Entry-Level M2 MacBook Pro Is No Speed Demon

Don't bother upgrading to M2 if you want fast

  • The new M2 MacBook Pro’s SSD is only half as fast as the old M1 model’s.
  • This only applies to the cheapest model, which nobody should buy anyway. 
  • Fast SSDs are about more than just opening your files quickly.
The Apple M2 MacBook Pro, half-closed against a dark background.


If you're considering upgrading your M1 MacBook Pro to the new M2 model, don't. Its SSD storage is only half the speed of the original.

The entry-level 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, the one with the Touch Bar and the aging six-year-old case design, is already a bad choice, but the news gets worse. Its SSD, the storage' disk,' only operates at half the speed of its predecessor. It's not a stretch to say that ever-faster SSDs have been the most important change in personal computers over the last decade, so this is a significant step backward. 

"An SSD performs the same function as a hard drive, but since it has no physical moving parts, it can be much faster. Installing Windows onto an SSD as opposed to an HDD will allow for faster boot times and overall more snappy response from the operating system," technology journalist Nick Page told Lifewire via email. "It's hard to express how significant the difference is, but once you've used an SSD, a hard drive can feel frustratingly slow."

Hard Drives vs SSDs

In the olden days, computers came with spinning hard drives, thick glass platters covered in magnetic material, with read/write heads that skittered across the surface without touching, mere nanometers from disaster. In a way, it was like a cross between a spinning vinyl record and a magnetic cassette, and it's amazing that they worked as well as they did. Or do—we still use hard drives where storage capacity is more important than speed. 

Then came SSDs, which have no moving parts, so the computer doesn't have to wait for the head to move into place before reading data. When SSDs were first introduced to personal computers, the difference was obvious and huge. Hard drives had long been the bottleneck in computer performance, and SSDs uncorked it in a spectacular fashion. 

An M2 MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar displaying graphics from the media engine.


"I believe the slow 256GB base M2 MacBook Pro SSD problem is a bigger deal than others are making it out to be," MaxTech's Vadim Yuryev said on Twitter, "especially since the new M2 model was SLOWER than the M1 when we put a multitasking RAM stress load on it."

Adding an SSD to an old computer could rejuvenate it. I swapped one into an old 2010 iMac, which meant I could keep using it for a decade. It's still perfectly usable today. 

The SSDs in Apple's current Mac lineup are some of the fastest in the business, but the throwback M2 MacBook Pro is a veritable sloth. What's happening?

Fast storage is especially important today because as it approaches the speeds of RAM from the recent past, it can be used as a substitute for that RAM. This allows the M1 iPads to run the new multiple-window Stage Manager feature. When they run out of precious RAM, they can swap that data to the SSD with relatively little loss in performance. 

M2 MacBook Slow

According to tests done by the Max Tech YouTube channel, these new Macs are actually slower than the old model. Specifically, the entry-level 256GB version of the M2 MacBook Pro shows a significant drop in SSD read speeds—the speed at which the computer can pull data off the drive. 

The old M1 MacBook Pro gets around 2,900MB/s, while the new M2 only reads at 1,446MB.

Open both computers, and it’s easy to see what’s happening. While the old version uses two 128GB NAND SSD chips, the new Mac uses a single 256GB chip. Because those two chips can run in parallel, they can offer more speed—double, in this case. 

The answer is not to buy the entry-level model but to step up to the 512GB version instead. One does wonder who needs a pro-level Mac with the latest M2 chip but then skimps on the internal storage. 256GB isn’t really enough storage for anyone.

The real answer is not to buy this computer at all. As we wrote last week, it’s a legacy, 2016-era MacBook with a new chip inside. Either wait for the new M2 MacBook Air, which should go on sale sometime in July, or just buy the older M1 MacBook Air that’s available now for just $1,000, and spend the difference on more SSD space. You won’t regret it.

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