SSD vs M.2 – Which One Do You Need? Guide

SSD vs M.2, i have three different storage types in my PC, two HDDs and one SSD, as well as one M.2 SSD drive. For all of these, I had to do extensive research so I could choose which ones suited me the most and now.

Being the owner of this system, I can have all my data there instead of on DVD, which was a bit old-fashioned nowadays.

The M2 NVMe SSD is a much faster variation of the regular SATA SSD that’s been used for many years. A M2 NVMe can reach up to 4GB/s in transfer speeds and a SATA SSD will cap out at around 600MB/s.

Now let’s dig more into some of the ways that enterprise and consumer SSDs differ from one another.

SSD Vs. M.2

They Are BOTH SSDs

Before we go any further, there is an important detail you need to know, SSD vs M.2 and that is that both of these are just different types of SSDs.

The technically correct term for what you are looking for is SATA SSD Vs. NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, but they both use the SSD technology.

NVME SSDs are the superior, faster successors to SATA technology and have a smaller form factor as well. Visit our store to see our massive selection.

Recommended Read

The NVMe protocol is shorthand for Non-Volatile Memory Express. It’s becoming a popular and widespread way to deal with high-speed memory operations, but it really shines when you’re using faster connections such as the PCI Express bus.

Considering NVMe technology only fitted for M.2 slot on the motherboard, it’s going to be awhile until we see these type of drives show up in the 360 retail market.

While NVMe is not a tangible entity or physical thing, it’s something that is nevertheless very valuable and worth appreciating. For example, when NVMe technology gives you access to 64 thousand command queues and each of those command queues can have 64 thousand commands, then the opportunities are practically endless.

SSDs were first introduced to the market about ten years ago and have been making leaps and bounds every year since.

A short ten years ago, speeds were still measured in fractions of megabytes per second. Today, these same measures are in gigabytes per second.

NVMe uses new technology (alongside more traditional technologies like SCSI or SATA) to allow storage devices to queue up more tasks and complete more tasks overall and thus make the device faster.

Form Factor

The first impression anyone gets when seeing these two side-by-side is the striking difference in size between the two.

When Solid State Drives first came onto the consumer market, SSD vs M.2 people were shocked at how much smaller they were than the previous primary storage technology, hard disk drives (HDD).

This small, really thin device called an SSD uses no moving parts and no large disks to function. They’re also a lot lighter so it can be carried around easily – only weighing as much as an average notebook computer does.

HDDs have always been sensitive to the components inside them, which consist of a stack of disks and another set known as the read/write head.

Thanks to this cutting-edge technology that uses tiny parts, called nanotubes to store files at super-fast rates, SSDs could become smaller.

These nanotubes are a thousand times smaller than the of the flash storage units used in modern day USB sticks.

Our M.2 SSDs are great examples of how far technology has come over the years, and give us a clear indication of just how much more room for advancement is ahead. We have some great M.2 options in our store.

This not only allows for your M.2’s to be plugged directly into the motherboards M.2 slot, but it provides significantly faster transfer speeds – up to ten times as fast.

Most M.2 SSDs are 2.5 inches wide and use a NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) connector like those used in ultra-books and tablets.

Although these are super impressive for being this small, the real reason everyone buys M.2s is their incredible speed.

Is M.2 The Fastest Storage Drive?

M.2 SSDs (not only PCI-e 3.0–or greater) that rely on the new NVMe protocol will be the fast consumer-facing storage drives on the market.

So I compared an HDD, SSD, and an NVMe M.2 SSD using my benchmarks to demonstrate the speed difference. Here’s what I got: Table 1

The benchmark results for my storage drives comparing them to their target capacities.

One important metric you’ll want to look out for when considering candidates is the amount of data being stored and how much space each will take up, because that changes significantly depending on the kind of hardware used.

The regular SSD has a capacity of 500 GB, the 3D NAND is 2 TB, and the HDDs all have 4 TB Western Digital Black mechanical hard drives.

