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NVMe vs M.2 : Which SSD Is Right Choice?

What Is NVMe?

NVMe is the storage protocol and a host-controlling interface used for improving data transfer speed between client systems and enterprises and over the computer’s high-speed PCIe bus. This latest transfer protocol has been designed especially for solid-state memory.

NVMe is most used for SSD storage, backup, cache, or main memory. It is an excellent alternative for the SCSI or Small Computer System Interface stand and ATA or Advanced Technology Attachment. These are known as the standard to connect and transmit data between the target storage device and the host system.

NVMe has been solely designed for faster media. The prime benefit of using NVMe PCIe SSD over any other type of storage is higher output or input operations every second and reduced latency. SSD storage type has recently become popular and is one of the most preferred mediums in storage requirements.

After the advent of solid-state technology, it was pretty evident that the existing protocols and interfaces like SAS or Serial Attached SCSI and SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attach are no longer suitable mediums. NVMe was initially established in the year 2011, and more than 100 tech companies were actively involved in developing this storage solution.

NVMe is the prime key that enables the use of evolving applications and technologies like AI, IoT, and ML. These advanced technologies can be immensely beneficial for making huge improvements and low latency, which one can achieve from NVMe storage systems.

How Does NVMe Works?

The standard does not use NVMe state, but it has referred to command collection and set of features and register an interface with the only goal of achieving interoperability and high performance throughout the NVM systems.

The protocol of NVMe has the ability to support different forms of non-volatile memory like SSD, which makes use of a range of non-volatile memory like NAND flash. These drivers are found for a range of operating systems like Linux and Windows.

These SSDs either connect to the PCIe or U.2 and M.2 connectors. The protocol attached to the connections ensures higher IOPS and low latency with reduced power usage. The commands respond to the shared memory and map input or output over the PCIe interface. It is compatible with parallel I/O and multicore processors that ensure addressing CPU and high throughput.

Importance of NVMe

The NVMe has been specially developed for working with high-performing non-volatile media for storage like SSDs. It is mostly suitable for compute-intensive settings and a highly demanding nature.

For example, the NVMe can handle enterprise-based workloads while consuming very minimal power and leaving fewer infrastructure footprints. With the use of the NVMe storage system, you can experience much less latency than SATA and SAS protocols. This would result in improving performance and reducing latency.

So, you can stay assured that NVMe is great to be used with high-end applications which require real-time processing and reducing bottlenecks. Most data centers and enterprise environments can take advantage of high-performing NVMe storage systems.

Benefits of NVMe

You need to understand the benefit of choosing NVMe storage. So these include:

  • The NVMe SSDs are designed with only a few microseconds of latency.
  • NVMe drives have the ability to send commands at double the speed compared to other SATA drives.
  • It has a much higher bandwidth compared to other competitors.
  • It ensures effective management, data access, and storage.
  • The data can be easily streamlined and divided.
  • It supports different form factors, which include connections, U.2, and M.2
  • The NVMe supports tunneling protocols that address privacy.

What is M.2?

Coming to the M2 SSD, it is a small form factor SSD. This specification is for computer-associated connectors and expansion cards that are mounted internally. It has replaced the mSATA standard, which makes use of PCIe connectors and physical card layouts.

The M.2 SSD storage offers improved flexible physical features. It helps a range of module lengths and widths with advanced interfacing features. This SSD is known to be more suitable compared to mSATA for the SSD application, especially when it is for devices like tablets and ultrabooks.

Types of M.2

There are three different types of M.2 SSD cards. We will take a look at three of them.

  1. SATA: This is a type of M.2 SSD that makes use of AHCI routes and drivers to the SATA cables through the M.2 connector. It might be slow, but it is known for its huge compatibility.
  2. AHCI: It might be a slower option for the low-performing motherboards and is mostly used with older OSs. SSDs generally connect through AHCI and work more like DRAM compared to different types of Hard disk drives (HDD).
  3. NVMe: NVM or Non-Volatile Memory Express has been specially developed for advanced SSD storage cards. Even when the storage is widely available with the general PCIe connection for the motherboards in desktops, M.2 form factor makes use of different connectors.

SSDs are storage forms that can effectively save a huge amount of data on solid-state memory. The SSD storage does not have moving parts to spin up, down, or break like HDD. Previously, it was popular as the Next generation Form Factor; however, later, it was changed to M.2. using M.2 connector keying shows different capabilities and purposes of both the device and host.

What are Common M.2 Sizes?

You must know that the latest M.2 connectors are not actually connected to the motherboard using a cable. They are directly plugged into the motherboard by making use of a dedicated M.2 connector slot. These cards are mostly available in rectangular shapes. These cards are usually 60mm or 80 long and 22mm wide. However, the length of the card is definitely not the same. You can understand the card size by the number of digits.

When you check a card, the initial two digits denote the width, and the remaining numbers determine the length of the card. For example, when you choose a 2260 card, 22mm represents the width, and 60 is its length. More length in M.2 slots will be able to hold an improved number of NAND chips to get additional storage capacity compared to the shorter version.

The other sizes are:

  • 22110
  • 2260
  • 2242
  • 2230
  • 2280

How Does M.2 Look?

You will mostly find some kind of differences in the M.2 connectors in the types. Hence, choosing the correct type of SSD is mostly recommended to ensure the right fit with your connection. These are mostly available in three different configurations with differences in edge connector gap and notch position.

  • B&M: It means that the slot has two notches. The first slot has 6 pins(left), and the second one has 5 pins(right).
  • M: This notch consists of 5 pins from its right.
  • B: This notch consists of 6 pins from its left.

Make sure that you thoroughly check the motherboard guidance while purchasing M.2 SSD. Remember making a mistake can be an expensive waste.

Difference Between NVMe vs. M.2

To make the right decision, you need to understand every technical feature of this SSD card. So, in this section, we will compare every single component that is considered one of the prime needs to help you decide.

1. Budget

SATA and SSDs are considered much more affordable options compared to the other NVMe drives. However, there is always a need to consider performance upgrades that only NVMe drives can provide if you want to transfer large numbers of big-sized files or you want to enjoy high-speed gaming. In such cases, NVMe SSD can become a worthy choice.

Let us take an example, 1TB SATA SSD is available for almost $100, whereas 1TB of NVMe drive from the same brand is available at $200.

2. Technical Limitations

You must always pay attention to your system’s compatibility prior to selecting a drive, as there are older devices with old components that might not be compatible with new-generation devices. Specifically for the NVMe connection, older devices might not have the right components.

You should also take a look at the PCIe connection availability to support a range of PCIe devices. If it has only specific and limited lanes, it means that you require choosing a different drive or one lane that has the component to support NVMe and let it work at full speed.

3. Drive Speed

When you select the correct drive for the setup, the SATA M.2 drive and SSDs of 2.5 inches will offer similar speeds. Therefore, to increase performance, you need to choose NVMe drives. Undeniably the NVMe SSD drives are way faster compared to SATA drives; there might be a need for upgrading the processor to improve the experience.

So, always make sure to write and read speed on the drive as earlier NVMe generations might have different speeds.

4. Drive Capacity

Most of the SATA drives usually range somewhere between 500GB to a huge 16TB storage. When it comes to the M.2 drives, it starts from 2TB, while there are some that are also available with 4 and 8TB storage at a higher price.


Before you make a choice of a new drive, it is always recommended to keep a backup of the data. Making a backup is extremely important as it prevents any kind of unnecessary consequences. Besides, before you make any purchase, you also need to be sure of compatibility. Remember that making a wrong purchase will only lead to making a wrong investment and, eventually, a waste of money.

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