Why Do MacBooks Have Low Storage? What’s the Deal?

why do MacBooks have low storage

College students, affluent writers and photographers, and businesspeople all have one thing in common–they fancy a MacBook. With Apple being so prevalent in our society, it’s easy to have a liking for just about anything this company has to offer. But anyone wanting to join the millions who have made MacBooks cool will notice one thing immediately–a lack of storage. 

Why do MacBooks have low storage? They are not designed to be your ‘main’ computer and thrive on being compact and lightweight to go anywhere.  MacBooks utilize SSD storage rather than traditional storage, and the cost of SSD is continuously fluctuating, making it hard to go down in price. Lastly, Apple knows they can make a few extra bucks by only offering low amounts of storage as their base package. 

There are a lot of reasons why you might not see a MacBook’s storage upgrade for years at a time. In fact, some consumers who have a model over five years old noted that their newer model had the same amount as their last computer. What’s the deal, Apple? Well, we are going to dig into why there is so little storage and how you can combat this lack of storage. 

Why MacBooks Have Low Storage

Anyone with an iPhone that investigates a MacBook Pro (13 Inch Model specifically) will notice that the lowest amount of storage space is 128GB. Well, that might sound like a lot, but considering that’s the highest amount you can get on your mobile device, it ends up being not that much.

Aside from the low numbers, the MacBook Pro also comes with a hefty price tag–even with the small storage space. But if you even think about upgrading, your wallet might start screaming.

So what is the deal when it comes to this storage? Is it worth it to buy more storage for your MacBook, or try and deal with less to save a few bucks? Let’s dive in:

MacBooks Are Designed Much Like Your Infamous iPhone

side and bottom of iPhone to show charge port

When you are looking into getting a MacBook, the main reason might be because you are looking for something you can conduct business on. After all, have you ever tried to write a 3–page essay on your iPhone? Sure, it can be done, but it is going to take a lot of time and effort. Writing or doing much of anything business-related on a small screen is a challenge.

The MacBook, then, has a lot of appeal. It’s a slick, clean, and professional-looking device that mimics an actual laptop. Of course, the design is much thinner and sleeker than just about any laptop you would find on the market, which is why so many people–especially professionals– are drawn to it.

Aside from the MacBook’s classy appearance, one of the major benefits revolving around this ‘laptop’ is that it is very compact and lightweight. It can slip into a book bag or even a purse and go undetectable–a far greater choice from that clunky 5 pounds laptop you’ve been shuttling around for the past few years.

But the compact design is one of the reasons behind the small amount of storage. The MacBook (especially the MacBook Air) is a compact piece of equipment.   Although it comes complete with a larger screen and keyboard, it does not seem like your typical laptop that’s built for work.

In fact, a lot of people will tell you that a MacBook is a slightly larger, glorified smartphone. Think about it–it’s thin, lightweight, and super portable. Aside from that, it comes with an all-day charge and a single charging port. Sound like something else you know? Oh, that’s right– your iPhone.

So, MacBooks are designed to do pretty much anything your smartphone can.  Except:  you can do a lot more on your MacBook with ease, such as typing, downloading files, uploading videos, and so on. However, the small storage space would set this device up to be a backup, on-the-go computer, rather than your main desktop. 

MacBooks Utilize SSDs Rather Than Traditional Hard Drives

intel ssd drive for MacBook

MacBooks utilize a different type of storage than you will likely find with other pieces of equipment. This storage is known as SSD, or “Solid-State Drive”. The SSD performs as flash memory, which is far different from the traditional spinning hard drives you find on many other types of electronics, including laptops and desktop computers.

What is an SSD?

Well, to understand what an SSD, or solid-state drive is, you must first understand what the traditional hard drives were. To put it simply, hard disk drives (HDD) are designed with a series of moving parts. These moving parts–which can be described as a read and write head–move cohesively to father and store data. Unfortunately, that also makes them susceptible to failure.

The solid-state drive is simply the wave of the future. SSDs use a memory chip, rather than moving parts, to read and store data. It utilizes what is known as a NAND flash memory, which leads to instant access times. Without any necessary moving parts, the SSD is almost fail-proof.

What is Flash Memory?