Let’s explain what exactly these three things mean: drives and their specifications, the form factors and their specifications, and the speed grades. You should have a better idea of this subject once you see all of it put together like this.

First, the basics are of these terms are read and write functions. Simply put, read and write are when storage is either opening or closing a certain file as well as what it’s doing to a file – otherwise referred to as “megabyte speed.”

Megabytes are used to measure data which usually consist of computer files. They are a base-10 exponent of the power of 2.

For example, eight megabytes is equal to eight million bytes or 64 thousand kilobytes while one gigabyte is equal to approximately a billion bytes or 10^9 bytes.

Gigabytes are larger than megabytes and they’re so much bigger at 1000 times the capacity of a regular byte.

The terms gigabyte and megabyte are used to express how much data can be stored on a storage device. When GB is used, it is used to describe several gigabytes of data that can be read or written in a single second.

However, fascinatingly enough some M.2 SSDs can reach up to 4GB/s (which is the equivalent of 4000 megabytes per second), which leads to some sequential read and write times that seem swifter than usual.

IOPS stands for Input/Output Operations Per Second. This tells us how random the random read and write is; meaning the faster it becomes the better IOPS value we achieve.

IOPS is a measure of how many input/output operations per second a disk drive or some other type of storage can perform.

In Samsung Magician, which gives you the option to monitor disk drives and data storage in real time – they use IOPS as their measurement of choice, but ROM-based software like Crystal Disk uses 4KiB as their unit.

I decided to put more money into the storage of this computer and got an M.2 SSD, which is much faster at all tasks by a wide margin, and cost 30 dollars more than a SATA SSD.

Moving files on my m.2 is nearly instantaneous, which makes handling large volumes of data quick and efficient.

Transferring files to and from the sata SSD took around 10 seconds each time, but with the m.2 it would be reduced to 4 seconds total.

You don’t want to be using a traditional HDD to save copies of your important files because if you do, the process will take literally days.

Are M.2 SSDs Better Than SATA SSDs For Gaming?

For gamers, SSD vs M.2 using an SSD is a must as waiting on loading screens can be very frustrating when you’d rather just play.

At the moment, performance is mediocre, with an average difference of 2-3 seconds.

However, given the hardware differences between an HDD and a persistent database or solid state drive, you can have a loading time difference of up to 60 seconds.

The key word here is difference. It’s important to note that even with the update, it may take anywhere from 15-60 seconds ‘depending’ on load cycles or the specific content being updated.

I would highly recommend that you make your computer’s boot-drive an SSD.

An M.2 (NVMe) would be the drive you’re looking for because they are faster and can store more than just a regular SSD. They’re also smaller, so you can save some precious desk space.

M.2 SSDs with an Sata connector will boot Windows 10 more rapidly than SATA SSDs. M.2 SSDs provide boot times so fast that it takes some practice to be able to get into my BIOS o the first try.

M.2 SSDs with SATA connectors will boot Windows 10 more rapidly than SSDs with the SATA connector. M.2 SSDs provide boot times so fast that it takes some practice to be able to get into my BIOS on the first try.

Players of multiplayer games should prepare to wait a while when they begin one. The system simply allocates time for the game to load since it won’t start until all players have been completely loaded in.

Call of Duty: Cold War is an awesome example of this. I take less than 2 minutes to load the game on my SSD, but I’m still waiting for all other players, who don’t have as fast storage, to load in so the game can start.

Therefore, as previously noted, it would be a waste of money to invest in an SSD if you’re only looking to play matches with faster loading times.

With games like Warzone and Modern Warfare consuming 200GB of disc space collectively, you’ll need a larger M.2 for many games if you plan to use an M.2 as your gaming drive.

Finally, we’d like to talk about the importance of choosing the right type of media upon which you’ll be playing your games.

For example, it’s important to realize that there is more than one way to speed up a game. Choosing an SSD or any other external storage solution can go a long way in increasing gaming performance.

