2014 MacBook Airs Demonstrating Slower Flash Storage Speeds Than 2013 Models

The newly released 2014 MacBook Airs are seeing improved processor performance thanks to updated Haswell chips, but storage performance appears to have declined.

In a series of performance benchmark tests performed by Macworld, tests of the flash storage suggested the new MacBook Airs are performing slower than the 2013 MacBook Airs. The comparison, which included a 2013 11-inch MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD and a 2013 13-inch MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD vs. a 2014 11-inch model with a 128GB SSD and a 13-inch model with a 256GB SSD, found that the 2013 models were twice as slow as the 2013 models at some tasks.

Copying 6GB of files and folders took 28 seconds on last year’s 11-inch MacBook Air, but took nearly twice as long (54 seconds) on this year’s 11-inch model. With solid-state storage, lower capacity drives are often slower performers, and last year’s 11-inch had the higher capacity 256GB of flash. However, the new 11-inch model was also slower than last year’s 13-inch model with 128GB of flash storage.

Compressing 6GB of files also took longer on the 2014 MacBook Air, and Macworld described unzipping as “just plain slow” with the new 11-inch version taking three times as long to unzip files as the 2013 model.

Using fewer but larger files, the performance difference narrowed between the two models, but the 2014 11-inch MacBook Air still performed 35 percent slower copying files than the mid–2013 13-inch MacBook Air with the same storage capacity and 53 percent slower when uncompressing files.

The Blackmagic Disk Speed Test also showed the new models running slower than the older models, with write/read speeds as follows (in MBps):

– 2013 13-inch with 128GB SSD: 445/725
– 2013 11-inch with 256GB SSD: 687/725
– 2014 13-inch with 256GB SSD: 520/676
– 2014 11-inch with 128GB SSD: 306/620

All four of the drives in the MacBook Airs tested came from different manufacturers, with two from Samsung, one from Toshiba, and one from SanDisk, which accounts for the performance discrepancies. Speed differences between SSDs used within Apple’s MacBook Air computers have been highlighted before in previous models and as suggested in the past, while the speed variations may be noticeable in some high-intensity tasks, they are unlikely to be noticed during day-to-day usage.

Released earlier this week, the new MacBook Airs are available from Apple’s website beginning at $899.

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