mSATA 101: What It is?

mSATA stands for mini-SATA. Originally developed by Intel, it is a format designed for ultra-small Solid State Disks (SSDs). Ideal for notebook and netbook construction, mSATA SSDs are semi similar to mini-PCI Express cards. In this mSATA 101 blog, we are going to address nine of the most commonly asked questions regarding mini-SATA technology.

mSata drives

Question 1: Can any notebook use an mSATA SSD?

No. Despite the fact that this technology has a mini-PCI Express form factor, the slot must have support for an mSATA’s electric connections. Unfortunately, not all notebooks offer the proper connections.

Question 2: Who makes mSATA cards?

Intel is currently the biggest supplier of these cards, which isn’t surprising since they are the brain behind the technology. mSATA cards come in 40 and 80GB configurations. The higher the GB, the faster the card. You can purchase these cards through a handful of other companies, but most buyers prefer going straight to Intel.

Question 3: Why would I want one of these cards?

mSATA SSD cards are useable on your boot drive. They offer a larger storage capacity at a less expensive price when compared to a traditional mechanical hard drive. If you’re in need of lots of storage and working under a budget, these cards are the perfect combination of storage volume and low cost. Even if you aren’t constrained by a budget, why wouldn’t you opt for more storage at a cheaper price?

Question 4: Does an mSATA SSD card offer the same performance as a standard SATA drive?

According to the latest stats, the mSATA is actually slightly slower than the standard SATA drive. However, it is quite a bit faster when compared to traditional hard drive technology. SATA solid state disks tend to offer the fastest overall performance with the mSATA SSD coming in slightly behind it. mSATA supports both 1.5Gbps and 3.0Gbps transfer rates.

Question 5: What are the benefits of an mSATA in comparison to other storage types?

The highlights of mSATA are versatile. Using this storage type, you can expect:

  • Unbeatable price to performance ratio
  • Large storage capacity
  • Easy installation
  • A noticeable boost in boot up and application load times
  • An unrivaled ability to withstand extreme vibration and shock
  • A visible overall performance boost
  • Small, fits smaller devices like netbooks

Question 6: How much of a speed increase can I expect?

According to Life Hacker, you can expect to triple your laptop’s speed. The awesome perk is that this speed increase comes without sacrificing your hard drive space. You are simple adding an mSATA SSD and reaping the benefits and using less power.

Question 7: Which laptops are compatible with these cards?

Life Hacker reports that most laptop models from 2011 on are compatible with these cards, including the majority of Lenovo and Dell laptops. Before purchasing an mSATA, reference your service manual to confirm that your laptop or notebook is indeed compatible.

Question 8: Can I have both an mSATA SSD and an internal mobile broadband cable in my ThinkPad?

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to a ThinkPad, and unfortunately the answer is no. The mSATA SSD card will take up the WWAN card slot, which is used for mobile broadband. Therefore, if you’re pro mSATA (and why wouldn’t you be with the performance boost?), your best option is to either tether to your mobile or cellular device wirelessly or use a Wi-Fi hotspot. Overall, sacrificing your WWAN card slot is a small price to pay when it comes to the overall benefits of installing an mSATA card.

Question 9: How do I install an mSATA?

The answer depends on your laptop. Reference your service manual for instructions or contact an expert for assistance.