Apple M3 Ultra CPU might blow away M3 Max – but we won’t find out for a long time yet

MacBook Pro 16-inch with screen open in an office
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s M3 Ultra chip could be quite some way off even though the company launched a clutch of fresh silicon right out of the gate this time around.

This is according to Mark Gurman, who drops some info on the future Apple SoC in his newsletter for Bloomberg (as noticed by 9to5Mac).

As you likely saw, Apple launched the vanilla M3 alongside M3 Pro and M3 Max processors, with the latter two being a surprise (normally there’d be a gap between the release of the basic model and these turbocharged spins on the SoC).

Gurman notes the reason for this triple launch was that Apple needed to have the Pro and Max variants for use in the high-end MacBook Pros that the company unleashed at its recent ‘Scary Fast’ event.

The well-known leaker further explains that there’s only a certain amount of 3nm silicon available for Apple to use, most of which goes towards the high-demand iPhone, so the company needed lower volume products for the new M3 chips – pricey MacBooks, in other words.

Gurman then notes that the Mac Studio and Mac Pro are even slower selling products, but they would need a successor to the M2 Ultra – and this hasn’t yet gone into ‘broad testing’ we’re told.

Analysis: An ultra-long wait, then?

In other words, Apple is still a long way off releasing an M3 Ultra, and even though we got the M3 Pro and Max immediately, it’s likely going to be a long wait before we see an Ultra spin on the new silicon.

When the M3 Ultra arrives, if Apple sticks to its current way of doing things, the chip is likely to be very impressive, as it’ll presumably be a pair of M3 Max SoCs bolted together (as is the case with the M2 Ultra). And that current top-end offering, the M3 Max, is nicely peppy already, whereas the M3 Pro is not that much of an improvement over the M2 Pro, so Apple is favoring making the gap wider between its middling and high-end silicon, it seems.

A new Mac Studio is underway at Apple, Gurman tells us, but the next M3 products – arriving in 2024 – should be MacBook Air models (13-inch, 15-inch) and a revamped Mac mini. Notably, the leaker doesn’t say that a Mac Pro is in the works, even, so that could be even further out than any Mac Studio.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).