Those in the market for a M2 MacBook Air should be aware that the base model with 256GB of storage reportedly will have slower performance when moving large files and when multitasking than versions of the new laptop with more storage capacity.
Apple says real world performance isn’t affected, but benchmarks show the base model is slower even than its M1 predecessor for some tasks.
M2 MacBook Air with 256GB is slower
The new 13.6-inch MacBook Air is than half an inch thick with a design similar to the 2021 MacBook Pro. A highlight is the Apple M2 processor, which Apple promises is 18% quicker than its predecessor.
The latest macOS notebook started reaching customers on Friday, but reviewers have had access for much longer. And they claim the base model has a hardware limitation that slows down performance in some situations.
The M2 MacBook Air includes 256GB of storage on a single chip. The same model with more storage capacity has two NAND chips. The Verge points out that the single NAND chip “can make the storage perform half as fast as even the older base M1 Air’s and will slow things down whenever you try to copy large files around or multitask enough to max out the 8GB of RAM and force it to use swap memory.”
The only workaround is to preconfigure the M2 MacBook Air with at least 512GB of storage at purchase, which adds $200 or more to the cost.
If this sound familiar, the base model M2 MacBook Pro that launched in June also has a single 256GB NAND chip.
Apple denies any real-world slowdown
Apple disputes this claim by saying the new NAND chip used in the 256GB M2 MacBook Air is fast enough to provide better real-world performance than earlier models when accessing the SSD. Any benchmark test results that show a different result do not reflect real-world use.
A company spokesperson told The Verge:
“Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.”