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M.2 SSD, SSD, Flash Sticks, Hard Drives PC Storage

An M.2 SSD is a small form factor solid-state drive (SSD) that is used in internally mounted storage expansion cards. M.2 SSDs conform to a computer industry specification and are designed to enable high-performance storage in thin, power-constrained devices, such as ultrabook laptops and tablet computers.. 

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What are the differences between M.2, mSATA, and NVMe SSDs?

M.2 is commonly referred to as an mSATA replacement, but mSATA SSDs still exist and may continue to for some time — especially, in laptop platforms that support that form factor. Because M.2 and mSATA cards are different and have different connectors, they cannot be plugged into the same devices — meaning they both still have their use cases.

M.2 is a form factor that can take the form of a SATA SSD or a PCIe NVMe SSD.

Micron Technology M600 SSD form factors (left to right): mSATA SSD, M.2 SSD (22 mm x 60 mm double-sided), M.2 SSD (22 mm x 80 mm single-sided) and a 2.5-inch SATA SSD.

M.2 SSDs are faster and store more data than most mSATA cards. M.2 SSDs support a variety of interface standards such as PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 interfaces, compared to mSATA, which only supports SATA interface standards. M.2 SATA SSDs have a similar level of performance to mSATA cards, but M.2 PCIe cards are notably faster. In addition, SATA SSDs have a maximum speed of 600 MB per second, while M.2 PCIe cards can hit 4 GB per second.

PCIe support also allows M.2 cards to take advantage of the NVMe protocol. An NVMe drive provides a large performance advantage overdrives based on other types of interfaces due to reduced latency, increased Input/output operations per second, and lower power consumption.

The main benefit of an NVMe-based PCIe SSD over SATA and mSATA is speed. While SATA drives clock in at 750 MB per second, NVMe clocks in at 1 GB per second on the low end.

Given the speed benefits of the NVMe drives, M.2 NVMe SSDs are a good choice for hard drive-intensive workloads or workloads that require many hard drive reads and writes.