M2 13-Inch MacBook Pro With 256GB SSD Appears Slower Than Equivalent M1 in Real-World Speed Tests

Benchmark testing has indicated that the 256GB variant of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chip offers slower SSD performance than its M1 equivalent, and now real-world stress testing by YouTuber Max Yuryev of Max Tech suggests that the 256GB SSD in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is also underperforming in day-to day-usage.


The ‌M2‌ MacBook Pro with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM was slower than the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM across multiple usage tests involving Photoshop, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro, multitasking, and file transfers. In a multitasking RAM test, the ‌M1‌ consistently loads content faster with multiple apps open, and in a 50 image export test in Lightroom with apps open, the ‌M1‌ was again quicker. It was able to export 50 images in 3 minutes and 36 seconds, while the ‌M2‌ took 4 minutes and 12 seconds.

In these tests, the built-in 8GB unified memory of the MacBook Pro is being used by various processes, with the machine using the SSD for virtual memory. The virtual memory swapping results in slower system performance overall.

These results were consistent across all of the performance stress tests done by Max Tech, and benchmark tests conducted by Max Tech on Saturday demonstrated the same discrepancy. The ‌M2‌ MacBook Pro's read speeds appear to be around 50 percent slower, while the write speeds appear to be around 30 percent slower.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (‌M1‌/256GB) Read Speed: 2,900
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (‌M2‌/256GB) Read Speed: 1,446
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (‌M1‌/256GB) Write Speed: 2,215
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (‌M2‌/256GB) Write Speed: 1,463

Max Tech attributes this performance difference to Apple's choice of NAND flash storage. In the ‌M2‌ MacBook Pro, there is a single 256GB NAND flash storage chip, while the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro has two NAND chips that are likely 128GB each. Multiple NAND chips allow for faster speeds in parallel, which could account for the ‌M2‌'s seemingly disappointing performance.

Slower SSD performance appears to be limited to the 256GB version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as higher capacity machines have not demonstrated the same issue. Potential MacBook Pro buyers should be aware of this performance problem as it could impact purchase choice.

It is not clear why Apple opted for a different NAND chip setup in the ‌M2‌ MacBook Pro, and further testing is required to determine just what is going on. Apple has not responded to our requests for comment as of yet, but we will update this article if we hear back.

Related Roundup: 13" MacBook Pro
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

Juicy Box Avatar
14 weeks ago

Not sure why there's another post about this. In the past, I remember seeing smaller capacity of SSD has a lower speed rating than larger capacity, SanDisk and Samsung. In this case, I don't really see this as a dealbreaker or issue.
I think the issue is that the M1 MBP at the same storage size is double the performance of the M2 MBP.

People typically expect an improvement or at least the same performance as the predecessor, not half the performance.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CWallace Avatar
14 weeks ago
Since it has been confirmed that the 512GB models have two 256GB SSD chips and are delivering the expected high performance, the two most-likely options are:
[LIST=1]
* Apple cannot get 128GB SSDs in sufficient quantity so they are using one 256GB SSD because they can get supply of those (you can see the empty second SSD location on the systemboard pictures);
* Apple can get 128GB SSDs, but their purchase volume on 256GB SSDs means they are similar in price or cheaper than 2x128GB so they are using a single 256GB SSD to save money.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Juicy Box Avatar
14 weeks ago

It is not clear why Apple opted for a different NAND chip setup in the M2 MacBook Pro
My guess is that it saves Apple $$$.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thadoggfather Avatar
14 weeks ago
My truth is that quite frankly Im hurt, and I would accept no less than a nice DM from someone there at Apple Retail for a 50% off voucher for the midnight M2 Air to lessen the imminent blow with that one too. Please and thank you.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
14 weeks ago
When photoshop, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro are my day to day tools - why do I have a 256GB drive and 8GB RAM? Is that the real world???
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thadoggfather Avatar
14 weeks ago

Gotta squeeze that penny for stockholders, nothing to see here.

PS: Kidding, slower means more "privacy".
My M1 Air is now a SSD-speed demon lioness. I want to get some hot wheel decals for the old bugger.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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