Electronics

How Many M.2 Slots are On a Motherboard?


While it is important to have a high-performance CPU, RAM, and GPU combination inside your computer for running high-end applications and modern AAA games, you also need a high-performance storage drive in your computer. For the same, you should definitely install an M.2 SSD on your computer.

But if you are new to M.2 SSDs, you might wonder how many M.2 SSDs you can install on your computer. Thus, we have a complete guide on how many M.2 slots are on a motherboard. You can also learn about all the important details regarding M.2 SSDs and M.2 slots so that you can easily install high-performance storage drives in your computer by the end of this guide.

What is an M.2 Slot On the Motherboard?

m.2 slotWhether getting a new computer or upgrading your existing one, you would consider getting an SSD drive if you want the best possible performance. And while various types of SSD drives are available, M.2 SSD drives are currently the most common ones. But if you want to use such a high-performance storage drive in your computer, you must ensure you have an M.2 SSD slot on your motherboard.

These M.2 slots are similar to PCIe expansion slots but are much smaller. And this makes them perfect for M.2 SSD drives with a form factor similar to a RAM stick. Despite their compact size, M.2 SSDs can offer excellent performance numbers, which makes them perfect for high-performance computing.

Types of M.2 Slots On a Motherboard

Even though an M.2 slot is a standard connector type for using SSD drives, not all M.2 SSDs are the same. They can differ in terms of both their performance as well as the form factor which can be handy for different applications. As a result, computer motherboards can have different types of M.2 slots. These various M.2 slots differ in terms of their connection type and physical form factor as explained here:

  • Connection Type: Just like many other connectors found in computers and motherboards, M.2 SSD slots can also have different connection types. And with these different connection standards, you will get different performance numbers. Of all the various M.2 slot connections, the primary ones are M.2 SATA and M.2 PCIe SSD slots. In comparison with each other, the M.2 PCIe connection offers much better performance than the M.2 SATA connection.
  • Physical Form Factor: Apart from having different connections in terms of their performance numbers, different M.2 slots have different physical form factors as well. This M.2 SSD size is given as 2280, 2260, 2240, and other sizes where the last two digits describe the length in mm. In other words, a 2280 M.2 SSD slot will only work with 80 mm long 2280 M.2 SSDs. And if you want proper compatibility, the size of your M.2 SSD and the M.2 slot should be the same.

How Many M.2 Slots are on a Motherboard?

Now that you know more about M.2 slots, you might be wondering about the number of M.2 slots you can expect on a motherboard. And this is primarily dependent on the number of SSD slots your motherboard’s chipset can handle. You can learn more about the same down below:

1. PCIe M.2 Slots

Similar to the PCIe expansion slots of your motherboard, the number of PCIe M.2 slots it will offer also depends on the number of PCIe lanes your motherboard supports. This means that if you are going with a high-end motherboard with 16 or 24 PCIe lanes, it can support much more PCIe M.2 slots than an entry-level motherboard with 8 PCIe lanes or similar.

2. SATA M.2 Slots

On the other hand, the number of SATA M.2 slots a motherboard can support does not depend on the PCIe lanes offered by a motherboard. Instead, it depends on the SATA controller of your motherboard. Thankfully, most motherboards have powerful enough SATA controllers to support more than 2-3 SATA M.2 slots without any issues.

Motherboard Form Factor and No. of M.2 Slots

Apart from the performance capabilities of your motherboard, the form factor of your motherboard can also affect the number of M.2 slots your motherboard offers. As you would expect, a larger motherboard will have more space for multiple M.2 slots without any issues. On the other hand, smaller motherboards can only offer limited M.2 slots because of the smaller size. Hence, you can expect the following number of M.2 slots with most common motherboard sizes out there:

1. EATX Motherboards

While only high-end motherboards use the EATX form factor, such motherboards are known for offering the highest number of connectors. Talking about M.2 slots, you can expect to find 5 to 6 M.2 slots in most EATX motherboards which is perfect for heavy-duty usage and extensive RAID configurations.

