A few years ago when people told you to upgrade to an SSD, you were probably hesitant because they were pretty expensive. A SATA SSD would cost you a hundred bucks or so, and the storage isn’t that impressive. Even more expensive was the NVMe SSd, which was almost double or triple the price of SATA SSDs.
Nowadays, NVMe SSDs have become the standard for storage devices for both laptops and PCs. If you’re gaming and want to upgrade to something faster, then an NVMe drive is what you need. But how will you know your motherboard supports NVMe SSDs? Can you easily upgrade without buying a new motherboard?
We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more in this article.
What Is An NVMe SSD?
NVMe stands for non-volatile memory express and is a storage interface that was launched in 2013. The term “non volatile” refers to the concept of storage not being deleted when the computer reboots, while “express” refers to how the data travels via the PCIe interface on the motherboard. So an NVMe SSD has a more direct link to the motherboard. The data does not pass through a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) controller.
This makes NVMe SSDs way faster than any SATA SSD. The latest iteration, the PCIe 5.0 SSD can get you up to 13,000Mbps Read and 12,000Mbps Write speeds. But they’re only compatible with the current generation Intel CPUs and processors with Raptor Lake architecture.
Can My PC Use NVMe SSD Drives?
The majority of newer motherboards support NVMe SSDs, but one way of determining if an old motherboard supports NVMe is to check the specs.
But what exactly are you looking for?
If you’re going to find out what kind of SSD your motherboard is capable of supporting, then you’ll need to differentiate between two interfaces namely a PCIe interface and SATA interface.
The PCIe Interface and SATA Interface are both used by SSDs. SATA SSDs are relatively slower than NVMe SSDs, however, the SATA 3 is capable of transfer speeds up to 6GB or 750MB/s.
The PCIe interface is found in the PCIe lanes of the motherboard and is used by the NVMe SSDs. PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSDs can go as fast as 3500 MB/s while the latest PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSDs go as fast as 5500MB/s.
It’s understandable enough to know that a SATA SSD is different from an NVMe SSD in more ways than one. Another thing to note is that a PCIe SSD and NVMe SSD are one and the same.
So, if your motherboard supports NVMe SSD, then you’ll read it on the spec sheet as “Supports PCIe SSD”.
How Does an NVMe SSD Work?
An NVMe SSD connects through the M.2 or PCIe slot, and manufacturers will let you know if what you’re getting is an NVMe SSD or SATA SSD.
If you plan to purchase an NVMe SSD, then you need to determine if your motherboard supports NVMe, to begin with. Motherboards that support NVMe will have a PCIe slot or an M.2 connection for newer motherboards.
Can Motherboards Support NVMe SSDs and SATA SSDs At The Same Time?
While both SATA SSD and NVMe SSD are different types of SSDs, it’s worth mentioning that all motherboards support SATA SSDs (as long as there are SATA ports), but not all of them might be able to handle NVMe SSDs. Newer motherboards will typically support NVMe as long as there is an M.2 slot or a PCIe slot.
Note that just because your motherboard has an M.2 Slot doesn’t automatically mean it supports NVMe protocol. NVMe and SATA drives are also not interchangeable, so a single M.2 can’t support both. But your motherboard specs might show that you’ll have different M.2 slots that accept both NVMe and SATA SSD.
But if you do have enough M.2 slots, it also doesn’t mean that your motherboard supports both NVMe and SSD at the same time.
What Generation of NVMe Do I Need For My Motherboard?
Your motherboard chipset and CPU will determine what kind of NVMe SSD is supported by the motherboard. A Gen 4 and Gen 3 NVMe SSD are totally different from one another. That’s because the Gen 3 NVMe SSD will follow the PCIe 3.0 protocol and Gen 4 SSDs will follow the PCIe 4.0 protocol.
Gen 3 SSDs can go as high as 3500Mbps, while Gen 4 SSD types go for up to 5500Mbps. There aren’t a lot of Gen 4 NVMe SSDs in the market right now due to their cost, and they’re considered high-performance devices. You won’t be seeing them installed in prebuilt gaming PCs anytime soon.