Why is m.2 better than SSD?

Do you know how Solid State Drive (SSD) works?

A device reads and writes data on an SSD by communicating with flash memory chips via the controller.

The performance of an SSD is dependent upon the performance of this controller, which varies widely. The interface between the computer and the SSD consists of high-speed serial links: for SATA, these are known as SATA Express or “SATAe”, and for PCIe, they are known as “Gen2” (which can also carry SATA signals; see M.2).

This means that a fast Serial ATA interface will bottleneck performance compared to a much slower Serial ATA drive connected through SATAe/Gen 2.

It is true that most motherboards have only one Gen 2 connector which limits the number of drives you can use. In this case, a PCIe-to-SATA bridge chip is required to connect more SATA devices through a single SATA port.

The first major advantage of the m.2 over the traditional SATA SSD is speed – read/write speeds are significantly higher for an m.2, especially when you use one which supports PCIe 3.0 x4 .

That’s because they can work on four PCI Express lanes instead of just two for SATA3 SSDs – this allows them to operate at maximum throughput if your chipset/system supports it (most modern chipsets do).

Anandtech has done some great testing of PCIe M.2 drives which you should check out if you want to learn more about how they perform vs regular SATA3 solutions.

Another major advantage is the power consumption. M.2 drives generally use up to 75% less energy than SATA3 SSDs , which is very important for laptops as battery life is critical.

If you’re looking at a new laptop and want one with good battery life, choose an m.2 drive!

Finally, they can be up to 22x smaller than traditional 2.5″ SSDs . Since the m.2 modules are only about the size of a stick of gum you can install them in practically anything and get faster storage – this makes upgrading your desktop PC really easy because all it requires is a motherboard replacement (many mid-range boards now come with M.2 slots).

You could even upgrade your Xbox One or PS4 to an m.2 SSD if you wanted to!

Downside of m.2

And that’s another downside for M.2: you’ll need a new motherboard with a proper M.2 slot if you want to take full advantage of it. Mechanical hard disks will always be cheaper and have higher storage capacity compared to an SSD.

This means it would make no sense at all from a price/capacity/speed perspective to replace your existing mechanical hard disk with an SSD.

So, the question is: why would anyone want to replace their existing hard disks with an M.2?

First of all, even though the price per GB of HDDs has been dropping at a fast pace compared to SSDs, it will likely take another decade for this trend to reverse itself and so HDDs will still continue to be more expensive than SSDs.

Also HDDs have a lower storage capacity than an SSD and require moving mechanical parts which use more energy and increase the probability of failure over time.

M.2 drives are not just faster than regular SATA 3Gbps drives; they’re several times faster than even the fastest available today on high-end desktops such as the Intel 750 series (which uses the super-fast NVMe protocol).

While SSDs like Samsung’s 950 Pro are pushing close to 2.5GB/s in sequential reads, SATA drives top out somewhere around 550MB/s; M.2 drives can go beyond 3GB/s!

Not only do newer SATAe (SATA Express) drives offer similar speeds, but they will also soon offer double the capacity of current M.2 SSDs while being backwards compatible with your existing SATA connectors.

Also, while some M.2 connectors have a PCIe x4 electrical connection that can be used for a single drive and provide up to 32Gbps of bandwidth, most implementations only provide half this speed due to a shared bus architecture.

I hope that gives you some insight into why the M.2 drives are so great, and I wish you all the best with whatever storage upgrades you’re working on!

Ryan MacWha

I am Ryan! I write about performance-driven and reliable SSDs. I can save your time in decision-making. How about you?