Solid-state drives utilize flash memory, which is essentially an electronically powered non-volatile memory storage medium. They work quickly and efficiently using pages and blocks within the medium to store information. Another major benefit of this type of memory system is that they can be easily erased and reprogrammed, ideal for those selling or swapping out their devices.

Do All Laptops Use SSD?

No, not all laptops utilize an SSD. In fact, a lot of laptops are still using regular hard disk drives for the simple fact that they are cheaper, and thus their products can be sold at a lower price and be more readily available to consumers. Companies like Dell, HP, and Lenovo are mostly using HDD at this present time.

Benefits of SSD over HDD

solid state drive vs hard drive comparison size

There are a lot of positives that come from using SSD with flash memory instead of a traditional hard drive, which is why Apple decided to make the switch. Here are just a few of the significant benefits associated with an SSD:

  • SSDs run quicker and at a higher level of performance. An SSD that utilizes flash memory uses electricity, rather than a series of mechanical parts, to generate all types of data storage. This results in a laptop that runs infinitely quicker than other models, including faster boot time, movement of data, and overall higher bandwidth. 
  • They use less energy. Having an SSD in your laptop means that your device won’t start to run slowly over time and will not need as much electrical power–which means less time wasted on charging your device. You will also notice that the MacBook does not heat up like other types of laptops, in which you would need to stop and take a break.
  • They are continuously improving. One concern with SSDs is that they were prone to leakage over a certain amount of time or being powered down for too long.  However, due to improvements, and that is no longer a fuss–hopefully, this will lead to lower cost of production, which will mean more storage for the consumers.

Of course, the biggest downside to having an SSD is that it costs more than traditional hard drives. This is because they are better and far more advanced than spinning hard drives.

As more of the world begins to see SSD in laptops, such as the MacBook, we can only hope for prices to decrease. However, this likely isn’t due to happen anytime soon. You also must factor in that there are a lot of things that stand in the way of price reduction, such as environmental factors, stock market rates, the economy, and more.

Apple Wants More Money

Well, when push comes to shove, we must talk about pricing. It’s clear that Apple knows exactly what they are doing when it comes to making money. It appears everyone wants to get their hands-on Apple products, the MacBook included. Apple knows this, so why wouldn’t they want to charge more?

The answer: profit. While yes, you can get a MacBook for a relatively reasonable price with minimal amounts of storage, that storage likely is not going to be enough. But, if you try to up your storage from 128GB to 256GB, you can see a price hike of multiple hundreds of dollars–that’s insane!

But that is the name of the game. Simply put, more storage simply means more money for the company. So, if they start with low storage but an excellent price, the gimmick is that people won’t mind shelling out a few extra hundred dollars to get what they want.

Type of MacBookStarting Storage SizeUpgrade OptionsStarting Price
MacBook Air (Smallest Model)256GB SSD512GB, 1TB, or 2TB$999+
MacBook Pro (13 Inch)128GB SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB$1299+
MacBook Pro (16 Inch)512GB SSD1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB$2399+

Is Storage That Important?

If you are shifting your eyebrow wondering why low storage is even an issue in the first place, well, rest assured that storage is that important. Even if you might not think you need a lot of storage, you are eventually going to run into a significant problem if you settle for less with your MacBook storage–but why? 

You use a lot more storage than you think, especially if you are using a MacBook the way it was intended–to be a laptop. Now, we know by now that the MacBook is not meant to be your main computer, just like any other laptop. They are small, compact, and don’t come with a whole lot of storage. 

However, while 128GB might be enough on your iPhone, you are likely going to do a lot more on your MacBook. From editing photos to writing memoirs, playing games to holding virtual business meetings, it seems as though there is an endless amount of possibilities with your MacBook.

The problem here is that you will speed through 128–even 256–of GB quickly on a MacBook. The operating system itself is going to take up a plethora of space on your electronic device, and even more after the must–have updates. Factor in all your files, documents, photographs, videos, songs, games, etc. that you add to your MacBook, and sooner than later you’ll be at full capacity.

How to Get More Storage Out of Your MacBook

western digital elements tb portable hard drive for MacBook top best recommended gizbuyer guide
source: Western Digital

There is no magical way to add more storage to your MacBook–unless you are willing to spend an arm and a leg. However, there are a few other ways you can free up some storage on your MacBook, especially if you were trying to save some money and went for a model with a small amount of storage.

