In terms of software compatibility, all SSDs are compatible with all the motherboards. But, you can’t connect all the SSDs on all the motherboards. This happens because of physical incompatibility.
Only the SATA 2.5″ SSDs are compatible with all motherboards. Here, I am talking about the SATA 2.5″ SSDs which are available in a larger form factor.
I have discussed all kinds of SSDs and their compatibility in this article. Also, you can check this PDF to know more about different SSDs and their compatibility.
Which SSD will work on all the motherboards?
As we discussed earlier, only the SATA 2.5″ SSDs will work on all the motherboards out there. The availability of M.2 slots on motherboards is optional. But, each motherboard will allow you to connect multiple SATA 2.5″ SSD without any hassles.
The reason why the SATA 2.5″ SSD will work on any motherboard is that they use the same protocol which is used by the hard disks. Also, the form factor and SATA connectors used with these drives are similar.
So, you can say that any desktop or laptop which can run a 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive will be capable of running a SATA 2.5″ SSD as well.
Note: I am not talking about the M.2 SATA SSD that comes with the smaller form factor but use the same SATA protocol.
Which SSDs may not work on some motherboards?
Because some older motherboards will not have any M.2 SSD slots on them, you can’t use the M.2 SSDs directly on those boards. These SSDs include M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe SSDs. This is a smaller form factor that is getting popular these days. All the latest motherboards come with at least one M.2 port which is either SATA or NVMe supported.
So, if your motherboard is new, you will most probably be able to use the M.2 SSDs without any hassles.
However, in the case of older boards, you may not see any M.2 slot and this is where you can make a wrong decision.
How to make sure you always buy the right SSD for any motherboard?
You can always go through this SSD Buying Guide and find the right SSD for your motherboard. The best thing to do is to go through your motherboard’s user manual and see the specifications of your M.2 slot. If it supports NVMe protocol, you can use any M.2 SSD on it.
However, some M.2 slots on some motherboards will have support for M.2 SATA SSDs. In some cases, your motherboard will run the NVMe SSD but don’t allow the BIOS to load through it. So, make sure to confirm all these things. You can always get in touch with the motherboard manufacturer as well.
If you are going for a Gen 4 NVMe, make sure to check your CPU’s support for PCIe Gen 4 as well. Make sure to check this article for more information about the motherboard’s compatibility with NVMe SSDs.
What if my SSD does not work on my motherboard?
Most probably, you will buy an M.2 SSD and your motherboard will not support it. So, because these drives are mostly non-replaceable, you can always make use of your USB connections to use these drives at least for data storage. You can get yourself an M.2 SSD enclosure and start running your M.2 SATA or M.2 NVMe SSD.
Make sure to connect this enclosure to the faster USB slot available on your system.
The highest speed of your NVMe SSDs will get bottlenecked by the USB interface. But, it is better to use it at least as an external drive instead of throwing it into the waste.
I hope this would help.