What Is The Difference Between NVMe SSD And SATA SSD?


Both NVMe and SATA are software interfaces that help access the data stored in a computer. Even though they are designed for the same purpose, their performance difference is visible to expert eyes. Different communication drives and interfaces lead to this difference, and to be specific, NVMe has a higher edge when it comes to performance.

NVMe drives can usually deliver a sustained read-write speed of 3.5 GB/s in contrast with SATA SSDs that limit at 600 MB/s. Since NVMe SSDs can reach higher speeds than SATA SSDs such as M. 2 drives, it makes them ideal for gaming or high-resolution video editing.

NVMe driver has been introduced mainly for SSDs using flash technology, while SATA has AHCI drivers with spinning technology made for hard drives. The PCIe sockets that enable communication between the CPU and the storage interface make NVMe stand out in terms of efficiency.

The two technologies NVMe and SATA have their own ways of working, and this guide sheds light on their differences.

What is SATA SSD?

What existed before SATA was Parallel ATA technology, but it had various issues like low performance, increased cable size, higher cost, and many others. This was when Serial ATA or SATA technology was introduced in 2000 with enhanced functionality and performance. These technologies worked well with hard disk drives.

What Is The Difference Between NVMe SSD And SATA SSD
What Is The Difference Between NVMe SSD And SATA SSD

But when SATA-based solid-state drives came into being, the ATA bus became insufficient as its performance had a limit. The reason was that the speed of HDDs was 50-120MBps while that of SSDs was 550MBps. But the performance improvement of SATA-based SSDs still remained 10 to 15 times that of HDD technology.

In 2004, a new communication mode named Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) to better the performance of SATA-based storage devices came into being. This technology mainly aimed at improving the throughput and performance of HDDs, but it didn’t work well with SSD controller technology. In fact, AHCI limited the performance of SATA-based SSDs.

What is NVMe SSDs?

In 2011, Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) was introduced to take care of the issues posed by the SATA interface and communication protocol. As this new technology uses a PCIe bus in place of the SATA bus, it offers huge bandwidth for storage devices.

The present version PCIe 4.0 promises up to 32 lanes and enables data transfer of up to 64,000MBps, unlike SATA, which offers only 600MBps. The NVMe technology permits 65535 queues with 65536 commands per queue, while the SATA-based SSDs have a single queue with only 32 commands per queue.

With improved performance, efficiency and interoperability, there is no doubt that the NVMe technology will rule the industry with its heightened standard. 

The difference in Form Factors

HDDs generally come with widths of 2.5 or 3.5 inches, while SATA-based SSDs are 7mm thick and 2.5inches wide. But NVMe drives come with several new form factors making it possible to be accommodated in various devices.

  • M.2: M.2 form factor enables the drive size to be smaller and thus makes it more suitable for modern devices. The value 30/42/80/110 represents the length in mm, and 22 represents the width. The current SSD M.2 2280 is the common NVMe SSD form factor for NVMe, which also supports SATA.
  • U.2: This type of storage device is appropriate for large enterprises’ data storage as they have high performance and endurance.
  • Add-in PCIe cards: NVMe SSDs promise great performance and are common in systems that did not have sockets to support the M.2 form factor.

Generally, NVMe SSDs are mostly seen with M.2 form factors in modern laptops and desktops. SATA SSDs can be 2.5 inches or feature M.2 drives. If there is a spare M.2 slot in your laptop, check which one it supports, NVMe or SATA. This helps in deciding which drive to purchase. There are even laptops that support both.  

Difference in Price

As is obvious, the difference in prices of different drives is due to the difference in performance. Faster drives definitely call for higher prices. Today, a 1TB NVMe PCIe 3.0 drive will cost you $115 to $120 for models that are popular for their speed, whereas a 1TB SATA drive comes at around $90 to $100. If you want to go for a 1TB PCIe 4.0 drive, the price will be somewhere between $120 and $200. Remember that the less-priced ones offer a speed of around 5000MBps. You will also find that a 2.5-inch SATA SSD comes at a lesser price than M.2 SSDs, and if you are lucky, you may even find them similarly priced.  

How the Performance is Affected

The storage protocol NVMe is primarily manufactured for SSDs. As it has no SATA HBA layer, the NVMe SSDs can directly communicate with the CPU via the PCIe bus, leading to increased performance.

As the performance limit of the SATA III bus is 6Gb/s, a SATA SSD can offer a maximum throughput of 550MBps. But as a single PCIe 3.0 lane can offer 1GBps, a PCIe 3×4 SSD can offer a read/write speed of 4GBps. For PCIe Gen 4X4 SSDs, this value reaches 8GBps. Fortunately, the NAND media is continually subjected to improvements in recent years to insert the highest density and performance into the smallest form factors.

It is also seen that NVMe has lower protocol latency because of the shortened datapath, much less than SATA and SAS. The CPU better manages NVMe devices’ queues due to the I/O processing doorbell signaling, thereby decreasing CPU overhead. Most of the operating systems now support NVMe devices, mostly due to the developments happening in the area.

