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Do SSDs Fit All Laptops? How to upgrade Laptop Storage? [Updated]

Yes, all laptops can be upgraded with an SSD. Not all laptops will support NVMe drives and even the M.2 SATA SSDs but if your laptop has a hard drive in it, you can at least install a SATA 2.5″ SSD in it.

The main reason that I find behind switching to SSD from HDD is that you are not getting the expected performance from your laptop.

Ever since the SSDs came into the market the HDDs or the standard mechanical drive has lost its charm due to slow boot time.

Moreover, SSDs are light in weight and don’t generally get heated.

As you are asking for compatibility of the SSDs on laptops I don’t think there is a need to tell you a detailed Difference between SSD and HDD. Still, let us have a brief idea about both.

For more information on SSD Compatibility and features, read the full SSD Buying Guide 2021 here.

If your laptop or desktop motherboard has M.2 PCIe NVMe port, you can install both the M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe SSD. The form factors of both these SSDs are the same. But, please note that if the port is M.2 SATA only, the M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD will not fit inside it.

Also, keep in mind the supported PCIe version i.e. 3.0/4.0. Although the NVMe drives are backward and forward compatible, you won’t get the best out of your drive in a laptop with support for the earlier PCIe version.

Next, if your motherboard doesn’t have an M.2 slot, the only way is to choose the SATA 2.5″ SSD.

There are two types of SSDs. The first one is the SATA 2.5″ drive type which fits into the same bay as the Hard drive. The second one is M.2 which looks like a small green gum stick with small IC chips installed on it. M.2 is usually installed into a socket.

In simple words, you can’t say which drive will work on your laptop just by looking at it. You’ll have to know what kind of upgrade options your laptop is offering.

You can visit your Laptop manufacturer’s site and check it or you can also use Google for the same. Modern-day notebooks have M.2 compatibility for SSD.

Here are two pictures depicting SATA drive and M.2 type SSDs respectively.

SATA 2.5″ SSD Image

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M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Image

The motherboard, chipset, and CPU inside your laptop determine which SSD will work on your laptop and which won’t.

One of the primary factors is the interface type. SSDs come in different interface options such as SATA, PCIe, NVMe, and U.2. While SATA is somewhat universal and fits most older laptops, NVMe and PCIe SSDs require specific M.2 or U.2 slots, which are generally found in newer laptops.

Another important consideration is the form factor, which refers to the physical dimensions of the SSD. The most common form factors include 2.5-inch, M.2, and U.2. An older laptop with a 2.5-inch hard drive bay will require a 2.5-inch SSD, while ultrabooks might require M.2 form factor SSDs.

I also need to emphasize the role of BIOS/UEFI firmware in SSD compatibility. Your laptop’s BIOS or UEFI settings must support the SSD type you’re planning to install. Some older systems might not natively support NVMe SSDs, requiring a firmware update or workaround to enable compatibility.

Electrical requirements are often overlooked but can be crucial. Different SSDs have different power needs, and it’s essential to ensure your laptop can meet these requirements to prevent performance issues or hardware failure.

In summary, SSD compatibility with laptops is determined by a combination of interface type, form factor, BIOS/UEFI support, and electrical requirements. It’s crucial to examine these factors carefully before upgrading your laptop’s storage.

Most of the latest laptops and desktop motherboards are coming with at least one M.2 SSD port. But, if you are using an old system, you should confirm it first. Most of the older CPUs and laptops (especially 2015 and older models) will not have any M.2 port at all.

So, if you want to use an NVMe M.2 SSD, make sure that your system supports the PCIe interface along with the NVMe protocol. You can do it by going to the official website of your motherboard or laptop manufacturer. Another way is to get in touch with technical support and double-check with them.

The next thing to get the most out of your NVMe SSD is to use it as your OS drive. And for that, the BIOS should also support the booting drive. You can confirm the same from the technical support as well.

Almost every laptop is SATA SSD compatible the SSD goes exactly where your Hard Drive is located – even if the SSD is slimmer, it comes with a ‘riser’ to help fit the SSD perfectly).

Some latest models of laptops come with M.2 slots where you could fit lighter, smaller SSDS.

But every laptop that comes with an HDD (hard drive) is compatible with an SSD, provided you are okay with completely replacing your HDD with an SSD.

Although most of the laptops will have one or two dedicated M.2 slots, I would suggest you confirm the same. For your information, the SATA 2.5″ slot looks like this.

SATA 2.5″ SSD SLot

The M.2 SATA port would look like this. The M.2 SATA slot will have its Key on the left side.

M.2 SATA Slot

And the M.2 PCIe NVMe slot would look like this.

Note: This slot will have its key on the right side. On an M.2 NVMe slot, you can easily fit and use the M.2 SATA. But, on the M.2 SATA-only port, it is impossible to insert the M.2 NVMe SSD.