I haven’t seen any boost to performance by doing this and benchmarks prove it. There may be a maximum of 5 FPS improvement, but in most cases gaming performance will rely on other parts of the system.

It is hard, then, to determine whether or not a steep FPS surge in some of the test videos was caused by usage of a Solid State Drive or if the discernable spike is simply attributable to slight variations in the testing process.

Because M.2s are relatively limited in bandwidth, SSD vs M.2 you will be best off using them for storing your operating system and programs rather than installing your most demanding games directly onto this type of storage.

Warning To Future M.2 Buyers

There are some tricky vital factors that may be the difference between your SSD being fast , or slow and it can literally depend on which side of those mistakes you fall on.

I’m referring to customers who purchase M.2 drives without realizing that the technology contained within them isn’t as fast as PCI-e based M.2s. The reason for this confusion is that the products don’t share the same name or look similar.

SATA has a great reputation for being fast, but it’s only so when compared to the previous standards.

M.2 takes SATA to a whole new level in terms of speed and capacity because it provides the potential for even greater speeds through PCI-Express lanes.

The main benefit that SATA M.2 drives have going for them is that they can be plugged directly into the motherboard, which cuts out the need to use the two cables you would otherwise plug into an SSD.

There’s been a lot of complaints about memory cards reading slower than advertised on our e-reader devices.

It turns out cheap flash memory cards are the culprit, but this information is easily overlooked in the multitude of categories and subcategories e-readers have to offer.

Additionally, even faster M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs are out there, use only with certain CPUs, but they also take advantage of the specialized PCIe technology only available in certain motherboards.

If you’re interested in using cutting-edge technology, we recommend Intel desktop CPUs. Currently, they do not officially support PCI-e 4.0 but are expected to release support for it in the near future.

The next generation of PCI express M2 SSDs will be 1 or 2 gigabits faster than the current PCIe 3.0 M2, which is what people are using now on their laptops and computers.

When it comes to performance while in use, the difference is noticeable but not huge.

The main thing to take note of is the difference between how quickly the unit heats up and cools down during an average session which can be decided by a slight variation in price.

If An M.2 Doesn’t Get Plugged In Using SATA Cables Will It Not Use SATA Ports?

M.2 SSDs are still going to take advantage of your SATA ports even though they use PCI-e and don’t require SATA cables to function.

At this time, SSD vs M.2 the M.2 form factor only supports a SATA interface, which in turn restricts your motherboard’s SSD slot availability because they are dependent upon one another.

You can easily tell which SATA slots on your motherboard will be used by using the motherboard manual and finding out which slots are compatible with a M.2 slot.

If you have a motherboard with two M.2 slots, then each M.2 slot takes up different SATA slots.

For example, on my MSI Z170A X-Power Gaming Titanium Edition motherboard, I had to use the SATA ports 1 & 2 for M.2 slot 1, and 5 & 6 for M.2 slot 2.

I’d read that ships with dual M.2 slots come with two Z-270 ports and must assign one port to each slot when installing an SSD drive that way, this was helpful as it required no other changing than switching the actual card once installed in the slot.

I hope these help! Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience or would like some help learning more about specific manufacturer’s boards.

If you have any storage drives plugged into those slots, be sure to move those to other SATA slots before installing your M.2 drive and turning your computer on.

Do M.2 SSDs Overheat More Than SATA SSDs?

In my experience, M.2s have more overheating issues than SATA-based solid state drives due to a lack of an included heatsink.

SSDs use flash memory that is much smaller in size than the hard drives traditionally used on personal computers. This flash memory can fit entirely within an SSD shell that’s made to look like a typical 2.5″ hard drive surface.

Hence, SSD vs M.2 SSDs with thermal control mechanisms tend to overheat when used for a longer duration of time.

However, the thermal control mechanism acts as a heat sink to dissipate the heat generated within the device which makes sure that it doesn’t overheat and lead to any further issues.

