Is there any difference between an mSATA SSD and an SATA SSD (other than the fact that the mSATA doesn't take up a disk slot)?

5 Answers 5


Looks like mSATA is like mobile sata ssd plugs into a mini-PCIexpress slot on a notebook. sata ssd's can work as a replacement hard drive in the normal slot of a notebook and in desktop computers. Found this on the Msata on the notebook review.

  • 2
    mSATA is electrically incompatible with PCI-E
    – Dumbo
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 9:57
  • Yes, there is a separate type of slot called an M.2 slot that is connected directly to PCIe; mSATA is not compatible with M.2 or vice versa. Also, and this is more of a tangent, M.2 slots and cards can be keyed differently, so not M.2 slots will generally not accept all types of M.2 cards. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.2#Form_factors_and_keying
    – Doktor J
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:25
  • Even the linked page has a more nuanced statement about mini-PCIe slots: "Despite the mini-PCI Express form factor, a mini-PCI Express slot must have support for the electrical connections an mSATA drive requires." (though this is arguably misleading).
    – outis
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 18:28

According to Wikipedia:

Mini-SATA, which is distinct from the micro connector, was announced by the Serial ATA International Organization on September 21, 2009. Applications include netbooks and other devices that require a smaller solid-state drive. The connector is similar in appearance to a PCI Express Mini Card interface, and is electrically compatible, however the data signals (TX±/RX± S-ATA, PETn0 PETp0 PERn0 PERp0 PCI-express) need to go to the S-ATA host controller instead of the PCI-express host controller.

Due to the fact there was no standard in the beginning there is still some fogginess around this subject. What makes this clear is this application note from NXP explaining how to use a PCI-express/S-ATA router chip. Of course one does not have to use such a chip, 4 simple three way switches would suffice.


Also, you can find another reference here.

  • 3
    Btw., that text information, so freely plagiarized (all) over the web (with the exception of Wikipedia, ofc.) is from the SATA 3.0 (revision) specification. :)
    – Nostromov
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 23:26

There's no difference. mSATA is a regular SATA interface over a mini-PCIe connector.


  • I suppose if it's over a mini-PCIe connector it must use PCI-e protocol so must be SATA protocol over PCIe protocol over a Mini-PCIe connector. So, seems to be a PCIe drive, doing SATA. I spotted this link from wikipedia amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/RBX0KM9DMNFEJ it says mSATA is a form factor
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 17:09
  • 2
    Nope, the connector may look like a Mini-PCIe connector, but electrically it's SATA, and mSATA drives only work if the Mini-PCIe slot has a direct connection to a SATA controller. Also, I don't think calling mSATA a form factor is entirely correct - the form factor is PCI-Express Mini Card, because that's what defines things like dimensions, connector pinout, mounting points and so on.
    – Indrek
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 21:11
  • re M(mini)SATA. What is meant by "electrically it's SATA" like, what does electrically mean in that context? I see it has 4 pins and 8 pins. Whereas regular SATA is 7 pins and 15 pins, micro SATA is 7 pins and 9 pins.So there must be rewiring there even between SATA and Micro SATA and how does the Mini PCIe connector somehow run SATA at its end?I doubt USB can be rewired and fit into a PCI slot 'cos i'd have thought PCI has its own protocol.So an adaptor would be needed.Like USB-Ethernet.Or connecting a ps2 mouse and keyboard to USB, needs a big device with logic circuitry to convert protocols
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 21:27
  • By "electrically it's SATA" I mean that the electrical signals passing through the connectors conform to the SATA standard. Not sure what you mean by "rewiring" or why you think it's necessary. Different SATA connectors can have different numbers of pins, depending on power requirements. Regular SATA is 7+15, yes. Micro SATA is 7+9, just like mSATA, whereas slimline SATA is 7+6. Fewer pins can be used if the disks don't require a lot of power or multiple voltages. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SATA#Power_connectors for more information.
    – Indrek
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 12:03
  • A USB device cannot be connected to a PCI slot because the slot (or more specifically, the controller on the host side of the slot) isn't electrically compatible with USB. It doesn't "speak" USB, to put it simply. Mini-PCIe does, as does ExpressCard, for instance - both have dedicated pins for USB. Mini-PCIe can optionally also "speak" SATA. Now I'm a bit vague on the exact technical details, but there's probably some device detection logic there that configures the connector to "speak" either PCIe + USB (for wireless cards and such) or SATA (for mSATA drives), as necessary.
    – Indrek
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 12:14

I'm agreeing with the Wiki page, early versions of mSATA are not compatible electrically with PCI-e, ie you will need to re-solder and move capacitors around to make it work.

According to grog in this forum some drives can connect to newer motherboard PCI-e slots, but it's best to check on the manufacturer's specifications whether it is compatible.

@brownman, just because people make comments on the forums of a manufacturer doesn't mean they are verified unless intervention from moderators occurs. I can't work out why this link is relevant, sorry :/.


There is no electrical difference between the two, it's 1:1 connection. that's coming from the forum at Crucial, a maker of MSATA itself.

You can find the answer in Crucial Forum - Secure erase Crucial M4 (msata) with adapter?

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