Storage devices need some technology to access their data efficiently, and there is no better way than NVMe. Being several times faster than SATA, it delivers results at unprecedented speeds. With the popularity of SSDs today, users are more inclined towards NVMe as it is a technology exclusively developed for high-performance SSDs. Its brilliant data transfer rate saves a lot of time which is the need of the hour. It is expected that the technology will undergo more research and development in the coming years to come up with uncompromised performance. 

Q&A

Is NVMe SSD better than regular SSD?

The main difference between SSD and NVMe is that SSD stores data by using integrated circuits while NVMe is an interface used to access the stored data at a high speed. NVMe is far more advanced than SSD and hence is faster and better encrypted than the latter.

Is SATA SSD more reliable than NVMe?

NVMe is an interface to some of the SSD drives. There is no research information proving SSD drives with NVMe are more reliable than SATA SSD since NVMe SSD are quite new to the market. Though there is no prerequisites or anticipation that NVMe interface somehow would improve disk reliability.

Is there a big difference between SSD and NVMe?

There is a huge difference in terms of raw performance when comparing a standard SSD with SATA protocol and an SSD that uses NVMe. Modern SATA SSDs can reach a maximum possible data transfer speed of up to 550MBps.

Can I use NVMe SSD in the SATA slot?

Most NVME slots also support SATA. So a SATA drive will work but run at its stated SATA speeds. An NVME drive will most likely NOT work in a SATA slot because NVME is how it communicates to the computer.

Why is NVMe faster than SATA?

NVMe was built with modern, PCIe-based SSDs in mind. NVMe drives are able to accept vastly more commands at once than SATA III mechanical hard drives or SSDs. That, combined with lower latency, makes NVMe drives faster and more responsive.

Do I have SATA or NVMe?

Expand the Disk drives section, right-click the disk listed there and choose Properties. In the Details tab, select Hardware Ids from the Property tab, and see what you find in the Value box below. If you see the word NVMe there, you are using the fastest type of SSD drive on the market.

Is SATA outdated?

However, M. 2 drives won this battle, and SATA Express is now obsolete. However, we mention it in the event you have a desktop PC from a few years ago that has one or more of these ports.

Is NVMe SSD better for gaming?

That makes NVMe SSDs the perfect storage tech for gaming. Running on the same basic interface as your graphics card, NVMe SSDs deliver more raw bandwidth and performance than any SATA-based SSD could ever offer.

Does SSD need NVMe?

Some drives in each category might do better, some will do worse. Hard drives still offer tremendous bang for the buck in terms of capacity and are wonderful for less-used data. But for your operating system, programs, and oft-used data, you want an NVMe SSD if your system supports it, or a SATA SSD if it can’t.

Does my PC support NVMe?

The easiest way to know if your motherboard supports NVMe SSD or not is to check the motherboard’s manufacturer’s specsheet. What is this? You must check the storage or hard drive section of the specsheet to figure out what kind of drives it supports.

How do I know if NVMe is installed?

To check the actual NVMe driver installed in your system follow these steps:

  1. Open Device Manager. Type the Windows key + x.
  2. Click the Storage controllers dropdown. The list of drivers will be displayed.
  3. Right-click and select Properties to see the exact driver version. Select the Driver tab in the pop-up window.

How do I know if I have an NVMe slot?

Analyzing information

  1. If the form factor is 2.5′, you DO NOT have an NVMe SSD.
  2. If the form factor is M. 2 and no PCI slot lists your SSD, you may have an NVMe drive or you may have a SATA drive.
  3. If the form factor is M. 2 and a PCI slot is in use, it is possible you have an NVMe drive.

Is SATA SSD dead?

SATA will continue to march on for some time, mainly in the form of super high capacity mechanical drives, and perhaps in high capacity, low cost SSD’s, so it will be a long time before we can say that SATA is well and truly dead.

Is SATA 3 6Gb S?

SATA III (revision 3. x) interface, formally known as SATA 6Gb/s, is a third generation SATA interface running at 6.0Gb/s. The bandwidth throughput, which is supported by the interface, is up to 600MB/s. This interface is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gb/s interface.

What means NVMe SSD?

NVMe (nonvolatile memory express) is a new storage access and transport protocol for flash and next-generation solid-state drives (SSDs) that delivers the highest throughput and fastest response times yet for all types of enterprise workloads.

How much faster is NVMe than SSD?

NVMe drives can usually deliver a sustained read-write speed of 3.5 GB/s in contrast with SATA SSDs that limit at 600 MB/s. Since NVMe SSDs can reach higher speeds than SATA SSDs such as M. 2 drives, it makes them ideal for gaming or high-resolution video editing.

Does NVMe give more FPS?

Because games only need to read from a storage device when loading additional level assets into memory, upgrading a storage device will not impact your average FPS. However, using a fast storage device like an NVMe SSD will significantly improve your experience.

Is NVMe faster than SATA for gaming?

Switching from a mechanical hard drive to a solid-state drive will cut game load times dramatically and there are further gains to be made when switching from an entry-level SATA drive to a faster NVMe SSD. We found that upgrading to an SSD reduced game load times by up to 60 percent.

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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