Apple iMac M3 24-inch review

Apple iMac M3 (2023) 24-inch review: ridiculously fast

100% human
8.9

I’m not entirely sure which deity Apple has started sacrificing goats to, but it’s clearly working: the M-series chips are some of the fastest in any kind of computer these days, let alone regular consumer-grade ones at these price points. The new M3 chip takes this to a whole new level.

However, this time the extra grunt is in areas that some people might not take advantage of (primarily graphics), so this M3 iMac is not for everyone if they can find an M2 at a decent price. But for those coming from Intel-based Macs, it’s going to be a game-changer.

Apple iMac M3 (2023) 24-inch review

First impressions

My first impression of the iMac was how nice it was to open the box. It’s very clever packaging. My second impression was that closing the box again after I got the iMac out is hell and I hate it a lot. If you’re not keeping the box, this probably won’t be a problem for you. If you ever have to pack the iMac back into the box afterwards, you have my sympathies.

Other than that, from the outside, it looks identical to all the other recent colourful iMacs. The one I was sent was purple, which I think is my favourite of all the colours on offer.

iMac M3 Apple TV
Source: Alice Clarke.

Apple iMac M3 specifications

ProcessorApple M3 chip with 8‑core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, 10‑core GPU and 16‑core Neural Engine
Storage512GB SSD
Memory16GB unified memory
ConnectivityTwo Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
Two USB 3 ports
Gigabit Ethernet
3.5mm headphone jack
Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.3
Display4.5K (4,480 x 2,520) Retina Display
PeripheralsMagic Mouse + Magic Trackpad, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID — US English
Price (RRP)From $2,199
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteApple Australia

As you can see, there’s a decent amount in this Mac. However, in some of the entry-level iMacs I do worry that there isn’t nearly enough RAM or storage, which will be a big problem for people who aren’t tech-savvy, or are driven more by price and don’t realise their mistake until later.

In 2023, you should almost never buy a computer with less than 16GB of RAM, because it’ll limit the useful life of the machine. The M3 is fast enough that it should last you around five years at least: don’t shorten that lifespan by getting too little RAM.

A tiny SSD might work for some people who just web browse and use the cloud, but those wanting to take advantage of the power of the M3 chip will need to be downloading games and creative programs, which take up space and just mean buying an external HDD or SSD down the track, which will add extra cost (and look ugly), so keep that in mind.

It’s also still criminal to not include a USB-A port on a desktop computer, or more than four USB-C ports. The iMac is not a portable device, so there is no reason to prioritise being light over being as useful as possible.

Onto the benchmarking

DeviceCPU (Single-core)CPU (Multi-core)
Apple M3 Max (MacBook Pro)1401570
Apple M3 iMac140572
Apple M2 Max (MacBook Pro)1221031
Apple M1 Ultra1131625
Apple M1 Max113791
Intel Core i9 iQ_9880H CPU70534
Cinebench 2024

As you can see, the M3 is an absolute beast. Not as much of a beast as the M3 Pro or M3 Max in the latest MacBook Pros, but a beast regardless.

Performance

Design

In terms of design, it’s the same iMac as last year and the year before. It’s small, it’s light, it’s pretty, and its screen is a tiny 24 inches. I really wish Apple would go back to making 27” iMacs, because this iMac is great for gaming, and that requires a screen much bigger than this. The 24-inch size should stick around because it’s good for tiny desks and dorm rooms but the option to go bigger would be welcomed. It’s also weird you can’t adjust the screen height and position more.

I’ve already ranted above about the ports. But on the subject of ports, I am surprised that the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad haven’t been updated to USB-C. The matching cables are so pretty, but I really thought this would be the year for everything Apple to go fully USB-C in one fell swoop. Alas, ‘tis not to be.

iMac M3 desktop computer
Source: Alice Clarke.

Some people poo-poo the retro-yet-future-esque styling of the iMacs for being too colourful or whatever, but I think that’s their charm. This is Apple’s brand. I was so jealous as a kid of my friends who had the big G3 iMacs and the transparent iBooks. While Apple is apparently too chicken to give us a see-through iMac in 2023, this is a nice, classy call-back to it, and I love it.

General Performance

Generally, this iMac is a beast. You can do large video editing tasks on it, not to the same scale as a Mac Studio or one of the new MacBook Pros, but if it wasn’t your full-time job, you could edit quite happily. Heck, I’ve worked on TV shows where a lot of the preliminary editing work was done on Intel iMacs much less powerful than this. But that work was done on 27-inch models…

Most people looking to buy this iMac aren’t doing professional-level video editing. Most people buying an iMac want to browse the web, work on documents, do a little Photoshop or similar, watch videos and maybe play some games. General, non-“pro” level tasks, and that is something the M3 iMac could do in its sleep (though, not literally, because when an iMac is in sleep mode the screen is off… you get it). The M3 iMac is more than powerful enough for most people’s current needs, and it’s almost certainly the most powerful non-pro-level all-in-one desktop computer on the market.

Gaming

Apple is currently trying to position Macs as gaming machines, and frankly, they’re making a convincing argument. The more powerful GPU in the M3 iMac is more than capable of rendering Baldur’s Gate 3 (unlike an Xbox Series S, apparently), and there are plenty of current AAA games available for Mac, with many more on the way. At this point, not a lot of the Steam library is currently available on Mac, which is a shame, but with the game porting tools announced this year at WWDC, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before that changes.

Apple iMac M3 gaming

With Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Cloud, and the many AAA titles coming to Mac, this is really the best time for Mac gaming ever, and I’m having a great time with it.

Who is the M3 iMac for?

The M3 iMac is for people who want a Mac desktop (or, really, any desktop computer), but don’t need the bells and whistles of a Mac Studio. The smaller 24-inch screen will mean it’ll be too small for a lot of users. But, really, most people who need a Mac desktop will have their needs more than met by the M3 iMac. Just make sure you go for a model with enough RAM and storage for your future needs to make it last longer.

If you already have an iMac with an M-series chip, this is not for you. This isn’t a big enough upgrade to be worth it. This is for people who either don’t have an iMac or have an Intel-based iMac. Those people will have their socks blown clean off by how much better M-series chips are over the older Intel-based Macs.

Apple iMac M3 24-inch
The new M3 iMac isn’t perfect, but it’s going to be fantastic for most people who need a Mac desktop computer.
Features
9
Value for money
9
Performance
9.5
Ease of use
8
Design
9
Positives
M3 is ridiculously good
Nice design
Display is clear and sharp
Negatives
Base models specs are weak
M3 isn't a huge upgrade over M2 for most users
24-inch screen is a bit small to be the only option
8.9