Looking to buy a 13-inch MacBook Pro? Well, with Apple, we've all got used to the idea that the latest model is the best. And so the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 (2022), which launched on 17 June, is surely a slam-dunk?
After all, it's got the latest M2 processor, which Apple says a 40% performance increase over the M1 chip in its predecessor, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020). As well as the promised speed boost, it means better battery life, at up to 20 hours. And best of all, the new version has launched at the same price as the earlier model, so you're not even paying extra (if that's still too much for you, keep an eye on our Apple Prime Day deals hub for bargains).
Admittedly, nobody has really got too excited by this new MacBook Pro, because ultimately, not that much has changed: it still has the same overall design, the same Touch Bar, the same 720p webcam. But at the same time, the consensus was that this was a marked improvement over the old model. Until, that is, a couple of YouTubers spotted something Apple had been keeping to themselves.
The problem is that, while the M2 processor is indeed faster than the older M1 chip, there's something else inside the laptop that's slowing things down: the SSD (solid state drive), which stores persistent data on solid-state flash memory.
Well, it turns out that in the base (256GB) model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2, the SSD only has a single NAND flash storage chip, while the older model had two. This wasn't publicised by Apple, and nobody noticed until recently because reviewers are not in the habit of taking the backs off laptops (the PR companies that loan them tend to want them back in one piece!)
The SSD issue came to light, though, after YouTuber Max Yuryev tested the base version (256GB) using Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test app (opens in new tab). He found that the SSD's read speeds are around 50% slower, and the write speeds are around 30% slower, when compared with the previous model. (Watch the video below).
Yuryev's results were as follows:
- 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
Another YouTube channel, Created Tech, came to similar conclusions:
A slower SSD is obviously an issue for anyone regularly transferring large files, such as graphic designers, motion designers, animators, VFX artists and other creative professionals. With 4K now the norm, and increasingly giving way to 8K and even higher resolutions, the amount of time it takes to move a file is really going to make an impact on your productivity.
But that's not all. SSDs aren't just used for file storage, but also double up as virtual RAM when your existing RAM is maxed out. And that tends to happen when you're running resource-intensive software, which is something many creative professionals do on a regular basis.
Should you buy it?
So what does this all mean for consumers? Well, to put it simply, if you buy the base model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 (2022), and use it to run Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro, 3DS Max, Maya or similar tools, you may well find the performance is actually slower than the 2020 M1 model.
The same problem doesn't appear to occur on the 512GB model, but that's a lot more expensive. So overall, if you deal with a lot of large files and use resource-intensive creative software, we'd recommend giving the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 a swerve, and stick with one of the existing models. (Our guides to the best MacBooks in general, and the best MacBooks for video editing can make you help that choice.)
Either that, or wait for the new MacBook Air 2022, which sounds like it'll be a lot more interesting.