I can’t guarantee that you won’t get sick over time from eating bananas, but I would suggest that one way to ensure health and in some cases avoid getting sick is to eat other things as well too.

M.2 SSDs are usually fine if you don’t plan to run intense games on your laptop since they often don’t include a heatsink and instead rely completely on the body of the machine to keep things cool.

You see, in most cases it’s really easy to deal with this sort of thing. Not only will these issues be mitigated before they occur, but depending on the severity, they can also be fixed before they become a real problem.

First, many motherboards contain built-in heatsinks that act as the central hub of a computer’s cooling and are stuck in place with a thermal pad.

Usually, this will show as a plastic piece that is easily removable by hand. You should move it aside (with care!) to allow your M.2 to be installed and then replace the plastic cover afterward without forcing or stressing anything.

It’s best to use a CPU heatsink that is suited to your motherboard. Motherboard make and model are normally printed on the board itself, or any online documentation will include this vital technical information for you.

Next, if your motherboard doesn’t have a built in heatsink for your M.2 this is okay because many after market heatsinks are available that can be used in conjunction with the M.2 instead.

I have used one of these before and it helped solve some of the overheating issues caused by that M.2 device.

In some cases, you can on occasion fix this problem by just sticking a thermal pad on top of your drive. However, if you want to be sure to have it work successfully.

And ensure that the M.2 temperatures remain stable while in use, try using a full drive cover instead – as that is what worked for me in this instance.

There’s nothing better than the Thermal right M.2 Heatsink Cooler if you’re looking to both stay cool and have a beautifully created object to show off with your computer. SSD vs M.2 It not only looks great, but has performance to match.

Despite the fact that it sits underneath a prerequisite for some high-end builds, the motherboard worked just fine with our potential upgrade later on.

It supports larger components but still has room for something like an optical drive or additional two M.2 drives if need be down the road, as well.

Are M.2 SSDs Better Than SATA SSDs For Video Editing?

In my research, I observed that NVMe M.2 SSDs run about 3 times faster than SATA SSD drives when copying a large video into RAM. However, this difference is negligible when writing that same video to disk.

Rendering and export times aren’t going to get any better by some huge margin, and they typically only help in a matter of seconds.

A lackluster graphics card could hold you back in the case of video editing. But if you’re using an HDD currently, that could be the bottleneck.

SDDs and HDDs are a bit like different classes at school. The SDDs are the ones in honors classes that can keep up with everything since they’re quicker than their peers.

And the HDDs are usually struggling a bit more to keep up, just because they don’t have as good of an understanding of the material and what’s expected from them every day.

You can see the amount of RAM your machine has in Task manager. We have written a guide on how to open task manager: Task manager

If you notice that the HDD usage is at 100%, then this could be a bottleneck for you. If you see your CPU or GPU usage are both running at 100%, that is likely to be your bottleneck as well.

It is true that an NVMe will not make the quality of your videos jump to another level, especially if you are not taking full advantage of other features.

However, there are still benefits to having one. Since an SSD has been improved over time, having both in the same unit makes a difference for many different reasons.

It also helps if your SATA SSD is prone to failure or is quite limited when it comes to capacity and speed.

Which One Is Easier To Install?

M.2 drives are easy to install and checks for alignment issues often or if the computer has any back side ports blocking the drive.

SATA drives provide faster speed in general but M. 2 is far superior in terms of speed and size, SSD vs M.2 particularly when it comes down to laptops.

Technically speaking, I would say that SATA SSDs are slightly easier to install simply because fewer steps are taken. One does not have to worry about RAID configuration nor partitioning the HDD vs. SSD which happens most of the time with M2 drives.

Also, currently, there are less limitations with SATA connectors for consumer-level applications as opposed to M2 SATA connectors that can only be plugged into storage devices using either a B-Key or M-Key connector.

