What Is M.2 SSD? Things You Need to Know Before Getting It [MiniTool Wiki]

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There are many storage devices that you can use to store data, such as the jump drive, HDD and SSD. And there are many types of SSDs in the market, such as NVMe SSD, mSATA SSD, and so on. This post from MiniTool focuses on M.2 SSD, which introduces its pros and cons.

What Is M.2 SSD?

First of all, what is M.2 SSD? The M.2 SSD is used to enable high-performance storage in thin, power-constrained devices, such as tablet computers and ultrabooks. M.2 SSDs are usually smaller than mSATA SSDs and can replace them.

M.2 SSDs are compliant with the computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage expansion cards of a small form factor. M.2 was formerly known as Next Generation Size (NGFF). By using the PCI Express Mini Card physical card layout and connectors, M.2 replaces the mSATA standard.

M.2 SSDs are rectangular. Generally, they are 22 mm wide, 60 mm or 80 mm long, and sometimes M.2 SSDs are 30 mm, 42 mm, and 110 mm long. Compared to shorter versions of M.2 drives, longer length M.2 drives typically can accommodate more NAND chips to provide greater capacity.

M.2 drives can be single-sided or double-sided. The size of the card is identified by a four-digit or five-digit number. The first two digits represent the width and the remaining digits represent the length. Let’s give an example, a 2280 card is 22 mm wide and 80 mm long.

The standard width for desktops and laptops is 22 mm. An 80mm or 110mm length card can hold 8 NAND chips with a capacity of 2 TB.

M.2 SSD

The M.2 SSD module is inserted into the circuit board via the mating connectors on either side. M.2 SSD cards possess two types of connectors, also known as sockets: B key sockets and M key sockets.

Pros and Cons of M.2 SSD

After getting some basic information about M.2 SSDs, this part will tell you some pros and cons of M.2 SSD.

The greatest advantages of M.2 SSD are its size and capacity. For example, in a laptop, compared to a standard SATA or SAS interface 2.5-inch SSD, M.2 SSDs take up much less space and consume much less power. However, if mobile devices require large storage capacity, other SSDs may be more suitable.

Another advantage of M.2 SSD is its performance. M.2 SSDs based on the NVMe specification can read and write at a faster rate than SATA or SAS SSDs. What’s more, the M.2 interface supports PCIe, SATA, USB 3.0, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

However, the main disadvantages of M.2 SSDs are that they are expensive and lack universality. Currently, the price of a 1 TB SATA SSD is about $ 100 or less; but the price of an M.2 SSD of the same capacity is about twice and half the cost of a SATA drive.

Tip: You may be interested in this post - M.2 SSD vs. SATA SSD: Which One Is Suitable for Your PC?

And now the maximum capacity of M.2 SSD is only 2 TB, which may be enough for most mobile applications, but M.2 SSDs may need the higher capacity to enter more enterprise storage systems.

Precautions Before You Get an M.2 SSD

Before you plan to pick one M.2 SSD, there are some things you need to pay attention to.

M.2 cards are commonly used in newer mobile computing devices. Since the form factor is different from the mSATA SSD, M.2 SSDs are incompatible with older systems. And because M.2 SSD is designed for mobile devices, it may not be suitable for large enterprise storage systems.

Nevertheless, enterprise storage vendors have begun integrating M.2 SSDs in their hybrid and all-flash storage arrays. Even with limited capacity, the size and density of M.2 SSDs still enable storage vendors to pack lots of high-performance capacity into a small box.

If the portable computer is compatible with the M.2 specification, it will possess a physical interface, and the computer’s system should already contain the required Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) driver to allow the M.2 memory card to be installed. The device's basic input/output system (BIOS) may also need to be adjusted so that it can recognize M.2 storage.

For desktop computers that are not equipped with an M.2 interface, you can use an adapter card to insert a PCIe slot, and then you can use M.2 SSD.

2 TB M.2 SSDs typically cost between $ 230 and $ 400. Lower capacity SSDs are much cheaper (for example, a 256 GB M.2 SSD costs about $ 50). Samsung sells various M.2 SSDs with different capacities. Other M.2 SSD vendors include Toshiba, Kingston, Plextor, Team Group, Adata and Crucial (owned by Micron). Intel is the largest supplier of M.2 wireless adapters.

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