M3 MacBook Air got a massive SSD upgrade over M2 — 256GB model's two NAND chips deliver 83% read speed boost

The 2024 MacBook Air M3 on a wooden table in front of a bookshelf.
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Apple’s brand-new M3 MacBook Air features a significantly boosted 256GB SSD hard drive that rectifies one of the biggest drawbacks of the M2 MacBook Air, its read and write speeds. 

In the M2 MacBook Air, Apple used a single higher-density NAND chip for its 256GB SSD storage option. Upon release, it quickly became apparent that the benchmark scores for the chip were significantly lower than Apple’s old M1 MacBook Air, one of the best MacBooks the company has ever made. Apple claimed, "While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2-based systems for real-world activities are even faster.”

Despite defending its decision to adopt the single-chip configuration at the time, Apple has reversed course with the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Air models, opting for two 128GB chips instead. Because our M3 MacBook Air review features a 512GB model, we’ve not been able to run tests, but data from Max Tech confirms the new SSD is significantly faster than its predecessor. 

M3 MacBook Air SSD speeds 

According to Max Tech, the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air with 256GB of storage delivers sequential read and write speeds of 2,880.2 MB/s and 2,108.9 MB/s respectively. That’s a commendable write speed increase of 33% over the M2’s 256GB capacity and an eye-watering 82.7% increase over the read speed. 

The boost is great news for prospective M3 MacBook Air customers who don’t want to fork out for extra storage just to get the best hard drive speeds possible from the latest MacBook Air. 

Unveiled March 4 and released March 8, the new M3 version retains the popular design of the previous M2 model while delivering significantly faster day-to-day computing thanks to the M3 chip. The latest generation of Apple silicon boasts power and efficiency bonuses over both the M1 and M2 models. Apple also debuted both a 13 and 15-inch model together for the first time, cementing the lineup for the foreseeable future. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9