All SSD Connectors Types Explained (SATA, M.2, NVMe, etc.)

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Solid State Drives (SSDs) have brought absolute new changes when it comes to storing data, thanks to their fast speeds and reliability. A big reason of why they’re so good is due to the connector they use. This affects how well they work with your computer and how fast they can move data. Here in this post, we’re going to take a look at different SSD connectors, what makes each one special, and how they affect performance. If you’re thinking about getting a new SSD or building a computer, this guide will walk you through everything from the common SATA interface to the fancy NVMe over PCIe.

Also see: Checking SSD Compatibility with Your Motherboard

All SSD Connectors Types Explained

SATA (Serial ATA) SSD Connector


The SATA (Serial ATA) interface has been around for a while, letting us connect SSDs and hard drives to the motherboard. It’s really common and fits well with lots of computers, making it a key part of how we store data on PCs.

SATA SSD Connector

Evolution and Versions

SATA has gone through a few updates:

  1. SATA I came out in 2003, offering speeds up to 1.5 Gb/s. It was a big step up from the older PATA standard.
  2. SATA II showed up in 2004, doubling speeds to 3 Gb/s and adding cool stuff like Native Command Queuing (NCQ).
  3. SATA III, the version we see most today, came out in 2009 and doubled the speed again to 6 Gb/s.

Key Features

  • The SATA connector is standard and has an L-shape to stop you from plugging it in wrong.
  • SATA cables are slim and flexible, which makes managing cables inside your PC easier. They can be up to 1 meter long, giving you freedom in how you set up your system.
  • SATA has great power management, which helps save energy, especially in laptops.

Compatibility and Usage

  • SATA III ports work with older SATA II and SATA I drives, just at slower speeds.
  • You’ll find SATA SSDs in all sorts of systems, from old desktops and laptops to external storage solutions.


  • The top speed of 6 Gb/s with SATA III might slow down high-performance tasks since newer SSD tech offers way higher speeds.

Ideal Use Cases

  • SATA is great for everyday computer use because it’s compatible with lots of devices and fast enough for most tasks.
  • If you’re upgrading an older system or building a computer on a budget, SATA SSDs give a big boost in speed without costing too much.

Even though SATA connectors aren’t the fastest anymore, their easy use, wide compatibility, and affordability make them a solid choice for many people.

Related resource: Check PC Hardware Manufacturer & Model via WMIC in CMD

M.2 SSD Connector and NVMe


The M.2 connector is a big deal in modern computers, especially for SSDs in laptops, desktops, and high-end systems. NVMe is a fancy way to use the speedy PCIe interface, and it’s often paired with M.2 SSDs.

M.2 NVMe SSD Connectors

M.2 Connectors: Versatility and Form Factor

  • M.2 is tiny compared to old-school 2.5-inch SATA drives. It’s meant for small spaces inside devices.
  • M.2 slots can work with both SATA and PCIe, which makes them super flexible.
  • M.2 SSDs come in different sizes, like 2280 (22mm wide and 80mm long), to fit different devices.

NVMe Protocol: Enhancing PCIe Performance

  • NVMe makes SSDs really fast by using the PCIe interface to its fullest, blowing past SATA speeds.
  • It cuts down on wait times and can handle a ton of data at once, making everything faster.

M.2 and NVMe in the Market

  • M.2 connectors, especially with NVMe over PCIe, are getting more popular in all kinds of computers for their speed and size.
  • For heavy-duty tasks like gaming, video editing, and big applications, M.2 NVMe SSDs are top-notch.

Compatibility Considerations

  • It’s important to check if your motherboard has M.2 slots that support PCIe and NVMe, as not all M.2 slots are the same.
  • M.2 NVMe SSDs are best for those who need the fastest storage solutions.


  • M.2 NVMe SSDs usually cost more than SATA SSDs.
  • Some older systems might not support NVMe, which is something to keep in mind when upgrading.

M.2 connectors, especially when used with NVMe over PCIe, are a big leap forward, offering fast performance in a small package. This makes them a go-to choice for a lot of computing needs.

Linked issue: HDD Not Detected After Installing M.2 SSD in Windows 11/10

mSATA Connector


mSATA, short for mini-SATA, is a smaller version of the SATA interface used in compact devices. Even though it’s not as popular as it used to be, it still has its uses.

mSATA SSD Connector

Key Characteristics of mSATA

  • mSATA SSDs are way smaller than the usual 2.5-inch SATA drives, designed for tight spaces in laptops, tablets, and more.
  • The mSATA connector looks like a tiny SATA connector, but it does everything the big one does.

