What MacBooks need to learn from competitors about transparency

See, I see. When you buy an entry-level laptop, you don’t get the same components as with more expensive models. But that usually covers things like the size of the SSD, the amount of RAM, or the specific CPU. These are obvious choices that you know you’re making when you’re paying.

But Apple took things a step further. It all started with MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2, with entry-level models with 256GB storage using slower single NAND SSDs compared to faster dual NAND SSDs. Without going into unnecessary technical details, I’ll just say that smaller drives are slower than larger drives – about half as fast, in fact. And then, to make matters worse, Apple did the same with the performance-oriented M2 MacBook Prowith the smallest 512GB SSD being single NAND too and much slower.

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

what do you mean?

to me 9to5MacA 512GB SSD reads at 2973MB/s and writes at 3145.5MB/s, while a 1TB and larger SSD reads 4900MB/s and writes at 3950MB/s. Particularly in read performance, this is a huge deficit, and will affect booting the laptop, opening and saving files, and switching to and from RAM when physical memory runs out. It’s just one performance metric, and as Apple points out, the entry-level MacBook Pro M2 Pro is still faster overall than the entry-level MacBook Pro M1 Pro. This difference will mostly affect the most demanding users. But this is not the point.

The point is, there’s no way to know when you buy the laptop that by saving a few bucks you’re cutting back on storage And compromising performance. This might not matter for MacBook Air users who are likely to run mainstream productivity apps on their machines, but for people who buy a MacBook Pro, which starts at $2,000 for the entry-level MacBook Pro 14, it can matter a lot more. .

Photo and video editing benefits from faster storage speeds, and performance cuts mean it takes longer to perform the same tasks. This can make a difference in productivity and money earned, if added up over time.

I ended up with a 1TB MacBook Pro 14 with the M1 Pro when I bought my machine, but that was only because the model I bought offered a $450 discount compared to a $350 discount on the entry-level model. I would now be unhappy if I opted for the less expensive device overall, but got lower performance in return. In fact, if I had been given the informed choice, I would have happily made more money for the faster configuration. And I’m not even a power user.

What’s the solution?

Lots of people have already complained in opinion pieces, on Twitter, Reddit, and many other places, and I don’t want to just add to the noise. But there is an easy fix, and one that Apple should consider if it wants to be transparent with its customers.

This doesn’t apply to every manufacturer, and many of them are likely to use less expensive components like this in lower configurations and say nothing, either. But some companies, such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo, tell you exactly what you’ll get when you configure your laptop. For example, here’s Lenovo’s SSD Configuration section for ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 configuration page shows SSD performance.

As you can see, it is clear which drive you are getting when you make your selection. And note my 512GB and 1TB options. Yes, that’s right, there is a PCIe Gen3 (most likely) and a PCIe Gen4 option. You can choose to spend more money and get a more expensive drive. I’m not suggesting Apple make the same kind of offering, but communication is what counts here. It is clear to the buyer that if he opts for the smaller drive, he is forgoing the faster storage option.

HP does something similar in their HP Envy x360 13 Printer component. Again, it’s not quite the same as with the MacBooks, but HP makes it clear that there is a higher performance option.

The HP Envy x360 13 configuration page shows SSD performance.

I couldn’t find a specific example of where any of these vendors offered an entry-level engine that was slower than the next version, but I suspect the same information will be provided. This is what Apple should do.

Here’s the storage configuration section for the MacBook Pro 14.

Apple MacBook Pro configuration page showing SSD performance.

look at this? There’s no indication that you’re getting a slower drive if you opt for the 512GB SSD. All Apple needs to do here (and with its configurations of other affected products) is add some sort of disclaimer. They could be technical and put “(single-NAND)” next to the 512GB list and “(double-NAND) next to the larger SSDs. Or they could simply point out that larger SSDs offer faster performance. Ironically, they won’t Not only do they avoid annoying people who don’t get what they expect, but they’re also likely to sell more people to bigger drives and increase their sales.

Just do the right thing

Again, I’m sure it’s not just Apple that is playing this game. But Apple’s marketing efforts lean heavily toward promising the highest performance in a laptop if you buy the very expensive MacBook Pro. And make no mistake about it, with a starting price of $2,000, MacBook Pros are expensive machines. Most people who buy them likely want the maximum performance they can get, while spending the right amount of money.

Does the $200 saving justify what might just be a slight decrease in real-world performance? Maybe. But that should be up to the buyer, not Apple, to decide.

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