M 2 Vs M 2 2280

By | 23/11/2022

Under the hoods of the skinniest laptops (and in the hollows of the latest desktop-PC motherboards), solid-state storage has undergone a transformation. Even if you’re a shut observer of all things tech, information technology’s understandable if you didn’t even realize it was happening.

That’s because the whole idea is to make the storage hardware itself close to invisible. Over the last few years, solid-state drives (SSDs) take migrated from the slab-like shapes of familiar hard drives into little sticks of retentivity that offer much the same capacities. And they take picked upwardly speed along the way.

Beneath you’ll find our top-rated M.two SSDs, followed past a detailed guide to everything yous need to know about selecting the best i for your PC. Nosotros’ll conclude with a side-by-side spec breakout tabular array of our summit picks.

Crucial P5 Plus

Best PCI Express 4.0 M.2 SSD for Most Users

Bottom Line:

The PCIe four.0-compatible Crucial P5 Plus posts excellent program-loading times in our testing and offers a solid software parcel and warranty.


  • Superb PCMark 10 overall and plan-loading scores
  • Good SSD management software suite
  • 256-fleck AES hardware-based total-disk encryption
  • 5-year warranty


  • Slow Crystal DiskMark 4K write speeds

Read Our Crucial P5 Plus Review

Crucial P3

Best PCI Limited three.0 M.2 SSD for Most Users

Lesser Line:

The Crucial P3 provides proficient performance in a PCI Express 3.0 NVMe SSD. Its QLC NAND flash retentivity keeps the P3’s toll downward while allowing capacities upwardly to 4TB. It’s a spot-on pick for upgrading older PCs that don’t support PCIe 4.0.


  • Available in capacities upwards to 4TB
  • Low cost per gigabyte for all models
  • Includes link for Acronis Truthful Image cloning software
  • Skilful benchmark results for a PCI Express iii.0 drive


  • Relatively low write-durability (TBW) ratings

  • Lacks 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption

Read Our Crucial P3 Review


Best Budget PCI Express iv.0 Grand.2 SSD

Bottom Line:

The ADATA XPG Cantlet 50, which tin be used in a laptop, desktop, or PlayStation v, delivers stellar functioning for a budget PCI Express 4.0 internal SSD.


  • Inexpensive for a PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Superb benchmark results with high scores for OS booting and game loading
  • Uniform with Sony PlayStation 5
  • AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption


  • Currently available only in 1TB chapters

  • Relatively low scores in some file-copy tests

Read Our ADATA XPG Cantlet 50 Review

HP FX900 PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD

A Solid Alternative to the ADATA XPG Atom 50

Bottom Line:

The HP FX900 isn’t the fastest PCI Limited 4.0 solid-state drive on the block, but this M.ii model puts up solid (and, in some cases, excellent) numbers at a surprisingly moderate cost.


  • Competitively priced
  • Solid criterion functioning, with a few top-tier scores


  • Lacks a full heatsink

  • Relatively depression write-durability (TBW) rating

  • No AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption

Read Our HP FX900 PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD Review

WD Blue SN570

A Solid Culling to the Addlink S70

Lesser Line:

The WD Blueish SN570, the third iteration of Western Digital’s popular budget SSD, is faster than e’er and proved a solid performer in our benchmark tests.


  • Affordable
  • Decent speed for a PCIe iii.0 SSD


  • Depression write immovability rating for a TLC-based bulldoze

  • Low Equally-SSD program load benchmark score

Read Our WD Blueish SN570 Review

Samsung SSD 990 Pro

Best High-Performance K.2 Drive for Creative Users

Lesser Line:

Samsung’s SSD 990 Pro is a zippy PCI Express 4.0 internal drive that’s a step up from its predecessor, offering excellent performance for artistic tasks, if not necessarily for gaming.


  • Impressive overall operation
  • Compatible with PlayStation v
  • Includes powerful Samsung Wizard software
  • 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption


  • Mediocre gaming benchmark scores

Read Our Samsung SSD 990 Pro Review

Mushkin Gamma

A Solid Alternative to the Samsung SSD 990 Pro

Bottom Line:

With the Gamma, Mushkin steps away from its budget-bulldoze roots to evangelize a highly capable, high-operation PCI Express iv.0 Thou.2 SSD—admitting without frills in the blister pack.


