April 1, 2023

Previously, a number of reviewers have reported that Apple’s entry-level M2 MacBook Pro ’s SSD is significantly slower than that of the M1 MacBook Pro due to the configuration of the storage models in the computer. Apple confirmed to The Verge that the base M2 MacBook Air has the same storage space configuration as the Pro, so, naturally, we’ve been wondering if it would suffer from the same issue. Well, we’ve finally gotten our hands on a base model (including 256GB associated with storage and 8GB of memory) and the answer is: yes, it does.

Going by the results we’re seeing 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 those associated with the 512GB model Apple company sent The Verge to review — and read speeds that can be 40 to 50 % slower.

This is not an unexpected result since the particular base Air only includes a single NAND chip, while the M1 models and 512GB (and up) M2 models have two, which can allow for nearly twice as fast speeds.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the speeds we’re seeing from this foundation MacBook Air are bad, they are (especially when it comes to reading data) the kind of speeds you can easily get on laptops that are a bit more, well, meh. For example, the bottom model is only a bit faster than my 2019 Intel MacBook Pro when it comes to write speeds, and its read speeds are significantly worse. To pick the 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 demolishes it on go through. (Read speeds are usually more important for general usage, measuring how fast your device can access files on its system. )

We didn’t have an M1 Air with 256GB to test, yet the 512GB model we do have on hand is also faster than the base M2 model upon both read and create, as you can see in the results below.

A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 2514.7 for Write and 3051.2 for Read.

A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 1298.8 for Write and 2665.6 for Read.

As Verge editor Dan Seifert explains in his review of the M2 Air, slower storage speeds can impact a number of tasks, including file transfers, and can furthermore slow down overall performance since Macs use SSD space as temporary memory (swap memory) when their onboard RAM is used up.

That said, will these particular differences impact you? People the particular Air is marketed in order to will likely not observe a life-changing contrast between the 256GB and 512GB models when it comes to everyday performance. I ran two 4K YouTube videos over 25 open Chrome tabs for 30 minutes on both machines without either needing to dip into swap memory. Boot time was also pretty identical — We turned the two devices on side by side numerous times. And I did not see much of a 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 Pro’s target audience, though, the limitation like this could be a deal-breaker. If you’re someone with a heavier workload (who very well may notice the difference), we generally recommend that you buy a MacBook Professional with an M1 Pro or Max chip instead of an Air.

A screenshot of Activity Monitor showing that the computer has 8GB of physical memory, that 6.39GB are being used, and that 0 bytes of Swap are being used.

That stated, these results certainly will matter to some people. If you’re in that camp, you’ll need to pay $200 to upgrade from 256GB to 512GB, bringing the eight-core M2 MacBook Air’s price from $1, 199 to $1, 399. If that seems like a lot, you can also get 512GB associated with storage and 8GB of RAM in the still-excellent M1 Mac-book Air for $1, 199 (the same price as the foundation M2 Air). My real-world comparisons have found that M2 machines are visibly better for graphics-heavy use cases (such as running games) but that their performance differences are not hugely impactful in other tasks (photo and audio editing, internet work, etc. ) that will a casual user might do.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on these specific results and haven’t received a response yet. When we asked the company about the different storage configurations for our review associated with the device, spokesperson Michelle Del Rio provided the particular following statement:

Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air flow and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use the new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single nick. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the particular previous generation, the overall performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.

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