Is SSD different for desktop and laptop?

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The SSD isn’t different for both the desktop and laptop. The physical dimensions could also be the same. If there’s any discrepancy in the SSD for either of these computing units, that would be within the drive, not due to the laptop or desktop, as it’s probably down to the manufacturing choices.
This is evident when the manufacturer deploys QLC technology for desktop just to meet up with the larger drive demand, resulting in an SSD performance that’s beneath that seen in another with SLC technology.

Is SSD card different for desktop and laptop
Is SSD card different for desktop and laptop

SSD for Desktop

Your desktop, due to its size, tends to support a drive in the 3.5-inch range. While the 2.5-inch drive can be accommodated, the desktop is far more accommodating than a laptop of similar specifications. 

The SSD for a desktop could either be a 2.5-inch drive, 3.5-inch, or the PCLe/M2 type. Regardless of your choice, the 3.5-inch drive compartment in a desktop can support any of these drives. But you might need an interconnecting device – like an adapter – if it’s the 2.5-inch drive or any of the others apart from the 3.5-inch type. 

The performance expectations for your desktop should inform your choice of SSD. Yet, desktops, like any other computer, depend on a collection of units to bring about its function. One such component is the motherboard. 

An SSD fits into a slot on the motherboard – an indication of just how crucial the board is to your SSD choice. If a motherboard doesn’t have the latest controller for an SSD, faster SSDs like the PCLe variant will fail to reach optimal levels, which is a waste of potential. 

This emphasizes the importance of confirming the motherboard properties of your desktop before you get that high-end SSD. 

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SSD for Laptop

Due to a laptop’s more compact nature, the most suitable SSD has to conform to the dimensional requirements of this type of computer. 

Beyond the physical attributes of an SSD, you have to assess its compatibility with the laptop and the performance perks it brings to the table. SSDs might be faster than the ever-sluggish HDD, but their performance varies with their electronic properties. 

There are SSDs for laptops that are at the bottom of the ladder, having speeds that appear to be just above that of the HDD. The SATA variants belong in this category. They might be faster than the hard disk, but they don’t compete with other high-end SSDs, like the NVMe type.

Depending on what it is that you use your laptop for, it won’t falter that much with a SATA SSD. Of course, this will depend on the motherboard of your laptop. For instance, if your laptop had the X570 motherboard, introducing anything but a PCLe 4.0 SSD is an attempt at underutilizing your laptop. 

To ensure that you make the right choice when getting an SSD for your laptop, you should look at its motherboard specifications. This will guide you on the sort of SSD that is ideal for the laptop.


M.2 SSD Laptop VS Desktop

The M.2 SSD has a long and slender frame, making it a familiar sight in compact computers like the laptop. With the desktop, size doesn’t matter as much, but the M.2 SSD can also be found in this type of computer since it’s more of a performance upgrade than anything else. 

The dimension of the SSD is often displayed on its printed circuit board, but merely looking at the 4 or 5 digit numbers in the name of the M.2 SSD gives its dimensions away. Most are around 22 x 80mm. 

In Laptops, the M.2 SSD card used might be shorter, which could affect the available spacing that can be dedicated to the NAND chips. With a desktop, longer M.2 SSDs can be used. 

An M.2 on a laptop could only differ from its counterpart on the desktop if the slots and interface on the motherboard vary. The M.2 SSD is quite an open-minded drive as it’s compatible with either SATA or NVMe. 

If the motherboard on your laptop has one M.2 slot with a SATA interface, its performance will stutter when compared to that of a desktop that has a motherboard with an NVMe support. 

There’s also the performance variation linked to an M.2 SSD that’s PCLe inclined compared to another lacking that anchor. You’ll see the differences in full display when using the desktop and laptop for performance-dependent operations like file transfer, editing, and others. 


Best SSD for Laptop

The SSD, no matter the variant, remains miles ahead of the hard disk. Yet, the different forms of the SSD have their strengths and weaknesses. 

Considering the compact nature of this type of storage drive, the SSDs and laptops are a match made in heaven. No matter the situation that calls for a change in storage drive – additional storage space or just moving beyond the obsolete hard disk – picking the right SSD for your laptop is important. 

While high-end SSDs like the Intel Optane 905P, Samsung 970 Pro, and that of the Intel 750 series are often among the first choice for most PC users looking for a boost in performance, you still have to look at the specs of your laptop. 

A laptop whose motherboard is constrained to offering only a SATA interface without any M.2 slot will not show any signs of improvement if a high flying SSD like the Samsung 970 Pro is added. This highlights the importance of assessing your laptop properties before you get a matching SSD. If you intend to build a PC, then you have to assemble the right components, not only the SSD. 


Considered as one of the forms of the SSD, the M.2 is often preferred for its performance and compact nature. Compared to the 2.5-inch SSD, the M.2 is smaller, which explains its use in contemporary laptops with its slim chassis. 

To use an M.2 SSD, the motherboard of your computer needs to have M.2 slots. While an M.2 SSD can be connected to a SATA interface, this tends to affect the speed of operations. M.2 SSDs that are SATA inclined take the least spot on the performance table. 

M.2 SSDs of the PCLe stock are a notch higher than their SATA inclined counterpart. But much of the performance metrics is dictated by the NVMe capability of the SSD. That parameter tends to propel the bandwidth of the drive to a significant level. 


When getting an SSD for your computer, a minimum of 1TB SSD is often advised if it’s to be used as the main drive. The reason why size matters in the SSD is down to its terabyte writes (TBW) rating. The larger the TBW rating, the better the durability of the SSD.

If your SSD has a storage capacity below 250TB, its TBW is around 150TBW. This is dwarfed by the 600TBW of the 1TB SSD. To understand how this matters in the durability of the SSD, just look at the impact of wear leveling on the scheme of things. 

While wear leveling is the drive’s attempt at protecting itself from self-destruction, the process creates an opening to self destruct when it overworks. However, the timeline for this deterioration is down to the availability of spacing within the SSD – a situation that favors larger drives like the 1TB type. 

In a nutshell, the 1TB SSD has a larger TBW, which tends to diminish the effects of the wear leveling process. 

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Laptop SSD to Desktop Adapter

The drive bay of a desktop is more accommodating compared to its laptop counterpart. If the laptop SSD is of the 2.5-inch variant, your desktop can support it, but it might require an SSD adapter bracket to ensure the drive fits right in. 

While you can use your laptop SSD on your desktop, the operating system of the laptop might be a hindrance to the effortless transfer of the SSD. You might have to get another SSD and clone whatever information on your laptop’s SSD to the new solid-state drive. 

If you decide to get an adapter bracket for your desktop, then confirm that the design doesn’t impede the flow of air, as this could affect the performance of your laptop. 


Types of SSD

There are different variations of the SSD, and much of this is dependent on how it connects to the motherboard. The SSD connector types include SATA, M.2, U.2, PCLe, and SATA Express. Most consumer laptops have either the M.2 connector port or the SATA port. 

SATA connector interface represents everything antiquated with computer storage today. It is often considered as the remnant of the obsolete hard drive in your computer as it limits the speed possible with the SSD. 

The M.2 connector port offers a leeway to get the most from your SSD device. But its performance can still be constrained depending on the controller used. If it’s of the innovative NVMe, its speed can be unrivaled, especially when compared to those that use the AHCI.  

While the NVMe offers the SSD the opportunity to perform at optimal levels by reducing latency, the AHCI increases the latency of the drive, diminishing its efficiency. The AHCI is a controller built specifically for the hard drive, so you can’t possibly expect better with such an obsolete component. 

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.