Here at Macworld, we generally recommend that customers do not purchase the entry level configuration of any Mac. Generally, there is not enough storage space for most people, even people who rely heavily on iCloud or other cloud storage are likely to run out of space in the future.
But there’s another reason you might want to avoid the entry-level configurations of Apple’s latest Mac mini and MacBook Pro, which went on sale Tuesday. While the new $599 Mac mini M2 is a very good computer for a great price, it hides a nasty secret we’ve seen before: a slower SSD. MacRumors says tests on the machine show the 256GB SSD is up to 50% slower than the 256GB SSD in the M1 model it replaces.
The reason for the slowdown is the same as with the 256GB SSD in the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 and MacBook Air M2: Apple uses a single NAND chip in the SSD, while the Mac M1 they replaced used two NAND chips. Youtuber Brandon Gikabit has confirmed that Apple is using a single NAND chip when disassembling the M2 Mac mini.
A single chip may be good for Apple engineers who are short on space, but when it comes to SSD storage, there is a general principle that affects performance: An SSD uses multiple channels in parallel to read/write data to NAND SSD chips. The more chips involved, the more available channels, and the more available channels, the higher the performance.
Somewhat surprisingly, the new base MacBook Pro configurations are also affected, despite having a 512GB SSD. 9to5Mac reports that when testing and tearing down a 14-inch MacBook Pro with a 10-core M2 Pro processor, the SSD was compromised by two 256 GB NAND chips, half the size of the 512 GB SSD in the M1 Pro model. And due to fewer chips, the MacBook Pro M2 Pro 512GB has lower SSD performance than its predecessor. We assume that the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro, which also has a 512GB SSD, also has performance issues.
While we can understand the decision to use fewer chips in cheaper Macs, the new MacBook Pro starts at $1999 and is expected to have the best performance. Most of the users who buy it want the highest speeds in every aspect of their machine.
After four models, it’s clear that Apple has decided sacrificing speed is something customers will have to put up with when it comes to the cheapest configuration of its Mac. Of course, most users won’t feel the difference in everyday use and will only notice slowdowns when using software that needs to frequently read files from the SSD, but we still recommend getting at least a 1TB SSD so that there are enough data transfer channels. use to make the difference in speed imperceptible.