What is the difference between an M.2 2280 SSD and 2.5 SSD?

by Paul | Last Updated: July 5, 2022

Solid-state drives are highly popular among a lot of users, and this is because they are known to be better than the usual standard hard drives (HDD), and they even offer better performance as well, and to make things even harder, you get a couple choices to choose from when it comes to SSDs.

What is the difference between an M.2 2280 SSD and 2.5 SSD?

The main difference between and M.2 2280 SSD and a 2.5 SSD is the form factor, the m.2 SSD is small, and it could use NVMe protocol, PCIe or SATA, while the 2.5 SSD is quite normal in size and it uses SATA interface only. There’s not much of a difference in terms of speed and when there is a difference, it is usually because of the interface being used, so the major differences could be categorized in terms of physical size and also in terms of the interface or connection that both SSDs make use of.

The M.2 2280 board is relatively small and the number, 2280 is actual the physical dimension in meters, which equals to 22 x 80 mm, it is mounted directly into the M.2 connector on the motherboard and it has a lot of advantages that come with how small it is, an obvious advantage being the absence of tangled wires.

The 2.5 SSD drive is also quite popular and it is also known to be very versatile as an SSD solution, this is mostly because it can be installed on desktop computers and on laptops as well. On a laptop, you have one place to connect the drive, but on a desktop computer, you can mount up to a dozen and on a PC, you will need two SATA cables.

In terms of performance, M.2 SATA SSD uses a SATA 6Gb/s interface, so the performance is pretty close to that of the 2.5 inch SSD, one major difference though, is that the M.2 drive can be handy for people who have laptops and computers with no room for the 2.5 SSD.

There are a lot of things about both SSDs that might stand out from one another, but they both have a lot to offer when it comes to their individual physical size and even their overall performance and functionality.

M.2 2280 vs 2.5 SSD

As stated previously, the most major difference is in the physical appearance or the form factor, an m.2 2880 unit looks so much more different than a 2.5 inch SSD.  While the M.2 takes more of the resemblance of a memory stick, while the 2.5 inch SSD comes in a more covered or packed form.

In terms of connectivity, the m. 2 should be plugged into its own m.2 proprietary slot while the 2.5 inch ssd could be plugged into the SATA port, through the SATA cable. The difference here could be seen in the data transfer rate, SATA SSDs have a maximum speed of 600MB per second, while M. 2 PCIe cards can hit 4 GB per second.

There’s also a comparison between a SATA M.2 SSD and a SATA 2.5 inch ssd,  the difference between these two SATA variants, is the way they connect to the board,  if the M.2 is of the NVMe category, then it could be connected to the CPU through the PCIe bus, while the 2.5 could be connected to the SATA bus.

This difference also translates to speed, if an M.2 SSD is connected to the SATA interface like the 2.5 inch SSD is, then there wouldn’t be much of a difference in terms of performance, they would be on the same performance level.

On another hand, the M.2 could also have other options like the nonvolatile memory express (NVMe), as stated previously, and this interface moves data at PCIe speeds, this inevitably makes it way faster than 2.5-inch SSDs, which have the SATA interface as one of the main options to use.

The connection differences between the M.2 SSD and the 2.5 inch SSD affects the speed and that ensures that there is a difference in speed as well,  because the M.2 is relatively small,  it could be connected directly to the motherboard and that makes it faster than the 2.5 inch SSD.

While the SATA 2.5 inch SSD is way bigger in the width and even length, and it could be connected to the motherboard using a SATA cable and it would also require some SATA power cable for the power supply, this makes it slower than the M.2, but it also depends on which M.2.

When it comes to data transfer speed based on the interface used, the 2.5 inch SSD using the SATA interface could deliver about 600MB per second, and that is definitely an upgrade from the standard hard drives.

The M.2 SSD doesn’t have to go through the SATA interface, it could be connected to the PCIe instead and that means that the delivery of the M.2 SSD could amount to a speed rate of about 2500 to 3000MB per second.

How To Choose The Right SSD

There are a few differences between M.2 SSD and the 2.5 inch SSD,  and at the end of the day, your choice shouldn’t be based on the differences alone, but also a couple of other factors that are very important.

One important factor is the need to know your computer, you need to know if your computer has the necessary slots for the M.2  drives to be directly connected to your motherboard, if it doesn’t, you’ll have to stick with the 2.5 inch SSD.

Your budget is also very important, SATA drives are cheaper and even more common, they offer excellent performance as well, but If your computer supports NVMe/PCIe or Optane drives, and if you could also afford it, then you should consider buying a drive with one of these technologies, because they could be faster than SATA.