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The 15-inch MacBook Air repeats one of Apple’s worst mistakes

The 15-inch MacBook Air may be a new chapter for Apple’s thin and light laptop, but it seems to be repeating a disappointing mistake that we’ve seen way too often in the company’s products. If you want to configure it with the fastest SSD possible without breaking the bank, we’ve got some bad news.

According to a video posted by the tech YouTubers at Max Tech, the base model of the 15-inch MacBook Air only comes with a single NAND chip for its onboard SSD storage, rather than the two chips used in the past. It’s a regrettable decision that nevertheless mirrors practically every other Mac that Apple has released recently.

15" MacBook Air Teardown: I CAN'T Believe Apple did THIS

Why is this a problem? Well, with just one NAND chip, SSD performance is drastically reduced. While Max Tech hasn’t yet released any testing on the latest MacBook Air, benchmark results for previous models showed a stark difference.

For instance, Max Tech previously found that the M2 13-inch MacBook Air (with a single NAND chip) offered roughly half the read speeds of the M1 13-inch MacBook Air (tested with dual NAND chips).

The good news is that the SSD issue only affects the entry-level MacBook Air with 256GB of storage. If you bump up the storage capacity to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB, you won’t run into these problems since Apple uses two NAND chips on all of these models.

An unfortunate choice

15-inch MacBook Air shown at WWDC 2023.
Apple

It’s worth noting that even with one NAND chip, Apple’s Macs still use blazing-fast storage. Despite halving the SSD speed, the M2 13-inch MacBook Air tested by Max Tech still hit 1,446Mb/s read speeds in its storage benchmark.

The MacBook Air is aimed at everyday consumers and not pro users, and for your average laptop buyer, it’ll still feel plenty fast. It’s more of a problem in the MacBook Pro — slashing SSD speeds in a laptop presented as a professional’s dream machine just feels plain wrong.

That said, it’s still disappointing to see Apple compromise on SSD speed since this has always been a key selling point of its Macs. While the 15-inch MacBook Air’s storage should still be zippy in most use cases, no one likes to feel as if their new purchase has been hobbled.

Since Apple is evidently still cutting back on SSD speeds, this seems like a trend that isn’t going to change any time soon. If you want the absolute fastest transfers you can get in the 15-inch MacBook Air, be prepared to fork out another $200 for the 512GB storage option.

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