  • Fast sequential read/write speeds
  • High PCMark 10 Overall Score and re-create-examination operation
  • AES hardware-based encryption


  • Lacks SSD management software

Read Our Mushkin Gamma Review

SK Hynix Platinum P41

Best PCI Limited four.0 Yard.two SSD for Serious Gamers

Bottom Line:

The SK Hynix Platinum P41 posted record-high scores in some of our general storage and gaming tests. It’s a super-value M.two SSD; but add your own heatsink to ensure elevation performance.


  • In our testing, exceeded its sequential speed ratings
  • Excellent scores in PCMark 10 and 3DMark benchmarks
  • Competitively priced
  • Includes drive cloning/migration software
  • Supports 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption


  • No heatsink included

Read Our SK Hynix Platinum P41 Review

WD Black SN850X

A Solid Alternative to the SK Hynix Platinum P41

Bottom Line:

The WD Black SN850X takes the company’s flagship PCIe 4.0 gaming SSD and makes information technology even better, offering higher chapters and improved test results (including a new PC Labs tape in the 3DMark Storage criterion). Most all information technology lacks is hardware-based security.


  • Capacities up to 4TB
  • Available with or without heatsink
  • Exceeded both its sequential read and write speed ratings
  • Aced PCMark and 3DMark storage tests


  • Lacks 256-scrap AES hardware-based encryption

Read Our WD Black SN850X Review

Intel SSD 670p

Best PCI Express 3.0 M.two SSD for Serious Gamers

Lesser Line:

Information technology’southward a tad pricey for a QLC-based drive, but Intel’s SSD 670p serves upward some of the best shallow-depth 4K random read performance we’ve e’er seen.


  • Record-setting game, OS, and program load speeds for PCI Limited 3.0
  • College durability ratings than virtually QLC NAND drives
  • 5-year warranty
  • Solid software suite


  • A fleck higher pricing per gig than typical for QLC NAND

Read Our Intel SSD 670p Review

ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G

Best M.2 SSD for PC Modders

Bottom Line:

The ADATA XPG Spectrix S40 is an unapologetically bright RGB-lit 1000.2 SSD that blings up your PC. Its 4K read and write speeds should keep most gamers happy, too.


  • Exceptional 4K write and sequential-read results.
  • Strong value proffer.
  • RGB lighting is a fun addition for PC builders.


  • Some quirks effectually saving RGB settings with multiple profiles.

Read Our ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G Review

The traditional SSD that yous buy and install in a desktop PC, or in place of a hard bulldoze in a laptop, uses what’s known as the “2.5-inch drive” form factor. (In actuality, the drives are about 2.75 inches broad.) These SSDs have the same dimensions that laptop-mode difficult drives do. SSD makers adopted this standard size to brand SSDs compatible with existing laptop designs. (They could configure laptops with the selection of a hard drive or an SSD without any retooling.) Desktop PCs, meanwhile, could accommodate SSDs of this size with little fuss. You could mount them in a 3.5-inch drive bay using a simple bracket, or even just using alternating mounting holes in those aforementioned spots. Over fourth dimension, too, desktop PC chassis have evolved to gain their own bays and mounting points for 2.5-inch drives.

However, from an applied science point of view, SSDs didn’tneedto be that large. The enclosure an SSD comes in has a lot of dead space inside. It’s designed in that 2.v-inch size and shape to brand the bulldoze fit into those existing bays. Then when mobile-device designers, challenged with slimming down laptops and tablets, reassessed this issue, the consensus was articulate: The beefy 2.five-inch form gene, eventually, would have to go.

At the cadre, an SSD is just a sparse circuit board studded with flash-memory and controller chips. Why not design around that? Thus the M.2 form factor was born. Merely nosotros’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In the Offset, There Was mSATA…

The first endeavour was a new class factor chosen mini-SATA, or mSATA. The boiled-downwards essence of an SSD with the vanquish removed, an mSATA drive is a bare, rectangular circuit board. (Most mSATA drives relevant to upgraders measure nearly 1 by 2 inches.) mSATA drives fit into a special slot in a laptop’s logic board or on a PC motherboard. Every bit the proper name suggests, the slot is a conduit to the Series ATA bus in the organisation. The interface on the drive end is an border connector on the PCB, as opposed to the usual SATA cabling. The mSATA drive besides draws all the power it needs through the slot.

mSATA Drive

(Credit: HP)

By being reliant on SATA, mSATA drives gained all of the advantages and limitations of that interface, including the upper speed limit of SATA 3.0, the latest revision of Series ATA. That’south non a bad affair, heed you. mSATA was also unusual in that information technology piggybacked on an existing connector, known as Mini-PCI, often used for installing pocket-size onboard components such as compact Wi-Fi cards.

