The easiest way to quickly tell whether your motherboard supports NVMe is to just head to its store page before buying it. You should be able to find a description of what type of SSD cards the motherboard supports. Ideally, the page will also tell you what type of NVMe connection it supports, whether M.2 or PCIe.
How to Check if Your Motherboard Supports NVMe?
If you bought your motherboard within the last 5 years, it likely has support for NVMe. The best way to check would be the store page where the motherboard is listed or its page on the manufacturer’s website.
If the page says the motherboard has PCIe support then it definitely supports NVMe as SATA drives don’t work with PCIe connectors.
To check if your M.2 slot supports NVMe or SATA, you’ll have to take a look at your motherboard itself. M.2 NVMe SSDs have one divot to the side in the strip of connectors at one end of the drive. SATA M.2 SSDs have two divots on both sides of the strip. Your motherboard will have the corresponding slot with a card connector (or connectors for SATA) that stand out.
You Can Add NVMe Support to a Motherboard
You can still reap the speed benefits of getting an NVMe drive even if your motherboard doesn’t have an M.2 slot. You can get a PCI expansion NVMe card from most tech websites and computer stores.
Just make sure you buy the correct card for your motherboard. This plugs into your PCI lane just like your graphics card and turns it into an M.2 slot for your NVMe drive.
How Do NVMe Drives Work?
NVMe drives can come with either an M.2 or PCIe connection type, which just describes the way it attaches to your motherboard and relays information. It’s more technically referred to as a form factor. You’ll need to find out what type of connection your motherboard supports so you know which type of NVMe drive to buy.
Some NVMe drives fit into the PCIe slot on a motherboard and it’s certainly becoming more popular among consumers. However, high-end PCIe NVMe SSDs are still very niche and mostly used by large corporations to maintain their server networks. So you’ll probably be looking at a lower-end PCIe connection or, more likely, an M.2 connection.
There are different generations of the PCIe form factor which increases the lanes of communication it uses on the motherboard. That simply means it’s able to transfer data faster. Most M.2 drives use 2 – 4 lanes of communication.
Do Motherboards Support Both NVMe and SATA Drives?
Even though both are a type of SSD, all motherboards support SATA drives while most newer ones generally support NVMe as well. A motherboard can have slots for both NVMe and SATA drives, or it can have support for only one of these.
Keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily mean that your motherboard supports NVMe even if it has an M.2 slot. The slot may still only offer support for an M.2 SATA drive so having an M.2 slot doesn’t automatically mean your motherboard supports NVMe.
A single M.2 cannot support both an NVMe drive and a SATA drive as the two aren’t interchangeable. Your motherboard may have multiple M.2 slots, however, which may accommodate both types. Although it’s much more common for a motherboard to support just one or the other.
A motherboard with an M.2 slot that supports NVMe will usually also support SATA drives that connect via SATA cables. Since these don’t take up the same space/slots on the motherboard, there’s no need to cater to just one type of drive. That means your motherboard likely can support both NVMe and SATA but you won’t necessarily be able to mount both in the M.2 slots.
Do All M.2 Slots Support NVMe?
M.2 drives aren’t solely NVMe drives, as they can come in either NVMe or SATA versions. The M.2 part just describes the way your drive attaches to the motherboard and not the drive itself.
Your motherboard can have NVMe-only M.2 or SATA-only M.2 slots. Some motherboards have M.2 slots that support both, leaving you free to pick the one you want.