Apple iMac M3 (2023) Review: Same Packaging, More Power, and Better for Gaming

Apple iMac M3 (2023) Review: Same Packaging, More Power, and Better for Gaming

The chip is different, but everything else stays the same in a machine that preserves the iMac philosophy, even if the price is hard to justify

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Apple iMac M3 2023 cover

For years, the iMac was the ugly duckling in Apple’s computer catalog. In October 2015, the company introduced the 27-inch iMac with a 5K Retina display –the 21.5-inch model would arrive the following year– but from that moment on, the development and evolution of Apple’s all-in-one stopped.

With the introduction of the Apple M1 chips, the iMac M1 (2021) represented an important refresh for these computers. A new and unique screen size, 24 inches, and a colorful design turned these devices into new companions for users looking for a computer in this format with all of Apple’s guarantees.

But once again, Apple left them in oblivion for a year. The launch of the M2 chips should have meant an internal renewal of the iMac, but we had to wait for the introduction of the Apple M3 to see this resurgence, which we now have in the iMac M3 (2023). These chips are the big excuse and, in fact, the only difference that exists with previous models. So, we spent a few days evaluating their performance to find out if the promise of the M3s was satisfied. Here we go.

iMac M3 Datasheet



24-inch 4.5K Retina display

4480-by-2520 resolution at 218 ppp

500 nits brightness, wide color (P3), True Tone technology


Apple M3 chip

8-core CPU

10-core GPU


24 GB


Up to 2 TB


1080p FaceTime HD camera


High-fidelity six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers

Support for Dolby Atmos

Studio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming


2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)

Headphone jack

Gigabit Ethernet

2 x USB-C (USB 3)


Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and numeric keypad

Magic Mouse

Magic Trackpad


Wi‑Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3


macOS Sonoma


547 x 461 x 147 mm (incl. stand)

4.48 kg (depending on model)


143 W

Gigabit Ethernet jack


From $1,299.00

Apple 2023 iMac All-in-One Desktop Computer with M3 chip: 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 24-inch Retina Display, 8GB Unified Memory, 256GB SSD Storage, Matching Accessories. Works with iPhone/iPad; Blue

A Design That Still Amazes with Its Thinness

The refresh of the 2021 iMacs brought many new features to the chassis. The colors arrived –the seven that appeared in the first official logo– in slightly muted pastels but also a design characterized by spectacular thinness.

iMac M3 (2023) lateral photo

The 11.5mm-thick case houses all the iMac’s components, but the heart of the computer occupies only a minor portion of that space. Much has happened since the semi-transparent iMacs of 1998, and successive iterations have refined the form of this all-in-one to reach this latest expression.

The format retains the legacy of those first generations, where the display is the absolute protagonist –behind the screen, Apple integrates all the components– but the arrival of the Apple Silicon family has made it possible to save more space than ever before thanks to the efficiency of such processors.

The iMac’s motherboard is located in the lower part of the computer, in that pronounced chin that may come as a shock at this point. Apple has preferred to sacrifice appearance –a format without this chin, more symmetrical, would be even more spectacular– in favor of the structural integrity of the computer. This element has a functional purpose, but also a differential one: it preserves the heritage of the old (and recognizable) iMacs.

An iMac M3 from the inside The heart of the iMac, its motherboard, occupies only the lower part of the iMac. In the image, an iMac M1 from 2021.

The display bezels added to the chin prevent Apple from replicating something it has done on other products: including its notch or, more recently, the dynamic island. The introduction of this element on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air loses its functional sense: there’s no room for Face ID, so the decision to include it is purely aesthetic: we know it’s a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air precisely because of the notch. On the iMac, it doesn’t seem necessary precisely because of the presence of the chin.

The design is crowned by the display stand, which allows you to tilt the screen but not adjust its height, and a back with three prominent elements. The first is the Apple logo. The second is the four USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 interface on the lower left of the back (there are only two on the base model). And third, the magnetic power connector that anchors the power cord.

Charger of an iMac M3

This last element stands out for its performance, very much in the style of the MagSafe port on Apple laptops. The power adapter is of considerable size, of course, although it is true that the equipment provided by the company for testing also included the Gigabit Ethernet port to take advantage of this connection, which is not available on the back, a notable omission in a desktop computer.

