External SSD vs Internal SSD: Which Is Faster?

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No matter what system you have, running out of storage is inevitable. Now it is a good time to upgrade from a magnetic disk drive (HDD) to a solid-state drive (SSD) or a larger SSD. Mobile and internal SSDs are getting bigger, faster, and cheaper. Which one is right for you? Internal or removable SSD? Which is faster?

Internal SSD Form Factor

Internal SDDs come in three main form factors: 2.5", M.2, and mSATA

2.5" SSD

For years, the standard form factor has been the 2.5-inch form factor that fits in the drive bays of laptops and desktops. With many users replacing hard drives with solid-state drives, 2.5-inch hard drives have become the standard for all HDDs and SSDs. It's designed to minimize the need to replace connecting interface cables, making the transition to higher-performance drives as smooth as possible.

2.5" SSD


The smallest form factor for an SSD is called M.2, which is about the size of a piece of chewing gum. The M.2 SSD connects to the motherboard via an M.2 slot and is designed for space-constrained tablets and ultrabooks. M.2 usually has the highest read and write speeds due to its interface. M.2 can be connected via PCIe or SATA, and some motherboards have one or two slots.


The mSATA form factor SSD is one-eighth the size of a 2.5-inch hard drive and is designed to fit into an mSATA slot on the system motherboard. mSATA drives are used for slim and mini devices and also as secondary drives for desktops.

External SSD Dimensions

Mobile SSDs are designed with the same technology as 2.5-inch, mSATA or M.2 with the addition of a case and cable interface. Portable drives can increase the storage capacity of almost any computer, tablet, cell phone, or mainframe.

External SSD

So, which is faster?

The answer is: it depends. It depends on your system, and its form factor and interface. While new external SSDs have incredible write speeds, they can't be reached with older connections like USB-A. Likewise, hard drive speed is directly affected by the interface. The speed will also vary if you pair the M.2 with PCIe or SATA. You'll also notice the difference in speed by comparing the performance of an M.2/PCIe/NVMe drive to a 2.5" mSATA or external hard drive.

An important factor to consider is what form factor and connectors are installed on your computer. If you look at the slots on the motherboard, it can be difficult to tell the difference between PCIe and SATA connections. Check your computer's specifications to see which interfaces and form factors your computer supports.

In the end, many factors can determine which one is faster. Ultimately, you can pair an external SSD with an internal SSD for optimal performance. The fast, portable, compatible storage device will work with a wide variety of systems, including external SSDs and the latest built-in SSD computers running the system. You don't have to have too much, upgrading the type and capacity of storage on your computer and devices will be the right answer for you.

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