The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is already one of the hottest products of 2023 thanks to Apple’s new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, but if new reports are to be believed, this fancy new silicon could come with a rather irritating trade-off: a slower SSD.
British tech channel Zone of Tech reported a much slower SSD in the new 14-inch MacBook Pro than in the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro.
NOTE: We just discovered that the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro (512GB) is significantly slower than the previous 14-inch M1 Pro model. Apple is likely to reuse single SSD modules (like the entry-level 256GB M2 Air and M2 MacBook Pro). More tests coming soon. pic.twitter.com/3kMiHVDxaFJanuary 24, 2023
After Zone of Tech posted news on Twitter (opens in a new tab), 9to5Mac confirmed (opens in a new tab) that he sees the same thing in his MacBook Pro and posted photos of the SSD inside the MacBook itself which appeared to reveal a single SSD NAND chip, not the two NAND chips in the M1 MacBook Air and M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models.
Although the capacity of a single SSD and a dual-chip SSD are the same – 256 GB – splitting the SSD into two separate chips allows it to read and write data anywhere on the SSD more efficiently.
According to 9to5Mac’s Blackmagic Disk Speed Test – which we haven’t independently verified – the new Apple M2 with M2 Pro and 512GB SSD scored 3,154.4 MB/s write and 2,973.4 MB/s read, placing it far behind the 2021 MacBook Pro, which scored 3950.8 MB/s for writing and 4900.3 MB/s for reading in the same test.
This prompted 9to5Mac to open up the MacBook Pro to delve into its innards to find the culprit, after which it actually found a new, less efficient SSD configuration using two 256GB NAND SSD chips working in concert instead of the four 128GB chips used in 2021. 14-inch MacBook Pro.
How Tom’s gear notes that this alone is enough to slow down disk access speeds, which would be reflected in the new reports, and also says that the new M2 Mac mini’s 256GB configurations also suffer from the same SSD performance degradation.
But will anyone really notice—or care?
We haven’t verified SSD “degradation” ourselves, but it would make sense. Apple caught a lot of criticism for raising the price of the MacBook Air in 2022, so there must have been pressure to keep prices on par with previous models. In fact, I applaud it, given how price inflation around the world has seriously strained people’s finances in the past year.
If Apple had to go from four NAND SSDs to two to save some money, it’s honestly worth the trade-off – yes, even for a high-end MacBook Pro. Read/write speeds on the new 14-inch MacBook Pro according to these reports are still very high, fast enough that no one even noticed any slowdown.
Only when you compare the latest MacBook Pro with its predecessor will you be able to see the difference, and even then you’ll need to use a disk speed booster that probably less than 5% of users know about. And unless you’re upgrading to the new 2023 MacBook Pro from the 2021 MacBook Pro (which we don’t recommend), you never even 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 review of the Samsung 990 Pro, which is not available for any MacBook, I got a sequential read speed of 7465.49 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 6887.68 MB/s, while random read/write speeds were 5467.60 MB/s respectively 4104.87MB/s.
That’s way ahead of the 2021 MacBook Pro at its best, and the 990 Pro is a PCIe 4.0 SSD. Once PCIe 5.0 SSDs become popular, not even the best MacBook Pro will be able to keep up with these SSD speeds. And it won’t matter because ultimately raw performance isn’t really the reason people go out and buy MacBook Pro devices. They buy them for ease of use, compatibility, and style (which is debatable, but digressing).
Would you rather spend hundreds more on a new MacBook Pro for a faster SSD?
Some will argue that by spending that much money you shouldn’t have any performance drop, but after all the supply chain issues that have driven up the prices of consumer goods all over the world, there’s simply no way he can get the same thing you did last time for the same price.
If you wanted top performance in all areas, you would now have to pay extra for that privilege. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, but we both know that’s been the case for the past few years and if Apple had decided not to change the SSD and just decided to plug in the price of the 14 inch MacBook Pro by $400 in all areas, that would be something everyone would rightfully complain about.
In the meantime, Apple has basically managed to produce a laptop that is otherwise 20% to 30% faster in all the workloads MacBook Pro users need it for, so MacBook Pro buyers shouldn’t feel like they’re being ripped off. . There are a lot of things about Apple’s recent launch that are legally unacceptable (like offering a penny for a trade-in for a 2021 MacBook Pro), but that’s not really it.