It’s a bit confusing but a lot of people make mistakes here.

M.2 PCIe NVMe Slot

Also Read: List of Best SSDs for Laptop

Laptop ModelSupported Form FactorsSupported InterfacesMax Storage CapacityAdditional Notes
MacBook Pro 2019ProprietaryPCIe4TBNot user-upgradable
Macbook Pro 16-Inch 2023ProprietaryPCIe8TBNot user-upgradable
Dell XPS 15 9570M.2, SATASATA Gen 3, PCIe Gen 3 NVMe, up to 32 Gbps128Gb, 2TB (NVMe)User-Upgradable
Dell XPS 13 2020M.2NVMe, PCIe2TBUser-Upgradable
Dell XPS 13 9315M.2NVMe, PCIe up to 32 Gbps1TBUser-Upgradable
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)M.2NVMe, PCIe2TBUser-Upgradable
HP Spectre x360M.2NVMe2TBUser-Upgradable
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14M.2NVMe, PCIe1TBExtra slot for additional SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4ProprietaryNVMe1TBNot user-upgradable
Acer Aspire 52.5-inch, M.2SATA, NVMe2TB for 2.5-inch, 512GB for M.2User-Upgradable
Razer Blade 15M.2NVMe, PCIe2TBUser-Upgradable
HP Envy x360M.2NVMe2TBUser-Upgradable
Dell Inspiron 15 30002.5-inch, M.2SATA, PCIe2TB for 2.5-inch, 512GB for M.2User-Upgradable

The way to find a compatible drive for your laptop is to check the user-manual or contact manufacturer support. If you are comfortable opening your laptop, that would be the final way.

Most of the laptops these days will have at least one M.2 NVMe port on the motherboard. But, that doesn’t mean you can get any NVMe drive and install it on your laptop.

Just get your user manual and see what kind of storage drives are supported. Most of the time, you will see your laptop having some storage limitations. For example, my HP laptop supports M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD up to 256GB. So, it is very important to check it beforehand.

The next thing is that the M.2 SATA-Only and M.2 PCIe NVMe ports look similar. It isn’t necessary that there will be a difference of notches. So, keep in mind that the M.2 SATA-Only port will not work with an M.2 NVMe drive although these ports are rare to see in modern laptops. But, if you find that the port is M.2 NVMe, you can get any of the M.2 drives out there.

Now, talking about the PCIe versions. For example, your laptop has PCIe 3.0 components and you get yourself a high-end Samsung 990 Pro Gen 4.0 SSD. It would work on your laptop but you aren’t going to get its highest speed even after spending a lot more than what was required.

Whenever you want to buy a new SSD or even an HDD drive for your new or existing system, you should always know what SATA version your system has. So, we are going to see how you can do it pretty easily.

In order to check whether your computer has SATA 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 versions, there are numerous ways available. Similarly for the PCIe and NVMe versions, you can do the same thing. First of all, you can visit your manufacturer’s official website and know your system specifications. Secondly, you can check the SATA version on the user manual as well. But, below are the ways to confirm the same properly.

  1. Download and install Speccy
  2. Open the app and click Storage
  3. Find the SATA type and see what’s written in front of it
  4. That is your SATA version.
  1. Click the Apple Menu and then click About this Mac
  2. Now, click System Report
  3. Go to Hardware and then SATA/SATA Express option
  4. Below Intel Chipset section, check Link Speed
  5. If Link Speed is 3, your Mac has SATA 3.0
  6. If Link Speed is 2, your Mac has SATA 2.0
  7. If Link Speed is 1, your Mac has SATA 1.0.

If you aren’t confident following these steps, it is always best to find the support center or hire an expert for this upgrade.

  1. Turn Off the Laptop: Always start by shutting down the laptop and disconnecting all cables, including the power cable.
  2. Remove the Battery: If your laptop has a removable battery, take it out.
  3. Open the Back Panel: Use a screwdriver to open the back panel where the hard drive or existing SSD is located. Keep track of all the screws and where they came from.
  4. Locate the Storage Bay: Identify where your existing hard drive or SSD is located.
  1. Identify the Current Interface: Take a look at the existing hard drive or SSD. Is it connected via a SATA port or an M.2/U.2 slot?
  2. Check for Additional Slots: If you’re looking to add an SSD, see if there are additional M.2 slots available. M.2 SATA SSDs usually have two notches (referred to as M+B key), whereas M.2 NVMe SSDs typically have just one notch (M key).
  3. Interface Match: Make sure the SSD you’re considering uses the same interface as your laptop. If your laptop supports multiple interfaces, you have more options.
  1. Access BIOS/UEFI: Restart the laptop and press the necessary key (often F2, F12, DEL, or ESC) to enter the BIOS or UEFI settings.
  2. Locate Storage Settings: Navigate to the storage settings menu to find out what types of drives are supported.
  3. Check for Updates: Some older laptops may require a BIOS update to support newer SSD technologies like NVMe. Check your laptop manufacturer’s website for firmware updates.
  1. Find the Manual: If you don’t have a physical copy, the manual is usually available on the manufacturer’s website.
  2. Check Storage Specifications: Look for a section that details the storage options supported by your laptop.
  3. Confirm Compatibility: Cross-reference the SSD types listed in the manual with the SSD you’re considering.

