What is an M.2 Solid State Drive?
When you’re buying a new computer, proper storage is an important consideration to make. How much you need is one thing, but in today’s computer market, there are three different storage types to choose from, and it may not be obvious what the perfect fit for you is!
There are three popular solutions: Mechanical, SATA SSD, and M.2 NVMe Solid State Drive.
Each with numerous brands building them, differing speeds, and of course sizes to compare! Here we focus on the M.2 NVMe Solid State Drive; What it is, how it’s different from the others, and how it can benefit you!
Introduced in 2007, the M.2 Solid State drive didn’t become mainstream until the last 5-10 years. Although it is a solid-state drive, with no moving parts and less risk for failures, the shared “solid-state” terminology can be confusing. It is, in fact, a separate entity from the more common and affordable 2.5” Solid State Drives. These use what’s known as a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, or SATA, connection and require a data cable, a separate power cable, and an available SATA port.
Alternatively, the M.2 NVMe drive uses the much faster PCI-e interface for its connection and requires a particular M.2 slot to work. There are many technical terms used to describe the difference, like bus speeds, transfer rates, etc.
For simplicities sake, let’s just imagine a car race between two identical cars.
One starts on the Highway, and the other on backroads. They start simultaneously and race to a finish line an equal distance away; The car on the highway gets there faster because it’s using the more efficient traveling method. Well, it’s the same thing with an M.2. In a nutshell, this Highway vs. Backroad IS PCI-e vs. SATA, or M.2 vs. SATA Powered SSD. Though they are both solid-state tech, M.2 is built for a different, more efficient “road.”
The most significant advantage to an M.2 drive is its raw speed.
Your boot-up times for both turning on your computer and for loading your programs is dramatically improved. Like all things for consumers, brand quality will vary, and you’ll find different performance levels amongst budget-friendly, moderate, and elite-level drives. Despite this diversity, M.2 drives are generally around 400% faster than SATA-powered SSDs, and up to 700% faster than mechanical drives!
In practical terms, this means if your computer has a mechanical drive and takes 40-60 seconds to boot up, expect it to only take 4-6 seconds with an M.2.
In the last 40 years, we’ve gone from floppy drives to CDs and USB, mechanical to solid-state storage, SATA to PCI-e, and tech developers are continuing to enhance the user experience by creating more efficient devices, seemingly every month!
So if you’re here and wondering if an M.2 Solid State hard drive is for you, the answer is most likely yes! If you want a faster, equal (or more) reliability and consider the matching warranties covering the hardware, the M.2 is a clear upgrade.
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