Apple MacBook Air M2 storage speed testing: yup, it’s slow

Previously, some reviewers reported that Apple’s entry-level M2 MacBook Pro SSD is significantly slower than the M1 MacBook Pro’s SSD due to the configuration of the storage models in the computer. Apple confirmed this The edge that the base M2 MacBook Air has the same memory configuration as the Pro, so naturally we wondered if it would suffer from the same issue. Well, we finally got our hands on a base model (including 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM) and the answer is yes, it does.

According to the results we see in Blackmagic’s Disk Speed ​​Test app, the base model M2 MacBook Air has write speeds that are generally 15 to 30 percent slower than the 512GB model that Apple sent 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 up) M2 models have two, which can enable almost twice the speeds.

512GB M2 MacBook Air 1GB review.


256GB M2 MacBook Air 1GB review.


512GB M2 MacBook Air 5GB review.


256 GB M2 MacBook Air 5 GB in review.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the speeds we’re seeing from this base MacBook Air are Poorly, They’re (especially when it comes to reading data) the kind of speeds you can easily get on laptops that are, well, a little more. For example, the base model is only slightly faster than my 2019 Intel MacBook Pro when it comes to write speeds, and its read speeds are noticeably worse. To pull a Windows calculator out of a hat, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 (which starts at $600) also loses on writes against the base Air, but breaks on reads. (Read speeds are generally more important for general usage and measure how fast 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 faster than the base M2 in both reads and writes, as you can see from the results below.


512GB M1 MacBook Air 5GB review.


256GB Intel MacBook Pro 5GB review.

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

Will these particular differences affect you? The people the Air is marketed to probably won’t see a life-changing contrast between the 256GB and 512GB models when it comes to everyday performance. I ran two 4K YouTube videos across 25 open Chrome tabs on both computers for 30 minutes without either having to dive into swap space. Boot time was also pretty much identical – I turned the two devices on side by side multiple times. And I didn’t see much of a difference when it came to opening any of the apps I usually use, including Chrome, Safari, Messages, Photos, Activity Monitor, Slack, Music, etc.

For the MacBook professionals Target audience, but a restriction like this could be a deal-breaker. In general, if you’re someone with a heavier workload (who might notice a difference), we’d recommend getting a MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro or Max chip instead of an Air.


Activity Monitor in the base MacBook Air after 30 minutes of playing two 4K videos across 20 other tabs.

However, these results will certainly matter to some people. If you’re in that camp, you’ll have to pay $200 to upgrade from 256GB to 512GB, raising the price of the eight-core M2 MacBook Air from $1,199 to $1,399. If that seems like a lot to you, 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 use cases (e.g. running games), but that their performance differences don’t matter much for other tasks (photo and audio editing, web work, etc.). have A casual user might do this.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on these specific findings and haven’t received a response yet. When we asked the company about the different memory configurations for our review of the device, spokeswoman Michelle Del Rio made the following statement:

Thanks to the performance gains from M2, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even when compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new, higher-density NAND that offers 256GB of storage in 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 is even faster for real-world activities. Apple MacBook Air M2 storage speed testing: yup, it’s slow

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