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M.2 Two types of SSD: Differences between SATA & NVMe

M.2 SSDs are only compatible with motherboards that support an M.2 slot. Check your computer's mainboard to make sure it contains an M.2 slot.
SATA & NVMe

Table of Contents

In the world of storage technology, when we talk about M.2, we usually mean the shape dimensions of solid-state drives. The M.2 is the size of a solid-state drive similar to a piece of chewing gum. It is small and slim, making it ideal for light, portable computers such as portables, laptops, NUC minis and ultrabooks. Less than 2.5-inch SSD or mechanical hard disk, storage capacity up to 2TB.

Now that we've covered what the M.2 is, let's answer the question "Is the M.2 faster than a SOLID-state drive?"

The answer is no. The M.2 is a form factor for solid-state drives, so the question is practically moot. However, the confusion caused by this issue is understandable, considering that M.2 SSDS are relatively new technology compared to other form-sized client SSDS. M.2 Solid state disks (SSDS) are of SATA and NVMe types. They are different storage technologies, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of user needs and budget.

Practical tip: Keep in mind that M.2 SSDS are only compatible with motherboards that support an M.2 slot. Check your computer’s main board to make sure it contains an M.2 slot.

1. SATA M.2 SSD (NGFF)

NGFF with all sizes

SATA M.2 Solid-state disks use SATA ports. The data transfer rate is 6 Gbit/s, slower than the new ports (for details, see the following section). SATA Solid-state disks (SSDs) have the lowest performance and use the same ports as mechanical disks. Still, SATA SSDs have three to four times the bandwidth of rotary mechanical drives. SATA SSDs are more common and cheaper than NVMe SSDs. If your computer doesn’t have room for a 2.5-inch SSD, SATA M.2 SSDs can be an excellent alternative to 2.5-inch SSDS.

SATA has long been the main connection method for storage technology. SATA disks that use SATA cables need two cables to work. One is used to transfer data to the motherboard and the other is used to connect the PSU (power supply). When multiple SATA disks are used for storage, messy cables are one of the problems that can affect PC chassis performance. Thin laptops and laptops, including ultrabooks, don’t even have room for SATA cables, so they come in the M.2 form factor. The SATA M.2 form-size SSD solves this problem by eliminating the two cable connections that other SATA storage drives use.

Of course, just because it’s an M.2 SSD doesn’t change the fact that it’s a SATA SSD. The main differences between SATA SSDs and NVMe M.2 SSDS are in interface technology and performance level. SATA M.2 SSDs still use SATA interface design, which does not improve speed and performance, after all, it is not NVMe M.2 SSDs.

2. PCIe M.2 SSD (NVMe)

M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD

NVMe M.2 SSD uses the NVMe protocol specially designed for SSDs. Paired with a PCIe bus, NVMe SSDs offer the latest levels of performance and speed on the market. NVMe SSDs use PCIe slots to communicate directly with system CPUs. Basically, it allows the flash to run as a solid-state drive through a PCIe slot, rather than using SATA communication drivers that are much slower than NVMe.

NVMe M.2 SSDs provide much higher performance than SATA M.2 SSDs. By utilizing the PCIe bus, NVMe m. 2 SSDs boast theoretical transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps, faster than SATA m. 2 SSDs ‘6Gbps. The PCIe bus supports 1x, 4X, 8X, and 16X channels. PCIe 3.0 has effective transfer speeds of up to 985 MB/ s per channel, which means potential transfer speeds of up to 16GB/ s. However, when using the M.2 contour size with the PCIe bus, only X2 and X4 channels can be accessed, which gives a maximum transfer speed of 4GB/ s.

Is NVMe faster than SATA? Technically yes. The new motherboard uses SATA III with a maximum throughput of 600MB/SEC, while NVMe hard drives offer an improved speed of 3,500MB/SEC. The performance is much higher than SATA solid-state drives of all shapes and sizes. Only SSDs with NVMe technology exceed the speed limit of SATA SSDs.

When deciding whether to use SATA M.2 SSDS or NVMe M.2 SSDS, consider the following factors:
  • System support – Older devices may not be NVMe compatible due to the lack of connections required to take advantage of NVMe PCIe slots.
  • Quick Boot – The easiest way to get a computer system to boot quickly is to install the operating system (OS) on a solid-state hard drive. With NVMe SSDS, you will achieve the maximum speed increase.
  • Prioritize storage – You can combine an NVMe SSD with another SATA SSD. It’s an affordable option that won’t break your wallet. You can install the operating system and resource-intensive programs and applications on NVMe SSDS and use SATA SSDS to store all your other content, such as small files, documents, and so on that use fewer resources.
  • Game advantage — With an M.2 NVMe SSD, you will see a significant increase in in-game loading speed. The overall performance of games installed on NVMe will improve dramatically, thanks to improved transfer speeds when loading games from storage.
  • PCIe generations – PCIe buses have different generations with different performance levels. Each generation has twice the bandwidth of the previous generation, and SSDS uses different generations of PCIe. The latest generation is PCIe 4.0, which is still in development.
  • Shared Connections – Some motherboards do not even have enough PCIe connections to support multiple NVMe hard drives. You need to decide whether to use the available connection for a graphics card or an NVMe SSD. In other cases, there may be PCIe channels available, but only certain types of connections can use NVMe devices at full speed, such as m.2 connections.

End

DiskMFR Field Sales Manager - Leo

It’s Leo Zhi. He was born on August 1987. Major in Electronic Engineering & Business English, He is an Enthusiastic professional, a responsible person, and computer hardware & software literate. Proficient in NAND flash products for more than 10 years, critical thinking skills, outstanding leadership, excellent Teamwork, and interpersonal skills.  Understanding customer technical queries and issues, providing initial analysis and solutions. If you have any queries, Please feel free to let me know, Thanks

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