2023 MacBook Pro has a slower 512GB SSD than the M1

A quick look inside the base-level M2 Pro MacBook Pro revealed something I hadn’t expected to see – or, rather, that something I HAD expected to see was missing. Like the base level M2 MacBook Air, the base level of the latest 14″ MacBook Pro seems to feature fewer NAND chips – at 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 provide just 256GB of storage. With the M1 MacBook Air, that storage was split between two 128GB Kioxia NAND chips. As Apple moved to the M2, they switched to newer NAND chips that provided 256GB of storage per chip. This meant that the base model M2 MacBook Air with just 256GB of storage had only one NAND chip, and the performance of the SSD was impacted 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 board, and a further two 128GB NAND chips on the other side. Like the M2 Air before it, the M2 MacBook Pro seems to have switched to larger NAND chips, with the base model seeing slower SSD performance as a result.

With the noticeable 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 another two on the back, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro had only one visible on the front of the board. There is likely a second NAND chip directly applying this, as the M1 had.

While the higher storage density of NAND chips is nice, it is always disappointing when a product gets worse between generations. Thankfully, most people won’t see the impact of this in everyday use. The read and write speeds on the drive are still extremely fast, so the difference will likely only be noticeable in extreme edge-cases.

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