Solid State Drive Compatibility Checkup with the Computer’s Motherboard

A Solid-State Drive is a ‘Nonvolatile NAND Flash Memory Chips’ based storage device which contains no moving part like a usual hard drive. People mainly know SSD because of its incomparable data processing speed.

But if you don’t have enough knowledge, then it’s quite possible you’ll end up buying an outdated drive for yourself. Or maybe the one who won’t fit properly.

In this article I’m only going to highlight the topics about SSDs compatibility and in case, if you wanted to know more about buying an SSD, then you can check out this article where I covered all about “How to Buy A Perfect SSD (Solid State Drive) For Laptop & Desktop Computer?”.

Understating the SSD compatibility isn’t that simple how it looks like. I’m only saying this because these solid-state drives come in four different variety where all those four types having its own size and interface.

But let me make things easier for you by starting the first sub-topic;



#1st Type 2.5 INCH Solid-State Drive

About it: 2.5 inches SSD is exactly the same looking drive as compared to the laptop’s 2.5 hard drive and that’s why it’s the perfect replacement for a normal hard disk, and yes you can easily use it in any computer or laptop because it uses the same data and physical interface just like a normal hard drive do.

Size compatibility: 2.5 Inch is just the diagonal size of this SSD but these drives come in two different height variant and those are 7mm and 9.5mm. MM means millimeter and 7mm SSD is the one who actually used in most of the laptops or desktop computers.

But if you are using some old fatty notebook laptop, then the slim size isn’t going to fit in your laptop and that’s where the 9.5mm drive came in. There is one more thing, for 9.5mm variant drive the drive options are pretty low. But still with a help of 7mm to 9.5mm Spacer Adapter’, you can use any available SSD you want.

Interface compatibility: 2.5 Inch drive comes in three different interface variants, the first one is SATA (which can be found in every laptop or desktop because of the popularity of hard drive), the second one is SAS (which perform amazingly well in NAS & Servers with the double bandwidth support, as compared to the SATA), and the third one is U.2 (which used mostly in servers just like SAS).

Normally we don’t need to use U.2 or SAS SSD in a normal or even in gaming computer because it mainly made for its heavy endurance and 24×7 running compatibility.

And if you do need performance for your decent computer, then you can prefer M.2 SSD (which you’ll learn about in a moment below in the article).

Normal every computer or laptop’s Motherboard having SATA connectors built on it (which can only connect SATA drives and Not U.2 & SAS) just to add a primary or secondary storage;

But I can’t confirm that every motherboard is having a SATA 3.0 connector built on it because both SATA 2.0 and SATA 3.0 connector looks exactly the same but works differently.

It’s because SATA 2.0 supports 3Gb/s of bandwidth Speed (which is the old one and found most of old desktop and laptops) where the new SATA 3.0 supports 6Gb/s which is double as compare to its previous version.

And to confirm what version of SATA Connector does your laptop or desktop motherboard is having on its PCB, you’ll need to check its specification online to find out what type of SATA it supports.

In case, if you have SATA 2.0 connector on your motherboard even then you don’t have to worry about it because you can use SATA 3.0 SSD on both of your old Laptop & Desktop (who supports 2.0) as it can supports the backward and forward version compatibility. You can see the physical interface connector is also identically the same.

But the only problem you’ll face by using the 3.0 SATA SSD on SATA 2.0 connector is the amount of performance. You’ll get half of the performance because of the 3Gb/s of bandwidth speed limit which becomes a big bottleneck for your SSD.

#2nd Type mSATA Mini PCI Express Solid-State Drive

About it: Mainly mSATA SSDs introduced for laptops, Mini Notebooks, and tablets PCs because of its decent compact size. So, if you are looking to buy a new SSD for your laptop then the mSATA SSD is the best option for you because it won’t require that space where actually your laptop’s old hard disk is installed and just because of that, you can use both SSD & HDD in your laptop and make your portable device super-fast with having plenty of extra HDD storage in it.

Nowadays, even 1 Terabytes of storage capacity holding mSATA SSDs are available in the market;

And the best part about the mSATA SSD is that it actually won’t use that much power supply either. If you can give up your laptop’s old hard drive and only use one mSATA storage drive in it, then it can pretty good boost your laptop’s battery backup and that’s the reasons which make manufacturers to use mSATA or M.2 SSDs in most of the Ultrabook laptops to deliver the best performance and battery backup.

Size compatibility: mSATA SSD available in two different sizes according to the small size bracket of mini PCIe slot which you can find on almost every laptop’s motherboard (whatever its old or new).

The first one is full size “60mm mSATA mini PCIe card which is the default size of mSATA SSD but in some laptops big size can’t able to get fit in because of the compact spacing, and that’s where the second one came in which is half of its size 30mm mSATA Mini PCIe card to fill into that compact space.

Interface compatibility: The reason why these Mini PCIe Card type SSD called “mSATA” is because it uses SATA interface technology for the data transfer interface and for the physical interface it needs a mini PCIe slot to get attached to your laptop. All good mSATA SSDs comes only in SATA 3.0 interface to deliver the best performance out from their circuit board.