Installing an M.2 can feel funny as it slides into place at an angle and you have to press down and in the screws to lock it in – sounds strange but believe us, we’ve tried it out ourselves.

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a lot easier to work with than conventional hard drive systems. With just two cables and screws, SATA SSDs can be installed into most computer systems.

Although the process of installing my SSD was fluid and simple, with my machine having 4 traditional internal bays I didn’t need to do any cable management – so I kept everything looking clean.

Installing an aftermarket heat sink will take longer to install than having a regular heatsink installed. I would say that SATA SSDs have the edge here because they are sometimes easier to set up.

Which One Has The Better Price?

SATA SSDs are like the cheaper product. SSD vs M.2 There is a percentage difference, but it is so small recently.

NVMe is significantly more expensive for any storage size over 1TB and in some cases, it is prohibitively expensive. The price per gigabyte of NVMe starts at $1.22 and rapidly decreases with each subsequent gigabyte; likely meaning that you would get more value from buying the larger drive rather than multiple smaller drives of the same capacity.

With my computer, I made three distinct upgrades. The first thing is that I replaced the existing solid state drive with a M.2 model.

Next, I upped the RAM from 8GB to 32GB and finally, I added two graphics cards. In total, this raised the price of my machine many-fold but it allowed me to start rendering on my new top-of-the-line laptop at a blistering speed!

Should You Upgrade From A SATA SSD To A M.2 SSD?

If you have a SATA SSD already and are looking for a slight performance boost, feel free to make the switch. If you don’t, an M.2 SSD isn’t necessarily going to help you in terms of improving the speed of your computer or laptop.

An SSD (Solid State Drive) is certainly far better than a disk drive and offers more speed.

The hardware and software also work together to run programs quickly, SSD vs M.2 however your slower SATA ports may become limiting factors if you have a lot of other devices connected to the same computer.

Solid state drives use a permanent disk drive mechanism and built-in memory modules to save data quickly and fully. The SSDs themselves actually serve as both the computer’s central storage-house and main electrical conduit.

It has significantly faster sequential read and write speeds so you can feel the difference in a matter of seconds when transferring files.

Boot times are faster on the PCIe and NVMe SSD than they are on the SATA SSD. This is due to the fact that PCIe and NVMe offer much higher read/write performance (IOPS) than SATA does which allows startup to be faster.

You don’t need to use PCIe extenders either and this helps with reducing the cost of extra cables if you have your dream rig.

In my case, I found it to be worth upgrading from a 2.5″ SATA III HDD to an M.2 because I swapped out my boot drives, and was able to add a 500 GB SSD drive for additional storage.

Although the boot times seem to be incredibly fast, overall system performance isn’t much faster than the Windows 10 in comparison to the other operating systems.

In games, I haven’t noticed much of a difference in load times between SATA drives and NVME. It’s not something that can be noticed on the fly, but only through precise timing tests.

Additionally, I have gone over the same video editing test with the same results. However, this is also likely due to the CPU bottleneck that I’m currently experiencing.


M.2 SSDs are smaller, SSD vs M.2 faster, and certainly better looking than the SATA SSDs that have come before it. However, consumers shouldn’t expect a performance leap similar to going from hard disk drives (HDDs) to solid state drives (SSDs).

Instead, SSD vs M.2 it is expected that you’ll start to see some improvements with regards to your computer’s ability to transfer files and start up desktop programs.

One nice added benefit of this is that you won’t have all of those tangled wires cluttering your case anymore.

If you are building a new PC, I would recommend getting a SATA SSD because it will be more cost-effective than getting an NVMe device for your system.

It is perfectly possible to make great meals without splurging on an M.2 SSD because they don’t always offer that much more storage space or an improvement in speed over traditional SATA drives.

If you have a computer which uses an SSD and it’s still running faster, then it’s time for you to upgrade your hard disk drive! We are here to guide you when it comes to selecting the best one tailored especially for your needs.

Leave a Comment