2013 MacBook Air NGFF PCIe SSD Review (256GB) – Pre-Configured MBA Doesn’t Set The ‘PC’ Performance Bar

New Article featuredIf you’ve been hanging around TSSDR or Technology X lately, you will have noticed that Apple shipped us a brand smacking new MBA, complete with a Samsung 256GB NGFF PCIe SSD that spits out performance as high as 825MB/s.

Since our initial MBA reports, we have had the opportunity to do what we do best and install Windows 7 on the MBA, followed by complete testing of the new Samsung PCIe SSD in a Windows environment.

To be frank, our PC benchmarking of this SSD resulted in some of the worst SSD performance we have seen to date and we don’t believe this to be the fault of the Samsung PCIe SSD.  While testing in Windows 7, performance had even increased from 794MB/s to 824MB/s and, on the outset, this machine appears to the screaming thunder of storage performance.

2013 MacBook Air Angled

Our storage review of the new 2013 MBA is a great opportunity to illustrate the need to understand different storage performance and  in very common language.  This understanding may save potential buyers of SSD contained systems a great deal of money or….may cost them a great deal of money unnecessarily.


We are not going to belabor this report by rehashing things that we stated in the linked reports above, but to say that the new 2013 is an amazing ultra, regardless of what we discovered while testing this system in a Windows 7 environment.  No other laptop on the market can reach 12 hours battery life, and it’s build and pricing model consistent with the last generation MBA, make purchase a no-brainer for those looking to purchase the Mac experience.  Add to that the fact that it is based on the new Haswell chipset and it is the first with the new PCIe storage solution, a solution that will definitely appeal to media professionals who transfer countless gigabytes of media files on a daily basis.  The new 2013 MBA has set itself up for a definite following.


Once the base of the 2013 MBA is removed, the most prominent feature (at least to an SSD guy) is the Samsung NGFF PCIe SSD.  The Samsung SSD will be found in 256 and 512GB models while a SanDisk ‘Marvell based’ SSD is found in the 128GB SSD contained MBA.

2013 MacBook Air Disassembled

Clicking on any of our charts or photographs will bring up a larger high resolution version.

 The Samsung PCIe SSD is a blade style SSD and contains the Samsung S4LNo53X01-8030 controller based on their 3-core eight channel MDX (300MHz) architecture, only without the restrictions of SATA 3 that limits performance to just over 500MB/s.  There is also a Samsung 512MB LP (low power) DDR2 DRAM cache present on the SSD along with eight modules of Samsung MLC NAND flash memory, numbered K9HFGY8S5C-XCKO.

Samsung NGFF PCIe SSD Front

Each package of memory is 32GB in size for a total advertised RAW capacity of 256GB, although final formatting only leaves the end user with a user capacity of 232GB.

Samsung NGFF PCIe SSD Back