Why Apple MacBook SSDs got slower in 2019

Apple’s latest base MacBooks are a really great value compared to last year, especially the base MacBook Pro which now packs a powerful quad-core processor, the Touch Bar, and the T2 chip. And what’s most impressive is that it’s still priced at only $1300 and it performs close to as well as the more expensive $1800 model. The MacBook Air didn’t really change much at all since last year, but it actually got $100 cheaper. So you may be asking, what’s the catch? How was Apple able to offer so much more value this year, and did they have to sacrifice something? The answer is, yes, they did, and it has to do with the SSDs. After some testing with the new 2019 MacBooks, we’ve found that the storage transfer speeds have actually gone down. For example, the 2017 $1300 MacBook Pro with the base 128GB SSD got around 2300 MB/s read speed, compared to only around 1300 MB/s on 2019 base model. That’s a 1,000 MB/s drop in speed. And even if you upgrade to the 256GB SSD, it’s still around 1000MB/s slower than the 256gig on the $1800 MacBook Pro, which shows that only the base model has been affected. And we see the same thing on the MacBook Air as well. This years’ model dropped by around 600 MB/s read speed when comparing two 128gig models. So we can see that the SSDs are definitely slower this year, but the biggest question that we have is, will the slower storage speeds negatively impact the machines during day-to-day use, and by how much? And even though they’re slower, are they still fast enough for most people? Well, for starters, we compared the $1300 base MacBook Pros SSD to Dell’s brand new XPS 13 laptop with a 256GB SSD, and we found that the MacBook was still slightly faster than the XPS. And that’s the story for most Windows laptops, packing SSDs that are slower than the ones that come in MacBooks, even with the speeds being slower this year! And interestingly, if you jump to a 256GB SSD or larger, the write speeds actually go up significantly, and that’s because the larger storage drives have more individual NAND flash chips on them than on the 128GB SSD, allowing them to work together to provide faster write speeds. But the point of this testing is that for many years, Apple was putting in top-of-the-line SSDs, which in my opinion, were overkill for most people, especially on the base models. So to find out if they old SSDs were actually overkill, and if these new ones are still fast enough, we decided to run a few tests to see if the extra SSD speed actually makes a noticeable difference in day-to-day tasks. So we took the base 2019 MacBook Pro with a 256GB SSD and compared it to the $1800 models matching 256GB SSD, which has around 1,000 MBps faster read speeds at 2600 Mbps instead of 1600 on the base Pro. Our first test was a simple restart test, which has to read and load up all of the system files to start up, and the base MacBook Pro was only a few seconds behind. We then loaded up two identical Libraries in Final Cut Pro X, and the $1800 MacBook was again, just slightly faster. We also opened up Lightroom Classic, and saw exactly the same results as before. So it seems like opening apps and starting up macOS is just slightly faster going from 1600 to 2600MBps read speed, so in this case, I’d definitely take higher performance instead of faster SSD speeds. So we moved on to seeing if we could max out the SSD speeds during heavy workloads using Final Cut Pro and Lightroom, and then opening up the activity monitor to see how much data was being read or written per second, and throughout all of our testing, we didn’t see it go higher than 87 MB/s for either read or write speeds. That’s nowhere near the maximum transfer speeds of even the slower 2019 SSDs. And the main reason we only saw a high of 87 MB/s is because the storage has to wait on the processor and graphics to render and export the files, which is what you’ll experience while using basically every app out there. We then hooked up one of the most popular external SSDs, Samsung’s T5, and transferred large file from it to each of the MacBook Pros to see which one finished first, and both took exactly the same time. That’s because the MacBook SSDs can only transfer data as fast as the connected device can transfer data, and most external SSDs, like the T5, are limited to only around 500 MBps read and write speeds. And basically every flash drive and even UHS-II SD card readers are even slower than that, so you basically won’t see any difference in transfer speeds unless you’re using a top-of-the-line Thunderbolt 3 external SSD, which are extremely expensive. And if you’re willing to buy one of those, and can actually put those high transfer speeds to use, you most likely will be buying a higher-end MacBook Pro with faster SSD speeds. The point I’m trying to make is that most people who are in the market for a budget-oriented 13” MacBook probably won’t be able to max out the speed of even the slower SSDs that come on the new base models. And even though there is a small difference in boot up speed and loading up apps, the base SSDs are more than fast enough already. So if I had to choose between having better processor performance, extra features or a cheaper price instead of having a faster SSD, I would sacrifice the extra SSD speed every single time. We’ve gotta give props to Apple for making this choice, because getting $100 off the MacBook Air or getting much more performance and features on the base MacBook Pro for the same exact price is well worth the slower SSD speeds that most people in that market probably won’t notice anyway. And due to the amount of users that commented on our videos saying that they’re finally gonna pick up a MacBook thanks to the awesome value the new base models pack, we’d have to say that the general public agrees with us as well.

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Editor at e4shared, Introvert. Tv evangelist. Social media junkie. Unapologetic thinker. Food enthusiast. Award-winning coffee buff.

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