For many years, the clear trend in the computing segment has been making storage drives as small and as fast as possible. The first storage drive in the 1950s was 4 MB (Megabytes) was as big as the average refrigerator. And now we get to see the most compact storage drives in the form of SSDs (Solid State Drives) that are not much bigger than a credit card.

What is M.2?

The 2.5-inch SSDs are the most popular storage drives due to their functionality, speed, and performance, but with rapid advancements of technology, an average user is looking to get alternative options and maximum value for money. 

M.2 is broadly referred to as a form factor for SSDs shaped like a long gum. The thin laptops, ultra notebooks, and tablets are using the compact M.2 drives due to their sleek form factor. The M.2 SSDs offer 2 TB storage space and more. 

M.2 was categorized as NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor), a standard used to mount expansion cards internally. 

Why the Need to Develop M.2 Form Factor

The difference between an M.2 SSD and a 2.5 inch SSD is that the M.2 SSD has an entirely different form factor, and it also connects to a different type of slot. The M.2 SSD is also nearly 10 times faster than a regular SSD

The innovation in flash storage technology has given way to smaller drives without sacrificing the speed, such as the ‘M.2’, a modern interface for both SSDs and expansion cards offering faster speeds and occupying minimum space. 

The most common interface standard used for hard drives and SSDs was SATA 3.0, and the standard software used to communicate with SATA is AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface). But AHCI was primarily designed for hard drives and not optimized for SSDs. AHCI was making a bottleneck for SSD performance. 

The SATA 3 SSDs deliver the best performance and are more suitable as compared to conventional hard drives, but the challenge or bottleneck is the cable at the back. The SATA 3.0 bus with AHCI has a speed ranging from 550 to 600 Mb/s (megabytes per second) which is quite fast, but flash memory technology continues to expand, and you get to see the latest drives handling much more data even compared to SATA SSDs.

SATA Express was launched to fix the bottleneck, but for a user, it is quite challenging to find and buy SATA Express drives even though there are motherboards that do support it. 

However, M.2 provides the same speed and performance as SATA Express but with a significant advantage of being much smaller and dynamic. Most of the M.2 drives available in the market use the computer’s PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) bus. 

The fastest M.2 drive uses a PCI Express 3.0 X 4 connection capable of delivering 4 GB/Sec (gigabytes per second), which is the fastest speed you will get on any flash memory drive. 

Why go for M.2 

The current M.2 PCI e drives are still much faster than the regular SSDs. Apart from the storage, the M.2 also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards that can fit in the motherboards M.2 slot, and you can take advantage of PCIe speeds without having to install large cards. 

The M.2 is easily installed and configured, and you do not have to go around the hassle of any power or signal cable. You simply have to insert the M.2 card in the slot and put a screw. But before you rush to buy the M.2 SSD, you need to know that not all M.2 cards or slots are the same. 

The latest and fastest M.2 SSDs will use the PCIe 3.0 and the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express). For some of the M.2 drives you get at an affordable price, use the PCIe 2.0 or even the common SATA bus. 

Before buying the M.2 slots, you also need to know the physical layout and connector types. Most of the common M.2 on the current motherboard use Connector B or M for SSDs and Connector A or E for wireless adapters. However, some of the M.2 cards are compatible with numerous motherboard connectors, so you need to check before buying an M.2 drive. 

The M.2 drives, regardless of the connector type, come in various sizes and have a number that indicates the dimension, such as 22 X 42 millimeters. Some of the motherboards and laptops may not be compatible with longer M.2 drives. The different sizes of M.2 SSDs, including 

– 2280 — 22 x 80 mm

– 2230 — 22 x 30 mm

– 2242 — 22 x 42 mm

– 2260 — 22 x 60 mm

Final Word

The M.2 SSD offers remarkable speeds, flexibility, and performance. The M.2 SSD is a fantastic option for the laptop as it takes up less space and less power compared to the standard SATA interface SSD. Another prominent feature of M.2 is its interface supporting PCIe, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SATA, and USB 3.0. Many brands offer a range of M.2 SSDs, including Intel, Samsung, Kingston, Toshiba, and Plextor. The price of Intel M.2 2280 SSD 1 TB is $90 while 2 TB is $190.

Memory Clearance offers a wide range of M.2 SSDs that you can get at an affordable price. Our technical experts can even guide you and help you get the right M.2 SSD for your need.