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Solid-state hard drives retract using the M.2 “Gumstick” format – and in some cases, they become much faster. Here’s all you need to know to buy the right M.2 SSD, as well as deep dive tests of the best PCI Express and Serial ATA discs you can buy today.
Identify the different sizes of M.2 SSD
M.2 (pronounced M-dot-two) SSD boards and motherboard slots differ in size, both in width and length. The size of M.2 SSD can be identified by the four- or five-digit number of the name. The first two digits are its width, the others its length. For example, card type M.2 – 2280 ; it is 22 mm wide and 80 mm long. For desktops and laptops, 22 mm wide M.2 SSDs are standard. The sizes currently available for the M.2 modules are as follows:
Widths – 12, 16, 22 and 30 mm
Lengths – 16, 26, 30, 30, 38, 42, 60, 80 and 110 mm
An 80 mm or 110 mm long card can contain 8 NAND chips for a capacity of 1 TB. In addition, M.2 SSDs offer up to 2 TB of memory.
With several notched pins, the M.2 modules can simply be plugged into a corresponding connector, further improving compatibility. The permanently toothed pins fit a single key from A (with 8-15 toothed pins) to M (with 59-66 toothed pins).
The typical structure of M.2 SSD keys includes the B key, the M key or the B+M key. For WD M.2 SSD drives, the B and M (B+M) keys are used for WD Green SSD and WD Blue SSD models, while the WD Black PCIe SSD uses only the M key.
How Using M.2 Can Remove Other Features
Another issue of particular importance for desktop motherboards is how the M.2 interface is connected to the rest of the system. As you can see, there are a limited number of PCI Express channels between the processor and the rest of the computer. To use a PCI Express compatible M.2 card slot, the motherboard manufacturer must remove these PCI Express channels from the other system components. The way these PCI Express channels are distributed to devices on the cards is a big problem. For example, some manufacturers share PCI Express channels with SATA ports. Therefore, using the M.2 drive slot can remove more than four SATA slots. In other cases, the M.2 can share these channels with other PCI Express expansion slots. Pay attention to the card design to ensure that the use of the M.2 does not interfere with the possible use of other SATA hard drives, DVD or Blu-ray drives, or other expansion cards.
M.2 SSDs generally cost between $0.25 and $0.75 per gigabyte. Samsung sells a variety of M.2 SSD disks available in different capacities. Toshiba, Kingston, Plextor, Team Group, Adata and Crucial (owned by Micron) are other suppliers of M.2 SSD drives. Intel is the largest supplier of M.2 wireless adapters.
I cannot stress enough that your computer works much better with a PCIe SSD on board. Choose a low-capacity model, run your operating system and meet your storage needs with SATA SSD hard drives or mid-range hard drives. You’ll be glad you did.
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CCNA, Web Developer, PC Troubleshooter
I am a computer enthusiast and a practicing IT Professional. I have years of experience behind me in computer programming, hardware troubleshooting and repair. I specialise in Web Development and Database Design. I also have a CCNA certification for Network Design and Troubleshooting.