Previously, a number of reviewers have reported that Apple’s entry-level M2 MacBook Pro’s SSD is significantly slower than the M1 MacBook Pro’s due to the configuration of the storage models in the computer. Apple has confirmed that The edge that the base M2 MacBook Air has the same storage configuration as the Pro, so we naturally wondered if it would have the same problem. Well, we finally got our hands on a base model (which includes 256GB of storage and 8GB of memory) and the answer is: yes, it does.
Judging by the results we see in Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, the base model of the M2 MacBook Air has write speeds that are generally 15 to 30 percent slower than the 512GB model that Apple shipped. The edge to review — and read speeds that can be 40 to 50 percent slower.
This isn’t an unexpected result, as the base Air contains only a single NAND chip, while the M1 models and the 512GB (and above) M2 models have two, allowing for nearly twice the speeds.
Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the speeds we see are from this base MacBook Air poor, they’re (especially when it comes to reading data) the kind of speeds you can easily get on laptops that are a little more, well, meh. For example, the base model is only a little faster than my 2019 Intel MacBook Pro when it comes to write speeds, and read speeds are significantly worse. To pick a Windows machine out of a hat, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 (which starts at $600) also loses to the base Air on write, but destroys it on read. (Read speeds are generally more important for general use, measuring how quickly your device can access files on its system.)
We didn’t have a 256GB M1 Air to test, but the 512GB model we have on hand is also faster than the base M2 model on both read and write, as you can see in the results below.
As roadside editor Dan Seifert explains in his review of the M2 Air that slower storage speeds can affect a number of tasks, including file transfers, and also slow down overall performance, as Macs use SSD space as temporary storage (swap memory). ) when their built-in RAM is used up.
That said, will these particular differences affect you? People for whom the Air is being marketed probably won’t see a life-changing contrast between the 256GB and 512GB models when it comes to day-to-day performance. I ran two 4K YouTube videos across 25 open Chrome tabs for 30 minutes on both machines without having to dive into swap memory. The boot time was also quite identical – I turned the two devices on side by side a number of times. And I didn’t see much difference when it came to opening any of the apps I normally use, including Chrome, Safari, Messages, Photos, Activity Monitor, Slack, Music, etc.
For the MacBook Pros target audience, but a restriction like this can be a deal breaker. If you’re someone with a heavier workload (which may very well make a difference), we generally recommend getting a MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro or Max chip rather than an Air.
That said, these results will definitely be of interest to some people. If you’re in that camp, you’ll have to pay $200 to upgrade from 256GB to 512GB, bringing the price of the eight-core M2 MacBook Air from $1,199 to $1,399. If that sounds like a lot, you can also get 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM in the still excellent M1 MacBook Air for $1,199 (same price as the base M2 Air). My real-world comparisons have shown that M2 machines are visibly better for graphics-heavy applications (like running games), but their performance differences aren’t hugely impacted on other tasks (photo and audio editing, internet work, etc.) a casual user might do.
We have contacted Apple for comment on these specific results and have not yet received a response. When we asked the company about the different storage configurations for our review of the device, spokesperson Michelle Del Rio gave the following statement:
Thanks to the performance improvements of M2, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new, higher-density NAND that delivers 256GB of storage space using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2-based systems for real-world operations is even faster.