2. ATX Motherboards

Out of all the various motherboard factors, the ATX motherboard factor is the most common one since it offers a fairly large size without charging a premium. Regarding the number of M.2 slots you can expect, most ATX motherboards will offer 2 to 5 M.2 slots where 2 to 3 M.2 slots should be plenty for most users.

3. Micro ATX Motherboards

You can also consider a micro ATX motherboard if you want something smaller without compromising the number of connectors you get. Coming to M.2 slots, most micro ATX motherboards will offer 1 to 3 M.2 slots which is quite good unless you want to set up an extensive RAID configuration.

4. Mini ITX Motherboards

If you want to build a compact computer, then you should definitely get a mini ITX motherboard for the same. While older mini ITX motherboards only came with 1 M.2 slots, most current mini ITX motherboards offer 2 to 3 M.2 slots which is definitely quite amazing considering the compact form factor of mini ITX motherboards.

Common Number of M.2 Slots on Motherboards

Since we have covered all the important factors considering M.2 SSD slots on motherboards, you must already have a good idea about the number of M.2 SSD slots you can expect on a motherboard. But if you are still confused about the same, you will be glad to know that unless you are going with an outdated or highly affordable motherboard, you don’t have to worry about the same. This is because almost all modern motherboards come with 2 to 3 M.2 SSD slots. And if you are going with a high-end motherboard, it can even offer 4 to 5 M.2 SSD slots which is more than enough for most, even if you wish to use your SSDs in a RAID configuration.

How Many M.2 Slots are on a Motherboard – FAQs

1. Is it possible to add additional M.2 slots on a motherboard?

Ans: While it is impossible to directly add additional M.2 SSD slots to your motherboard, there is a workaround using PCIe expansion cards. If you have empty PCIe expansion slots on your motherboard, you can install an M.2 SSD expansion card which can offer you multiple high speed M.2 PCIe slots depending on the expansion card that you are using.

2. Is it possible to use a M.2 SATA SSD with a PCIe M.2 slot and vice versa?

Ans: Despite having the same physical form factor, M.2 SATA and M.2 PCIe SSDs are completely different from each other in terms of their performance. This is made possible thanks to the different connectors used by these types of M.2 SSDs. While you can connect a M.2 SATA SSD to a M.2 PCIe slot without any performance gains, an M.2 PCIe SSD will not work with a M.2 SATA connector.

3. Can you use an NVMe M.2 SSD on a motherboard in any M.2 slot?

Ans: NVMe M.2 SSDs are essentially PCIe M.2 SSDs which offer much higher performance numbers than SATA SSDs. As a result, they require the connector, meaning you can only use an NVMe M.2 SSD with a PCIe M.2 SSD slot. And if you connect your NVMe M.2 SSD to a M.2 SATA slot, it will not work since the M.2 SATA slot does not support the high-speed NVMe connection.

4. Do all M.2 slots on motherboards support the same length of SSDs?

Ans: Similar to the various motherboard sizes available out there, not all M.2 SSDs have the same length. This is due to the reason that smaller form factor computers will require a smaller SSD drive. As a result, not all M.2 slots on a motherboard will support all the various SSD sizes available out there. While 2280 and 2260 M.2 SSDs with 80 mm and 60 mm lengths, respectively are the two most common types, there are smaller drives out there as well, which will not be compatible.

Conclusion

While hard drives are still great for mass storage, thanks to their excellent cost per TB proposition, they won’t offer the best performance. So, if you want a smooth experience with your computer’s operating system, applications, and games, it is highly recommended to use an SSD drive. To be more specific, you should go with modern M.2 SSDs, which offer exceptional performance resulting in a highly smooth computing experience.

And since you may be confused about the M.2 slots on your computer’s motherboard, we have already explained everything regarding the same up above. Not only can you learn about the number of M.2 SSD slots offered by different motherboards, but you can also learn pretty much everything about M.2 SSDs and M.2 slots in general. If this guide has helped you learn more about the same, leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.