MacBook Pro 2023 testing reveals slower SSD performance than 2021 model

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023
(Image credit: Future)

The standard MacBook Pro 2023 and Mac mini 2023 models have slower SSD speeds than the outgoing models, testing by 9to5Mac and MacRumors has revealed.

Running the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on the regular 512GB MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and 256GB Mac mini with M2 respectively, the speeds are considerably different, with up to a 50% drop in read/write rates in the case of the Mac mini.

We saw this reflected in a limited way In our own testing. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro 2023 with M2 Pro and a 2TB SSD has slightly slower reading speeds than its M1 Pro/1TB counterpart; managing 5,293 points on the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test compared to 5,321 points. However, the write speeds are superior for the new chip at 6,168 points to 5,377. 

We have not yet tested the entry-level MacBook M2 Pro, which appears to have the slower SSD. 

9to5Mac's teardown of an M2 Pro MacBook Pro and Brandon Geekabit's teardown of an M2 Mac mini (via iMore) reveal the likely reason. Apple now provides the Mac mini with its basic 256GB of storage using a single NAND chip, rather than two 128GB chips like in older models. Meanwhile, the 512GB capacity of the basic MacBook Pro 2023 14-inch is made up of two 256GB chips, instead of four 128GB ones like the MacBook Pro 2021 used.

This lines up with what reviewers saw with the basic MacBook Air M2 and 13-inch MacBook Pro M2. Apple's use of fewer, higher capacity memory chips means the total available data bandwidth is smaller, and therefore it takes longer to read/write bigger files.

Many potential users likely won't notice the speed difference, but Pro users who are likely to buy these laptops for work may find some frustrations when dealing with large files. The easy solution is to buy a larger capacity MacBook, which then uses multiple NAND chips and offers higher bandwidth, although this would of course cost you several hundred dollars more.

Even accounting for this slower SSD, there's still a lot that makes the MacBook Pro 2023 worthy of its spot on our best laptops list. The M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are seriously powerful, but still provide impressive battery life; while the mini-LED displays and varied port selection make the laptops just as versatile as ever.

Likewise for desktop users, the new Mac mini offers an astounding amount of power in such a small body with the M2 Pro chip, while the basic model now sells for less than the previous generation, making it more accessible for users with a budget. It's become our new pick for the best mini PC for most users.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.