The wireless connection serves its purpose, of course, but omitting that capability is undoubtedly a sacrifice for the slimness and aesthetics of the equipment. In exchange, you need to buy a USB-C to Ethernet adapter (or a dock) or use this power adapter included with the more expensive iMac M3s.

USB ports of an iMac M3

At this point, it is necessary to talk about the accessories in the test kit. The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID sensor –an extra cost for the base model, which is even greater if you want it with the numeric keypad– is still excellent in design and performance, with an enviable low profile –if you like that option, as I do–, but it still charges via the Lightning port and lacks backlight support, something that is hard to justify given the price of these devices.

On the other hand, the Magic Mouse has a very flat design –not very ergonomic, in my opinion– and an absurd charging system: a Lightning connector –whose days are numbered– that is incompressible at the bottom: using the mouse while charging it is impossible. As our colleague Miquel López explained time ago, it is better to stop using it and choose another alternative.

Magic Mouse

On the review unit, Apple included its Magic TrackPad, which you can buy for $129. This touch surface works as expected and is an attractive way to interact with the device but also an interesting alternative to the mouse.

However, attention to detail remains one of the defining characteristics of this device. It is evident from the box it comes in –a small engineering exercise itself– to the included charging cables for the mouse or the power adapter, with exceptional finishes.

The iMac Has a Problem with Its Screen: Too Much Resolution for Such a Small Diagonal

With the renewal of these devices, it no longer made sense for Apple to have two diagonals of 21.5 and 27 inches. Instead, in 2021, the new iMac M1 surprised us with a unique format: a 24-inch, sorry, 23.5-inch display with a resolution of 4,480 x 2,520 pixels and a pixel density of 218 pixels per inch.

An iMac M3 (2023)

The quality of the panel is exceptional. It can deliver up to 500 nits of brightness and features True Tone technology, which optimizes the color temperature based on ambient light. The colors are vibrant but not garish and the definition is fantastic.

The problem is the size. Those 24 inches are too short for so much resolution, and the normal thing to do –if you don’t have a hawk’s eye and can keep it– is to use the scaled resolution that allows you to see everything, especially text, at an acceptable size.

The ideal would be a 27-inch diagonal and, of course, 5K resolution. Apple has no intention of releasing a model with such a configuration, so to have your “27-inch iMac” you can buy a Mac mini or a Mac Studio and connect it to a monitor such as the Studio Display, we reviewed a few months ago and that Apple sells itself. Or you can connect it to any other display.

The fact that the iMac sacrifices this size is curious. If the company has learned anything, it is people like big screens (hello, iPhone 15 Pro Max). Of course, this would increase the size and weight of the device, but maybe allow Apple to add more ports and a more “pro” configuration for those who still prefer the all-in-one format.

The diagonal, which makes a scaled resolution advisable, causes some problems on a day-to-day basis. I usually work with two browser windows facing each other. On my Mac mini M1 and this iMac, I used Rectangle because macOS inexplicably still does not offer a simple way to dock windows to Windows screen borders or corners.

iMac M3 resolution options The default resolution is correct for maximized windows but is a bit too small when we work with split or multiple windows.

On this screen, the windows facing each other are a bit narrow for me: there is less resolution than in a 1440p format –the one I use in my daily work– which makes me notice an annoying limitation of the working space in these divided windows.

In contrast, I cannot complain about the three elements integrated into the screen. The first is the 1080p FaceTime webcam, which captures a detailed and colored image. It’s better than many of the “1080p” webcams I’ve tested in recent years. The second is the microphones, which are also excellent and probably sufficient for anyone who wants to start recording podcasts or live video broadcasts on services such as Twitch.

The third section to highlight is the sound. The six-speaker system with two woofers with “force cancellation” –they face in different directions to cancel out bass vibrations– still offers more than decent sound quality, and although I still prefer to use dedicated external speakers for this task, the Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio support is a guarantee that it is possible to enjoy all kinds of audiovisual content and music with great quality.

The 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side is a welcome feature that supports high-impedance headphones. Sound comes out through a grille at the bottom of the display and reflects off the surface of the table on which the iMac is placed.

Performance: The M3 Has Plenty to Spare

The genuine (and only) new feature of the new iMacs is the integration of Apple's M3 chips, which have taken a major leap forward in manufacturing, using TSMC's 3-nanometer photolithography process.

iMac M3 color screen

This innovation has led to gains in efficiency and, of course, performance. The big winner, however, is not the CPU but the integrated GPU, which, as Apple says, is now capable of becoming a decent competitor to dedicated graphics cards such as those from AMD and NVIDIA in Windows-based PCs, especially in the M3 Pro and M3 Max.

