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Yan
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New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:00 pm

I'll be getting a larger SSD, probably a Crucial MX500.

Should I get a SATA drive or M.2? If I understand correctly, M.2 is better in benchmarks, but the difference isn't that big in actual use.
 
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:16 pm

Yan wrote:
I'll be getting a larger SSD, probably a Crucial MX500.

Should I get a SATA drive or M.2? If I understand correctly, M.2 is better in benchmarks, but the difference isn't that big in actual use.

A couple things. SATA and m.2 aren't really how you compare them.

SATA is a protocol, and when people say "SATA SSD" these days I'm assuming they're generally talking about 2.5" SSDs. The 2.5" part of it is the form factor. Almost universally, any 2.5" SATA SSD these days is going to push the limits of the SATA connection. Somewhere in the 500-560 MB/s transfer rate for both sequential reads and writes.

m.2 is a form factor. Generally (again, this is similar to SATA in that people use a colloquial term but may not necessarily know what it means), m.2 drives can be based on the NVMe protocol. It's newer and faster than SATA, and definitely has some advantages that SATA just can't match in its current state. Thing is, you can have SATA drives in the m.2 form factor, which means they won't be any faster than the 2.5" SATA version of the drive.

Choosing between the two protocols (SATA and NVMe) is the real decision. Do you need blistering speeds upwards of 1500 MB/s plus that NVMe offers? No? OK stick with 2.5" SATA if your motherboard and case permit it. There aren't a ton of m.2 SATA drives to choose from in the first place so if your budget permits it just get NVMe (like a Samsung 970 EVO or ADATA or whatever).

For 99.3 percent of people SATA (2.5" or otherwise) is going to be plenty for the time being. I'd suggest you stick with that, but your workload might be begging for NVMe. What are you planning on using the SSD for?
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:38 pm

Another consideration is how many PCIe lanes you have available. If you have a SATA port available then you can use it, but if you load up your PCIe slots on an ATX motherboard, you might not have room for an NVMe drive even if you have a slot for it.
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MOSFET
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:58 pm

DancinJack's response is excellent, and there's really nothing I can add to it. Just as a general clarification though, a Crucial MX500 is going to be SATA whether it's 2.5" or m.2. If you go to Newegg and search for "Crucial MX500 SSD" then scroll down the options pane on the left til you get to Form Factor and Interface, you will see under Form Factor both 2.5" and m.2, and under Interface only SATA III. At this point in time, SATA SSDs like the MX500 are perfectly viable for desktop and laptop usage for many years to come. That being said, in the past couple of years I've generally gone with NVMe like Samsung 960 EVO for system drives and 1TB or 2TB SATA SSDs like 850 EVO, Mushkin Reactor, and Micron 1100 for mass storage.
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:45 am

For most people, a SATA SSD (in either 2.5" or M.2 form factor) is plenty fast enough.

Take a look at this chart I took from here.

In PCMark 8, a mechanical WD Blue hard drive gets 7 MB/s or 16 MB/s. A Crucial MX500 gets 296 MB/s. An M.2 NVMe drive like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus gets 656 MB/s.

So is an M.2 NVMe drive faster than SATA? Yes, about twice as fast. But a SATA SSD is about 20 to 40 times faster than a mechanical hard drive.

So in the scheme of things, NVMe is not that much faster than SATA for most purposes. Suppose you're waiting 15 seconds for an hourglass to go away with a mechanical drive. 15 seconds is very frustrating. A SATA SSD cuts that 15 seconds down to half a second second. An NVMe cuts half a second down to a quarter second.

If you're a content professional who manipulates multi-gigabyte files daily, all day long, then an NVMe drive can make a huge difference. You might cut a 5 minute transfer down to 2.5 minutes. But if you edit Word documents and browse the internet and you just don't want to see any hourglasses, then you won't see much if any difference at all between SATA and NVMe. Once you've cut 15 seconds down to half a second, there's not much gained from cutting half a second down to a quarter second.
 
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:57 am

Personally I would go with m.2 for the simplicity. No cables to wire makes for a much cleaner look. It also means no cables that could potentially get bumped and unplugged or go bad. I expect the m.2 interface to be around for a long time, so personally I would never buy a 2.5” ssd again. The price was within single digit percentage points last time I checked.

I don’t think any normal users see a benefit for going from sata to nvme, so it would come down to price on that for me. If you can get an nvme for no more than a 10% more than the equivalent sata, three sure, go for it. More than 10% and It’s not worth it for general computing.
 
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:27 am

One small advantage of a 2.5" sata drive is that it's a little easier to upgrade or later. Every motherboard has more than one sata port but very few have more than one m2. It's not the end of the world but you'd have to image it to an external device first or buy an nvme pcie adaptor.
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:13 am

It seems that more decent modern motherboards have multiple M.2 ports than not.

If you need more than what came on your motherboard, add-on PCIe cards with M.2 ports are cheap enough.
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If you are shopping for SSDs with the M.2 form factor because you want higher performance than SATA can deliver, you want the "M" key PCIe interface (with NVMe instead of AHCI) and not the "B" key SATA interface. The same applies when deciding which of your motherboard's M.2 ports to use or which adapter card to purchase.
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:47 am

Also, beware that M.2 drives come in different lengths. This is probably more a problem for laptops - we recently bought drives for a couple older laptops, which went fine for one, but the second laptop had what seems to be a half-length M.2 slot and the drive wouldn't fit.
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:21 pm

There are lots of videos on this. For gaming and regular desktop use there's really no reason to spend the extra money on an NVMe drive. You're better off putting those extra bucks into getting a bigger SATA drive instead.
 
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:31 pm

MOSFET wrote:
DancinJack's response is excellent, and there's really nothing I can add to it. Just as a general clarification though, a Crucial MX500 is going to be SATA whether it's 2.5" or m.2. If you go to Newegg and search for "Crucial MX500 SSD" then scroll down the options pane on the left til you get to Form Factor and Interface, you will see under Form Factor both 2.5" and m.2, and under Interface only SATA III. At this point in time, SATA SSDs like the MX500 are perfectly viable for desktop and laptop usage for many years to come. That being said, in the past couple of years I've generally gone with NVMe like Samsung 960 EVO for system drives and 1TB or 2TB SATA SSDs like 850 EVO, Mushkin Reactor, and Micron 1100 for mass storage.

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Yan
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Re: New SSD: SATA or M.2

Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:27 pm

Thanks to everybody for the replies. I didn't realize the difference between M.2 and NVMe. I don't have any special needs, so I'll just get a SATA drive.

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