Now, mSATA drives nevertheless linger on the market, primarily because some laptop models adopted the form factor years back, and residual need exists as chapters upgrades. But information technology’s definitely a fading form cistron, and mSATA saw only slight adoption on desktop systems.

Even in mSATA’s heyday, though, a replacement was in the works. During development, information technology was known every bit NGFF, for “Next-Generation Course Gene,” a name that still lingers here and in that location. As it took shape, though, it took on its current, final name: M.2. The drives would be smaller, potentially more capacious, and, nearly important, not necessarily reliant on SATA.

Then, What Is an M.2 SSD?

1000.2 drives are as utilitarian as upgrades come: They wait like sticks of gum studded with NAND modules and a controller chip. (“NAND” is the generic term for the flash-memory fries that make up the actual storage on the SSD; the term refers, technically, to the type of logic gates used in the underlying retentiveness construction. See our primer Ownership an SSD: xx Terms Y’all Need to Know for more SSD lingo explained.)

The key thing to remember about M.2 is that it is a form factor, a shape. The bus—the data pathway over which the information travels to and from an M.2 drive—is distinct from Chiliad.2 itself and can vary. And it tin make all the deviation.


(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

But first, the shape effect. Any M.two drive y’all are looking at will exist labeled with a four- or 5-digit number as part of its specifications or model name. It’s a measurement, in millimeters: The beginning two numbers define the bulldoze’southward width, the second 2 the length.

The market has settled on 22mm wide every bit the standard for desktop and laptop implementations; the aftermarket drives available and the accessible slots we’ve seen have all been that width. The nearly common lengths nosotros’ve seen are 80mm (“Blazon-2280”) and 60mm (“Type-2260”). The lengthier the drive, the more NAND chips you lot tin can tend to stuff on it (plus, M.ii drives tin exist unmarried- or double-sided), though know that length isn’t an absolute mensurate of capacity.

M.2 Sizes

42mm, 60mm, and 80mm Thou.2 SSDs

Now, why does length matter? Fit, specially in the case of laptops. Nigh desktop motherboards with Thou.ii slots accept screw-mounting points for several lengths of M.two drive (unremarkably, 80mm, 60mm, and 42mm), and then length hasn’t been an upshot at that place. Merely information technology’south a different thing in a laptop with a user-attainable M.ii slot. The bay may exist space-limited to M.ii drives of a certain size, or to only unmarried-sided modules, if the thickness tolerances are really tight. You’ll desire to bank check the space available before you shop.

Equally nosotros mentioned, M.2 drive length isn’t always an indicator of drive capacity, just there are limits to NAND-chip density and how many memory modules engineers can stuff onto a PCB of a given size. As a result, nearly of the Grand.2 drives we’ve seen to engagement have topped out at 2TB, though you lot can discover a few 4TB and 8TB models at lofty prices. The typical capacity waypoints are 120GB or 128GB; 240GB, 250GB, or 256GB; 480GB, 500GB, or 512GB; 960GB or 1TB; and 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB. (Smaller-capacity 32GB and 64GB M.2 SSDs are also available for use in embedded applications or for SSD caching, merely these are of marginal interest to upgraders or PC builders.) Pricing on these drives ranges anywhere from 10 to 75 cents per gigabyte, and the biggest cistron affecting price is the motorcoach type of the drive.

At present, to reiterate an important point: A drive may come up in the M.2 form factor, but that says zip about the jitney that it makes utilize of. Determining that is only as important as making certain it fits.

PCI Express vs. SATA: The SSD Bus-Interface Outcome

This is the trickiest part of an M.2 SSD upgrade. Virtually of the early K.2 drives were really only ordinary SATA drives stripped downward to their fundamentals: a bare circuit board with a different physical connector, but at heart the same drives as their 2.v-inch bigger brothers. Some of them yet are. You won’t see essentially better performance with these M.2 SATA drives versus their two.v-inch SATA equivalents, considering ultimately your data is traveling along the exact same inner pathways inside the reckoner once it leaves the drive.

That’s not a bad matter. Especially in the case of laptops, an older machine might support just Chiliad.two SATA-bus SSDs, and that will be the purlieus of your upgrade path…stop of story. As a result, the simply reasons you lot’d upgrade the bulldoze, in that situation, would exist to get more chapters, or if the old one failed.

Nowadays, though, many lean, premium laptops tin can make use of PCI Express-motorbus M.two SSDs. (Just about all new desktop motherboards with M.2 slots also back up PCI Express One thousand.2 SSDs, too.) With these, you may see a substantive increase in performance in criterion testing, but in nigh real-world usage, they’ll just experience like a fast, premium SATA SSD.

