What’s the best M3 MacBook for video editors?

The new M3 lineup is a bit confusing. The base M3 Mac doesn’t have enough memory for using more than one heavy app, and the M3 Pro isn’t much faster than the previous generation (M2 Pro).

The M3 Max, while an impressive option, tends is just too expensive for most video editors. Additionally, the base model is limited by a binned version that restricts access to all available cores, compromising its performance.

The M3 Pro Max is the best Mac for most video editors. It has the fastest export times of any M3 Pro model at just 2:20 for a 5 min HEVC file.

The problem with the M3 MacBook Pro

The M3 MacBook Pro is the best value laptop at $1499, but it’s crippled with 8 gb of Ram. For an extra $200 ($1699 you can get 16gb of Ram, but if you pay $300 more you get the M3 Pro with 18 gb of Ram and much better overall performance.

The Problem with M3 Pro

Apple reported that the M3 MacBook Pro has a CPU that’s 35% faster than the M1 and 20% faster than the M2, but the M3 Pro is 20% faster than the M1 Pro and that’s the same speed as last year’s M2 Pro. 

The M3 MacBook Pro also has the same battery life as the M2 MacBook Pro, less memory bandwith, and less transistors. The only real reason to upgrade is for the increase in SSD performance, dynamic caching and improved graphics.

The M2 Pro is typically sufficient for the majority of video editors’ needs, but for those requiring more, the M3 Max is the next level up. The M3 Max has more cores, GPU performance, and most importantly it has two media engines instead of one in the M3 Pro.

Comparing video export times – M1, M2, M3 Mac

In the chart below, I’ve listed all the base model MacBooks to see an export speed side-by-side comparison.

Base Model MacBooks5 min 4k HEVC Export (shorter is better)Price
M1 MacBook Air2:25 min$799
M2 MacBook Air2:22 min$899
M2 MacBook Pro 2:22 min$1499
M2 Pro MacBook Pro 2:20 min
M3 Pro MacBook Pro 2:20 min
M3 Pro Max MaBook Pro2:20 min$1999
M1 Max MacBook Pro1:14 min
M2 Max MacBook Pro1:14 min
M3 Max MacBook Pro1:14 min$3199

What’s the best M3 Mac for video exporting?

The best M3 Mac for video editing is the M3 Max with at least a 16-core CPU, 40-core GPU, and 16 core neural engine, but it’s not the best value. 

You’ll notice that this configuration will automatically increase the price by $500 with the added memory of 48GB and a final price of $3,699.

While I think last year’s M2 Max studio is a much better performance to value ratio, It’s hard to justify spending all that money on a year old Mac. So which M3 Mac should you get?

There isn’t a definitive standout winner in this comparison. However, in terms of value, the M3 Pro MacBook seems to shine the brightest. While it doesn’t showcase a drastic leap from the previous generation, it offers the optimal performance for its price point.

What’s the best value Mac for video editors?

If you can find a good deal, I would recommend going for an older M2 Mac Studio or M1/M2 MacBook Pro. As you can see from the chart I’ve compiled below, the M1 and M2 MacBooks don’t improve export times for HEVC.

The M2 Mac Studio is the best budget Mac for all your video exporting needs. It has the fastest exporting times at only 1:14 for a 5 min 4k HEVC file

m2 mac studio

While ProRes users will experience a notable enhancement using HEVC, the disparity in improvement isn’t substantial.

If you want to see a major difference in your video editing export times, it seems that the best value is the M1 Max Macbook Pro.

Base Model MacBooks5 min 4k HEVC Export (shorter is better)
M1 Mac mini 2:22 min
M2 Mac mini2:22 min
M2 Pro Mac mini2:22 min
M1 Mac Studio1:23 min
M2 Mac Studio1:14
M1 Ultra Mac Studio1:17
M2 Ultra Mac Studio0:42


If you’re looking for the best performance, the M3 MacBook Pro Max is recommended as the best option for professional video editors, but if you’re mostly looking at export times, you can get by with a cheaper M1/M2 Pro Max.

If you’re on a budget, the M2 Mac Studio stands out for its affordability and efficient export times.

While the M3 Max offers superior specifications, its high price may deter many users. In comparing export times, the M1 Max MacBook Pro demonstrates similar benchmarks, making it a compelling option for those seeking the best value.

In my opinion, the M3 MacBook Pro doesn’t offer enough performance from previous models to upgrade.

Ultimately, the choice between M3 Macs depends on your individual needs, but most of us will do just fine with the previous models.