SSDs are fast, and we all know it. While fast loading isn’t that necessary in every game, for some online games, it is a must. There are so many SSDs on the market, but two of them are the most common. M.2, which looks like a pack of gum, and 2.5″ ones that look like laptop hard drives. So, the first thing to know before making a decision is whether the M.2 is better than an SSD.
The speed of an SSD depends on the interface and protocol, not on the form factor. Most M.2 SSDs use the PCIe interface; they are generally considered faster than 2.5″ SSDs, which use SATA. There are quite a few exceptions, though.
SSD size, speed, etc., derive from many factors, and it isn’t a small topic. But you won’t have to go through all of them. You can easily decide which SSD is faster and which one you should get if you know some fundamentals.
These are the very basics of SSD-related knowledge, so I urge you to stick around till the end!
Is M.2 Really Faster Than A 2.5” SSD?
First, let me make the difference between form factor and interface clear. Then you will easily understand which one is faster and which one you should go for.
“Form factor” means the size and shape of the SSD. The size of any component of the computer matters, even on desktops. You might think that desktops have so much space that they can accommodate large-sized components.
But that’s not true. Mini ITX motherboards and cases are designed to be compact to be seated in tight spaces easily.
So, there are various sized SSDs available on the market. What you get depends on your motherboard and case form. SSDs are available in two major form factors: M.2 and 2.5″. Let me explain both of them in brief:
M.2: M.2 SSDs are shaped like cards. Not as thick, of course. While the shape remains the same, M.2 SSDs are available in a few different sizes, such as 2280, 2242, 2260, etc. 2280 means 22×80 mm. You know the rest.
2.5″: 2.5″ is the size of laptop HDDs, smaller than typical 3.5″ desktop HDDs. 2.5 indicates the width of the SSD. They are more significant than M.2 SSDs but cheaper, which is why many people use 2.5″ SSDs.
The interface means how the SSD is connected to your motherboard. There’s a lot more to the interface than that, but this is the basic concept. The interface determines the speed of the SSD, not the form factor.
There are two commonly used SSD interfaces in computers; serial advanced technology attachment, SATA, and peripheral component interconnect express, or PCIe. Let’s break it down a bit:
SATA: SATA SSDs are connected to the motherboard via SATA ports. The 1st generation SATA offered a 1.5 Gb/s transfer speed. 3rd or current-gen SATA has a speed of 6 Gb/s. Almost all 2.5″ SSDs connect to the motherboard using a SATA interface and offer a max read/write speed of 550/650 MBps. So generally, 2.5″ SSDs offer less speed.
PCIe: SSDs that connect using the PCIe interface is NVME SSDs. You may wonder what the difference is between PCIe and NVME. Non-volatile memory express, or NVME, is the technology used in the SSD, whereas PCIe is the technology used in the slot on the motherboard where you connect the SSD. There’s a more detailed explanation, but that’s it for now.
PCIe can deliver speeds up to 24 Gb/s, four times faster than SATA. NVME SSDs offer speeds of up to 7000 and 6000 MBps. Most M.2 SSDs connect using the PCIe interface, although there are a lot of M.2 SSDs that use the SATA interface.
This is where the confusion arises. Because most M.2 SSDs use NVME technology for lightning-fast speeds, M.2 SSDs are frequently referred to as the faster ones. But little do they know that M.2 SSDs can also be SATA, which does not use NVME technology. So, they’re much slower.
Is M.2 Better Than SSD For Gaming?
NVME SSDs are faster, and faster SSDs are always better for gaming. Some games load fairly fast on HDDs. But some multiplayer titles are unplayable without an SSD, like PUBG. The match will start while you wait on the loading screen. Opting for a faster storage unit is a wiser decision for games like this.
Although most games will perform exceptionally well on SATA SSDs, I recommend going for a faster NVME SSD if you have the budget. If you can’t, get a fast SATA SSD. Check the specifications before buying.
Do Games Benefit From M.2?
Games do not benefit from SSD, only the user does. If you use a fast SSD, you won’t have to wait through those boring loading screens in single-player games. You will put more time into the game and finish your favorite games faster.
The benefit is even more significant in online games. Nothing can be more boring than waiting for that one squad member to load. If you are in a stack with your friends, they’ll wait. But if you are playing with randoms, most of the time, they won’t. Either they’ll leave the lobby or kick you out.
Even if you are playing solo, slow loading can be troublesome. As I have already said, PUBG is a game that doesn’t take kindly to slow loaders.
I have first-hand experience of how the game starts: getting on the plane, jumping from the plane, and dying without shooting a single time. All of this happened while I was waiting on the loading screen.
Slow hard drives can also cause stuttering, especially in open-world games. If the reason is a storage device, an NVME SSD will solve that problem. Using a fast NVME SSD is a must for optimum performance and a satisfactory experience.
Does M.2 Increase FPS?
No, SSDs don’t increase FPS. The graphics card, CPU, and optimization of the game work in unison to determine the FPS. The GPU is the leading factor, followed by the CPU and RAM. But there’s no scope to deny the necessity of a quality SSD.
There was a time when slow storage wasn’t an issue. But nowadays, a good and fast SSD is unparalleled for gaming. It has become so prominent that both major consoles, PlayStation and Xbox, have used SSD as a storage device in the most recent generation, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S. The previous generation had upgradeable storage options as well.
SSDs have become an irreparable part of gaming. Any SSD can do the job, but good-quality ones can complement your already amazing gaming rig in the best way. Now that you know the answers: is M.2 better than SSD for gaming don’t think twice to get one if you can.