The base-level 14-inch M2 MacBook Pro reportedly has a slower SSD than its predecessor, according to tests conducted by 9to5Mac. In BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test, the 512GB SSD in Apple’s latest flagship achieved read speeds of about 2,970 MB/s and write speeds of about 3,150 MB/s, compared to 4,900 MB/s read and 3,950 MB/s write speeds the M1 Pro with a 512 GB SSD could.
That means the 2023 base model reads about 39 percent slower and writes 20 percent slower than the model released in 2021.
The reason for the difference is probably due to chips. According to 9to5Mac, the 512GB SSD in the previous generation 14-inch had four NAND storage chips, while the one on the M2 Pro appears to have two. Those are obviously higher capacity chips, so the computers have the same amount of storage, but with worse performance because they can’t parallelize reads and writes as often.
Building newer generations of computers with fewer NAND chips isn’t new to Apple. Both the 256GB M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro had slower storage than the M1 versions of those machines. (The situation was even worse with those machines, which had a single NAND chip.) But those are relatively entry-level laptops; the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a $2,000 computer aimed at creative professionals and developers – it’s not a place where you’d expect Apple to cut corners or sacrifice performance.
It would be even more annoying if the $2,500 16-inch model with a 512 GB SSD also has this configuration, but as far as I know no one has confirmed this one way or another. We asked Apple about it, and the M2 Mac Mini with a 256GB SSD, but didn’t get an immediate answer.
However, MacRumors reports that the 256GB M2 Mini does indeed have only one NAND chip, similar to Air and 13-inch Pro. Again, I’d say this is more acceptable on a $599 machine. But while it’s a shame the base M2 Mini has a slower SSD than the M1, there’s a trade-off: The M2 model starts at $100 fewer than its predecessor. Considering everything the computer has to offer in terms of real-world performance, it might be hard to complain.
Fortunately, it seems that MacBook Pro models with improved storage don’t deliver the same performance. Tom’s guide and LaptopMag tested a 14-inch M2 Pro-equipped laptop with a 2TB SSD, as well as one with an M2 Max processor (which is only available with a 1TB SSD and above), and the storage was found to be about as fast or faster than the models of the previous generation. MacWorld found a similar situation with the 16-inch models.
For reference only, Tom’s guide notes that the 2TB SSD paired with an M2 Pro was capable of 5,293 MB/s reading and 6,168 MB/s writing, a substantial ahead of the 512 GB model (as you’d hope, given that the 2 TB SSD option adds a cool $600 to the price of the computer).
This isn’t to say that newer Macs with base-level SSDs will be unusably slow. The benchmark screenshots posted by 9to5Mac showing that the one in the 14-inch still has enough bandwidth to play 12K ProRes 422 HQ footage at 60 FPS. It also still comfortably beats the 1TB SSD in my 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, which is perfectly adequate even when I ask it to perform heavy video editing tasks, and is faster than the 256GB SSD in the M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch Pro.
Still, it’s a bit of a shame to see the base-level M2 Pro machines measurably worse than their predecessors in at least one respect.