WD Blue SN550 M.2 SSD

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The primeval versions of Grand.2 PCI Express SSDs made utilise of the PCI Express Gen 2.0 x2 interface, which defines a throughput ceiling that’south college than SATA 3.0’s, only not enormously so. That evolved into PCI Express Gen 3.0 x2 and x4, paired with a technology called Non-Volatile Retentiveness Limited (NVMe) to propel performance even further, especially with heavy, deeply queued workloads.

Across that is PCI Express four.0, a newer version of the PCI Express bus. It has apace gained traction, though it nevertheless signifies, in about cases, a college-stop drive. The read and write speeds for a few (such as Samsung’s flagship SSD 980 Pro) are rated as loftier as 7,000MBps. These drives are supported on recent desktop systems using the latest chipsets from AMD and Intel, and the very latest mobile platforms. For AMD, that is the X570 and B550 chipsets (for mainstream Ryzen CPUs) and the AMD TRX40 (for third-generation Ryzen Threadripper ones). With Intel, PCI Express 4.0 is supported on Intel 500-series chipsets that work with 11th Generation “Rocket Lake” desktop CPUs, or on laptops congenital on the latest “Tiger Lake” 11th Generation mobile platform, and on later “Alder Lake” 12th Generation platforms.

You can use these PCIe 4.0-based SSDs in older AMD- and Intel-chipset systems that support PCI Express 3.0, but they’ll only bounce downward to slower PCIe 3.0 speeds. What’south next? Expect PCIe five.0 support to appear in many desktop motherboards in 2022, but those even faster-rated drives aren’t quite here yet.

Run into NVMe: The Speed Booster

NVMe is another technical hurdle, because systems and motherboards need board-level back up for these drives to be bootable. All late-model motherboards now back up NVMe M.2 drives, simply older boards are non guaranteed to support booting from an NVMe-based bulldoze. Exterior of new motherboards, these high-bandwidth, NVMe-capable slots are also found in some contempo laptops. Also note that in some cases, a laptop may support a PCI Limited NVMe drive, but it may be soldered to the motherboard and thus not upgradable. So, if y’all’re thinking of upgrading a contempo laptop or convertible, be certain to consult your transmission very closely before buying one of these drives.

Mushkin M.2 SSD

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Amidst Thousand.2 drives, PCI Express 3.0 and 4.0 x4 M.2 drives that support NVMe are now the norm among aftermarket purchases. We’ve tested enough, led by Samsung’s field-leading and pioneering SSD Pro and SSD EVO families. Ever since those Samsung drives led the way, though, nosotros’ve seen fine NVMe-capable models from ADATA, Seagate, WD, and many others.

These are indeed impressively fast drives, leaving the fastest SATA-based drives well behind. But know that they are more relevant for PC builders or folks upgrading relatively contempo systems rather than older PCs, which may non take an M.two slot, or may accept an M.two slot but non one that supports PCI Limited and/or NVMe—merely SATA-based Chiliad.2. And then, equally nosotros said in the previous paragraph, make sure that your organization supports this kind of drive before picking one up. You don’t want to bring home ane of the fastest consumer drives available, but to discover your system won’t kicking with it installed.

Basic Compatibility, Card-Based M.2, and Optane Memory

Okay, back from Planet NVMe. Today, the existent choice if you’re Chiliad.2-shopping will be between basic SATA and PCI Express M.2 drives, and for near users, those options will be dictated merely by what your motherboard or laptop can have. A careful scan of support forums or a phone call to the vendor’s back up line should unravel the M.2 bus-compatibility details. On the desktop side of the alley, many recent M.2-equipped mobos back up both kinds.

If you’re looking to upgrade a desktop but your PC’s motherboard doesn’t have an M.2 slot at all, i incidental choice is what nosotros call an “Yard.2 drive on a card” or an AIB SSD (for “add-in-board SSD”). Nosotros’ve seen solutions similar this from storage stalwarts such as Plextor, OWC, and Kingston. Also, with some of their high-end motherboards, Asus and MSI offering an M.2 PCI Express 4.0 “carrier menu” like these makers use, to supplement their onboard M.two slots. In essence, these products put an M.two drive or drives on a PCI Express expansion card and let you tap their speed through the PCI Express slots in a desktop PC that lacks whatsoever (or enough) M.2 slots. Some such cards support as many equally 4 K.2 drives.

