Are There ANY Good Reasons To Buy SATA SSDs? (Shouldn’t Everyone Just Buy NVMe M.2 SSDs?!)

I loved buying my first NVMe M.2 SSD, because it was so much faster (than my old SATA SSD) – plus it required zero cables. NVMe drives just seem better all round.

So why are some people STILL buying SATA SSDs? Well there are a few reasons for this, for example not all motherboards have M.2 slots. Plus in some cases SATA SSDs are still cheaper than NVMe drives.

I discuss all this in this video, and also discuss whether it’s still worth having both NVMe and SATA SSDs.

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, the prices of NVMe SSDs have come down LOADS in the past year – to the point that they’re often cheaper to buy than SATA SSDs:

A WD SATA SSD priced at 80 dollars
A WD SATA SSD priced at 80 dollars
A WD NVMe SSD priced at 70 dollars
A WD NVMe SSD priced at 70 dollars

These also take up less space inside your case, they require zero cables (unlike SATA drives that need TWO cables) AND they’re much, much faster. So is there ANY reason to buy SATA drives ever again? Well yes, actually there are – especially because there’s sometimes no real world benefit of this, which I’ll discuss a bit later on.

Not All Motherboards Support M.2

But the first reason why people might stick to SATA is – naturally – that not all motherboards actually have M.2 slots to plug a ‘new style’ SSD into.

Gigabyte motherboard that does not support M2
Gigabyte motherboard that does not support M2

These slots started showing up on enthusiast motherboards around the time of AM4 Ryzen and Intel Z97, but naturally not everyone has a ‘modern’ motherboard (well, one released in the last 7 or 8 years I guess). And that’s ENTHUSIAST motherboards. OEM motherboards – from the big PC companies – often only offer the EXACT features that the PC builders require. If they don’t sell M.2 SSDs, their custom motherboards might not have such a slot. Or they’ll only have space for a short M.2 like the 2242 size, which can end up costing you MORE money than just buying a SATA SSD because most drive manufacturers have focused on mass producing the longer and more common 2280 size drives.

NVMe Drives Run Hotter

The second reason I wanted to cover is that NVMe drives tend to run a lot hotter than SATA SSDs. This is for three reasons. Firstly, SATA drives have a larger surface area so their design helps prevent overheating. Secondly, NVMe M.2 slots are often located in slightly awkward positions on motherboards – like directly UNDERNEATH the ‘freakin GPU.

Two M.2 NVMe SSDs of 2280 size installed in an Asus motherboard
Two M.2 NVMe SSDs, one will be directly under my GPU

So a LOT of heat is always near the M.2 drive. Finally, NVMe SSDs are MUCH faster than SATA ones, which does generate more heat, of course. Naturally it’s good that NVMe drives are quicker, but all in all, people building small form factor PCs or server-type machines like a NAS or, well, an actual server, might tend to avoid heat-generating components like an NVMe because keeping temperatures down and focusing on stability and longevity of hardware is the name of the game here. Naturally in an enthusiast desktop build, this isn’t as much of a concern though.

SATA SSDs Can Be Cheaper

An older SATA6 SSD with SATA cable attached
An older SATA6 SSD with SATA cable attached

The third reason that some people prefer SATA drives is that the price CAN be lower than the equivalent M.2 drive. Now in general, prices of these have come down a LOT in recent years and they’re often cheaper than ‘old’ SSDs. However as I covered earlier, if you’re looking at a non-standard size like a small 2242 drive, they can work out more expensive. Equally if you’re looking for an 8 terabyte drive, for example, you’ll probably find that there’s not many well priced NVMe options out there.

This is because fitting such high capacity storage chips onto an NVMe PCB is quite difficult and expensive: so there’s less companies making such drives. At this storage level, SATA SSDs are still half the price of NVMe SSDs in most cases. So if you have big storage requirements (or you simply want to install the full version of ARK!) you might find that SATA SSDs work out slightly cheaper.

No Real World Performance Difference

This brings me onto my final point why SATA SSDs might not be the worst purchase ever. If you are just surfing the internet, running a few apps and playing PC games, then there won’t be any real performance benefit to getting an NVMe drive compared to a SATA one. Some people might disagree with me here, but this has actually been shown in many different benchmarks, and when gaming you’ll likely only see a difference between loading screens – and even then NVMe drives aren’t massively faster.

When it comes to downloading games, both types of drives will probably perform the same because people’s internet speeds will likely be the bottleneck. Now you might be saying “Nah you’re wrong, my ISP gives me 800 megs download but a SATA drive caps out at 500 megs write speed”… but that’s not actually correct. An “800 meg” download speed means 800 MegaBITS per second, which is 100 megaBYTES per second. That’s far less than a SATA SSD supports. So if you have LOTS of games and want a high capacity drive, a SATA SSD might actually be better.

Use Both?

But of course, it’s not a black and white decision. You can use BOTH NVMe and SATA SSDs:

Me holding up both an NVMe and SATA SSD
Me holding up both an NVMe and SATA SSD

What many people do is purchase an NVMe SSD for their boot drive – basically to install their operating system and key programs on – and then use a SATA SSD for their bigger storage requirements, like movie downloads and their game library. This can work out really well because you get the benefit of extra fast NVMe speeds for many system operations but also the higher storage capacity of SATA drives.

… Or Invest In A NAS?

Picture of my Synology DS220 plus NAS
Picture of my Synology DS220 plus NAS

The other option is to only use NVMe SSDs if your motherboard supports it, which at least means that you don’t need to clutter the inside of your case with loads of SATA cables. BUT you can then invest in a NAS to store all your other files. A NAS is actually a pretty great purchase because you can use them for LOADS of other purposes, too, which I cover in another video.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

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