Introduction 

If you’re constructing a PC or simply want a fast storage device to run your operating system, then SSD storage is a good option. But, rather than just another standard 2.5-inch SATA drive, why not go for something a little more advanced?

Each day, storage capacity grows in size and shrinks in a compact design. Oversized spinning disk hard drives are no longer cluttering up cases or making computers overly large. Solid-state drives (Flash memory) have diminished their size while boosting the speed at which data could be written and read rapidly. However, there are several differences between solid-state drives that are important to note and can help you get the most out of your laptop. 

SSD technology has progressed, with devices now available that plug straight into the motherboard. You’ve probably heard about mSATA, but what exactly is an M.2 SSD? And how should you get one on your computer?

What is M.2 SSD and mSATA SSD?

When constructing your custom PC or updating a current one, choosing the quickest storage option is a smart decision. After all, installing your operating system upon super-fast storage will make your computer run faster.

M.2, also referred to as the next Generations Form Factor (NGFF), is a quicker data transfer interface than ordinary mSATA. The latter is limited to 6 gigabits per second (Gb/s) due to its dependence on PCIe. mSATA solid-state drives are used in older laptops and Windows tablets.

M.2 is by far the most recent and most preferred smaller version for solid-state drives. Such drives are more about the space and can store the same amount of data as 2.5″ SSDs. M.2 devices connect directly to the motherboard with no use of additional wires, making them excellent for PC setups with limited cable management or space. Since all M.2 drives connect straight to the motherboard, the pace at which M.2 device can operate distinguishes depending on the connector.

There are three main kinds of M.2:

  • SATA: This method connects to a SATA 3.0 port through the M.2 connector and uses the AHCI driver. It’s extremely slow, but it’s commonly accepted.
  • Advanced Host Controller Interface or AHCI is a weaker option offered on low-cost motherboards that are particularly fit for outdated operating systems. SSDs linked through AHCI is kind of like DRAM than a traditional hard disc drive (HDD).
  • Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) was designed for fitting the next-gen SSD storage. Although regular PCIe connections are available for NVMe capacity on desktop motherboards, the new M.2 form factor needs a separate connector.

Since mSATA SSDs are acceptable and your motherboard accepts M.2, take advantage of this opportunity.

 M.2 SSD: What Does it Look Like?

There are some changes in the connectors between the two variants of M.2. You must get the proper M.2 SSD for your motherboard’s interface. Three different designs are depending on the placement of the notch and the gap inside the edge connector.

  • B: Its notch is located on six pins to the left of the center.
  • M: It’s five pins towards the right of the notch.
  • B&M: Has two notches, one six pins from the left and the other five pins again from the right.

Noticeably, before buying an M.2 SSD, you should double-check your motherboard paperwork because an innocent mistake can turn into economical expenses in no time.

M.2 SSD Drive: How to Install

Take the proper anti-static measures before installing your M.2 SSD disc. Check if the system is unplugged or not, if not then unplug it. Remove the battery from a laptop before inserting an M.2 SSD device.

Task 1: Decide whichever M.2 SSD you would like to use.

Begin by determining an M.2 SSD storage system that meets your motherboard’s & port’s main considerations. This is without hesitation the hardest part of the procedure. PCPartPicker.com, for example, can assist you in making the best decision depending on your motherboard, space requirements, and finances.

Task 2: Look for an M.2 port.

Several M.2 ports are available on some motherboards. One could be for a network interface card or something else entirely. However, your motherboard could well be set up in a particular way for optimal performance. For instance, when you have more than four SATA drives, you will require a dedicated M.2 port connector.

It’s vital to double-check your motherboard specifications to see which connector the M.2 SSD should always be plugged into.

Task 3: Where is the M.2 Plug? Consider using an adapter!

What if there is not a port for it on the board? If that’s the case, you can buy a PCIe adaptor card with only an M.2 slot. If you’re considering purchasing an M.2 SSD, these are reasonably inexpensive and won’t significantly increase your overall cost. It’s important to point out that the laptop PCIe is not available in this, but USB3.0 covers are. It’s not perfect and makes launching operating systems impossible. However, it’s a good choice for ultra-fast storing, such as for high-definition video processing.

Before purchasing an adapter, make sure the key fits the M.2 SSD you’re purchasing. This will be useless otherwise!

Task 4: Install your M.2 SSD Drive 

Remove the fastening screw from the M.2 SSD device port when you’re prepared to insert it. Hold the screw safe by using a head screwdriver. It’s a smart idea to stick it on a dab of adhesive glue. Next,  double-check to make sure that the SSD disk and the socket are both compatible before you glid it in at a 30-degree angle. It should glide in without too much difficulty in some circumstances, but you may need to nudge it in a little. Then that should stay at a 30-degree angle after installation; there is a tiny spring that you can notice if you move the other end down more towards the motherboard.

Push the M.2 SSD drive against the motherboard, place it back with the screw, as well as secure it. The screw’s placement will be decided based on the M.2 SSD. Multiple ports should be accessible to serve multiple SSD capacities.

It’s important not to overtighten your SSD because this can harm it. Before you restart your computer, remove the casing.

Task 5: Inside the BIOS/UEFI, activate M.2.

You’ll have to activate the M.2 drive in your PC’s configuration, so enter the BIOS/UEFI screen right away. In the PCI Express socket, search for an M.2 option. The proper methods will change from industry to industry, so check the motherboard handbook for details.

Users can choose to run Windows or any other operating system after the device gets activated. Because the form of M.2 SSD is perfectly suitable for handling Operating systems rather than functioning as a storage device for files.

Some Drawbacks of M.2 SSD

Outdated motherboards having M.2 SSD compatibility, for instance, could depend on the PCIe connection, which limits device transfer speeds to 6Gb/s. But the M.2 SSD drives that are linked to the PCIe systems will not be used for the systems, aka the main drive. This isn’t an issue with newer motherboards, so double-check that your hardware could produce the performance you want.

Even if M.2 SSD can deliver you a super-fast OS for your computer, still there stand some limitations that you need to know. 

Likewise, the M.2 device’s interaction with the entire system may be limited due to motherboard limitations. Because PCIe bandwidth is limiting, introducing an M.2 SSD could cause problems with other systems. Study the motherboard information once more to see how an M.2 device can affect your configuration.

M.2 gives a quick SSD storage process to your PC

To install an M.2 SSD within your Laptop or pc, or to update a current M.2 device, take the measures above. The operating system would then boot faster and function better with quicker storage configured.

Therefore pick the best suitable M.2 SSD and the compatible connection to your PC motherboard. But what needs to be done if there is no slot for it on the board? Well, a basic SSD disc, as well as more RAM, will still boost performance over standard HDDs. Maybe what you need is out of your price range, consider an adaptor; gently insert the device.