NVMe vs. M.2 vs. SATA SSD: What’s the difference?
Solid-state drives are faster in general than traditional hard disc drives, but not all SSDs are created equal. They come in a variety of forms and sizes, with different maximum speeds and, as you might guess, different pricing.
In "How to Choose SSD?" we go over each type of drive-in in precise detail, and we also emphasize particular recommendations in our round-up of the best SSDs, but that information can be difficult to apply when purchasing a laptop or pre-built PC. Instead, it's usually more necessary to know what kind of SSD you're acquiring so you can figure out if it'll work for your requirements.
We've developed this quick breakdown to make it easier for you. The main distinctions are detailed here. It's quick reading, so you should be able to get back to your shopping soon.
Key differences between SATA, NVMe, and M.2 SSDs
SSDs can communicate with the rest of a computer using either NVMe or SATA. NVMe is faster than SATA.
M.2 is, on the other hand, a type of form factor. In the market, you can find both NVMe M.2 SSDs and SATA M.2 SSDs.
In certain product advertising or summaries, "M.2 SSD" denotes an NVMe drive, while "SATA SSD" denotes the presence of a 2.5-inch form factor SSD. As a result, such phrases should not be taken at face value. Instead, utilize technical specifications to estimate the speed of a storage drive in a laptop or desktop PC.
NVMe drives are faster than SATA drives. (This is true even if both SSDs are M.2 in type.) Transfer rates are set by the version of the PCIe connector used by your NVMe drive, followed by the specific model.
Currently, the maximum speed for an NVMe PCIe 3.0 (aka Gen 3) SSD is up to 3,500MB per second, while an NVMe PCIe 4.0 (aka Gen 4) SSD can hit up to 7,500MB per second. Manufacturers typically mention the theoretical speeds to expect from a specific model, which you can then verify by looking at independent benchmark data.
SATA SSDs may often reach speeds of up to 500MB per second. (However, like with NVMe drives, performance varies between models.) That may appear to be extremely slow, but when compared to SATA HDDs, the difference is night and day—a 7,200 RPM hard-disk drive has a peak speed of roughly 160MB per second. Almost everyone can tell the difference between an HDD and a SATA SSD when doing basic operations like document editing or web browsing. So, why should you go with an NVMe drive over a SATA drive? The benefit becomes palpable while loading or transferring large files.
NVMe SSDs are typically found in the M.2 form factor in laptops and pre-built desktop PCs. (Other types exist, but they are far less common.) SATA SSDs are available in 2.5-inch or M.2 sizes.
If your laptop has an extra M.2 slot, check to see if it supports NVMe , SATA, or both before purchasing a drive.
AN EXAMPLE OF A SATA SSD AVAILABLE IN BOTH M.2 AND 2.5" FORMS
As you guess, the quicker you drive, the more you pay. Current street prices for a 1TB SATA SSD are around Rs. 2000 to 5000, while a 1TB NVMe PCIe 3.0 drive hovers around 7000 to 15000 for recommended models. Form factor matters less these days, however. While 2.5-inch SATA SSDs are rarely less expensive than M.2 ones, they are more commonly the same price.
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