What MacBooks Need to Learn from Competitors About Transparency

Look, I understand. When you buy an entry-level laptop, you’re not getting the same components as the more expensive models. But usually, it covers things like the size of the SSD, the amount of RAM, or the specific CPU. These are the obvious choices you know you’re making when you’re running low on cash.

But Apple is taking things a step further. It all started with the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2, where the entry-level models with 256GB of storage used slower single-NAND SSDs than faster dual-NAND SSDs. Without going into unnecessary technical detail, 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 has done the same with the performance-oriented M2 MacBook Pro, which also has the smallest 512GB SSD single-NAND and is considerably slower.

Mark Cappock/Digital Trends

what is the meaning of this?

According to 9to5Mac, a 512GB SSD reads at 2973MB/s and writes at 3,145.5 MB/s, while SSDs 1TB and larger read at 4,900 MB/s and write at 3,950 MB/s. This is a significant deficit, especially in read performance, and will affect booting the laptop, opening and saving files, and switching to and from RAM when physical memory runs out. This is just one performance metric, and as Apple points out, the entry-level MacBook Pro M2 Pro is overall faster than the entry-level MacBook Pro M1 Pro. This difference is going to affect mostly the most demanding users. But that’s not the point.

The thing is, there’s no way to know when you’re buying a laptop that by saving a few dollars you’re reducing storage capacity. And Compromised performance. That may not make much of a difference to MacBook Air users who are likely running mainstream productivity apps on their machines, but to those buying a MacBook Pro, which starts at $2,000 for the entry-level MacBook Pro 14 starts, it can make a huge difference. .

Editing photos and video benefits from faster storage speeds, and the drop in performance means it takes longer to perform the same task. Added up over time, this can make a difference in productivity and money earned.

When I bought my machine, I ended up with a 1TB MacBook Pro 14 with an M1 Pro, but that was only because the model I bought had a $450 discount compared to the $350 discount on the entry-level model. A discount was offered. I’d still be pretty unhappy if I’d opted for a less expensive machine overall, but got less performance in return. In fact, if given the conscious choice, I’d happily spend more money for the quick fix. And I’m not even a power user.

What is the solution?

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

This does not apply to every manufacturer, many of whom use such less expensive components in potentially lower configurations and say nothing. But some companies, like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, tell you exactly what you’re getting when you’re configuring your laptop. For example, here 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’s clear which drive you’re getting when you make your choice. And check out the 512GB and 1TB options. Yes, that’s right, there is a PCIe Gen3 (probably) and a PCIe Gen4 option. You can choose to spend a little more money and get a more expensive drive. I’m not suggesting that Apple offer the same kind, but it’s the communication that’s important here. It is clear to the buyer that if they choose a smaller drive, they are giving up a faster storage option.

HP does something similar in the HP Envy x360 13 configurator. Again, this isn’t exactly the same situation as with MacBooks, but HP makes it clear that there is a higher performance option.

HP Envy x360 13 configuration page showing SSD performance.

I couldn’t find any specific examples of any of these vendors offering an entry-level drive that was slower than the next version, but I suspect the same information would be made available. And that’s what Apple should do.

Here is its storage configuration section for the MacBook Pro 14.

Apple MacBook Pro configuration page showing SSD performance.

check this out? There’s no indication that you’re getting a slower drive if you opt for a 512GB SSD. All Apple needs to do here (and with their configurations for other affected products) is add some sort of disclaimer. They can be technical and put “(single-NAND)” next to 512GB listings and “(double-NAND)” next to larger SSDs. Or, they can simply point out that larger SSDs provide faster performance. And ironically, not only will they avoid bothering people who aren’t getting what they expect, they’ll likely send more people to larger drives and increase their sales. .

Just do the right thing

Again, I’m sure it’s not just Apple playing this game. But Apple’s marketing efforts are heavily skewed towards promising the highest performance in a laptop if you buy its much more expensive MacBook Pro. And make no mistake about it, at a starting price of $2,000, MacBook Pros are expensive machines. Most people who buy them want the most performance they can get, while spending the right amount of money.

Does the $200 savings justify what may only be a slight real-world drop in performance? Probably. But that should be a decision for the buyer, not Apple.

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