M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD: Difference, Pros, Cons, Better to Buy

which to buy from m.2 vs 2.5 SATA? The question of whether or not to be SSD drives in a modern PC has disappeared over time by itself. The cost of a 500GB SSD and a 500GB HDD is almost the same, and 1TB of solid-state storage costs less than $ 100. Even when assembling an ultra-budget computer, it doesn’t make much sense to settle for a classic hard drive. After all, a 240-256 GB SSD can be found cheaper than a 500 GB HDD (the minimum volume on the market, excluding warehouse balances of 320 and 250 GB).

M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD

Another question acquired relevance: which type of SSD to prefer. Both models in the classic 2.5 “sata”, repeating the shape of hard drives, and in the form of an M.2 board, which take up less space, are equally widely represented on sale. It would seem that M.2 is the future, but so far such drives have not yet become an uncontested choice.

I’ll make a reservation right away that the material concerns situations when there is a choice, that is, theoretically (and practically) you can install both the first and the second type of SSD. After all, if we are talking about upgrading a laptop, then you will have to choose based on what connectors are on the board, and if M.2 is not there, then it will not work to add it.

M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD: Differences

Let take note on some differences between M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD.

what 2.5 SATA SSD?

2.5 SATA drives have the same dimensions as laptop hard drives and operate on the same SATA III interface. This allows you to upgrade the drive without experiencing difficulties since SSD and 2.5″ HDD are compatible with each other by 100 %.

what is M.2 Drive?

The situation with M.2 is somewhat more confusing. Firstly, M.2 is only a connector format, and disks are made in several standard sizes. The most popular ones are 2280 (22mm wide, 80mm long), 2260, 2242, and 22110. When installing a larger drive in a slot for a smaller one, can be difficult (for example, it can rest against a capacitor or other component on the motherboard).

The second feature of M.2 drives is their interface. The standard describes only the type of connector and the dimensions of the board, while the connection can be carried out over the old SATA bus, and the more universal and progressive PCI-Express. If the board is compatible only with drives of one type, drives of the other will not work with it.

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M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD: Pros and Cons

Here are pros and cons of M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA SSD.

M.2 Vs 2.5 SATA: Pros and Cons

2.5 SATA SSD Pros and cons

SATA SSDs (both old 2.5 “and newer M.2) offer maximum compatibility with old and new computers. 2.5” models can be connected to almost any device that has a corresponding connector on the board. Any desktop computer released in the last 13-15 years has one, as well as many laptops (except for new thin models).

Another plus of the SATA 2.5 “drive is the ability to carry it away from hot components (processor, video card, power supply), thereby reducing heat and extending the service life. M.2 is deprived of this opportunity because the connectors for them are usually soldered between the processor and video card.

M.2 slot is located between the processor (left) and video card (right) © GGPC

The disadvantage of SATA SSDs is their speed. The bandwidth of this interface allows for sequential read and write performance of just over 500 MB / s. This is a lot (HDDs have 5-10 times less), but modern flash memory can work much faster, and the SATA bus does not provide this.

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M.2 Drives Pros and cons

M.2 PCI-Express drives are fast in all modes. Flagship models are capable of speeds up to 2-3 GB / s, and highly specialized expensive drives – even more. Even budget models using the same components as their SATA cousins ​​can be slightly faster. After all, their high-speed capabilities are not limited by the bus bandwidth.

Another advantage of M.2 is its compactness and no wiring. The drive takes up minimal space on the board, which allows them to be used in assemblies of high-performance PCs enclosed in a small case, as well as in laptops.

The downside of the PCI-E M.2 SSD is the price. A high-speed drive is noticeably more expensive than a model of the same capacity with a SATA connection. In addition, support for such drives from the board is needed, while inexpensive motherboards with M.2 released a couple of years ago can only have SATA support.

As for the M.2 drives with the SATA interface, they combine a number of features of the 2.5 “and PCI-E models. Like the classic 2.5” drives, they are inexpensive, work with most computers, but at the same time are compact. However, the speed of M.2 SATA is no different from that of 2.5 “SATA.

M.2 vs 2.5 SATA SSD: Which is better to buy

The choice of drive depends on your budget, conditions, and objectives. If your goal is to assemble the most inexpensive modern computer and equip it with a large drive, the best option would be to buy a model in a 2.5 “case with a SATA interface, since such a 1TB drive can be purchased for less than $ 100.

If the main thing is compactness, and you are assembling a small computer, then configure the assembly taking into account support for M.2 SATA drives and buy such a drive. The SATA model costs about the same as the 2.5 “model, has the same speed, but takes up much less space inside the PC.

M.2 SSD with PCI-E connectivity is an option for those who need a system with maximum performance, and the savings are fading into the background. These discs are good for installing games and programs. They provide the highest possible performance even when processing images or rendering video, more effectively compensating for the lack of RAM when performing resource-intensive tasks.

If you don’t seem to need maximum performance, but the budget is not tight, and you want to build a powerful computer for more than one year, then an M.2 drive with a PCI-E interface (and a motherboard that supports it) is a “must-have” choice. You will overpay, but the disk will not be a bottleneck limiting PC performance. After all, drives work much slower than RAM, and the smaller this difference in speed, the better.

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SSD adapters

If the computer board does not have an M.2 connector, you can connect an SSD with a PCI-E interface using an adapter for the PCI-E slot. The cost of such an adapter is about $ 20. However, it is worth considering several nuances associated with the work of such a bundle.

The very first issue is speed. Budget boards usually have only a PCI-E x16 slot for a video card and one or more PCI-E x1 slots for other expansion cards. If you use an adapter from PCI-E x1 to M.2, then on boards with PCI-E 2.0 the maximum speed through it will be about 500 MB / s, from 3.0 up to 1 GB / s. That is, the potential of a high-speed disk will not be fully revealed.

In order for an M.2 SSD to work at full speed in an adapter, you need to buy an adapter with 4 lanes (PCI-E x4), and this can only be installed on a board with an x4, x8, or x16 slot (two x16, if a discrete graphics card is used). If there are none, buying an M.2 drive with PCI-E is pointless.

Another nuance of the operation of such drives through an adapter is their incomplete compatibility with the board. On some motherboards, such drives can work without restrictions as a second disk, but they are not suitable for loading. If you try to install Windows on such a disk, the system will not be able to boot from it when you turn on the PC.

If there are no technical and financial obstacles, and you need the fastest and most modern SSD, it is recommended to buy M.2 with a PCI-E interface. Budget drives with large capacity with SATA (at least 2.5 “, at least M.2) are good value and are an excellent alternative to the classic HDD for the role of file storage. However, as a system drive, they are not the best option.

In order for the PC to work quickly, but at the same time have a lot of inexpensive memory, it is better to use two SSDs in parallel. For installing Windows, it is worth taking an M.2 PCI-E SSD with 120-256 GB, which has high speed, and for files SATA 2.5 “with 500-2000 GB.