An Overview of mSATA and M.2 SSDs

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With the increase in motherboards and systems supporting mini-SATA (mSATA) and M.2 standards for SSDs, and increased demand from them being included in more than just portable devices, some frequent problems have been seen by Crucial support, mostly related to basic compatibility.


Crucial mx200 Family 


The single most important thing to remember when dealing with these standards is to refer to your system documentation or a resource like Crucial's System Scanner to check the compatibility of SSDs with your system. Some of these systems require PCIe-based devices, while others require SATA-based devices, and the standards are not interoperable while the pinouts and slots may be similar if not identical. This is the single most frequent issue we see regarding problems with installation of these drives, and it often requires returning a drive so one with the correct compatibility can be used instead.


MX200 in mSATA slot


mSATA drives are relatively straight-forward in terms of compatibility. The only issue we've seen occasionally is users trying to put them into a mini PCIe slot not capable of also supporting mSATA. While the slot is identical, and some motherboards do support both, a PCIe-only slot/motherboard will not run any of Crucial's current offerings, up to and including the MX200 series, all of which are mSATA.


2260 M.2


M.2 drives, referred to in some documentation as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), feature multiple form factors based on the drive dimensions, layout of NAND components on one or both sides of the drive, and keying of the pins of the drive's connector. Crucial drives currently ship in either a 2260ds (22mm by 60mm, double-sided NAND layout) form factor or 2280ss (22mm by 80mm, single-sided), with B and M keying notches to maximize compatibility. As with our mSATA offerings, all of Crucial's current M.2 drives are SATA-only, so even if dimensions and keying match a PCIe-only socket, the drive will not work. Also, some M.2 slots have different keyings, such as A and E-keying. Crucial's current drives will not fit in these keyed slots, which are usually reserved for wi-fi and bluetooth adapters. The M.2 standard supports many different keyings, though, so this is subject to change with future hardware.


It can't be stressed enough to verify, using your hardware documentation or any other support resources, that your system will support a given drive before purchase. This will save you wasted time trying to diagnose and fix detection problems often being caused by a simple difference in protocol between your socket and storage device, and ensure the easiest installation experience possible.

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Dom from The CRU has documented his cloning experience with an mSATA drive below. While they are not sold by Crucial directly at this time, 2.5" converters are available supporting both form factors if needed for use in a 2.5" bay or over USB.


mSATA or M.2 to SATA Adapter

Although mSATA and M.2 connectors are physically different to standard SATA ones, they still use the same SATA standard so you can convert them using a simple adapter.

I bought this mSATA to SATA adapter for around £12 in the UK (you will likely find a cheaper option in the US). I was able to use this to connect the mSATA drive to the SATA to USB cable provided with the cloning kit.


Any other type of caddy or USB adapter that allows you to connect the mSATA or M.2 drive via USB while cloning should be fine for this too.

mSATA or M.2 to SATA Adapter

  • Place the SSD into the adapter


  • Push it down so it clips into place


  • Attach the adapter to the USB to SATA cable


  • You can now attach the cable to a USB slot and continue through the cloning process


SSD not being picked up by cloning software

  • Check within Windows that the drive is picked up
  • Double check the connection to the adapter as well as the SATA to USB cable
  • Try a different USB port

USB disconnects during cloning

  • Check the Advanced Settings of your Power Options
  • Under USB settings, ensure USB selective suspend setting is disabed
  • You can enable this again after the clone is complete

Laptop/netbook doesn’t have a CD drive for cloning software

  • Some cloning software can run within Windows and does not require a CD
  • One I've tried is EZ Gig by Apricorn. Please note you will need to use an Apricorn USB to SATA cable for this software to work
Bit Baby

ASUS Z97 motherboard has an M.2 connector, but it only recognizes PCIE SSDs, not SATA3 SSDs.

 If you bought a 500GB SATA SSD like I did, this socketless card will make it work outside the M.2 connection:

     IO Crest M.2 NGFF to SATA III Card with Full & Low Profile Brackets SI-ADA40084

        Sold by: OutletPC   or Amazon    $12.36
$12 saved my $200 investment instead of spending another $200 for a 500GB PCIE drive.  (PCIEs cost more than SATAs)