2023 MacBook Pro has slower 512GB SSD than the M1

A quick look inside the entry-level M2 Pro MacBook Pro revealed something I didn’t expect to see—or rather, something I HAD expected to see was missing. Like the base level M2 MacBook Air, the base level of the latest 14″ MacBook Pro appears to have fewer NAND chips – with a higher capacity – than the last generation. This results in SSD read and write performance that is dramatically lower than the previous generation.

The base model M1 and M2 MacBook Air only offers 256 GB of storage space. With the M1 MacBook Air, this storage was split between two 128GB Kioxia NAND chips. When Apple moved to the M2, they switched to newer NAND chips that provided 256GB of storage per unit. This meant that the base model M2 MacBook Air with only 256GB of storage only had one NAND chip and the performance of the SSD was affected as a result.

Like the M1 Air, the base 512GB M1 Pro had its storage split between four 128GB NAND chips. In iFixit’s teardown, they show two 128GB NAND chips on one side of the card and two more 128GB NAND chips on the other side. Like the M2 Air before it, the M2 MacBook Pro appears to have switched to larger NAND chips, with the base model seeing slower SSD performance as a result.

With the noticeably lower SSD performance in my M2 Pro MacBook Pro, I wanted to take a look inside to confirm why. Sure enough, where the 512GB M1 Pro MacBook Pro had two NAND chips visible on the front of the motherboard and two more on the back, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro only had one visible on the front of the board. There is probably another NAND chip that directly contradicts this that the M1 had.

While the higher storage density of NAND chips is nice, it’s always disappointing when a product gets worse between generations. Fortunately, most people will not see the impact of this in daily use. Read and write speeds on the drive are still extremely fast, so the difference is likely to be noticeable only in extreme edge cases.

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William

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