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New M3 MacBook Air has changes that make the SSD faster than the last model

15-inch MacBook Air

Apple has finally fixed its SSD speeds in the entry-level model of M3 MacBook Air, with it now using two flash chips in parallel instead of just one.

Early models of MacBook Air with Apple Silicon suffered a problem with the lowest-capacity models, in that its SSD storage wasn't necessarily as fast as other capacities. It now seems that, for the third generation, Apple has made a change to eliminate the problem.

In previous releases, it was discovered that the base 256GB capacity models used only one flash chip for storage. While other models used two running in parallel, such as two 256GB chips for a 512GB capacity drive, the 256GB model would use one 256GB flash chip instead of two 128GB versions.

To end users, this resulted in much slower storage read and write speeds in the entry-level model.

When AppleInsider reviewed the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2, the read and write speeds of the 512GB capacity model were about 3,100 MB/s for writes and 2,800 MB/s for reads. At the time, the 256GB capacity model managed read and write speeds of around 1,450 MB/s each way, indicating the use of a single flash chip.

In a retrial of an M3 equipped MacBook Air with 256GB of storage, the read speed was much higher, at 2,672MB/s. This means Apple has decided that using two smaller chips was the best move instead of using a single larger chip.

A storage speed test showing higher speeds in an entry-level MacBook Air with M3
A storage speed test showing higher speeds in an entry-level MacBook Air with M3

While this is an improvement that end users will benefit from, it's not really going to be a major benefit for the majority of users. As a mainstream model, users are unlikely to be seriously tasking the MacBook Air that often, and it certainly won't factor in to typical day-to-day tasks such as web browsing.

Mac users who depend on fast storage are likely to want higher performance overall, and will most probably lean towards owning the MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air.