Skip to main content

We benchmarked the base M2 MacBook Air’s storage and (surprise!) it’s slow

The M2 MacBook Air on a table displaying the About This Mac window over a purple marbled background.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

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 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 of 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 of the 512GB model Apple sent The Verge to review — and read speeds that can be 40 to 50 percent slower.

This is not an unexpected result since the 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.

A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 2706 for Write and 2850 for Read.
512GB M2 MacBook Air 1GB test.
A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 2260.5 for Write and 1433 for Read.
256GB M2 MacBook Air 1GB test.
A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 2187.7 for Write and 2824.4 for Read.
512GB M2 MacBook Air 5GB test.
A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 1537.7 for Write and 1536.3 for Read.
256GB M2 MacBook Air 5GB test.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the speeds we’re seeing from this base 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 base 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 a 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 read. (Read speeds are generally 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, but the 512GB model we do have on hand is also faster than the base M2 model on both read and write, 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.
512GB M1 MacBook Air 5GB test.
A screenshot of Blackmagic Disk Speed Test indicating scores of 1298.8 for Write and 2665.6 for Read.
256GB Intel MacBook Pro 5GB test.

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 also 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 Air is marketed to will likely not see 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 — I turned the two devices on side by side a number of 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 Monitor, Slack, Music, etc.

For the MacBook Pro’s target audience, though, a limitation like this could be a deal-breaker. If you’re someone with a heavier workload (who very well may notice a difference), we generally recommend that you buy a MacBook Pro 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.
Activity Monitor in the base MacBook Air after 30 minutes of playing two 4K videos over 20 other tabs.

That said, 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 of storage and 8GB of RAM in the still-excellent M1 MacBook Air for $1,199 (the same price as the base 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 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 of the device, spokesperson Michelle Del Rio provided the following statement:

Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using 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 for real world activities are even faster.



Source: The Verge

Popular posts from this blog

Uber Eats exits seven markets, transfers one as part of competitive retooling

Uber Eats is pulling out of a clutch of markets — shuttering its on-demand food offering in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Ukraine. It’s also transferring its Uber Eats business operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Careem, its wholly owned ride-hailing subsidiary that’s mostly focused on the Middle East. “Consumers and restaurants using the Uber Eats app in the UAE will be transitioned to the Careem platform in the coming weeks, after which the Uber Eats app will no longer be available,” it writes in a regulatory filing detailing the operational shifts. “These decisions were made as part of the Company’s ongoing strategy to be in first or second position in all Eats markets by leaning into investment in some countries while exiting others,” the filing adds. An Uber spokesman said the changes are not related to the coronavirus pandemic but rather related to an ongoing “strategy of record” for the company to hold a first or s

Keep your Oculus Quest controllers going strong with these batteries

The Touch Controllers for the Oculus Quest 2 ship with one disposable AA battery each, but once those run out of juice, you should invest in the best Oculus Quest 2 replacement batteries to fill in for them. While the Touch Controllers last much longer than the headset's limited battery, it's still wise to invest in some rechargeable batteries or a stack of disposable batteries to stop your VR sessions from getting disrupted. Here are the batteries and chargers we recommend for your Oculus Touch controllers. Best rechargable batteries + charger Panasonic K-KJ55MCA4BA 3 Hour Quick Charger with 4 AA eneloop Rechargeable Batteries Staff Pick These rechargeable batteries store up to 2,000 mAh of power and can be recharged up to 2,100 times. They can be charged completely from dead or partially charged without damaging the energy storage memory. We recommend buying them with the quick charger accessory, which will get your AAs recharged in no time, but you can also purchas

These Android games support Bluetooth controllers and they're better for it

Gaming is simply better with a controller in your hands. Gaming on Android typically requires you to settle for using touchscreen controls. However, some gracious game developers take the time and effort to add support for Bluetooth gamepads— and we love them for it. Since so few games provide this feature, we've taken the time to test and compiled our list of the best games that let you play with the best Bluetooth controller in your hands. We'd also recommend getting a Style Ring or PopSocket which can help prop your phone up at a good angle for gaming. You might recognize some of these games from the best Android games roundup and for good reason. But you're here for the best games with controller support, after all, so here I present to you the best you can find on the Play Store. The games Call of Duty Mobile GRID Autosport Tesla vs Lovecraft Evoland 2 Horizon Chase World Tour Riptide GP: Renegade Modern Combat 5: Blackout GTA: San Andreas Oceanhor

What ancient advice can teach us about AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have become indispensable to millions of users. Tesla Autopilot has the potential to change driving forever. And IBM Watson took a new job providing big data solutions to corporations after its first job was in jeopardy. Those are just the most prominent examples. Helpful applications of AI are being deployed in a broad spectrum of industries, but AI also has the potential to be misused. About the author  Jason Egnal is Chief Marketing Officer at Zenfolio . His background spans a variety of industries, including SaaS, AI, Fintech and Consumer Electronics.  Zenfolio, the website builder and photo sharing site , recently introduced technology that applies AI to assist photographers in selecting the best photos from the thousands of shots typically taken during a photo session. The advanced image recognition technology is tremendously powerful and can make photographers more efficient than they ever d