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2014 MacBook Airs Demonstrating Slower Flash Storage Speeds Than 2013 Models

The newly released 2014 MacBook Airs are seeing improved processor performance thanks to updated Haswell chips, but storage performance appears to have declined.

In a series of performance benchmark tests performed by Macworld, tests of the flash storage suggested the new MacBook Airs are performing slower than the 2013 MacBook Airs. The comparison, which included a 2013 11-inch MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD and a 2013 13-inch MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD vs. a 2014 11-inch model with a 128GB SSD and a 13-inch model with a 256GB SSD, found that the 2014 models were twice as slow as the 2013 models at some tasks.
Copying 6GB of files and folders took 28 seconds on last year's 11-inch MacBook Air, but took nearly twice as long (54 seconds) on this year's 11-inch model. With solid-state storage, lower capacity drives are often slower performers, and last year's 11-inch had the higher capacity 256GB of flash. However, the new 11-inch model was also slower than last year's 13-inch model with 128GB of flash storage.
Compressing 6GB of files also took longer on the 2014 MacBook Air, and Macworld described unzipping as "just plain slow" with the new 11-inch version taking three times as long to unzip files as the 2013 model.

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Using fewer but larger files, the performance difference narrowed between the two models, but the 2014 11-inch MacBook Air still performed 35 percent slower copying files than the mid–2013 13-inch MacBook Air with the same storage capacity and 53 percent slower when uncompressing files.

The Blackmagic Disk Speed Test also showed the new models running slower than the older models, with write/read speeds as follows (in MBps):

- 2013 13-inch with 128GB SSD: 445/725
- 2013 11-inch with 256GB SSD: 687/725
- 2014 13-inch with 256GB SSD: 520/676
- 2014 11-inch with 128GB SSD: 306/620

All four of the drives in the MacBook Airs tested came from different manufacturers, with two from Samsung, one from Toshiba, and one from SanDisk, which accounts for the performance discrepancies. Speed differences between SSDs used within Apple's MacBook Air computers have been highlighted before in previous models and as suggested in the past, while the speed variations may be noticeable in some high-intensity tasks, they are unlikely to be noticed during day-to-day usage.

Released earlier this week, the new MacBook Airs are available from Apple's website beginning at $899.

Related roundup: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

24 weeks ago
And this is probably where they shaved $100 from
Rating: 61 Votes
24 weeks ago

This test is so unscientific it's basically worthless. No reason to even bother paying attention to these results.

IF the 2014 models are slower, they're still fast enough that 99.9% of customers will never notice a difference and the other .01% will never be happy.


Half of write speed is going backwards. Newer models are supposed to be better. Stop trying to make excuses. Apple cheaped out here.
Rating: 36 Votes
24 weeks ago
um...

am I the only one who is seeing some serious faulty testing going on here?

there doesn't seem to be a like to like test.

going to have to see better and more detailed working of their testing environment and setup.

the two 11"'s tested did not have the same storage SSD's. We all know that there's a density difference and performance with different sized SSD's

then they compared 13" to 11" models, that have other factors as well.

Plus, they're not really giving scientific backing. Just copying files isn't really a good indicator of the real speed. I want to see some actual benchmarks.

Listen, I'm just a skeptic. if you're going to make claims. Back them up
Rating: 24 Votes
24 weeks ago
Well that's...em...awkward :P
Rating: 17 Votes
24 weeks ago
Hope it doesn't mean that iPhone 6 will be slower than iPhone 5.
Rating: 13 Votes
24 weeks ago
*Ding Ding*

I just found out how Apple saved $100.

Silly people thinking Apple would cut their margins :D
Rating: 13 Votes
24 weeks ago

This test is so unscientific it's basically worthless. No reason to even bother paying attention to these results.

IF the 2014 models are slower, they're still fast enough that 99.9% of customers will never notice a difference and the other .01% will never be happy.


Then what do the rest of the 0.09% think?
Rating: 13 Votes
24 weeks ago

um...

am I the only one who is seeing some serious faulty testing going on here?

there doesn't seem to be a like to like test.

going to have to see better and more detailed working of their testing environment and setup.

the two 11"'s tested did not have the same storage SSD's. We all know that there's a density difference and performance with different sized SSD's

then they compared 13" to 11" models, that have other factors as well.

Plus, they're not really giving scientific backing. Just copying files isn't really a good indicator of the real speed. I want to see some actual benchmarks.

Listen, I'm just a skeptic. if you're going to make claims. Back them up


Just copying files is what everday users do. If that is slow, then it is slow, no matter what the scientific benchmarks tell us.
Rating: 13 Votes
24 weeks ago
Blackmagic is a well known and reliable benchmarking software. The comparisons are appropriate.

The performance of the 2013 models is consistent with that of Samsung SSDs benchmarked in the retina MBPs. The 2014 13'' result is similar to what I get on my SanDisk 256 GB SSD, which is known to be slower than the Samsung drive of the same size.
It seems for the 128 GB drives Apple managed to find an even slower SSD. Congratulations!

I wonder if this was just random, or if they are phasing out Samsung as supplier for their SSDs.

To those crying foul: The comparison is fair and the results are not that surprising given Apples history with SSDs.
Rating: 12 Votes
24 weeks ago
Hopefully apple comments on this, otherwise.. it appears Apple just kept their margin from that 100 dollar cut.
Rating: 10 Votes

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