In our tests with the iMac M3, the experience was smooth at all times, and in the benchmarks used, we can see how these processors allow us to improve the figures achieved by their 2021 predecessors.
















For example, the Geekbench 6 tests show that the M1 is noticeably superior in both single-core and multi-core performance. The gain over the M2 is much more modest.
















For Cinebench R23 tests, the CPU performance improvement in single and multi-core is also (logically) much more sensitive when comparing this device to its predecessor with M1 chips.
















The iMac M3’s SSD performance is excellent but curiously inferior to the Mac mini M2 we reviewed a few months ago. Things haven’t changed much in this area since the first machines with M1 chips appeared. Our unit came configured with a 1TB SSD, but the base model only has 256GB, and upgrading is very expensive.
















We also wanted to analyze the performance of the GPU, which in this model has 10 cores (8 in the base model) and certainly stands out compared to the M1 and M2 chips. In the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme test, we can see that the performance is once again remarkable compared to the M1 but much less for the M2.

The most ambitious versions of these chips (M3 Pro, M3 Max, and the hypothetical M3 Ultra) do their best, and their performance is comparable to that of conventional gaming graphics.

In MacOS Sonoma, there is even a so-called “Game Mode” that automatically prioritizes the CPU and GPU experience when running video games, which does not make this computer the most suitable for gaming but is a wink to these scenarios that seem to be gradually gaining ground in these computers.

The tests show that these chips are certainly more powerful than their predecessors. The key question is whether this improvement is worth it for those who, for example, want to change their previous iMac M1. The leap is certainly decent, and as the tests show, the increased performance saves something essential: time. Many tasks are completed in less time, and that is always interesting.

During our testing period and with regular use, I didn’t notice anything different about this machine compared to the Mac mini M1 I use every day, except a little more fun launching applications. Those who describe this machine as a “browsing and office” model are wrong: I do a lot more on the M1 –like editing 4K video in DaVinci Recode without a problem– and the M3 will do all that better. It’s not an entry-level machine at all, even if its starting configuration suggests it is, and these chips have been proving for years that they’re just as capable as PCs with flashier spec sheets.

All those seconds you save when using the computer will add up with the M3, and even if the immediate perception is not so clear, it is possible to save minutes over time: this is something that happens to a greater or lesser extent with every new iteration of a product, and whether this improvement compensates us or not is a personal matter.

iMac M3 (2023), Xataka’s opinion

The good news: Apple is still paying attention to the iMac. The sad news: this machine is a very unambitious iteration that only focuses on replacing the SoC. Everything else remains the same, including pricing strategies with many questionable choices for us, the users.

Back of the new iMac M3

The first decision is the starting model. In 2023, a nearly $1,300 PC with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage is hardly defensible. It is true that the build quality is excellent and that the computer, even with this configuration, can do more than a Windows-based PC with these specifications.

And yet, it would be difficult to recommend this computer in its base configuration to anyone who wants to use it for the long term. Apple has been limiting the upgrade options for its computers for years, the iMac is proof: If you buy the version with 8GB of shared memory and 256GB storage, you'll have it forever. Then, of course, you can add external drives.

Expanding that memory is expensive, but it's the SSD expansions that are punishing because they're particularly costly. Today, an iMac with only 512GB storage costs $400 more ($1699).

iMac M3 screen

The iMac M3, with the maximum configuration (24GB unified memory, 2TB SSD storage, Magic Mouse + Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad - US English), would cost $2,858.00, a very high amount. If money is not an issue, it is clear that we are dealing with a machine with an attractive design that functionally has no problems. However, we believe there are much better options, even cheaper.

There is also another factor that plays against it: the iMac M1 (2021), a machine with the same approach whose upgrade to this version does not seem particularly interesting. The new iMac M3 (2023) is undoubtedly an appropriate step for those looking for the latest and greatest, but we believe there are better alternatives in this segment.

Apple 2023 iMac All-in-One Desktop Computer with M3 chip: 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 24-inch Retina Display, 8GB Unified Memory, 256GB SSD Storage, Matching Accessories. Works with iPhone/iPad; Blue

The iMac M3 was provided by Apple for review purposes. You can check our corporate relations policy.

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