Recommended past Our Editors

We actually like these because often, yous often go a robust heat sink on the M.2 drive. Some PCI Limited-bus 1000.2 SSDs tin run hot under sustained read/write tasks and throttle their speed. That said, unless y’all’re running a server or something similar, where a drive is constantly getting hammered with reads and writes, that’s usually not something you have to worry about. That’s because many of these drives are so fast, they get their transfer duties done before they have a chance to get all that hot.

One last caveat to drop in before we go to our product recommendations surrounds Intel’s SSD line. Intel for a while sold a family of M.2-based storage products under the brand name Optane, in 2 very distinct types of drive. Intel’s Optane SSDs are SSDs similar any other, bootable drives that tin can serve as a stand up-alone boot drive or as secondary storage. They were discontinued for consumers in 2021, but y’all may still see them around.

Intel’southward Optane Retentiveness is a different animal. This is an One thousand.two-format module that looks like an SSD, just serves as an accelerating enshroud for another drive, normally a difficult drive. Once more, these are not the same matter; if you’re buying an Optane drive, brand certain yous know what you are buying. You can read a lot more than most Optane Memory in our deep-swoop review of the first generation. The Optane make here in 2022, though, is fading. We mention it only considering you may see it if you lot’re upgrading a laptop or desktop from a few years back. If you can, simply replace it and the difficult drive with a vanilla M.2 SSD, if the PC supports information technology.

M.2 Upgrades and Boot Drives: What to Look For

Welcome to the cut edge! Yous’re shopping for a kind of bulldoze that many folks don’t fifty-fifty realize exists. Every bit a effect, y’all demand to pay attention to several factors that may not be documented very well while you shop. Allow’s recap.

Bank check the physical size.Make sure the width and especially the length (expressed in millimeters) will work in the infinite available for the bulldoze. (This is mainly an outcome with laptops.) Well-nigh volition be 22mm wide, but the length varies: 42mm, 60mm, 80mm, 110mm are the common sizes.

Crucial P5

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Know which omnibus you’re on. In a laptop-upgrade scenario, you’re almost certainly swapping out i M.2 drive for some other, with the intent of gaining chapters. Make sure you lot know the specifications of the drive coming out of your system—and whether information technology’southward reliant on the SATA or PCI Express bus—so you can install the aforementioned, presumably roomier kind going in.

For a desktop, information technology’s a bit trickier. Some motherboard 1000.2 slots support either SATA-bus or PCI Express-bus Thou.2 drives on the same slot. Others support only SATA K.2 drives (those volition be older boards), still others support only PCI Express M.2 drives. (And, in the instance of PCI Express Chiliad.ii, not all older motherboards support PCIe x4 or NVMe!) You need to know what your lath is able to use and buy accordingly. All else being equal, PCI Express should give you a speed heave over a SATA model, but for everyday tasks, a SATA SSD will serve just besides, and exist indistinguishable in
cases from a PCI Express i.

As well, with the very latest drives, look for PCI Limited 4.0 support. Y’all’ll want to take a compliant belatedly-model AMD or Intel motherboard if you purchase 1 of those. Over again, check the specs. A PCIe four.0 drive should piece of work in a PCI 3.0-but slot, but slower.

Bank check for bootability.If you lot’re installing an M.2 SSD in a desktop board for the first time, verify with the board maker that an Chiliad.ii SSD of the bus type you are because will be bootable. Though unlikely, a BIOS upgrade may be necessary with an older motherboard.

Compare the cost per gig.Cost per gigabyte is the principal yardstick whereby you can price-compare similar Yard.2 drives from different makers. Look to pay more for PCI Express double-decker models, all else being equal, and more for PCIe 4.0 drives than PCIe 3.0 ones. But the toll differences are narrowing in both cases. Divide the price (in dollars) past the capacity of the drive (in gigabytes) to get the cost per gig. For example, a 1TB (1,000GB) bulldoze that’s selling for $99 works out to virtually ten cents per gigabyte. Use this equally a value yardstick when looking at different drives.

So, What Is the All-time Grand.2 SSD to Buy?

Below is a spec breakout of the top K.2 solid-state drives that we’ve reviewed. Y’all can too check out our roundups of the best external SSDs, as well every bit the all-time external hard drives for Mac, and the overall best external hard drives.

If you’re also interested in factoring larger two.five-inch drives into the equation, check out our roundup of the all-time internal SSDs overall, which includes some ii.5-inch models. And if you want to come across strictly PCI Express-based SSDs, see our roundup of the all-time PCI Limited NVMe drives.

Source: https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-m2-solid-state-drives