Where does an M.2 SSD fit?

If you want the fastest SSD, you'll want a PCI-express NVMe SSD. The traditional SATA SSD has now reached the maximum that can be obtained from the outdated SATA bus, and PCI-Express SSDs can achieve dizzying speeds, partly thanks to the NVMe protocol. But how do you know whether you can also store such an SSD in your system? We explain it to you.

But first: when do you want such a fast SSD?

Any computer user with an SSD will agree that the move from mechanical drives to SSDs has been the most important in recent years if you care about a smooth-feeling PC. But when do you really want the fastest, and when is a SATA SSD such as the Samsung 860 EVO sufficient?

If you are purely concerned with a computer that starts up smoothly, or you do nothing more with your PC than send a few emails, then you do not have to look further than such a SATA SSD, then the noticeable performance differences are small. However, if we look at heavier tasks, such as photo and video editing, an NVMe SSD such as the Samsung 970 EVO offers clear added value in various areas. These SSDs are able to read and write the large files you are dealing with as a creative professional many times faster - a factor of six is ​​no exception - which benefits productivity.

How do you know if it fits?

PCI-Express that these SSDs use is not new, but has been standard in practically every computer for several years, so it is often no problem to use these fast drives. Most modern devices such as the Intel NUC, medium and high segment laptops, and even affordable desktop computers nowadays already have the specific M.2 connection that we find on the Samsung 970 EVO.

However, it is possible that your device does have an M.2 slot, but cannot handle a fast PCI-Express SSD, because there are also M.2 slots that only support SATA protocol SSDs. That is a relative rarity, but it is important to check. You do this by looking up the specifications of your device, where after the mention of the M.2 connection there will usually be a mention of "PCIE" or "PCI-Express", for example "PCIE 3.0 x4", which means that the Samsung 970 EVO should work in your system. A mention of NVMe is also sufficient, by the way. Only if there is only S600 or SATA600 behind the M.2 slot in the specifications, you are limited to slower SSDs.

If nothing is mentioned, you can often also determine it based on the SSD that is currently in your device. A little search on the type number will quickly reveal whether it is a PCI-Express SSD, and can therefore be replaced by a faster model.

For desktop computers without an M.2 slot, it is often also possible to upgrade to such a fast SSD. The PCI-Express slots on motherboards that are traditionally used for video cards, among other things, can also be used for fast SSDs, after all, both are PCI-Express. With an optional PCI-Express – M.2 adapter you can place the fast SSD in one of these traditional PCI-Express slots, without consequences for the performance.

Why the Samsung 970 series?

The question why is easy to answer. In the independent large SSD comparison test by Computer!Totaal of July/August 2018, the conclusion was clear: Samsung dominates the market for Solid State Drives in both SATA and PCI-Express SSDs and therefore took the 'best tested' award to house in both categories. There is simply no faster PCI-Express SSD. “Very strong” was the Samsung 970 EVO called. Even if you already have a PCI-Express SSD from another brand, it can be even faster.

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