SSD Speed Variations in 2014 MacBook Air Still Due to Drive Brand Mix, Not Broader Changes

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 6, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The included pictures don't really illustrate a huge difference. Things appear to have stabilize perhaps.
  3. procrastinasn macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    If people are seriously disappointed at +/- 5 MB/s when speeds are 700MB/s+.. there are some other serious issues..
  4. Populus macrumors 6502


    Aug 24, 2012
    Valencia, Spain.
    It would be nice, by reading the serial number, to know if you are the "lucky" owner of a SanDisk drive...
  5. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    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.
  6. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    I was thinking the exact same thing!
  7. tommyminahan macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2008
    That was the point of the picture- that the speeds of both SanDisk drives are equal.
  8. iKbomac macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2013
    Puerto Rico
    Macbook Air 2013

    this test was with samsumg 128GB on the Macbook Air 2013.

    Attached Files:

  9. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    You know some people on here though..
  10. polterbyte macrumors 6502


    Sep 24, 2012
    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.
  11. bsolar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2011
    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:
  12. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    First it was the Dell Panel Lottery, then came the Apple Lottery.
  13. Jsameds Suspended

    Apr 22, 2008
    So the difference is negligible, then.

    I'd rather have the £100 TBH.
  14. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    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?
  15. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    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.
  16. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

    May 20, 2011
    Makes a significant difference when using Pages. :D
  17. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    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.
  18. octothorpe8 macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2014
    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.
  19. 69Mustang, May 6, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014

    69Mustang macrumors 601


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    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.
  20. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

    May 20, 2011
    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.
  21. Jsameds Suspended

    Apr 22, 2008
    Or Safari... :rolleyes:
  22. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2014
    It's a genuine problem for people who buy spec sheets to brag about on the internet, rather than computers for accomplishing tasks.
  23. lilo777 macrumors 603

    Nov 25, 2009
    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?
  24. bsolar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2011
    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.
  25. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    My poor rMBP :( Those new flash drives are sexy.

    Attached Files:

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