If you look at the theoretical performance characteristics, both SATA 3 2.5″ and M.2 are exactly the same. In simple words, if you buy a SATA 3 2.5″ SSD and an M.2 SATA SSD, you will see no difference in the overall performance.
But, just put a SATA 2.5″ SSD and an M.2 SATA SSD on a table. You can’t say that these both are the same if you are not aware much about them. Just like their names, the form factors of both these SSDs are different.
The SATA 2.5″ has ordinary SATA interface and form factor. Whereas, the M.2 SATA has M.2 form factor which is way smaller than the SATA 2.5 Inches. Also, there are various differences between the both including the price, weight, availability, heat dissipation, etc.
So, let’s discuss everything in this article and see how you can choose the right SSD depending on your requirements.
Note: M.2 NVMe and M.2 PCIe SSDs are completely different from M.2 SATA. However, they all will look similar. I am talking about the M.2 SATA SSD here only (with speed up to 600MB/s). For more information about the M.2 SSDs, you can read this article.
Comparison Table (SATA M.2 SSD vs SATA 2.5″ SSD)
|SATA-3 2.5″ SSD||M.2 SATA SSD (2280)|
|Bigger Form Factor (~3.96×2.7×0.37 inches)||Smaller Form Factor (~80x20x6mm)|
|Less Expensive||Comparatively Expensive|
|Moderately Easy to install||Very Easy to install|
|More Weight||Less Weight|
|Can be installed in all motherboards||Can only be installed in an M.2 Port|
|Can easily be used as a portable drive||Need extra care and accessories to be used as an external drive|
|Easy to buy||Lots of options available|
Check the type of ports available on the motherboard
Most of the latest motherboards come with the M.2 ports. These ports may be built for the M.2 NVMe SSDs or the M.2 SATA SSD. It is well and good to buy an M.2 SATA SSD if the motherboard is equipped with a dedicated M.2 SATA port. But, even if your laptop or desktop motherboard has an M.2 NVMe port, you can easily install an M.2 SATA SSD because both drives are compatible.
Note: The M.2 SATA SSD may get connected and work on an M.2 NVMe port, but this will not happen in vice versa because the dedicated M.2 SATA Only port will have different pin configurations which don’t match with the NVMe drives.
But, if your laptop or desktop is old enough that there is no M.2 port. Or, if all the M.2 ports are already acquired by other devices, you will have to buy the SATA 2.5″ SSD.
Know more about the M.2 Form factor here.
Generally, you will see about a 10 to 20% difference in price between the SATA 2.5″ and M.2 SATA SSDs. The M.2 SATA SSDs are a little bit expensive than the ordinary SATA drives because of their smaller size and complex integration of components.
The next reason could be the trend of M.2 drives. These drives are comparatively new and that’s why the price is higher. But, if you are buying a drive with below 1TB storage space, you will have to pay around 5 to 15 USD more for an M.2 SATA SSD. So, this may not make a big different at all.
Weight and Physical Space
The SATA 2.5″ SSD can way between 40 to 60g as per its type, brand, and the outer casing. If we talk about the size, most of the SATA 2.5″ SSDs will have about 100mm height and 70mm width. However, the thickness of these SSDs can be around 7mm.
Now, the M.2 SATA SSD will weight around 5 to 10gm. Its just a small piece of PCB. But, the M.2 drives have different form factors. The most popular and widely used one is 2280 M.2 which means that it will be 80mm long and 22mm wide. The thickness be around 2mm.
So, if you really want to make your desktop compact and less messy, you should go for M.2 SATA otherwise, the SATA 2.5″ is a wise option.
All SSDs are highly durable as compared to the HDDs because they have no moving parts. But, if you have to choose the best SSDs between these both keeping durability in mind, there could be conflicts.
Because SATA 2.5″ SSD will normally have more weight, the G-Force can do damages to the internal parts. Dropping an M.2 may not make a big difference. But, because we are going to use them internally, none of these SSDs will have serious impacts when the system is dropped (Mostly laptops).
If you are planning to use your SSD externally, SATA 2.5″ is definitely a good decision because of its tough build and the outer casing. Some SATA 2.5″ SSDs even come along with the metallic casing.
The M.2 will always be connected to the motherboard, so you can’t use that drive externally (at least theoretically). Alternatively, you have an option to use an M.2 to USB or M.2 to SATA 2.5″ adapter and then make it ready for external usage. But, consider using a casing for the protection of your naked M.2 drive.
In a nutshell, both SATA 2.5″ and M.2 SATA SSDs are good in the terms of durability. But, the SATA 2.5″ gives you the advantage to be used as a portable SSD without compromising with the durability.
My suggestion for you: M.2 SATA SSD vs SATA 2.5″ SSD
In my opinion, if you have limited budgets, firstly check if there is a free M.2 port available on your motherboard. If it is there, you can go for a 120GB SATA SSD or 240GB one which will normally cost you about 40 to 50 USD. Then, make it your OS drive or default software installation drive as well. You can keep your hard disk for raw storage.
The next thing is to just buy a large-sized SATA 2.5″ SSD and replace your existing HDD and forget about the M.2 SATA. If you have a desktop, you have a lot of space to hold two big drives at once. However, if you are a laptop user, you can make use of an SSD caddy and install your SSD at the place of your DVD Drive. I have discussed this whole concept of the HDD+SSD combo in this article.
I think it’s not very tough to make this decision. Both SATA 2.5 and M.2 SATA have the same characteristics. So, just check the available ports and buy anyone. For more, you can read this brief SSD Buyer’s Guide 2021.
If you are still not able to choose the right SSD for you, just feel free to get in touch with me using the contact page. I will definitely help you.
Thanks for reading!