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mSATA vs SATA: What’s the Difference?

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mSATA and SATA are both solid state drives (SSD) that can be used in place of a traditional hard disc drive (HDD) in your laptop or PC. SATA type SSD memory is much more commonly used, as mSATA was usually only used as a 16 GB or 32 GB cache drive due to its very compact size. This smaller capacity mSATA would cache files for your most used programs and system files to speed up performance. It would be paired with an HDD as 32 GB is obviously not enough to serve as a primary drive.

Check out our Best SSDs for a Gaming PC: A Complete Guide →


Unlike the additional memory of your mother board’s ROM chip for BIOS menu purposes, a secondary mSATA can be used as the owner pleases. Only recently has memory storage technology advanced to allow enough space on an mSATA for an operating system to run off of and for common use to replace an HDD. Capacities for mSATA now range all the way up to 1 TB.

mSATA connects differently than an HDD or SATA SSD does. It doesn’t have the 2.5” housing that a SATA SSD has either. It looks similar to an integrated circuit and usually comes without any outer casing around it at all. Both mSATA and SATA usually operate at SATA III speed. If you want a faster read/write speed, then you have to buy one that runs at m.2.

What is eSATA?

eSATA is electronic serial ATA, which means that it is an external drive connected through a wire. Several years ago, this was the fastest and best way to transfer files. But now that USB 3.0 is out and included with most notebooks, eSATA is not really necessary anymore. A basic external USB 3.0 HDD will perform just as fast.

Which is Better, mSATA or SATA?


Neither of them is necessarily better than the other, because they function in virtually the same way. mSATA is small enough to fit in very slim devices, so it has the edge in terms of compatibility with a variety of modern devices. On the other hand, not all older laptops and PCs support mSATA. For performance, the type of either one you get, SATA III or m.2 ,is what matters.


Some people claim SATA is still faster than mSATA even when they are the same speed rating. These claims are false when the two are manufactured to be equally fast if they are in the same speed class, SATA III or m.2.

If you’re shopping for new and faster memory for your computer, be sure to check if your machine is compatible with mSATA. If it isn’t, than SATA SSD will be just as good and you can still get it at the highest available speed.

About Nathanael Rubin

Nathanael Rubin has made a home on the road traveling around the world and writing articles remotely. Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Nathanael is currently residing in Bangkok, Thailand where he has set aside his passion for music to do what he does best, write and travel.

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