When you hear the term solid state drive (SSD), it is usually followed by two or three terms -> NVMe, SATA 3, or M.2. But, what is the difference between them? SATA 3 and NVMe are types of data protocols of the drive, but M.2 isn’t.
There is a common misconception that M.2 and NVMe are direct competitors when it comes to SSDs. However, the truth can’t be further from it. This article will explain everything that you want to know, but first, we need to start with NVMe and SATA 3.
NVMe and SATA 3
First, we need to explain the difference between NVMe and SATA. The main difference between the two is the way a computer reads the SSD.
NVMe enables the computer to read SSD data directly from the PCI-E slot on the motherboard. This type of SSD drive doesn’t require any power cables since it takes up power straight from the motherboard. It is also quicker than SATA 3 when it comes to data transfer.
Unlike NVMe, SATA 3 requires a power cable and a data cable that links the drive and the motherboard.
SATA 3 has a lower draw of data since it has reduced access to the PCI-E lanes. These lanes are the data slots on the motherboard and the greater the access to these slots, the bigger the data queue.
Since NVMe has a direct connection to these slots and can access more of them, it can be significantly faster than SATA 3.
Is the Difference in Speed Between NVMe and SATA 3 Noticeable?
There isn’t too much difference in speed between the two if you’re a regular PC user. You may notice the difference if you’re rendering, doing a picture or video editing, or using very demanding software.
For large files, SATA 3 SSD has a read/write speed up to 550Mb per second, while NVMe SSD has read/write speed of up to 3500 Mb per second. However, for small and medium files you don’t require read/write speed higher than 550 Mbps.
If you mostly use your computer for everyday tasks, browsing the internet or playing video games, there won’t be that much of a difference. The system booting speed will also be similar.
What About M.2?
NVMe and SATA 3 are types of solid states drives and processes of reading and writing data. You may hear M.2 mentioned along with these two, but these terms are not the same.
In fact, M.2 is just a physical structure of an SSD. Instead of a data protocol, M2 denotes slim construction of the drive and you can find both NVMe and SATA 3 that are also M.2.
So, don’t let the terms confuse you. M.2 can’t be slower or faster than either of the two types of SSD. So if you want the faster drive, you should find an NVMe drive. For a slim and fast drive, choose an NVMe with M.2 construction.
What to Buy Then?
Now that you know that M.2 is not a rival to NVMe, instead of being a construction type, you should think about the differences between NVMe and SATA 3.
The good part is that if you are switching from a regular drive to an SSD, both types will improve your experience immensely. However, the choice mostly depends on your preferences and budget.
SATA 3 is an older model and thus has a slightly outdated method. On the other hand, the performance while playing games or performing regular tasks is not lower than that of NVMe.
NVMe is a more expensive drive which can be important if you’re working with extremely large files or doing rendering and video editing. Otherwise, there is no big difference in performance.
It’s NVMe and M.2
The next time that you’re in the market for a new SSD, pay close attention to the type. If the label says only M.2, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The ’M.2’ part should always follow one of two types of SSDs, and the price and performance will vary depending on the type you opt for.