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M.2 SATA or SATA 2.5″ SSD: What is the Difference?

It is very easy to make a decision between M.2 SATA and SATA 2.5 SSDs. But, people often ask this question: Is M.2 SATA faster than the SATA 2.5″ SSD?

My answer to this question is clearly No. An M.2 SATA SSD can never give you a read/write speed more than the SATA 2.5″. Because both the SSDs use the same SATA bus, the speed can never reach more than 600MB/s. Whether your SSD comes with AHCI or SATA protocol, the speed will remain the same.

Also, keep a thing in mind that 600MB/s is the theoretical speed of SATA 3.0. When it comes to real-time usage, you will often get 500 to 500MB/s sequential speed with any SATA SSD whether it has M.2 or SATA interface. The random read/write speed can be much less than the written limits.

But, still, there are various advantages and disadvantages of both these types of drives. We are going to know all of them below in this article.

How does SATA 2.5″ look like?

SATA 2.5″ SSD looks just like a 5200 RPM HDD. The form factor is similar to the HDDs but the speed is still higher. As the name suggests, a SATA 2.5″ SSD will never be longer than 2.5 inches. The weight of a SATA 2.5″ is normally 40 to 60g. You can look at the image below for a better understanding.

sata 2.5 ssd image
sata 2.5 ssd image

How does an M.2 SATA SSD look like?

Although the speed and other performance characteristics of both SATA 2.5″ and M.2 SATA SSDs are the same, the M.2 SATA is way smaller than the larger 2.5″ SSD. The maximum size of any commercial M.2 SSD will never go beyond 22mm wide and 110mm long. You can see the image below for a better understanding.

M.2 SSD Image

What is the difference between an M.2 SSD and a SATA 2.5″ SSD?

Well, the main difference is between the sizes of both these SSDs. So, if you are someone who wants to save space on your motherboard, you should go for an M.2 SSD.

Bigger in sizeSmaller in size
Less HeatMore Heat
Speed up to 600MB/sSpeed up to 600MB/s
Easy to installModerately complex to install
Cheaper than the M.2 SATA SSD`Expensive than the M.2 SATA SSD
Use SATA cable or port for connectionUse only M.2 port for connection
Heavy in weightLight weight up to 9g
difference between SATA and M.2 SATA SSD

Benefits of SATA 2.5″ SSD over an M.2 SATA SSD

As you can see in the table above, an SATA 2.5″ SSD will come with some benefits for sure. The biggest advantage of a SATA 2.5″ SSD is its easy installation and low price. Because the SATA Form factor has been around for a while in the SSD domain, the technology has refined a lot and the manufacturers are capable of producing cheap products.

The SATA 2.5″ SSDs are easy to use as external devices because they are much more durable in nature because of their external cover. However, a naked M.2 SSD can become pretty tough to be used as an external SSD. It can easily get damaged even if you manage to use it with an external adapter.

The third benefit of a SATA 2.5″ SSD is that it is very easy to install and buy. Because M.2 SSDs come in various types, you can end up buying an NVMe SSD which may not work on your M.2 SATA slot. However, I have posted another article discussing the differences between an M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe SSD.

Benefits of M.2 SATA SSD over a normal SATA 2.5″ SSD

The main advantage of an M.2 SATA SSD over a SATA 2.5″ SSD is that it saves your motherboard space. There are no other benefits you will see when it comes to performance. However, as we have discussed earlier, an M.2 SATA will be about 10 to 20% expensive than the normal SATA 2.5″ SSDs.

How much price difference can you see between the both?

I have been buying and suggesting various types of SSD for lots of years. So, I can clearly say that you will see about a 20% price drop in SATA 2.5″ SSDs.

Let’s see an example of Crucial MX500 SSD

The Crucial MX500 is a popular SSD and is available in various forms factors. But, if we look at its SATA and M.2 SATA versions, we can see a price gap of about 11$. If you check the features of both these SSDs, you will see no difference except their sizes.

Not only crucial, but you will see the same thing with all other popular brands. The SSDs using the same technology and offering the same storage space will be expensive when they have M.2 form factor. However, the price difference is totally understandable. The size of M.2 SSD is way smaller than those big standard SSD drives.

So, if you are in search of a compact drive with the same performance and storage space, you can surely go for an M.2 SATA SSD.

When should you definitely buy an SATA M.2 SSD?

The time when you see that all your motherboard’s SATA ports and full and you are left only with one or two M.2 SATA ports, you will have to buy a SATA M.2 SSD.

There are several ways to connect your SATA SSD to your PCIe slots using an adapter but all these things will make your motherboard so much complex. So, it’s better to invest some more money and buy an M.2 SSD instead of a standard one.

If you are a laptop owner, you might have the option to use an SSD caddy and install your 2.5″ drive in your DVD drive. But, if it’s already occupied or you want to use your DVD reader along with the existing HDD or SSD, you have no other options.

Either you can set up your SSD externally using your USB connection or try to check whether your laptop motherboard has an M.2 port and use your M.2 SSD there.

Double-check the availability of an M.2 port on your motherboard before buying an M.2 SSD

It is wise to buy an M.2 SSD only if your motherboard has an M.2 slot. Especially if you have a laptop, you should try to confirm this same before doing anything else. If your laptop doesn’t have an M.2 port available (which most of the older laptops don’t have), you will have no other option to install it internally.

However, if you are a desktop user and your motherboard doesn’t have an M.2 port, you can still use an M.2 SATA to PCIe adapter and use your SSD. Here, you should consider checking whether your motherboard supports SATA or not.

In a nutshell, it will be good to buy an M.2 SSD if your system has an M.2 slot. Otherwise, just go for a normal 2.5″ SSD. You can easily set up an HDD+SSD combo to use both these drives simultaneously.

See all the supported SSDs for your motherboard

Final Verdict

I hope you are now aware of the differences between the SATA 2.5″ SSDs and M.2 SATA SSD. If you have any other questions in mind, consider using the comment section to spit them out.

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