How to Tell If My M.2 Slot is NVMe or SATA?

The easiest and the most definitive method on how to tell if my M.2 slot is NVMe or SATA is by reading the official specsheet of your motherboard or that of your laptop.

The official manufacturer’s specsheet which you can find online for any motherboard or laptop out there can be used to find a ton of information regarding what M.2 slots it has and whether they conform to NVMe or SATA.

In the following text I will talk in detail about how you can determine which protocol the slots on your motherboard conform to.

But know that generally, the M.2 slots on newer PCs support both NVMe AND SATA SSDs.

Some Brief on the NVME and SATA Jargon

samsung 980 pro
Samsung 980 Pro. M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD

Before you read the specsheet, you need to be familiar with all the technical jargon the manufacturer’s use for these two interfaces.

M.2 is the FORM FACTOR

M.2 is generally used to define the form factor of the SSD. M.2 SSDs are stick-like in form like the Samsung 980 Pro you see above.

M.2 SSDs, plug into M.2 slots – go figure.

But the key point to note is that both PCIe and SATA SSDs can be found in M.2 form factor.

PCIe and NVMe

The terms PCIe and NVMe are used interchangeably. PCIe is the interface that the NVMe communication protocol uses for SSDs.

Hence, on some specsheet you may find NVMe SSDs being referred to as PCIe SSDs and vice versa.

M.2 Slots PCIe Version – Very Important

PCIe/NVMe M.2 slots also conform to different versions. 

This is very significant because with every newer version of the PCIe interface, the transfer speed doubles.

Hence Gen 4 or PCIe 4.0 SSDs such as the Samsung 980 Pro can reach speeds of upto 6500 MB/s. 

Gen 3 or PCe 3.0 SSDs such as the Samsung 970 Pro can reach speeds of 3500 MB/s.

If you have a Gen 4 SSD, you will need an M.2 slot on your motherboard or laptop that conforms to PCIe 4.0 in order to reap the full benefit.

Also Read: Can You Use a PCIe 4.0 SSD on Your Existing Motherboard?

SATA Interface Has Different Names

SATA interface can either be labelled as SATA 3, SATA 6Gbps or SATA 6 Gb/s. They all mean the same thing.

In other words, if an M.2 slot is either labelled as SATA 3 or SATA 6Gbps, it means the same thing.

PCIe NVMe SSDs Have a Far Superior Performance Compared to Rest

Of course, for the uninitiated, it is worth knowing that the golden standard for storage drive these days is the NVMe SSD.

The following table summarizes the typical maximum speeds of different hard drives:

Storage Type
Read Speeds
Hard Disk Drive 200 MB/s
SATA SSD 550 MB/s
Gen 3 NVMe SSD 3500 MB/s
Gen 4 NVMe SSD 6500 MB/s

Also Read: Can You Put M.2 SSD in PCIe Slot?

So How to Tell If My M.2 Slot is NVMe or SATA?

Now that you are aware of the technical jargon around the two types of SSDs, you will be better equipped to understand the motherboard’s or your laptop’s specsheet to determine whether the M.2 slot is NVMe or SATA.

There are three possibilities for the M.2 slots:

  1. The M.2 slot supports both NVMe AND SATA SSDs
  2. The M.2 slot supports ONLY NVMe SSD
  3. The M.2 slot support ONLY SATA SSD

1. The M.2 Slot Supports Both NVMe AND SATA SSDs – Most Common

In majority of the cases, the M.2 slots supports both NVMe and SATA SSDs.

Take for instance the specsheet for the ASUS B550-Plus below:

Does My Motherboard Support NVMe
ASUS B550 -Plus Prime Specsheet. Source: Asus

There is so much you can learn by just looking at the specsheet.

For starters, this motherboard has 2 x M.2 slots.

The first M.2 slot, under the “AMD Ryzen 5000 series / 3000 Series” supports both SATA and PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD.

Take note of the fact that the first M.2 slot conforms to the version 4.0 hence it can take a Gen 4 NVMe SSD IF the AMD processor installed is of the 5000 or the 4000 series.