By carefully following these steps, you can ensure that you’re choosing an SSD that is fully compatible with your laptop. Don’t underestimate the value of the manual and BIOS/UEFI settings; these resources can provide invaluable information that can save you time and money in the long run.

There can be three different cases.

Scenario 1: If you have bought an M.2 NVMe SSD and you are trying to install it inside an M.2 SATA slot, it’s not possible. The M.2 NVMe SSD will only get inserted and work with an M.2 PCIe NVMe slot.

Scenario 2: If you have an M.2 SATA SSD, it will work in both the M.2 SATA and M.2 PCIe NVMe slots. There is no confusion with this SSD.

Scenario 3: If you have a SATA 2.5″ SSD, it can only fit inside the SATA port or the port where the HDD is installed. You can also insert an additional SATA 2.5″ SSD using the Hard Drive caddy inside your DVD Drive. The whole process for that is given here.

Note: If your laptop or motherboard has SATA 2 support, make sure that your SATA-3 SSD comes with backward compatibility.

If you have a very old system that is using the old PATA firmware, you may not be able to use an SSD there at all.

You might have been clear that almost all the laptops are SSD-compatible. Some fit SATA SSD drives whereas others get fit with M.2 types.

The following case studies delve into real-world scenarios, examining how different types of SSDs were either compatible or incompatible with specific laptop models. These instances serve to highlight the importance of understanding compatibility factors when upgrading to an SSD.

The Challenge: A user wanted to upgrade the storage of a MacBook Pro 2019 model, which comes with a proprietary SSD form factor. They purchased a high-performance third-party NVMe SSD, hoping for a simple swap.

Findings: The user discovered that Apple uses a proprietary interface, rendering the NVMe SSD incompatible. Moreover, the MacBook Pro 2019 SSD is soldered to the motherboard, making it non-upgradable.

Conclusion: Always check if your device uses proprietary hardware before purchasing third-party SSDs. In this case, an upgrade was not possible without professional modification, which would void the warranty.

The Challenge: A user planned to replace the HDD in a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series laptop with a 2.5-inch SATA SSD for improved performance and reliability.

Findings: After swapping the HDD with the SATA SSD, the laptop booted up successfully and showed significant performance improvement. The 2.5-inch form factor and SATA interface were directly compatible with the existing hardware, requiring no additional modifications.

Conclusion: For older or budget-friendly laptops like the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series, a 2.5-inch SATA SSD can be an excellent, hassle-free upgrade option.

The Challenge: A user attempted to upgrade their Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with a U.2 SSD, intrigued by its high-speed potential.

Findings: Despite the U.2 SSD’s capabilities, the user found out that the laptop’s M.2 slot did not support the U.2 interface. Even though both SSDs shared similar form factors, the interfaces were different, resulting in incompatibility.

Conclusion: When upgrading to an SSD, even if the form factor matches, it’s crucial to ensure that the interface is also compatible. Interface mismatches can lead to unnecessary expenses and effort.

These case studies underline the necessity of careful research and consideration of compatibility factors like form factor, interface, and even proprietary constraints. By paying attention to these aspects, you can make a well-informed decision for a successful SSD upgrade.

Can I install an NVMe SSD on a SATA slot?

No, NVMe SSDs and SATA 2.5″ slots are not compatible. NVMe SSDs require M.2 with PCIe lanes. However, you can install an M.2 SATA SSD on an M.2 NVMe slot.

How can I identify my laptop’s current SSD form factor and interface?

Refer to your laptop’s manual or use software utilities to identify your hardware specifications, including the form factor and interface. Some good tools are Windows Device Manager, Speccy, CPU-Z, System Information (macOS), and AIDA64.

Will my old laptop’s BIOS support a new NVMe SSD?

Older BIOS versions may not support NVMe SSDs. A firmware update may be necessary for compatibility.

Is the M.2 slot always compatible with both SATA and NVMe SSDs?

Not necessarily. While some M.2 slots support both, others may only support either SATA or NVMe. Consult your laptop’s specifications for details.

Can I use an adapter to fit an incompatible SSD into my laptop?

While adapters do exist, they may lead to reduced performance and are generally not recommended for permanent installations.

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