Performance and Capacity

  • mSATA SSDs perform just like their 2.5-inch buddies, with speeds up to 6 Gb/s on SATA III.
  • They might not hold as much data as bigger drives, but there’s still plenty of choice for different needs.

Usage and Compatibility

  • mSATA is mainly found in older laptops and super compact PCs.
  • Check if your device has an mSATA slot before getting one, as they’re not as common nowadays.

Limitations and Decline

  • As M.2 becomes more popular, mSATA is slowly fading away.
  • mSATA’s speeds are tied to the SATA standard, so it can’t go as fast as M.2 can with PCIe.

Ideal Use Cases

  • If you have an older system with an mSATA slot, it’s a good way to give it a speed boost.
  • For tight spots where M.2 won’t fit, mSATA is a neat, compact option.

While mSATA is getting edged out by M.2, it still has its place, especially for upgrading older, tight-fitting systems. It’s a niche choice for when you need something small but effective.

Might be useful: How to Format New SSD Drive in Windows 11/10

PCIe AIC (Add-In Card) SSD Connector


PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a speedy interface used for lots of things, including SSDs. PCIe SSDs kick SATA’s speed to the curb, offering top-notch performance.

PCIe ACI SSD Connector

Key Features of PCIe SSDs

  • PCIe SSDs are way faster than SATA ones. The speed depends on how many lanes they use (x1, x2, x4, x8, x16) and the PCIe version.
  • There are lots of PCIe versions, each one doubling the speed of the lanes. For example, PCIe 3.0 x4 can hit speeds of around 4 GB/s.
  • Unlike SATA SSDs, PCIe ones connect right to the CPU, cutting down on wait times and boosting performance.

Types of PCIe SSDs

  • Add-In Cards (AIC) are like graphics cards for your SSD. They plug into a PCIe slot on the motherboard and are mostly used in desktops where you have more room.
  • M.2 slots can also fit PCIe SSDs, using NVMe for even faster speeds. These are great for both laptops and desktops thanks to their small size.

Compatibility and Use

  • To use a PCIe SSD, you need a motherboard with PCIe slots. For M.2 PCIe SSDs, you need an M.2 slot that supports PCIe.
  • These are perfect for when you need the best performance, like in gaming, video editing, and other heavy tasks.

Advantages Over SATA

  • The biggest win for PCIe SSDs over SATA is their speed, which is key for tasks that need quick data access and transfers.
  • Connecting directly to the CPU cuts down on wait times, making everything feel snappier.


  • PCIe SSDs tend to cost more than SATA ones.
  • Not all systems can fit PCIe or M.2 slots with PCIe support, and some older ones might not use the latest PCIe versions to their full potential.

PCIe SSD connectors are at the forefront of SSD tech, offering amazing speeds and performance for demanding tasks. They shine in situations where quick data transfers and low wait times are key, like in gaming and professional video work.

Recommended guide: Partition New, Existing or External SSD in Windows 11/10

U.2 Connector


U.2, once known as SFF-8639, is mainly for enterprise SSDs. It’s made for the big leagues, like servers and data centers, offering high-speed storage.

U.2 SFF-8639 SSD Connector

Key Features of U.2 Connectors

  • U.2 connectors are bigger than M.2 and work with 2.5-inch SSDs. They use the PCIe interface and NVMe for quick data transfers.
  • With U.2, you can place your SSD away from the motherboard, which gives you more options in how you build your system.
  • These drives usually hold more data and last longer than consumer SSDs, making them perfect for heavy-duty use.

Usage and Benefits

  • U.2 is big in servers and enterprise stuff where you need lots of storage that’s reliable and fast.
  • Many U.2 SSDs let you swap them out without turning off the system, which is great for keeping things running smoothly.

Compatibility Considerations

  • You need the right motherboard or a PCIe adapter to use U.2. It’s not as common in regular computers but more in fancy enterprise systems.
  • Like M.2 NVMe SSDs, U.2 uses PCIe and NVMe for speed but in a different shape.

Comparing U.2 to Other Connectors

  • U.2 is way faster than SATA, with quicker data transfers and less waiting.
  • While M.2 is smaller and more common in personal devices, U.2 has more space and toughness for big jobs. Plus, you can move U.2 drives around more thanks to their cables.


