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MacBook Pro M2 testing just revealed a surprise downgrade

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update (June 29): This slow SSD speed seems to have a greater impact on the MacBook Pro M2's overall performance than we expected.

The new MacBook Pro M2 could be slower than the MacBook Pro M1 if you buy the default storage model, according to testing done by several YouTube tech channels. 

Both Max Tech (opens in new tab) and Created Tech (opens in new tab) compared the SSD read/write speeds of the basic 256GB storage version of the MacBook Pro sporting the new Apple M2 chip against those of the old 256GB M1-equipped MacBook Pro. They discovered that the newer MacBook Pro was up to 34% slower in reading data, and up to 50% slower writing data than the MacBook Prom M1.

Opening up the laptops, the two channels found the same possible cause. The entry-level M2 MacBook Pro seems to use a single 256GB NAND flash chip, instead of the two 128GB chips in the MacBook Pro M1. This change was likely done to save money, but using two chips in parallel means faster read/write speeds, and likely explains why the older MacBook beats the newer one on these benchmarks

However, there's good news if you go for a higher storage capacity in your MacBook. Testing conducted by Zollotech (opens in new tab) (via the MacRumors forum (opens in new tab))  shows that in similar testing for 512GB MacBook Pros, the M2 version matches up to the M1. That'll cost you $200 extra above the $1,299 starting price though.

Apple's other new MacBook, the MacBook Air M2 is due to go on sale next month, and it could use the same SSDs as the Pro. The Air is intended for less intensive workloads than the Pro, so a slower SSD speed wouldn't be quite as critical for most users. It's still annoying to think a two-year-old MacBook Air M1 could outpace the latest model in a particularly noticeable area though.

In our own testing, we found that the MacBook Pro M2 had a notably faster SSD write speed than the MacBook Pro M1, and a slightly faster read speed too. However, our M2 test unit was specced with 1TB of storage, which backs up the theory that the slower speeds are only an issue for the base model MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro M2 (1TB storage) MacBook Pro M1 (256GB storage)
Black Magic Disk Speed Test: Read speed score27952768
Black Magic Disk Speed Test: Write speed score29542405.7

This strange speed gap is bad news if you've just ordered the cheapest MacBook Pro M2, since the old model is now seeing discounts where it's still available. Make sure to take advantage of the MacBook Pro M1 offers if you prioritize SSD speed but don't want any extra internal storage. Other than that, you're likely still better off going for the M2 model, as it offers the best laptop battery life we've ever seen as well as increased CPU and GPU performance.

Richard Priday
Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio 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.