The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is already one of the hottest items of 2023 thanks to the new Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets, but if new reports are to be believed, that fancy new silicon could come with a rather annoying trade-off: a slower SSD.
UK-based channel Zone of Tech broke the news about a significantly slower SSD in the new 14-inch MacBook Pro compared to the previous 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro.
Breaking: We just found out that the base 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro (512GB) is significantly slower than the previous 14-inch M1 Pro model. Apple will likely use single SSDs again (such as the base 256GB M2 Air and M2 MacBook Pro). More tests to eat. pic.twitter.com/3kMiHVDxaFJanuary 24, 2023
After Zone of Tech broke the news on Twitter9to5Mac confirmed that it was seeing the same thing in its MacBook Pro and posted pictures of the solid-state drive inside the MacBook itself, which appeared to reveal a single NAND SSD, instead of the two NAND chips in the M1 MacBook Air, M1 Pro, and M1 Max MacBook models. Pro.
While the capacities of a single SSD and a dual-chip SSD are the same—256GB—dividing the SSD into two separate chips allows you to read and write more efficiently to any given space on the SSD.
According to their 9to5Mac test using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test — which we haven’t verified independently — the new Apple M2 with the M2 Pro and 512GB SSD scored 3,154.4 MB/s and 2,973.4 MB/s, putting it behind the 2021 MacBook Pro, which It scored 3,950.8MB/s write and 4,900.3MB/s read on the same test.
This prompted 9to5Mac to open up the MacBook Pro to dig through its guts to find the culprit, and then it actually found a new, less efficient SSD configuration using two 256GB SSD NAND sticks working in concert instead of the four 128GB chips used in the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. .
As Tom’s Hardware notes, this alone is enough to slow disk access speeds which will be reflected in the new reports, and it also says that 256GB configurations of the new M2 Mac mini also suffer from the same degradation in SSD performance.
But will anyone really notice — or care?
We haven’t checked SSD “degradation” ourselves, but it would make sense. Apple has been under a lot of criticism for raising the price of the MacBook Air again in 2022, so there was bound to be pressure to keep prices in line with previous models. In fact, I applaud that, given how price inflation everywhere has put a real strain on people’s finances in the past year.
If Apple had to go from four SSD NAND chips to two in order to save that extra bit of money, frankly, it’s worth the trade-off—yes, even for a high-end MacBook Pro. The read/write speeds on the new 14-inch MacBook Pro according to these reports are still very fast and fast enough that no one noticed any kind of slowdown, even.
Only when you pit the latest MacBook Pro against its predecessor will you even be able to see the difference, and even then you’ll need to use a disk speed utility that maybe even less than 5% of users know exists. And unless you’re upgrading to a new MacBook Pro 2023 from a MacBook Pro 2021 (which we don’t recommend), you’ll never know there’s a problem.
It’s also worth noting that the SSDs in MacBooks aren’t even the best SSDs out there. In my Samsung 990 Pro review, which is not available for a MacBook of any kind, I was getting sequential read speeds of 7,465.49MB/s and sequential write speeds of 6,887.68MB/s, while random read/write speeds were 5,467.60MB / s and 4104.87 MB / s, respectively.
That’s ahead of what the 2021 MacBook Pro was capable of at its best, and the 990 Pro is a PCIe 4.0 SSD. Once PCIe 5.0 SSDs become mainstream, not even the best MacBook Pro can keep up with those SSD speeds. And it wouldn’t matter, because in the end, raw performance isn’t really why people go out and buy MacBook Pros. They buy them for ease of use, compatibility, and style (which is arguable, but I digress).
Would you rather spend hundreds more on a new MacBook Pro to get a faster SSD?
Now, some would argue that if you’re spending that much money you shouldn’t have any degradation in performance, but after all the supply chain issues that have sent consumer prices soaring all over the world, there’s no way that’s going to happen. You could have gotten the same thing you got last time for the same price.
If you want peak performance across the board, you will now have to pay more for the privilege. I don’t like it you don’t but we both know that’s pretty much the case after the last few years Apple decided not to make the change to the SSD and just decided to hike the price of the 14-inch MacBook Pro by $400 across the board it would have been This is the thing everyone might rightfully complain about.
Meanwhile, Apple has essentially managed to produce a laptop that’s 20% to 30% faster in all workloads that MacBook Pro users need, so MacBook Pro shoppers shouldn’t feel like this is the kind of thing they’re being cheated on. There are a lot of things about Apple launching recently that are legitimately unacceptable (like offering a pittance for a bargain on a 2021 MacBook Pro), but it really isn’t.