What MacBooks needs to learn from rivals about transparency

See, I got it. When you buy an entry-level laptop, you don’t get the same hardware as more expensive models. And usually, that covers things like the size of the SSD, the amount of RAM, or the specific CPU. These are the obvious choices you know you are making when you invest your money.

But Apple is taking things further. It started with the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2, where the entry-level model has 256GB of storage and uses slower single-NAND SSDs compared to faster dual-NAND SSDs. Without going into unnecessary technical details, I will say that the smaller drive is slower than the larger drive – about half as fast, in fact. And then, to make things worse, Apple has done the same thing with the M2 MacBook Pro in the works, and the minimum 512GB SSD is single-NAND and better to slow down.

Apple MacBook Pro seen on the side.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

What does it mean?

According to 9to5Mac, the 512GB SSD reads at 2973MB/s and writes at 3,145.5 MB/s, while the 1TB and larger SSD reads at 4,900 MB/s and writes at 3,950 MB/s. Especially in reading tasks, that is a useful error, and it will affect moving the laptop, opening and saving files, and switching to RAM when the physical memory stops. It’s just one performance metric, so as Apple points out, the entry-level MacBook Pro M2 Pro is still generally faster than the entry-level MacBook Pro M1 Pro. This difference will affect the most demanding users. But that’s not the point.

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The point is that there is no way to know when buying a laptop that by saving a few dollars, you are reducing the storage capacity. and impairing performance. That may not be important for MacBook Air users who may be running productive applications on their machines, but for MacBook Pro buyers, which start at $2,000 for the entry-level MacBook Pro 14, it may be more useful. .

Editing photos and videos benefits from faster storage, and reduced performance means it takes longer to do the same job. Added up over time, that can make a difference in productivity and revenue.

I ended up buying a 1TB MacBook Pro 14 and an M1 Pro when I bought my machine, but that was only because the model I bought offered a $450 discount compared to the $350 discount on the entry-level model. I wouldn’t be happy now if I had to choose a cheaper machine overall, but I got less performance in return. Of course, if given the choice, I’d happily spend more money for a faster setup. And I am no longer a power worker.

What is the solution?

Many people have complained in op-eds on Twitter, Reddit, and many other places, and I don’t want to just add to the noise. But there is a simple solution, and one that Apple should consider if it wants its customers to stand out.

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This does not affect the manufacturers at all, many of them can use cheap things like this in small batches and not say anything. But some companies, like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, tell you exactly what you’re getting when you customize your laptop. For example, this is Lenovo’s SSD configuration section for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 configuration page showing SSD performance.

As you can see, it is clear which drive you get when you make your choice. And note the 512GB and 1TB options. Yes, that’s right, there is a PCIe Gen3 (probably) and a PCIe Gen4 option. You may choose to spend less and get a more expensive drive. I’m not suggesting that Apple make such an offer, but it’s an important communication here. It is clear to the buyer that if they opt for a small drive, they are giving up the option of storage.

HP does something similar with the HP Envy x360 13 processor. Again, it’s not the same situation with MacBooks, but HP specifies that there are high performance options.

HP Envy x360 13 configuration page showing SSD performance.

I couldn’t find a single example of where any of the vendors offered an entry-level drive that was slower than another model, but I imagine the same message would be made. And that’s what Apple should be doing.

This is the storage configuration section for the MacBook Pro 14.

The Apple MacBook Pro configuration page shows SSD performance.

See that? There is no sign of slowing down if you choose a 512GB SSD. All Apple needs to do here (along with their plans for other affected products) is to add some sort of statement. They can be technical and put “(single-NAND)” next to the 512GB list and “(double-NAND)” next to larger SSDs. Or, they may show that larger SSDs provide faster performance. And surprisingly, not only will they avoid getting upset with people who don’t get what they expected, but they can also annoy a lot of people and drive a lot and increase their sales.

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Just do the right thing

Again, I’m sure Apple isn’t the only one playing this game. But Apple’s marketing efforts are heavily skewed towards promising the highest performance in laptops if you buy an expensive MacBook Pro. But make no mistake about it, with a starting price of $2,000, MacBook Pros are expensive machines. Many buyers may want the best performance they can get, while spending a reasonable amount of money.

Does saving $200 justify what might just be a real performance cut? Perhaps. But that should be for the buyer, not Apple, to decide.

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