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I have a Dell Inspiron 7720 laptop for a few years and I would like to buy an SSD disk for it. Currently, I have an SSD disk used as a cache for HDD disk (using Intel Rapid Storage). I want to remove the current SSD disk, use the new one as a system boot disk and the HDD as a data disk.

Since I stopped following new hardware a few years back, I'm not sure what to buy. I don't want you to suggest any particular model, rather just what technology and interface to choose. I want to buy the best possible but, of course, my laptop has to be able to use it (e.g. I don't need SSD faster than motherboard's bus can transfer).

So what I have:

  • motherboard: Dell 072P0M (Intel Ivy Bridge chipset with Intel HM77 southbridge)
  • 2 regular SATA ports revision 3.0 (i.e. 6 Gb/s), 1 empty (other one used by the HDD)
  • mSATA port (used by the SSD which is in RAID with the HDD)
  • 4x PCI Express x1 ports (it looks like only 2 are currently used (ethernet and wireless cards), although I don't know if there's any connector available inside)
  • 1x PCI Express x4 port (it doesn't look it used but I don't know if there's any connector available inside)

So what to buy? It most likely doesn't have an M.2 interface so SATA is the only option I guess. Is there any (performance) difference between SATA and mSATA or is it just a different form factor? It looks that Inspiron 7720 cannot boot from the mSATA (there's some weird workaround but probably better not choose it, see this, this or this).

Considering all the facts I think the best is to buy some SATA III SSD like Samsung 850 Pro (little above 500 MB/s read and write). Am I right?

Or is there any possibility to use any of those PCI Express ports?

Thank you.

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It most likely doesn't have an M.2 interface so SATA is the only option I guess.

You are correct here.

Is there any (performance) difference between SATA and mSATA or is it just a different form factor?

mSATA is a standard used to map SATA signals onto a PCI-E mini card connector, in order to run hard drives from a PCI-E connection.

Source

I would not advise trying to force your machine to boost with this method, it adds needless complication according to the threads you linked.

Is there any (performance) difference between SATA and mSATA or is it just a different form factor?

Just a different form factor. It can still only use SATA data transfer protocol, so your throughput limitations are the same between form factors. The big difference from my understanding is where you plug it in.

I don't need SSD faster than motherboard's bus can transfer

This won't be an issue for you, your bottleneck for data transfer bandwidth doesn't occur here. Since you can't take advantage of the higher-speed PCI-E slot to connect your system boot drive (no M.2 support), you're going to be throttled by the SATA connection limitations anyhow. Don't worry, you'll still get plenty of speed improvement in real-world use.

Considering all the facts I think the best is to buy some SATA III SSD like Samsung 850 Pro (little above 500 MB/s read and write). Am I right?

Samsung has been at the top of the SSD market for a few years. The 850 Pro is about as good as it gets for a 2.5 inch SATA 3.0 drive. I use one in my build and it works great.

If you're shopping around, offerings from Crucial and Kingston can offer competitive real world performance for most workloads at a moderately lower price point. That being said, if you're looking for the best drive on the block that fits your specifications then it's hard to not recommend the Samsung 850 Pro.

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  • Great, thank you for your confirmation, I'll most likely buy Samsung 850 Evo/Pro. – David Ferenczy Rogožan Dec 5 '17 at 16:42
  • One more idea - isn't it possible to use any PCIe port instead? There should be some free ports since the motherboard has 4x PCI Express x1 and it looks like only 2 are used (ethernet and wireless cards), although, I'm not sure if there's any free connector inside. – David Ferenczy Rogožan Dec 6 '17 at 14:23
  • So I have bought the Samsung 850 Pro SSD and it's working good. It's probably the best SSD that my hardware supports (I don't have the M.2 interface). Thank you for your help! – David Ferenczy Rogožan Feb 12 '18 at 17:55

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