Modern Solid State Drives (SSD) are available in several form factors and even come with different interface connections. A PCIe SSD is a storage device that is usually connected to a computing system through a PCIe interface, similarly, SATA is another common interface that is used in a computing system for storage and peripheral connectivity.
PCIe SSDs are newer and more technologically advanced than SATA SSDs, but that doesn’t mean users should choose PCIe SSDs over SATA SSDs every time. Both types of SSDs have certain advantages and users should choose the one that fits their needs. You will find both the interfaces among the best SSDs that are available in the market. Here, we will discuss how both the interfaces for an SSD are different from each other.
What is a PCIe SSD?
PCIe or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express SSDs are more desirable and expensive than SATA SSDs. PCIe SSDs have a more direct connection to your system’s motherboard. It is commonly used with devices that need extremely fast data connections — like a graphics card. However, PCIe SSDs can also be used as a data storage drive.
PCIe 3.0 claims to have an effective transfer speed of 985MB/s per lane. As PCIe devices can support up to 16x lanes, it has the potential to produce transfer speeds up to 15.76GB/s. The transfer speed has also increased with each passing generation. PCIe 4.0 doubles the speed to around 32GB/s, while PCIe 5.0 quadruples it to a colossal 64GB/s, which is impossible for SATA SSDs to deliver.
In theory, a PCIe SSD with 16x lanes is 25-times faster than a SATA SSD, but users won’t find a commercial SSD with so many data lanes. The ones that are widely available, support 2x and 4x data lanes, which can offer a maximum transfer speed closer to 3.94GB/s. However, if you are playing a video game and want faster loading speeds while starting the game or changing maps, both the SSD interfaces tend to offer nearly the same speed. Users will only be able to notice the difference between PCIe and SATA while transferring massive files that typically take a while.
PCIe SSDs can affect the battery life
PCIe SSDs won’t affect the battery life if you are doing purely CPU or RAM-intensive activities like — browsing the web, working in Google Docs or sending emails. Since these activities don’t involve a lot of data transfer, you won’t notice much difference between SATA and PCIe SSDs. However, if you are constantly reading and transferring data, PCIe SSDs will tend to use more energy and drain battery life faster.
How are PCIe AHCI SSDs different from PCIe NVMe SSDs?
AHCI and NVMe are two different standards of PCIe SSDs. It is better to go with the NVMe if you have to choose between these two standards. PCIe SSD using the AHCI standard may not perform to its maximum potential as it was designed for HDDs and SATA. Whereas, the NVMe standard was specifically designed to make the PCIe SSDs perform better.
What is a SATA SSD?
SATA or Serial ATA is another connection interface that SSDs use to communicate data with your system. SATA interface was created in 2003 and has cemented its place as one of the most widely-used connection types. SATA SSDs tend to work with every desktop or laptop, even if the hardware is a decade old.
SATA SSDs offers lower performance compared to PCIe SSDs
SATA 3.0 is the most common form of SSD available, which theoretically offers a transfer speed of 6Gb/s (750MB/s). However, for some physical overhead that occurs while encoding the data that needs to be transferred, it delivers a transfer speed of 4.8Gb/s (600MB/s). Although this speed is really fast, it is not even close to the transfer speeds that PCIe SSDs deliver. To get an idea for common users, a SATA SSD can transfer an entire CD’s worth of data every second, which is faster than what any HDD offers.
SATA SSDs are less expensive
SATA SSDs are more budget-friendly than PCIe SSDs and the difference in price between both the interfaces are significant. Nevertheless, both drives are SSDs and usually have the same capacity, but the SATA SSD is available almost at half the price of the PCIe SSD.
PCIe SSD vs. SATA SSD: Which one is better?
Two key factors will help you to determine the SSD interface that you should choose. These two factors are your budget and your performance expectations. You can opt for a SATA SSD if the budget is a concern, but if you need better performance for frequent file transfers, you should go for a PCIe SSD. Both SATA and PCIe SSDs offer much better transfer speeds than HDDs, so if you are currently using an HDD, any interface will be an upgrade.