And more thing, not every laptop has free mini PCIe Slot because a normal laptop has only one mini PCIe slot built in it which is already used for WIFI Adaptor Card to use the Wi-Fi connection on the device;

And if your laptop doesn’t have any more than one mini PCIe slot. In that case, you still have two wicked options to choose and those are, you can give up your Wi-Fi Card and use SSD in the place of that Wi-Fi card, or don’t use mSATA and just go for the 2.5 Inch SSD.

Tip: If you are having some hard time to find the mini PCIe slot on your laptop, then you can watch some disassembly video of your laptop on YouTube. This can help to see does your laptop even have any extra mini PCIe slot on it, or maybe to see what size of mSATA can fit in.

#3rd Type M.2 Solid-State Drive Card

About it: M.2 is also another great invention after when the SATA interface becomes the bottleneck for SSDs. It’s quite powerful like PCIe SSD and comes in size of mSATA. And that’s why M.2 becomes the most selling SSD these days.

Not all laptop or desktop has an M.2 slot on it, but I bet this technology will going to be viral in future and I believe every cheap motherboard comes with having at least one M.2 slot on it, just like now we have SATA and PCIe slots on currently available motherboards.

Size compatibility: Normally M.2 Cards comes in 8 different sizes which is really annoying but the best part is, the M.2 SSD only comes in three different sizes which are 42mm, 60mm and 80mm in height.

Not a problem in desktop, but just like mSATA you do have to confirm about what size of M.2 SSD can fit in your laptop. So, you’ll just have to fit the card in and tighten the screw in the suitable screw holder and that’s it.

Interface compatibility: Maybe understanding the interface is going to be a bit typical for some beginners because M.2 Slot has different Key Slots which defines different interfaces by using a separate notch for every single key type, just to connect different types of M.2 card into compatible M.2 Slot.

M.2 actually isn’t that famous now, and you’ll only find B-Key & M-Key M.2 Connector on most of the latest motherboards (in both laptop and desktop).

Where M.2 SSDs comes with both of the notches so you can connect the drive even its B key or M key M.2 Slot on your motherboard.

Data transferring speed of B-Key and M-Key is different from each other. B-Key M.2 Slot mainly uses PCIe x2 interface where the M-Key M.2 Slot uses PCIe x4 interface which delivers double the bandwidth as compared to the PCI x2 (it’s all like SATA 2.0 and SATA 3.0).

Here’s a picture of an SDD who use dual key compatible interface;

Understanding the different keys of M.2 Slot isn’t the only thing which you’ll only need to learn about the M.2 SSD. There is one more factor who is actually responsible for the whole M.2 SSD performance, which is two different data processing interfaces.

M.2 SSD comes in two different data interfaces, which is SATA and NVMe. And yes, just like 2.5 inches or mSATA SSDs, M.2 SSD also comes with the bottlenecking SATA Interface for the data transmission (mainly in cheap drives, but not many).

NVMe means Non-Volatile Memory Express and that’s the same technology what PCIe SSD using in it, and that’s also the main reason why you are buying the M.2 SSD at the first place too.

Even if you don’t have any M.2 Slot on your motherboard you can use M.2 SSD on the PCIe slot on any desktop, you’ll just need to buy an ‘M.2 to PCIe Converter just like shows in the picture given below;

#4th Type PCI Express Solid-State Drive Card

About It: At first, SSDs only available in PCIe variants and only used in enterprise level because of its huge cost. And even after all the development, these PCIe SSDs still used in servers and if you are looking for some ultimate performance then drive can taste you the 4GB/s of massive transferring speed while processing the enormous data.

Size compatibility: Actually, size doesn’t matter in PCI SSDs but before buying any, you’ll have to make sure about one thing and that is, does your computers cabinet do have enough space to add the card in it.

I’m only saying this because some compact size desktop cabinet can only support small PCI Cards. But M.2 NVMe SSD is also the great option for compact cabinets which can also provide you the same great performance (but a little less) because its uses same data transmission bus like PCI SSDs.

Interface compatibility: This main thing when it comes to buying a PCI SSD because there are only two different interface type of PCI SSD available in the market and those are PCI x4 and PCI x8.

To connect both types of drive you’ll need a PCIe slot on your computer’s motherboard. You cant fit the big x8 PCIe drive into the small PCIe x4 Slot but you can install the short one (x4) into the big x8 PCIe Slot and it will work perfectly.

#Conclusion

So, you see it’s not full on you to buy whatever the type of drive for your laptop or desktop computer. Yes, you can use 2.5, mSATA, M.2 or PCIe, but it mostly depends on what type of interface does your motherboard has and it’s free or not.

It’s all upon you to buy which one, in case you need some extra help. Here is a list of articles which I update monthly just to make your shopping more worthful;

“That’s all for now, thanks for sticking with the article, and you know it will always good to let me know about the article, in the comments down below.” 🙂


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