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Explaining the Difference Between SSD NVMe and M2 SATA and mSATA

Title: Explaining the Difference Between SSD NVMe and M2 SATA and mSATA

The world of storage technology can be quite perplexing, especially when it comes to the various types of Solid State Drives (SSDs) available on the market. In today’s blog post, we’re going to demystify the differences between three commonly encountered SSD types: NVMe SSDs, M2 SATA, and mSATA. Understanding these differences is crucial when upgrading your laptop or PC, as they each have unique interfaces and performance characteristics.

Connection Interfaces and Form Factors:
The primary difference between these drives lies in their method of connection to the laptop or PC motherboard. Let’s quickly compare the traditional 2.5-inch hard drive and SSD with the same form factor. They both use the SATA interface, which comes in versions like SATA 1, SATA 2, or SATA 3. Replacing an old hard drive with a 2.5-inch SSD is straightforward due to this compatibility.

However, M.2 SSDs and mSATA SSDs are not interchangeable with the 2.5-inch form factor or with each other. They have distinct physical connectors and cannot be installed in the same sockets.

To illustrate the basic differences, let’s look at a table comparing these storage types:


Storage Type Interface Form Factor Max Speed (SATA 3 / NVMe)
2.5-inch SSD/HDD SATA 2.5-inch Up to 600 MB/s
M.2 SATA SSD SATA 22.30, 22.42, 22.60, 22.80 Up to 600 MB/s
M.2 NVMe SSD PCI Express 22.30, 22.42, 22.60, 22.80 Up to 3500 MB/s
mSATA SSD SATA Mini-SATA Up to 600 MB/s


M.2 SSDs – Size and Bus Types:
M.2 SSDs come in different sizes: 22.30, 22.42, 22.60, and the most common, 22.80. The first two digits indicate the width, while the last two represent the length. There are two main types of M.2 drives: M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe. The M.2 SATA has the same performance as the 2.5-inch SATA SSD, while M.2 NVMe operates on the PCI Express bus, boasting significantly higher speeds—up to 3500 MB/s compared to SATA 3’s 600 MB/s.

Physical Differences and Keying:
Although they might look similar, M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe SSDs differ in their key notches. M.2 SATA drives typically have both M and B keys, allowing them to fit in a broader range of slots. On the other hand, M.2 NVMe drives typically have a single M key, restricting their compatibility to certain slots. It’s crucial to check which type of slot your motherboard has before purchasing an M.2 SSD.

Motherboard Compatibility:
Most modern motherboards come with M.2 slots that support either SATA or PCI Express buses, meaning they can use either M.2 SATA or M.2 NVMe drives. However, it’s always best to check your motherboard’s specifications or BIOS settings to ensure compatibility.

Adapters and Converters:
If you have an M.2 SATA drive but your laptop only supports the 2.5-inch SATA standard, adapters are available that allow you to use your M.2 SATA as a 2.5-inch SSD. However, these adapters won’t work for M.2 NVMe drives due to different connectors. For M.2 SATA drives with the 2230 form factor, there are also adapters that convert them to mSATA, which can then be converted again to 2.5-inch SATA.

Understanding the differences between SSD NVMe, M2 SATA, and mSATA is vital for ensuring you select the right upgrade for your system. Always consult your device’s specifications or reach out to the manufacturer if you’re unsure about compatibility. Remember, while adapters offer a workaround for compatibility issues, they may not provide the full performance benefits of a direct connection to the motherboard. Before purchasing any SSD, ensure that you’re making the right choice for your system’s needs and capabilities.

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