We compute for all orientable irreducible geometric 3-manifolds certain complexity functions that approximate from above Matveev's natural complexity, known to be equal to the minimal number of tetrahedra in a triangulation. We can show that the upper bounds on Matveev's complexity implied by our computations are sharp for thousands of manifolds, and we conjecture they are for infinitely many, including all Seifert manifolds. Our computations and estimates apply to all the Dehn fillings of M6_1^3 (the complement of the three-component chain-link, conjectured to be the smallest triply cusped hyperbolic manifold), whence to infinitely many among the smallest closed hyperbolic manifolds. Our computations are based on the machinery of the decomposition into `bricks' of irreducible manifolds, developed in a previous paper. As an application of our results we completely describe the geometry of all 3-manifolds of complexity up to 9.