When Apple unveiled its latest M2 Pro and M2 Max-based MacBook Pros last week, the company boasted improved performance (up to 20% CPU and up to 30% GPU) and improved battery life. Unfortunately, one area of his M2 Pro-based MacBook Pro’s performance seems to be stepping back, at least for the $1,999 base model with a 512GB SSD.
Multiple reports confirm that the SSD in the 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Pro, 512GB) is significantly slower than the SSD in the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 512GB). The first word on performance downgrading is @ZONEofTECH, compared the two systems. The M2 Pro system recorded 2929 MBps write and 2703 MBps read using the AJA System Test Lite benchmark. Its M1 Pro-based predecessor hit 3450 Mbps in write tests and 4081 MBps in read tests.
BREAKING: The base 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro (512GB) turns out to be significantly slower than the previous 14-inch M1 Pro model. Apple may use the single SSD module again (like the base 256GB M2 Air and M2 MacBook Pro). More tests will be done. pic.twitter.com/3kMiHVDxaFJanuary 24, 2023
In his tweet, @ZONEofTECH said:
Further confirmation came from this afternoon Mac-centric website 9to5Mac, I also noticed a performance drop on the newer base model MacBook Pro. This publication used Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on a 2023 MacBook Pro (M2 Pro, 512GB) and recorded a write of 3154.4 MBps and his read of 2973.4 MBps. For comparison, the 2021 MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 512GB) I have has a high figure of 3950.8 MBps and 4900.3 MBps respectively.
Given the performance degradation, 9to5Mac I decided to open the case of the new MacBook Pro to see if the chip configuration had changed compared to the previous generation. “Sure enough, the 512GB M1 Pro MacBook Pro showed two NAND chips on the front of the motherboard and two on the back, but the M2 Pro MacBook Pro only showed one on the front of the board.” writes this publication. “There could be a second NAND chip that directly opposes this, like the M1 had.”
According to iFixit, the 2021 MacBook Pro’s 512 GB SSD is split into four 128 GB NAND chips. The corresponding 2023 MacBook Pro uses two 256GB NAND chips in parallel instead. This can cause slow performance on new MacBook Pros.
Interestingly, this performance downgrade extends to the 256 GB variant of the 2023 Mac mini with the M2 SoC. When Apple announced the M2 and M2 Pro-based Mac mini last week, the company also lowered the price of the base model. The M1 Mac mini started at $699, but the new M2 Mac mini has slashed that price to just $599.
Base Model Mac mini: 2018 Intel Write: 16272018 Intel Read: 24852020 M1 Write: 27332020 M1 Read: 28542023 M2 Write: 14312023 M2 Read: 1482January 24, 2023
Now you can see how Apple could at least achieve Several Of these cost savings, storage performance was wasted. According to a Twitter user, the 2020 Mac mini (M1, 256GB) uses two of his 128GB NAND chips in parallel and achieves 2733 MBps write and 2854 MBps read in Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. @t4bl3r0n3Conversely, on the 2023 Mac mini (M2, 256GB), the results are nearly halved to 1431 MBps and 1482 MBps respectively. Brandon Geekabit also confirmed these storage performance drops in his YouTube video.
All of this may sound familiar, but Apple ran the same SSD switcher in the base version of the MacBook Air (M2, 256GB). Using slower SSDs on the 2023 MacBook Pro and 2023 Mac mini can impact file transfer performance and overall system performance. Additionally, applications that exhaust available physical memory should fall back to his SSD for virtual memory. Given that the base 256GB storage configuration only comes with 8GB of RAM, the Mac mini could be more impacted by page-outs to his SSD.
Apple’s decision to drop storage performance in exchange for a $100 price cut on the entry-level Mac mini makes some sense. However, his storage performance regression in his $1,999 MacBook Pro is less than justifiable. For a customer paying top dollar for a “pro-level” machine, you wouldn’t expect his storage performance to take such a dramatic hit.