Home Technology Laptops & Tablets Apple's new M1 Macs face alarming SSD wear

Apple’s new M1 Macs face alarming SSD wear

Apple’s M1 processor debut made gigantic waves amidst the tech community. It marked the entrance of a new competitor up against the OG processor companies of Intel and AMD. Intel has been slacking off lately in its technological advancements, especially its outdated 14Nm architecture and HD graphics. However, Apple’s M1 processor brings better i-GPU performance.

Apple’s move to combine their proprietary CPU with their latest mac OS (Big Sur), was certainly well received. An M1 Mac owner was convinced that he will be saved from the trouble of buying or even repairing for few years.

However, there are few troubling issues that plague the new line-up of Macs. The chorus on the new M1 Macs SSD wear has gained momentum with a number of users reporting. There have been reports of abnormal usage of SSDs on the Apple M1 Mac leading to earlier wear-outs. It is normal for an SSD to wear out with usage. But the issue here is high SSD drive writes over a relatively short time span. Scroll below for our take on Apple’s M1 Macs excessive SSD wear.

Apple M1 Macs report excessive SSD usage

SSDs have taken over the HDDs as the basic requirement to run a computer at optimal performance. Several users have been commenting about the excessively high read and write rates. What does “Apple M1 Mac report excessive SSD” mean?

The SSD usage reports of M1 Macs suggest that almost 10 to 13% of the maximum Total Bytes Written (TBW) limit got eaten up within months only. TBW of an SSD is defined by the manufacturer. Once the safe limit is exceeded, SSD cannot be used for writing purposes.

Well, it severely undercuts the lifespan of the SSD. It makes us understand that only limited data can be written on M1 SSD before rendering it useless. On top of it, Apple’s SSDs cannot be replaced. With Apple using a T2 encryption protocol, they are soldered by design onto the motherboard. In other words, any fault in SSD will necessitate the entire logic board to be replaced, adding to the mounting worries.

M1 Mac users have shared their SSD percentage statistics and the situation is alarming.

M1 Mac SSD report

These spike rates happen in short bursts, but prolonged spikes such as these can reduce the life of an SSD to as low as 2 years. For those new to the subject, flash memory can achieve a certain number of read and writes before becoming unstable.

The load is spread across evenly to prevent any unnecessary implications. The wear and tear is normal, but Apple’s extremely fast SSD degradation points to an issue affecting the storage device.

According to several users, a 256GB variant would likely have 30% of its lifespan reduced due to the issue. Meaning, the unit wouldn’t last for more than two months and the best case scenario being 2 years of SSD runtime.

Why are Apple M1 Macs reporting excessive SSD wear?

There are only speculations on the possible reasons behind excessive SSD drain. Apple is yet to confirm the technical aspects. Communities on Reddit and e-forums like linustechtips.com attribute to horribly designed swap causing the spike in TBW rates.

I have an M1 Mac (8/256) and this seems like a horribly designed swap algorithm more than anything. The SMART data is accurate and in line with what Activity Monitor shows.

If you keep a RAM-intensive application open (such as a game or a video-editing application) and it’s kept in swap, it will write far more than it needs to. You could keep a more intensive application running, doing absolutely nothing at all (open but idle), and it will use your disk at 100-200MB/s, constantly.

It also doesn’t help that macOS absolutely hogs RAM; it uses 1-2GB for ‘cached files’, you have to Ctrl+Q a program if you want it to actually quit (and free RAM) instead of just hide in the dock, etc.

This results in stupidly high swap usage all-around, and it’s why Activity Monitor says I’ve used 1.1TB of disk in 11 hours when my screen time is 90% Chrome and Discord when all I’ve done is just kept DaVinci Resolve running.

However, if the SMART endurance data is to be believed, the endurance is around 2PBW for the 250GB.. so it’s not too bad.

NunoLava1998 (Ltt forums), SOurce

The root cause behind Apple M1 Macs excessive SSD wear issue stems from the Big Sur macOS. The rather sudden swap on the “Hand Mirror” app can cause further kinks in the SSD read and write program which can provoke such spikes.

There were initial complaints around the make of the SSD being from a cheap producer which might result in low-quality components. But swapping out the SSD with a new one resulted in nearly similar results.

Try improving the thermal conductivity of your laptop as well. While it doesn’t guarantee any ideal results, it could very well protect your other components too.

However, the TBW issue is not restricted to M1 Mac SSD now. There are similar reports coming from users on Intel-based Macs. As of now, there isn’t any solution. But it needs an update to macOS Big SUR, until then fingers crossed so your SSD doesn’t die.

How to check M1 Mac SSD’s health?

Many M1 Mac users will be wondering how they can monitor their SSD’s health. It is simple with Smart Monitoring Tools in Terminal. It is accessible under Applications Folder > Utilities > Terminal. The code to ascertain SSD health is:

brew install smartmontools && sudo smartctl –all /dev/disk0

To find the health once the results pop over, the user has to browse the parameter – Percentage Used. The score is an indicator of the TBW a drive has consumed. Keep in mind that the readings using drive monitoring tools cannot be completely relied upon.

That’s pretty much on our end. if you think we missed out on something important do leave a comment for us down below. Visit our website here for more info related to the above.

Achyuth Nambiar
Being a tech enthusiast and someone who loves to read, I try to combine the two into my latest attempt... blogging. A gaming PC though a Far Cry (pun intended) remains a distant dream.

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