SSD Form Factors Explained

Switching from a hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid state drive (SSD) can be confusing. After you’ve established what kind of performance you need and how much storage space is required, it’s time to find a form factor that is compatible with your system.

Solid state drives are defined by three form factors; these are: the size of the drive, the type of connection interface, and the physical space the drive will occupy in the computer.

Illustration of the 3 different form factors for an SSD

2.5-Inch SSD

The standard form factor for an SSD is 2.5-inch, which fits inside the drive bay of most laptop or desktop computers. Because many users replace their hard drives with solid state drives, the 2.5-inch drive has become a standard for all HDDs and SSDs, designed to allow compatibility for those upgrading. They are designed to minimize the need to replace the connecting interface cables, making the transition to a higher performance drive as easy as possible. See the top 10 reasons to upgrade to an SSD.


A smaller form factor SSD is called mSATA. mSATA SSDs are one-eighth the size of a 2.5-inch drive and are designed to plug into an mSATA socket on a system’s motherboard. mSATA drives are used in ultra-thin and mini devices, or as a secondary drive in desktops.


The smallest form factor for SSDs is called M.2, which is about the size of a stick of gum. M.2 SSDs attach to the motherboard via an M.2 socket and are designed for space-constrained tablets and ultrabooks.

Find out more about the role an SSD plays in your computer.

SSD Form Factors

2.5-inch SSD




SATA cable (located in drive bay)

mSATA socket (located on motherboard)

M.2 socket (located on motherboard)

Best For

Laptops, desktops, servers

Ultrathin laptops, Intel® NUC systems, mini ITX
motherboards, desktops with an mSATA socket

Tablets and ultrabooks

Target Application

Primary or secondary storage

Primary storage in systems noted above; secondary storage (cache

Primary storage in tablets and ultrabooks

To determine which type of SSD is compatible with your system, use the Crucial® Advisor or System Scanner tools and find out in just a few clicks.

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