Fuck M.2 and mSATA SSD's. Not only do you have to worry about lengths (30, 42, 80mm), but then there's mSATA vs M.2... Where SSD's with an M.2 connector can STILL use mSATA internally! AND on top of that there's a bazillion connector types. For that I'll let the attached image speak for itself. I don't see the difference to be honest. Maybe someone in the comments can explain.

Long story short, I bought what looks to be an M.2 SSD that nonetheless uses mSATA and I pretty much wasted my money on a paperweight. The little enclosure I bought for it only does mSATA *connectors*. It doesn't fucking fit!

  • 11
    Why did you do that? Also why would you buy something with that monster micro USB instead of USB C? I think you are still confusing M.2 SATA with mSATA while writing this.
  • 2
    @electrineer I'm a monster for avoiding yet another confusing connector that can be anywhere between USB 2.0 and 3.1 (oh and don't get me started on Gen 1 and Gen 2), no way to see by looking at it at all.

    Short of connector mess, in the command set it's all SATA.

    The attached picture is not the enclosure I bought and only serves as a reference.
  • 17
    M.2 is a physical interface that can carry several different logical interfaces, NVMe and SATA being some of them (given that the host supports them, of course - e.g. some older motherboards only support NVMe over M.2, but not SATA). On the other hand, mSATA is an older physical connection standard based on the PCIe Mini Card format, using the SATA logical protocol. I believe mSATA is de facto obsolete now, I haven't seen any new devices using it.
  • 5
    The "U" in "USB" stands for "Universal".


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    Looking more closely at the clusterfucks covered, I forgot a 60mm version of M.2 SSD's and I didn't yet realize that the USB IF 1-upped itself once more and that USB is now at "version" 3.2... Just carrying over all the mess that should've been USB 3.0 / 5Gbps / Gen 1, 3.1 / 10Gbps / Gen 2, and 3.2 / 20Gbps / Gen 2x2 (sorry I don't have that fancy × character on my keyboard). Yeah.. just 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 were too much to ask for. Unify all of it but not really.

    And to make matters even worse, that 3.0 device can now self-identify as 3.2 Gen 1. Or not.. never stopped marketing before.
  • 6
    @Condor LTT has a good vent video about it. https://youtu.be/gShRBsahzXg
  • 1
    Oh, and to make matters worse, you can also habe USB (at least 3.0) on an M.2 port.
  • 6
    @kamen is completely correct.
    Same goes for USB C. The connector itself is very clear; the protocols and standards it carries may vary.
    M.2 is not a storage connector it is also used for wlan cards for example. You can see it as a PCIe connector with a small form. And the layouts are like DDR memory, physically incompatible with different speeds.

    mSATA never got off the ground, you can forget about it.
  • 1
    Yep. Occasionally you will see one floated on aliexpress or ebay, but if you're shopping there, you're basically playing yourself.
  • 0
    @SortOfTested there are plenty on Amazon as well though? Many of the ThinkPads for example use mSATA for their SSD, both physically and logically. mSATA SSD's for them are common and sold by all major vendors.

    I guess that with Amazon I could just send it back and get a fitting one that's SATA over actual mSATA. Or replace the Samsung SSD in my other laptop with this one, that's also "M.2 SATA". SSD's are messy...
  • 0
    Apparently nobody reputable sells mSATA SSD's over 256GB though. This one is a 512GB one from Transcend, so perhaps Amazon just changed it to M.2 without me noticing...
  • 1
    Ali vendors are well known for skeez and mislabeling is more the point. There's plenty of new old stock in the wild.

    Lenovo's good laptops are all m.2. my x1 extreme gen 2 has full size nvme. The carbon uses m.2.

    I'm actually somewhat impressed with the mileage the ngff form factor has gotten given the amount of spec competition the industry has right now.
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    Pretty much the same deal with USB 3 onwards...
  • 6
    I dislike some of the comments here because they do not defuse the confusion but instead add to it....

    Let's try to take the fast tour.

    First - connector vs protocol vs bussystem.

    Connector - physical

    M.2 is the successor to the mini SATA connector. The whole "wtf why is this happening and why are there so many" can be explained pretty simple: mSATA started in 2009. that's ancient.

    Slimbooks. Smaller form factors. Everything needs to get tiny.

    Hence the many different forms.

    Note: Do not use the term mSATA. It implicitly means mini SATA. But to add fun to it, there's micro SATA, too ;)

    Beginning with PCI - Express 2.0 I'd say the SATA connector was pretty much pointless - they tried SATA - Express in 2013… but all in all it was dead before it was born.

    It was evident that PCI - Express would become the internal standard for everything.

    So smaller, better, funnier - M.2 started 2014 to become the successor.


    Now we need to be -very- careful.

    A connector is a 1:1 relation usually to it's bussystem. Not in the case with M.2.

    M.2 was designed to allow multiple bussystems.

    That's where the seemingly mad number of several lengthes and different types come into play.

    M.2 has a module design with "keys" to allow one or more bussystems.

    Look here:

    All in all, they've made a general design to stop the madness ;)


    Bussystem and protocol can go hand in hand / have a 1:1 relationship.

    Regarding storage - NVME should be the standard. AHCI is dead.


    But if you understood M.2 - you should be aware that M.2 has nothing to do with storage.

    From network interface to USB - anything is possible.
  • 4
    @IntrusionCM PCI-X (PCI eXtended) != PCIe (PCI Express)
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    @sbiewald that's maybe the reason I was scratching my head the whole time. i knew something was off.
  • 0
    @IntrusionCM that's the best explanation I've seen so far, thanks! :)
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