performance enhances the M4’s capabilities in handling complex graphical computations and gaming.

Media and Video Processing

The M4 chip excels in media and video processing, with hardware-accelerated support for 8K H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW, which the M3 lacks. This feature mainly benefits video professionals requiring high-resolution video processing and editing capabilities.

Processing Cores

The M4 chip features either nine or ten CPU cores, compared to the M3’s eight. This configuration includes up to four performance and six efficiency cores, enhancing multi-threaded performance and energy efficiency. This core arrangement balances power and efficiency, making the M4 more capable of handling complex tasks.

Graphics Performance

The M4 chip retains the 10-core GPU in the M3 but offers significant performance improvements. The integrated graphics support hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading, making it ideal for intensive graphic tasks. This advancement is particularly beneficial for creative professionals and gamers who require high-end graphics capabilities.

Neural Engine

Apple’s M4 chApple’ sures a 16-core Neural Engine capable of performing up to 38 trillion operations per second (TOPS), a significant increase from the M3’s 18 TOPS. M3’s enhancement supports advanced AI and machine learning tasks, improving the performance of applications that rely on these technologies. The boost in AI processing power is crucial for the future of intelligent apps and creative software.

Display Engine

The M4 chip supports Apple’s Apple’sion technology, allowing dynamic 120Hz refresh rates. Additionally, the M4 is designed to work with the new Tandem OLED display technology found in the 2024 iPad Pro. This OLED panel offers brighter and more vibrant visuals, with a peak brightness of up to 1,500 nits, enhancing the display quality for various content types.

Real-World Implications

Introducing the M4 chip in the iPad Pro positions the device as a powerful competitor in the tablet market. It is capable of performing tasks that were previously reserved for laptops. This move underscores Apple’s sApple’s to diversify its product lineup, ensuring each device offers unique capabilities and benefits.

Comparing Specifications

Comparing Specifications: M3 vs. M4

The M4 chip brings several enhancements over the M3, despite both using Apple’s 3Apple’ster (nm) manufacturing process. Here are the key differences:

FeatureApple M3Apple M4
Total Cores89 or 10
Performance Cores43 or 4
Efficiency Cores46
GPU Cores8 or 1010
Neural Engine Cores1616
Transistors25 billion28 billion
Memory Capacity8GB, 16GB, 24GB16GB
Memory Bandwidth100GBps120GBps
LithographyFirst-gen 3nmSecond-gen 3nm
Practical Applications and Use Cases

Practical Applications and Use Cases

Enhanced Productivity

The M4’s CPU and GPU performance make it an excellent choice for professionals who rely on demanding software, such as video editors, graphic designers, and developers. The enhanced neural engine benefits AI researchers and developers working on machine learning projects.

Improved Gaming Experience

Gamers will appreciate the M4’s GPU performance, which enables smoother gameplay and better graphics rendering. The chip’s processing capabilities also support higher frame rates and more detailed game environments.

Future-Proof Technology

The M4 chip is designed to meet future technological demands. It supports 8 K video and has higher AI processing power. This future-proofing ensures that devices powered by the M4 will remain relevant and capable of handling emerging applications and software updates.

Anticipating the Future

Anticipating the Future

As we look forward to the official announcement and detailed reviews of the M4-equipped MacBooks at Apple’s WWDC 2024, the initial impressions based on the iPad Pro implementation are promising. The enhancements in processing power, graphics, AI capabilities, and display technology set a high bar for what users can expect from Apple’s devices.

Final Thoughts

The M4 chip represents a significant advancement over the M3, showcasing Apple’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of performance and efficiency in their devices. By debuting the M4 in the iPad Pro, Apple has made a strong statement about its tablet line’s capabilities and future potential. As these chips make their way into other devices, users can look forward to a new era of high-performance, efficient, and versatile computing.

The M4’s introduction is more than just a technical upgrade; it’s a reaffirmation of Apple’s innovative spirit and dedication to enhancing user experience across all their product lines. As we await further developments, it’s clear that the M4 chip will play a crucial role in defining the future of Apple’s hardware ecosystem.


Q. What are the key differences between the Apple M4 and M3 chips?

A. The Apple Silicon M4 chip is the latest iteration, offering enhanced performance and efficiency compared to the M3 chip. The M4 has more processing cores and improved AI capabilities.

Q. How does the M4 compare to the M3 regarding AI performance?

A. The M4 chip excels in AI processing, with a 16-core neural engine that can perform over 38 trillion operations per second, making it a significant upgrade over the M3’s capabilities.

Q. Which Apple devices are expected to feature the M4 chip?

A. The 2024 iPad Pro and potential future MacBook Pro models are rumored to adopt the M4 chip, showcasing Apple’s latest technology in these devices.

Q. Can you elaborate on the GPU improvements in the M4 compared to the M3?

A. The M4 chip’s 10-core GPU offers better performance for graphics-intensive tasks, including hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and improved efficiency over the M3’s GPU.

Q. How does Apple’s M4 chip enhance overall CPU performance?

A. The M4 chip features four efficiency cores and enhanced processing capabilities, enabling faster operations per second and smoother multitasking compared to the M3.

Q. What role does the 16-core neural engine play in the M4 chip’s performance?

A. The M4’s neural engine enables advanced AI operations and accelerates machine learning tasks, significantly increasing overall computational capabilities.

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