If the processor installed is from the 4000G series (Yellow Box), then the same slot will only conform to version 3.0. 

Hence, the choice of processor does matter.

The second M.2 slot under the “AMD B550 Chipset” heading, also supports both SATA and NVMe SSD, however, this only conforms to the PCIe version 3.0.

Hence, the motherboard chipset also matters.

Read in Detail: Does My Motherboard Support NVMe SSD?

The key point to take away from here is that an M.2 slot can take both NVMe and SATA SSDs. This is, in fact, how the majority of the M.2 slots work particularly with newer systems.

Take Note of the LANE Count of the M.2 Slot

You should pay close attention to the lane count of the M.2 slot.

An NVMe SSD requires 4 x PCIe lanes to work at its best rated speeds. Hence, the M.2 slot it connects to should be able to provide 4 PCIe lanes ideally.

However, in some rare instances, some motherboard have an M.2 slot that is only connected to 2 x PCIe lanes. 

ASUS X470-F motherboard chipset Specifications 3
ASUS Strix X470-F Gaming

Take for instance the ASUS STRIX X470-F Gaming. While it offers 2 x M.2 slot, the second M.2 slot is only connected to 2 x PCIe lanes. 

An M.2 slot connected to 2 x PCIe lanes would not have much of an impact on a SATA SSD, but if you were to connect an M.2 SSD, it would operate at HALF ITS RATED SPEED!

Also Read: What are PCIe Lanes?

2. The M.2 Slot supports ONLY NVMe SSD

In rare cases, it is possible that your M.2 slot ONLY supports NVMe SSD.

Take for instance MSI MEG B550 Unify and its storage specs below:

how many M.2 slots do motherboards have
M.2 slots on MSI MEG B550 Unify. This motherboard has 4 x M.2 slots. Source: MSI

This motherboard has 4 x M.2 slots. While the first three M.2 slots all support PCIe NVMe AND SATA SSDs, the last M.2 slot (M2_4) ONLY supports a PCIe NVMe SSD – that too of only 2280 size (22mm width x 80mm length).

Again, such slots are rarer as compared to the slots that support both type of SSDs.

3. The M.2 slot support ONLY SATA SSD – Almost Non Existent

The third and the final possibility for M.2 slot is for it to be only SATA compliant. 

However such M.2 slots are non-existent at least since they have become widespread.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between SATA and SSD and HDD and NVMe?

Final Words

The only definitive way on how tell if my M.2 slot is NVMe or SATA is to consult the motherboard or your laptop’s specsheet.

While you can use physical inspection of the board to identify the M.2 slots visually, you wouldn’t be able to tell their specifications i.e how many PCIe lanes it connects or whether it supports SATA or NVMe SSD.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

3 thoughts on “How to Tell If My M.2 Slot is NVMe or SATA?”

  1. hi, my very old, but “loved” Sony VAIO Pro 13 Ultrabook has one of the first built in M.2 PCIe SSDs.
    But my problem is: it was a so called “native” PCIe x2 (only 2 lanes instead of today used 4 or more lanes…) (Sony´s own specification 2013 was: M.2 Native PCIe SSD)
    at 2013/4 it was one of the fastest and smallest ultra laptops.
    but now my problem is, that i want to change the very small
    original built in 126GB M.2 PCIe 2.0 (x2) SSD

    to a bigger one with 512GB (think 1TB will not work by the motherboard)

    at USB there is a compatibility downgrade, USB 3.0 also works with USB 2.0 devices.

    but what is with PCIe ??

    PCIe 4.0 adapter on motherboard works with PCIe 3.0 SSD inserted.

    but i think, that todays comman m.2 SSD´s with spec. “NVME PCIe 3.0”
    will not work with the old (2013) “NATIVE” PCIe 2.0 NVME port of Sony Vaios motherboard.

    if you can help me pls write to: schaafhannes@web.de

    i am from germany, but understand basic englisch
    and would be VERY GLAD to get any advise for my old but very good Sony!

    Reply

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