  • U.2 gear usually costs more because it’s made for big tasks.
  • The 2.5-inch size of U.2 drives might not fit in tight spaces.

U.2 connectors are a big deal in storage, especially for businesses. They offer lots of speed and space, making them super useful in servers and data centers.

Thunderbolt and USB SSD Connector


Thunderbolt and USB connectors are for external SSDs. They’re perfect for when you need to carry your data around or just want an easy way to add more storage.

Thunderbolt USB SSD Connector

Thunderbolt Connectors

  • Thunderbolt, especially the newer versions like 3 and 4, is super fast, with speeds up to 40 Gbps.
  • You can connect several devices in a row without losing speed, which is pretty neat.
  • Thunderbolt can do it all—carry data, video, and even power—over just one cable.

USB Connectors

  • USB, including USB 3.x and USB-C, is everywhere. It’s the go-to for external SSDs and works with almost anything.
  • USB 3.x is pretty fast, offering speeds up to 10 Gbps for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.
  • USB SSDs can plug into just about any computer or device with a USB port, making them super versatile.

Compatibility and Use

  • Almost every modern computer and many other gadgets have USB ports, and lots now come with Thunderbolt, especially laptops and Macs.
  • They’re great for when you need portable storage for backups, moving big files, or just adding more space to your laptop or tablet.


  • The speed of USB SSDs can vary a lot depending on the USB version and the SSD itself.
  • Thunderbolt SSDs usually cost more because they’re faster and can do more stuff.

Thunderbolt and USB connectors are key for external SSDs. They balance speed, flexibility, and ease of use. Thunderbolt is for when you need top speed and versatility, while USB SSDs are more about being easy to use and affordable for everyone.

Exploring Other SSD Connector Types

Aside from the big names like SATA, PCIe, M.2, and U.2, there are other connectors out there. They might not be as common, but they have their own uses and stories.

SATA Express

  • SATA Express tried to mix SATA and PCIe together for faster speeds but got overshadowed by M.2 and NVMe pretty quickly.
  • It’s faster than old SATA but hasn’t caught on much since M.2 is the preferred choice for speedy connections these days.

SATA Express SSD Connector

mPCIe (Mini PCI Express)

  • mPCIe is a tinier version of PCI Express, used mostly in laptops for adding things like Wi-Fi cards.
  • Some SSDs were made with mPCIe, but M.2 has mostly taken over because it’s faster and more flexible.

mPCIe SSD Connector Type


  • ExpressCard slots were in older laptops for extra storage or gadgets but were pretty slow and limited.
  • These days, USB and Thunderbolt have taken over for adding stuff to your laptop.

ExpressCard Solid State Drive Connector Type

Fibre Channel

  • Fibre Channel is all about speed and reliability in big storage networks, but it’s more for businesses and needs special gear.

Fibre Channel SSD Connector Type

SSD connectors keep getting better, aiming for even faster speeds and smaller sizes. We’ll likely see new stuff that’s even quicker and more efficient, with cool features like better energy saving and stronger security in the future.

Summary: Choosing the Right SSD Connector

Picking an SSD connector depends on what you need, what works with your device, and how fast you want things to go. Here’s a quick rundown to help you choose:

  • SATA 2.5″ SSDs: The standard size that fits most computers. Good for everyday tasks, with decent speed and affordability.
  • M.2 SATA SSDs: Small and fit well in laptops and tight desktops. They use SATA and are as fast as 2.5″ SATA SSDs but smaller.
  • M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs: Super fast SSDs in a small M.2 size. They use PCIe and NVMe for much quicker speeds than SATA. Great for gaming, heavy computing, and big tasks.
  • PCIe AIC (Add-In Card) SSDs: Big SSDs that plug into PCIe slots on a motherboard. They’re super quick, using all the PCIe bandwidth. Best for those who need the fastest performance.
  • mSATA Connectors: A smaller SATA for compact devices and older laptops. Similar speeds to SATA but in a tinier package.
  • U.2 Connectors: Made for big storage needs, offering lots of space and durability. They use PCIe and have a flexible design for system setup. Good for servers and high-end workstations.
  • Thunderbolt (External SSDs): Really fast (up to 40 Gbps) with the ability to connect devices in a row. Perfect for external storage where performance is key, like video editing.
  • USB (External SSDs): Very common for external SSDs, with speeds varying by USB type. Up to 20 Gbps with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and 40 Gbps with USB4 for quick data moves.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

Share via
Copy link