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Should you buy an M.2 NVMe SSD?

Posted in Buying Guides (updated on 31/5/2020)

Picture of Crucial M.2 NVMe at PB Tech

Today we're diving into a massive range of SSD, doing the math and figuring out the best buys for those looking to add some speedy storage to their PC builds. 

For those that haven't used this kind of SSD before, the M.2 name indicates the slot needed to fit one of these onto your motherboard - so before you purchase one, double-check you've got this.

There are two other terms you'll see listed beside M.2, namely NVMe and SATA, you'll also find this additional information on the motherboard slot. NVMe (which stands for: Non-Volatile Memory Express, how cool sounding is that!) and will allow the new M.2 SSDs to utilize the incredibly fast read/write speeds the flash memory is capable of. SATA M.2 has the same speed limits normal 2.5" SSD, so it's still really fast compared to a hard drive.

Simplifying this with a comparison to doors (like the front door on your house), NVME would be a big door, allowing you carry massive bed through it without issue, and SATA would be a normal door, so you'd have to take in the mattress, base and legs in separately. Breaking this into time spent moving in, with an NVMe door the job is done in 1 minute, with a SATA door around 4 minutes.

In addition to the M.2 NVMe keyword to look for, you'll also find a bunch of numbers to let you know the best possible speed you'll be able to write and read information onto the storage, this is pretty straight forward - performance does vary a bit between the GB sizes though, especially in the potential sequential write speed, so we'll break our list into the common sizes to keep things better aligned in terms of price/performance.

It's important to note that the read/write speeds provided by manufacturers are indicators of the best possible performance in perfect conditions - so real-world usage such as copying 3GB photo folder from one NVMe M.2 to another NVMe M.2 does take more than one second to complete.

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