M.2 vs NVME – Whats the Difference?

M.2 vs NVME - Whats the Difference

When deciding between M.2 and NVMe drives, you should first determine which is faster. Both types are fast, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between them by sight alone. 

What is NVMe?

Intel first announced NVMe in 2007, and the specification was released to the public in early 2008. A workgroup, led by Intel, worked to develop a specification for the new memory type. The original specification was released on the Intel website in the spring of 2008. Work on the detailed side of NVMe began in late 2009, with more than 90 companies contributing to the effort. In March 2011, NVMe version 1.0 was released, and it was later upgraded for commercial use in November 2014.

NVMe provides significant advantages to enterprise computing, particularly in data-intensive applications. These applications benefit from unprecedented data throughput and search speed. NVMe is particularly useful for AI, machine learning, and big data applications. Its faster transfer speeds and near-zero latency make it an ideal platform for these applications. High-performance applications are increasingly required for a range of industries, from finance to healthcare. Western Digital offers NVMe platforms and fully featured flash storage systems.

What Are M.2 Drives?

An M.2 SSD has three types of keys, M, B, and S. The M-key is required for the highest-end M.2 SSDs. It provides four lanes of bandwidth, also known as PCIe x4 connectivity. B-key slots are suitable for laptops and low-cost desktops, but they are not as fast as M.2 drives. They take up less space but are slower than standard 2.5-inch drives.

An M.2 drive is physically different from a standard SATA drive. Instead of using a standard PCI-E slot, M.2 drives feature M.2 keys, which are keyed, or “like teeth” on a key. The contacts are gold-plated, which makes them easy to identify. The length of the M.2 drives varies according to the amount of data they hold.

M.2 drives work by connecting to the PCI-E bus, bypassing the SATA controller, and allowing SSDs to connect directly to the PCI-E bus. These SSDs can theoretically reach 2GB/s of throughput when using four PCI-E 2.0 lanes, compared to 600MB/s with SATA III. These drives have the potential to be a great way to store large amounts of data.

Read more about PCIe vs NVMe.

Are all M.2 drives NVMe?

The question that many new PC buyers have been, “Are all M.2 drives NVMe?” It’s possible to get an SSD that performs at PCIe speeds, but that’s not the same as the NVMe PCIe 3.0 standard. PCIe 3.0 SSDs are capable of transfer rates up to 3,500 MB/s, but they’re not yet as fast as NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSDs.

There are several ways to tell if an SSD is NVMe, and not all of them are NVMe. The standard for M.2 SSDs is PCIe 2.0 or 3.0. You should check with your motherboard’s manual for compatibility, since some models can’t handle faster SSDs. Also, some M.2 drives have different sizes, so be sure to check the manual before buying.

M.2 drives are often difficult to install, but are they really faster? NVMe drives are faster, but they’re not faster than 2.5″ drives. Nevertheless, M.2 SSDs are smaller and take up less space. The reason they’re smaller is because they have SATA interfaces, while 2.5″ SSDs are only compatible with PCIe. Moreover, NVMe drives are generally more expensive than standard SSDs and mechanical HDDs.

NVMe vs. M.2 – Speed

Although NVMe and M.2 are not synonymous, both are closely related. They are both internal storage devices. The former is a next-generation form factor, which replaces the Mini-SATA interface. M.2 drives are different from SATA because they do not connect directly to the motherboard. Instead, they plug into a special connector slot on the motherboard. These drives are faster and can write at higher speeds than traditional HDDs.

The biggest difference between an M.2 SSD and an NVMe one is speed. An NVMe-based SSD has five times the capacity of a SATA-based drive, which means it will be faster when you’re doing a lot of reading and writing. Both types of drives can be connected to a computer with PCIe, but M.2 SSDs will be faster when you use PCIe instead of SATA.

If you’re shopping for a new storage drive, the first thing to consider is the amount of bandwidth they require. While both M.2 and NVMe drives have different speeds, modern NVMe SSDs use PCI Express Gen 3 interfaces, which have higher bandwidth than SATA. That means they’ll deliver a faster overall experience than a standard M.2 SSD. Despite the differences in speed, M.2 SSDs still cost more than their NVMe counterparts.

Interesting read: NvME 1.3 vs NvME 1.4 – What are the differences?

Technical Constraints

There are several key differences between M.2 and NVMe storage. M.2 SSDs can accommodate up to four times more data and are typically much wider than NVMe drives. The differences in their thermal and power performance can also make them appealing to different types of users. The comparison table below highlights the benefits and drawbacks of these two types of storage. In addition, M.2 is much more expensive than NVMe and is currently a bit of a sunk cost compared to their equivalent SSDs.

One main difference between the two types of storage is the interface. NVMe is attached to the CPU via a PCIe bus, while M.2 connects to the PCIe interface. NVMe requires a PCIe slot, but some NVME drives can be mounted on the PCIe slot directly. M.2 also has several types of sockets. Most NVMe drives utilize the fastest M Key socket, which runs over four PCIe lanes.


In the world of PC storage, there are essentially two types of solid-state drives (SSDs): M.2 and NVMe. While NVMe is much faster, M.2 is also less expensive. Both are suitable for gaming, though you’ll want to consider which one will work best for your particular needs. Ultimately, the best option will depend on your needs and budget.

First, let’s define the terms. The most common form factor for M.2 drives is M.2 2280, though other sizes can be available with proper standoffs. M.2 drives require PCIe connections, while NVMe requires no such wires. NVMe drives can access data more quickly and read and write data much more efficiently. The difference between the two forms is in the form factor.

In terms of size, M.2 drives use a smaller form factor than SATA-based drives. However, they are no faster than a 2.5-inch SSD. However, M.2 drives may be more expensive and require an adapter. While M.2 SSDs are more expensive, they are still better in every way. You can get one that offers superior performance and better cooling, while M.2 SSDs can also be hot-swappable.

Which SSD Is Best to Use?

There are different types of SSDs on the market. Which one is best for you depends on your budget, how much storage space you need, and the type of device you intend to use. SATA SSDs is the least expensive option. The storage capacity of an SSD can range from 128GB to 4TB. However, higher capacities are not widely available. For best results, you should pick a 500GB or 1TB SSD.

A 2.5-inch SSD is the most common form factor. It replaces a standard 2.5-inch hard drive and uses the SATA interface. Its performance is much faster than a standard HDD. A 1TB SSD is best for storing around 700 GB of data. A 512-GB SSD will suffice for smaller drives. Both sizes have different connectors that fit into most devices.

The Samsung 870 EVO is the fastest SATA SSD on the market. Its fast read/write speeds exceed the average USB 3.1 standard. The Samsung 870 EVO is a good choice for those who don’t mind a smaller capacity. The Crucial X8 is also a good option for those who want a higher-speed external drive. You can buy it for less than $300 and enjoy fast transfer speeds.

Choose the Right Drive for Your Setup

You can choose an external hard drive that’s compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. Some models feature metal retention clips to keep the connectors in place. Look for these on SATA cables. Also, check if your drive is compatible with your computer’s power supply unit. If it is, then you can daisy-chain it with another. However, you must make sure that you purchase the same type of hard drive for your system.

Hard drives work best when they have plenty of space. When 80% full, they’ll slow down considerably. A 120-GB hard drive is equal to 95GB of useful space. A 250-GB hard drive is equal to 200GB of usable space. And a 1TB drive will give you 820GB of usable space. Whichever option you choose, be sure that you have sufficient space. Keeping enough space is important for any hard drive, and it will help your computer run smoothly.

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I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...