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Old May 6, 2014, 12:46 PM   #1
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SSD Speed Variations in 2014 MacBook Air Still Due to Drive Brand Mix, Not Broader Changes




For many years, Apple has used different suppliers for the solid-state drives (SSDs) in its MacBook Air models, with drive performance varying among manufacturer brands. A recent study by Macworld demonstrated rather dramatic differences in SSD read and write speeds between tested 2013 and 2014 models, but at the time it was unclear whether the poorer performance for the 2014 models was still simply due to drive brand variances or if there was something specific to the 2014 machines causing an overall degradation in performance.

Other World Computing (OWC) has now performed some apples-to-apples testing between 2013 and 2014 models with SanDisk SSDs, and has found that performance is nearly identical.

In OWC's testing using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the new MacBook Air model with a 128 GB SanDisk SSD reported read/write speeds of 705/315 MBps, while the 2013 version also with a 128 GB SanDisk drive scored similarly with read/write speeds of 711/316 MBps.

Macworld's testing of four machines (various combinations of 2013/2014 models at 11 and 13 inches) had included drives of two different capacities from three different manufacturers, making it difficult to determine the exact cause of the performance differences.

This variability in brand performance was noticed years ago, when Apple started using both Toshiba and Samsung SSDs in its MacBook Air models. Apple continues to use drives from different manufacturers in its 2014 models, including units from Samsung, Toshiba and SanDisk. How various batches of drives from the different manufacturers are assigned to various machines is unknown, and consumers are unable determine which brand of SSD is in their MacBook Air without opening the box and either booting the machine to examine system profile information or physically opening the machine.

Apple's new MacBook Airs are available from Apple's website beginning at $899, while the 2013 models are being sold at significant discounts through a number of retailers.

Article Link: SSD Speed Variations in 2014 MacBook Air Still Due to Drive Brand Mix, Not Broader Changes
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:48 PM   #2
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The included pictures don't really illustrate a huge difference. Things appear to have stabilize perhaps.
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:48 PM   #3
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If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:49 PM   #4
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It would be nice, by reading the serial number, to know if you are the "lucky" owner of a SanDisk drive...
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:50 PM   #5
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This was a realistic hypothesis from the start. The initial benchmarks never were conclusive enough to start making sensationalistic headlines. I'm disappointed by the reporting of the various Apple websites on that one. It's not like the performance variation across different component manufacturers was an unknown phenomenon.
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by procrastinasn View Post
If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
I was thinking the exact same thing!
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Old May 6, 2014, 12:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
The included pictures don't really illustrate a huge difference. Things appear to have stabilize perhaps.
That was the point of the picture- that the speeds of both SanDisk drives are equal.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:00 PM   #8
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Macbook Air 2013

this test was with samsumg 128GB on the Macbook Air 2013.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by procrastinasn View Post
If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
You know some people on here though..
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:02 PM   #10
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Yet more evidence that the upgrade may make sense from a technology standpoint (newer tech being used in the '14 MBA), but does not from a performance standponint.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
The included pictures don't really illustrate a huge difference. Things appear to have stabilize perhaps.
The pictures compares Sandisk 2013 vs 2014 and it's meant to show that Sandisk is consistently slow. Not sure about Samsung's performance in 2014, but if they are consistent with 2013's benchmarks too if you happen to get a model with a Samsung SSD you will get about twice the write speed compared to a Sandisk model:

http://blog.macsales.com/19008-perfo...s-are-the-same
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:05 PM   #12
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First it was the Dell Panel Lottery, then came the Apple Lottery.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:05 PM   #13
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So the difference is negligible, then.

I'd rather have the 100 TBH.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:07 PM   #14
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I don't understand why Apple can't mandate a certain level of performance from suppliers.

Or, maybe they do, and some drives are faster than the minimum required speed?
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:09 PM   #15
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I don't understand why Apple can't mandate a certain level of performance from suppliers.

Or, maybe they do, and some drives are faster than the minimum required speed?
I'd say they require a minimum speed.

99.999999% of users will not notice a difference - especially once you hit PCI-e speeds.

The only people that seem to care are news sites that are in need to click bait headlines.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:12 PM   #16
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If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
Makes a significant difference when using Pages.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsolar View Post
The pictures compares Sandisk 2013 vs 2014 and it's meant to show that Sandisk is consistently slow. Not sure about Samsung's performance in 2014, but if they are consistent with 2013's benchmarks too if you happen to get a model with a Samsung SSD you will get about twice the write speed compared to a Sandisk model:

http://blog.macsales.com/19008-perfo...s-are-the-same
That comparison is not valid since they are comparing a 128GB SanDisk SSD with a 512GB Samsung one. Write speed is limited by NAND performance, so the higher the capacity, the higher the write performance (more NAND = more parallelism = higher performance). Someone posted a benchmark of a 128GB Samsung SSD above, which shows the two being fairly equal in performance.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by unplugme71 View Post
Makes a significant difference when using Pages.
Seriously, I have a 2013 MBA and have never bothered to check the speed of the SSD. All I know is it boots up really quickly even after a restart and it's much much much faster than my last Mac which had a platter hard drive.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:17 PM   #19
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Testing a Sandisk v Sandisk only proves the Sandisk speed stayed virtually the same. I would like to see a test with comparable 2013 and 2014 models with SSD's from Sandisk, Toshiba, and Samsung. Only then will we have a better indication if there is really an issue. This test and the one from MacWorld with mixed drive capacities only serve to confuse rather than elucidate.
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Last edited by 69Mustang; May 6, 2014 at 10:39 PM. Reason: clarity-added 2013 and 2014
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Hellhammer View Post
That comparison is not valid since they are comparing a 128GB SanDisk SSD with a 512GB Samsung one. Write speed is limited by NAND performance, so the higher the capacity, the higher the write performance (more NAND = more parallelism = higher performance). Someone posted a benchmark of a 128GB Samsung SSD above, which shows the two being fairly equal in performance.
I thought this changed. I remember the Samsung 830 series got faster write speeds as the storage capacity increased, but with the 840 Pro series, the speeds remained constant.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:20 PM   #21
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Makes a significant difference when using Pages.
Or Safari...
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:23 PM   #22
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If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
It's a genuine problem for people who buy spec sheets to brag about on the internet, rather than computers for accomplishing tasks.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:24 PM   #23
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So, this proves the superiority of Samsung components. Perhaps Samsung should start requiring that whoever uses their components should puts "Samsung inside" logo on the devices. This would help consumers a lot. Why should the consumer pay the same price for a device that is twice slower?
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:30 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellhammer View Post
That comparison is not valid since they are comparing a 128GB SanDisk SSD with a 512GB Samsung one. Write speed is limited by NAND performance, so the higher the capacity, the higher the write performance (more NAND = more parallelism = higher performance). Someone posted a benchmark of a 128GB Samsung SSD above, which shows the two being fairly equal in performance.
Didn't know about that, thanks for the info. Still if you mean the screenshot showing 397MBps write speed that's 25% faster which is less dramatic but still significant.
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Old May 6, 2014, 01:36 PM   #25
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My poor rMBP Those new flash drives are sexy.
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