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Which SSDs are compatible with my motherboard?

MoonfrostGEDG

16 months ago

Hi everyone, I'm looking to upgrade to an ssd for the first time, and I have a few questions regarding compatibility with my motherboard.

I have an Asrock b360m pro4 which has two m.2 slots, (or "ultra m.2 as asrock calls them), one full speed and another, slower one with wifi" key E" connection (I don't know what key E is) which I understand is ideal for internal wifi adapters.

I've been researching ssds on and off for the last 10 years almost, but only now that I might get one for sure I've been researching more, nontheless, I still don't know enough about it, and hear conflicting things about it.

What kind of m.2 ssds can I use? PCI and SATA interface? Both? Also, is NvMe interface a whole 'nother interface? Or is it the same as PCI? Even if they are sata do they still connect to the m.2 slot? Do any SSDs connect directly to a PCI slot? And lastly, can I boot the OS from an m.2 just like with common sata ssds? I' ve seen in some forums some people having trouble with that...

I' m not as much interested in the increased speed of m.2 ssds but mostly the tiny form factor without cables, but seeing how much cheaper they are now I was thinking I might aswell get m.2 for less clutter... What should I get?

TL, DR: Which m.2 ssds are compatible with my motherboard and can I boot from them?

Comments

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

What kind of m.2 ssds can I use? PCI and SATA interface? Both?

Yes. Both can be used. Along with other devices that use the m.2 formfactor.

Also, is NvMe interface a whole 'nother interface? Or is it the same as PCI?

No. It is a different protocol for transferring data then SATA. SATA with it's most recent iteration being SATA 3/SATA 6gbps, Is limited too 6gbps. Whereas NVMe is limited by the speed of the interface(Being PCIe, Mostly 2x or 4x) And the flash chips themselves. The interface is the physical connector. So SATA is the name of both a protocol and an interface. The m.2 interface can be used for a variety of devices that don't need full 8x or 16x PCIe speed and can be a lot smaller. For example WiFi cards. Whether one comes with your board or you buy a PCIe expansion card, They are likely on the m.2 interface. Since most PCIe expansion WiFi cards use a m.2 WiFi card with an adapter that allows it to connect to a PCIe 1x slot(Like the one I use)

Even if they are sata do they still connect to the m.2 slot?

SATA SSDs come primarily in 2 different options. 2.5" SSDs using the SATA Interface and protocol. Or m.2 B+M using the SATA protocol, On the m.2 interface. So if you get an m.2 SATA SSD. It will be a SATA SSD, But only as far as protocol. It will connect through the m.2 slot, Just like an NVMe drive would. If you are unsure whether a drive is SATA or NVMe, The easiest way to less is by looking at the connector. If it is a SATA m.2 SSD, It will have 2 gaps in the pins, If it is NVMe it will have 1. This article has a helpful image to help you understand a bit better.

http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-3447687/laptop-support-sata-ssd-nvme-ssd.html

Do any SSDs connect directly to a PCI slot?

Yes. Most of them nowadays are enterprise drives that are faster then a 4x PCIe bus can handle. But you can still find them for normal desktops, Like this one.

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/jJyxFT/plextor-m8pe-256gb-pci-e-solid-state-drive-px-256m8pey

But they generally aren't worth it for the average desktop user. If you don't have enough m.2 slots you can generally find adapters for cheap. The most used SSDs that use the PCIe slot are like I said earlier, Enterprise drives that can take advantage of the much faster speeds of an 8x slot. Like this one.

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/jHzZxr/intel-internal-hard-drive-ssdpecme040t401

And lastly, can I boot the OS from an m.2 just like with common sata ssds? I' ve seen in some forums some people having trouble with that...

Yes absolutely. Most of the problems I have seen were from a few years ago when NVMe drives, And m.2 drives in general were just starting to become popular. But most of the problems have been resolved. I have never had a problem with it and I haven't seen many people having trouble with it in the past 1 or 2 years.

I' m not as much interested in the increased speed of m.2 ssds but mostly the tiny form factor without cables, but seeing how much cheaper they are now I was thinking I might aswell get m.2 for less clutter... What should I get?

For most people the extra speed of NVMe is kinda useless. It won't really help with boot times and unless you are doing something that requires loading extremely large files it won't help you in daily life. So if you just want a smaller footprint get a SATA m.2 SSD. To filter for them on PCPP just select B+M for the interface.

TL, DR: Which m.2 ssds are compatible with my motherboard and can I boot from them?

All of them should be. Unless you are dealing with a much older drive you shouldn't have any problems. But since you will be buying a modern drive you should be fine. Considering how much they have dropped in price of the past few months I recommend getting a 480/500gb drive. Unless you are on a really tight budget 250gb would be the lowest I would recommend. But with anything less then 480gb you will need an extra drive eventually unless you are a really light storage user.

Also since this will be your first time with an SSD, I can say that you will notice a huge difference in every day tasks, And for anything you have stored on it. It will be a night and day difference for booting and loading things like games.

EDIT: This ended up being a lot longer then I thought. Sorry for the long read.

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

That's a great and very thorough explanation!! Thanks a lot! I think I might be getting a sata m.2 mostly for the less clutter not so much speeds that I won't notice anyway.

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah they are great if you have a small case, Or limited drive bays and want future expansion like with a few 3.5'' drives. Good luck. Let me know if you have any more questions. If I can't answer them I can direct you to people that can.

[comment deleted]
  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Mind elaborating as to why you would recommending staying away from m.2 SATA SSDs?

[comment deleted]
  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

But they aren't the same price as NVMe drives....

Cheapest 500gb m.2 SATA, Cheapest 500gb NVMe, Cheapest 2.5" SATA

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
Storage Western Digital - Blue 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive $88.99 @ Newegg
Storage Western Digital - Blue 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive $88.89 @ OutletPC
Storage ADATA - XPG 512GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive $109.99 @ Newegg
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $297.87
Mail-in rebates -$10.00
Total $287.87
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-08-06 19:50 EDT-0400

And that NVMe drive isn't really that good. This is the cheapest 500gb NVMe drive I would get.

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/z4jJ7P/mushkin-pilot-500gb-m2-2280-solid-state-drive-mknssdpl500gb-d8

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