Well, that escalated quickly, didn’t it?
A bunch of tests carried out by benchmarking experts, Max Tech, has revealed that the latest piece of Apple silicon is slower than its predecessor.
This is one-hundred per cent the case. If you’ll allow me to get unusually nerdy about this for a brief second, the issue relates to the use of a single NAND storage chip in the 256GB base model of the M2 MacBook Pro. The previous generation used two NAND chips, thus splitting that storage equally between both – a technique which delivers faster SSD speeds.
Max Tech’s tests confirmed this. Yet, I still made a follow-up video in which I suggested that ‘normal’ users simply aren’t going to notice the reduction in SSD speed. This, as you can imagine, drew a sea container load of attention to my channel – both good and bad.
I even bickered a bit with Max Tech’s Vadim Yuryev on Twitter.
It all got a bit heated and silly.
Then, I invited him onto the channel and podcast for an interview. And he said “yes”.
Bagging an interview with Max Tech
I won’t beat around the bush – getting Max Tech onto my channel and the Eight or Sixteen podcast was both a personal highlight and a massively strategic move for my brand. Max Tech has grown massively over the last couple of years. As I write, they’re approaching one million YouTube subscribers, and have a huge army of loyal fans who love their approach to deep-dive product testing and benchmarking.
We have vastly different audiences and contrasting approaches to making YouTube videos. But do I want a share of the attention their brand enjoys? You bet your bottom dollar I do.
The other reason I wanted to get Vadim on the channel was to try and lift a lid on what’s really going on with the M2 chip and Max Tech’s reporting of it. I maintain my stance that they relied too heavily on hyperbole and tabloid-style headlines to gain attention. As a result, the central message Yuryev and his team were attempting to convey was entirely lost.
The only thing everyone heard was, “APPLE’S NEW M2 CHIP IS SLOWER THAN THE M1 CHIP AND IT OVERHEATS”. There was, in fact, far more to Max Tech’s testing than that; it was full of caveats about the 8K Canon RAW tests they’d carried out, and Yuryev himself admitted during our interview that the real issue isn’t the throttling they discovered – it’s the SSD speeds.
Vadim was brilliantly candid during the interview and admitted that there were a couple of things he could have done better in order to ensure the full message had been conveyed. The same goes for yours truly; I jumped in without all of the facts and should have spent more time digging into the Max Tech tests.
It was a cathartic, good-natured, positive chat which revealed how much more goes into running these YouTube brands than most people think – and the pitfalls we encounter along the way.
If you haven’t seen the chat with Vadim, I’ll pop it below, but you can also listen to the full-length version on Eight or Sixteen.
A real-world follow-up
Max Tech has responded to the criticism that has been thrown their way by publishing another bunch of tests for the M2 MacBook Pro. In their words, these follow-up tests are a “No BS Real-World Comparison”, and the results are genuinely concerning.
Something isn’t quite right.
Max Tech once again pits the M1 MacBook Air against the M2 MacBook Pro. Both are base model machines with 256GB of storage and 8GB of unified memory. Rather than pelting both machines with colossal 8K workloads and relentless benchmarks, Max Tech instead demonstrates a bunch of very reasonable tasks. These ranged from Xcode programming, to light photo editing and exporting, multi-tasking, and some 4K video editing.
I’ll let their video do the talking, but the net result is that the 256GB version of the M2 MacBook Pro is only quicker than its predecessor if you’re running one app at a time. If you multitask, it performs much slower than the outgoing model.
Yes, you read that right.
The assumption is that this is due to that single NAND chip, but there’s no escaping Max Tech’s findings. Presented in real-time and without any of the hyperbole seen previously, they reveal that the M2 chip with 256GB does indeed struggle significantly if, say, you’re running Final Cut Pro alongside a bunch of other apps in the background.
If you’re anything like me, this will lead you to one very simple question.
What does this mean for the M2 MacBook Air?
At this moment in time, a heavy pinch of salt is required because no one has got their hands on the M2 MacBook Air yet (at least, the initial embargoed reviews haven’t yet dropped). So, the answer to the question above is a resolute “we have no idea”.
We can make some educated guesses, though. And I’d suggest that we’re going to see pretty much identical deficiencies in SSD speed over the M1 version.
This bothers me. If you know me by now, you’ll know that I’ve built this brand around base-level tech, and only recommend upgrades and additional spending if you absolutely need to. The M1 MacBook Air is the epitome of this – and remains so. The stuff you can do with the base model of that laptop is absolutely breathtaking.
What if Apple really has slipped up with the M2? What if you have to close a bunch of apps in order to achieve the same kind of performance you enjoyed on your M1 machine? That’s not right, is it?
We can all argue until we’re blue in the face about the merits of opting for 256GB of storage in 2022, but that’s irrelevant; it’s an option, and it’s one that a great many people will go for – me included. If there are noticeable performance issues, Apple has some answering to do.
I will remain as level-headed about this as possible until I’ve actually got my hands on an M2 MacBook Air. Which, all being well, will be later this week!
Expect lots of content.
[…] Update (2022-07-12): Mark Ellis: […]