Previously, a number of reviewers have reported than Apple’s Basic level M2 MacBook ProThe SSD of 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 edge The M2 MacBook Air dock has the same storage configuration as the Pro, so naturally we wondered if it would have the same problem. Well, we’ve finally got our hands on a base model (including 256GB of storage and 8GB of memory) and the answer is: yes, it does.
Based on the results we’re seeing on Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, the base model of the MacBook Air M2 has write speeds that are typically 15 to 30 percent slower than the 512 model. GB sent by Apple. the edge to review and read speeds that can be 40 to 50 percent slower.
This is not an unexpected result as the base Air only includes a single NAND chip, while the M1 models and 512GB (and larger) M2 models have two, which can enable speeds nearly twice as fast.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the speeds we’re seeing on this base MacBook Air are bad, they’re (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 base model is only slightly faster than my 2019 Intel MacBook Pro when it comes to write speeds, and its read speeds are significantly worse. To pull a Windows machine out of a hat, Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (which starts at $600) also loses to base Air in writing, but destroys it in reading. (Read speeds are generally more important for general use, as they measure how fast your device can access files on your system.)
We didn’t have a 256GB M1 Air to test, but the 512GB model we have on hand is also faster than the base M2 model in both read and write, as you can see from the results below.
What Edge editor Dan Seifert explains in his review of the M2 Air, slower storage speeds can affect a number of tasks, including file transfers, and can also slow overall performance, as Macs use SSD space as temporary memory (swap memory) when built-in RAM is depleted .
That said, will these particular differences affect you? People the Air is marketed to aren’t likely to see a life changer between the 256GB and 512GB models when it comes to day-to-day performance. I ran two 4K YouTube videos in 25 open Chrome tabs for 30 minutes on both machines without needing to dip into swap memory. Boot time was also pretty identical: I booted up the two devices side by side several times. And I didn’t see much of a difference when it came to opening any of the apps I normally use, including Chrome, Safari, Messages, Photos, Activity Tracking, Slack, Music, etc.
for macbook professionals target audience, however, a limitation like this could be a deal breaker. If you are someone with a heavier workload (who may very well be able to tell the difference), we generally recommend purchasing a MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or Max chip instead of air.
That said, these results will certainly be important to some people. If you are in that camp, you will have I need to pay $200 to upgrade from 256GB to 512GB, raising the price of the octa-core MacBook Air M2 from $1,199 to $1,399. If that sounds like a lot, you can also get 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM in the still-excellent MacBook Air M1 for $1,199 (same price as the base M2 Air). My real world comparisons have found that the M2 machines are visibly better for graphics-heavy use cases (such as running games), but that their performance differences don’t have much of an impact on other tasks (photo and audio editing, Internet work, etc.) that a casual user might do.
We have reached out to Apple for comment on these specific results and have not yet received a response. When we asked the company about the different storage configurations for our device review, spokeswoman Michelle Del Rio provided the following statement:
Thanks to M2 performance gains, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are blazingly fast, even compared to Mac notebooks with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new, higher-density NAND that offers 256GB of storage on a single chip. While the 256GB SSD benchmarks may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2-based systems for real-world activities is even faster.
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