According to tests done by 9to5Mac, the base-level 14-inch M2 MacBook Pro’s SSD is slower than its predecessor’s. In BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test, the 512GB SSD in Apple’s latest flagship got read speeds of about 2,970 MB/s and write speeds of about 3,150 MB/s. This is slower than the M1 Pro’s 512GB SSD, which could read at 4,900 MB/s and write at 3,950 MB/s.
This means that the 2023 base model reads about 39% slower and writes about 20% slower than the 2021 model. The difference is probably because of the chips.
9to5Mac says that the 512GB SSD in the 14-inch model from the previous generation had four NAND storage chips, but the one in the M2 Pro only has two.
Those chips are obviously bigger, so the computers have the same amount of storage but run slower because they can’t do as many reads and writes at the same time.
Apple has been making computers with fewer NAND chips for a long time. The 256GB M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro both had slower storage than their M1 counterparts. (The problem was even worse with those machines because they only had one NAND chip.)
But those aren’t very high-end laptops. The 14-inch MacBook Pro costs $2,000 and is made for creative professionals and developers, so you wouldn’t expect Apple to cut corners or sacrifice performance there.
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Even worse would be if the 16-inch model with a 512GB SSD that costs $2,500 also has this setup, but as far as I know, no one has confirmed this one way or the other. We asked Apple about it and about the M2 Mac Mini with a 256GB SSD, but they didn’t answer right away.
But MacRumors says that the 256GB M2 Mini does indeed only have one NAND chip, similar to Air and 13-inch Pro. Again, I’d argue that’s more acceptable on a machine that costs $599.
But while it’s unfortunate that the base M2 Mini has a slower SSD than M1 one did, there is a tradeoff — the M2 model starts at $100 less than its predecessor. Given everything the computer offers in terms of real-world performance, perhaps it’s hard to complain.
Luckily, it doesn’t look like MacBook Pro models with more storage suffer the same performance hit.
Tom’s Guide and Laptop Mag tested a 14-inch laptop with an M2 Pro processor and a 2TB SSD. They also tested a 14-inch laptop with an M2 Max processor, which is only available with a 1TB SSD or more. In both cases, the storage was about as fast as or faster than the storage in the last generation.
MacWorld found the same thing to be true for the 16-inch models.
As a point of reference, Tom’s Guide says that a 2TB SSD paired with an M2 Pro could read at 5,293 MB/s and write at 6,168 MB/s, which is a big improvement over the 512GB model (as you might expect, since the 2TB SSD option adds a cool $600 to the price of the computer).
This doesn’t mean that newer Macs with SSDs at the base level will be so slow that they can’t be used. Benchmark screenshots posted by 9to5Mac show that the one in the 14-inch still has enough capacity to play back 12K ProRes 422 HQ footage at 60FPS.
It is also much faster than the 256GB SSD in the M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch Pro, and it still beats the 1TB SSD in my 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, which has been fine even when I’ve asked it to do heavy video editing work.
Still, it’s a little disappointing to see that the base-level M2 Pro machines are worse than their predecessors in at least one way.