M.2 vs 2.5 SSD: Which is the Best SSD Form Factor?

by Paul | Last Updated: July 22, 2021

Choosing the Best SSD Form Factor that Suits your PC needs. Solid State Drives are not new, they just have a new level of appreciation owing to an improvement in their build. Designed with the NAND technology, SSDs operate with a flash memory making read/write speed fast as it does not have moving parts. They have two types of form factors i.e., drives that connect them to a computing device.

M.2 vs 2.5 SSD?

M.2 drives are specifically designed to ensure the SSD runs smoothly and fast. They run on the PCIe interface and sometimes also run on NVMe making them faster. The 2.5-inch drive runs on SATA III and can be used for either HDD or SSD. The amazing thing about the 2.5 is that can have all three interfaces i.e., SATA III, PCIe, and NVMe and this makes it very fast and suitable for “heavy” workload like gaming, 4k video creation, design, and so on.

While this article views these drives from an internal disk perspective, they can be used as external drives and produce the same result. As external drives, they offer extreme portability giving users the opportunity to store files and launch or them on another PC.

M.2 SSD

Design

Slim hardware that is measured in millimeters, very light and can be used for various purposes: WIFI, WWAN, Bluetooth but the focus of this article is SSD. It can be single-sided, this is the one put in Ultrabooks as they are more portable. It can be double-sided; this means more space, but it does not always translate to more space to place multiple SSD.

Performance:

It is at least 4 times faster than the 2.5”.

2.5” SSD

HDD was the major storage used for a long time; it ran on the SATA interface. After a while, manufacturers designed the 2.5-inch drive that can run HDD and can easily be swapped out for an SSD. This presented a great opportunity for users to upgrade their system especially gamers, designers, and video editors.

Why you should be using an SSD

If you use multiple operating systems, on an HDD you will notice it is taking a while to start up any operating system, this hardware will solve that problem. You have a PC that meets all the CPU and GPU requirements, but gaming seems slow, getting an SSD will improve it. Using Photoshop on a PC can be quite a daunting task for your computing system, so the user is likely to experience glitching or just general slow load times, with an SSD you will have a better experience using your software.

When you use a desktop, it is harder for your monitor that houses your CPU (for newer systems) to fall but this is not the case for laptops, the more portable the computing system, the more likely it is to accidentally slip from your hand or carrying case. With HDDs, users fear data loss as a result of accidental drops but with SSDs there is data security and integrity.

Still on data security, the design of HDDs means data is at risk when these drives are exposed to shocks or magnetic field.

Picking the Right SSD Drive

The previous paragraphs have established that m.2 drives are faster than the 2.5”, but does that mean you should get the former instead of the latter? Well, no it does not. Purchases should be made in accordance to needs that fit into your budget. For instance, a Mercedes RV is a great vehicle for a family to travel with but when you are on a budget a minivan will be a better option.

SSDs are generally seen as expensive, so when you want to upgrade from an HDD to SSD on a budget, your purchase should be the 2.5’’. There is nothing wrong with this, it is very good for any heavy duty activity but just like the car analogy that was used earlier, the 2.5-inch has its limits and that’s where the m.2 comes in, it is faster. The type of 2.5’’ referred to here is the one with PCIe and NVMe interface as this is the best version of the 2.5-inch.

M.2 is very fast, it is good if you use your computing system for a lot of activities and software that demand a lot of power. Unlike the 2.5, it is designed solely for the SSD and offers the best performance.

Picking the Right SSD Size

A common size of SSD that is affordable is 128GB, this size is more than sufficient if the computing system has just an operating system and office documents. So, it is ideal for an office PC (excluding design and video editing of course!).

256GB is pretty good for a few files and a little more files. For gamers and other heavy-duty users, the minimum is 500GB.

Reasons why SSD is not used by a larger Portion of the Population 

The most common is the price tag, as they are more expensive than HDD. This cost is owing to the NAND technology used to build it, also the demand is not high enough to encourage production on a wide enough scale to reduce cost.

The second is capacity, the most common commercially available SSD is 2TB and this has a heavy price that is worth the sacrifice in our opinion.

Related Questions

Can an SSD outlast an HDD?

Given the right maintenance, yes it can. There are the P/E cycles attached to SSDs, but it is unlikely that you will exhaust these cycles before the lifespan attributed to the disk. Exhausting this cycle means using it to transfer about 7 times a day for 2 years.

How much is the m.2 drive?

Excluding shipping fees, with$90 you can get 500GB, $120 can get you 1TB with NVMe interface and $310 can get you 2TB with NVMe interface. All these prices vary according to manufacturers.

How much is the 2.5-inch drive?

With at least $64, you are good to go. This price does not have shipping included.