Here are a few quick and easy ways to add more storage to your MacBook:

  • Get a good external hard drive 

One easy way to ensure that you can free up space on your MacBook without losing any of your important files and documents is to get an external hard drive. You can find external hard drives for reasonably cheap, like this one, yet boasting 1TB or more of space–a much less expensive option than upgrading your MacBook.

Move your documents and files to the external hard drive so you never lose it and can easily snap it into just about any laptop or computer you have throughout your lifetime. While this hard drive will need to be kept in a safe location, it still saves you time, money, and energy in the future.

  • Use iCloud storage

One way that Apple tries to help with the storage issue is by allowing its customers access to the iCloud, otherwise known as the Apple storage station. Here, you can move many of your essential documents and files and easily access it from just about any device. It is straightforward to use, but the iCloud can get full quickly sometimes, too. So you may have to buy more storage to get the full effect.

  • Buy More Upfront

Honestly, the best thing you can do is not to kid yourself. If you think you will, then you are going to probably need more storage than the smallest amount available. Yes, you will need to spend a few extra hundred dollars, but in that case it’s worth it. Think about it–Apple products can easily last for several years, so if you don’t have to worry about storage options, then you can use it for years without worry. 

MacBook Product Recommendations

Three types of MacBooks should be on your radar for 2020. We are going to take a closer look at each of them so you can make the right decision when it comes time to purchase.

1.1GHz Quad-Core Core i5 Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz 512GB Storage Touch ID

If you are looking for a super-compact device that’s small enough to be a tablet but large enough to be your go-to computer for all types of applications, then you might consider adding the MacBook Air to your electronic collection. There are a lot of things to love about this MacBook, including:

  • Designed with Retina Display and True Tone. This makes for high-quality sights and views whether you are looking at pictures, playing a game, watching a movie-just about anything is in high–def, and you’ll certainly enjoy it.
  • 1.1GHz quad–core 10th–generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz for intense performance. 
  • 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory
  • 512GB SSD storage. It’s a $200.00 upgrade, but well worth it to not miss out on any much–needed storage in the future. 
  • Complete with a Magic Keyboard
  • Touch ID
  • Force Touch trackpad

2.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz 512GB Storage Touch Bar and Touch ID

Looking for something a little bit bigger so you can get more done? Then you will enjoy this MacBook and all the great advantages it comes with. Let’s look at some of the specs:

  • Complete with a 2.4GHz quad–core 8th–generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz for quick and quality performance.
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 for amazing on–screen visuals.
  • 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory to take on the biggest challenges.
  • 512GB SSD storage– The original MacBook (13 Inch Model) starts at $1,199.00 and doesn’t come with any extras or enough storage to keep you satisfied. Upgrading to this model will cost $1,899.00, but you get far more storage as well as many upgrades.

2.6GHz 6-Core Processor 512GB Storage AMD Radeon Pro 5300M

Apple MacBook Pro 16 Inch top best recommended laptop gizbuyer guide

Now, this is the top-of-the-line model when it comes to MacBooks. It comes with the largest screen, the best specs, and the most storage capacity. Of course, the model I am sharing here is the MacBook Pro (16 Inch Model) with just 512GB of SSD, and the one I personally own and highly recommend hands down. But for $400 more, you can move up to a whopping 1TB of internal SSD.

This model has the highest price tag, starting at $2,199.00, but it comes with a whole lot of advantages even in its base model that many people will find necessary in their lifestyle or career. Here are some of the best features of the MacBook (16 Inch Model):

  • Designed with a top-of-the-line 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz for efficient performance.
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 
  • 4GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • 16-inch Retina Display


MacBooks start with a small amount of storage for several reasons. Between the compact and lightweight design and the high price tag of the SSD, consumers should be aware that they can expect to pay more for added storage. However, it’s well worth it to spend a few hundred more on extra storage since you will most likely be using your MacBooks for many years.

John Hammer

Hi i'm John Hammer, Founder and Author of Gizbuyer Guide. Ever since the original Xbox, PlayStation, and iPhone I've purchased and worked on all kinds of consumer tech products, gaming gadgets and operating system softwares. To this day my curiosity has never left, and my aim is to guide and share my knowledge on technology as I continue to experience the latest of the consumer electronics industry.

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