How to install an M.2 SSD in a PC: A beginners guide

How to install an M.2 SSD in a PC: A beginners guide

The M.2 SSDs, unlike traditional SSDs and HDDs, don’t require any wires or a lot of physical space inside your PC case. The SSD modules are small enough to be installed on a motherboard. The best M.2 SSDs don’t come cheap, but they’re extremely reliable and offer solid performance on a day-to-day basis. One of the best things about SSDs is that they’re very easy to install. As you’re about to see in this how to install M.2 SSD guide, you can install an SSD module in a matter of minutes without having to put a lot of effort. So, let’s get started:

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A compatible motherboard: Before you begin, you need to make sure that your motherboard supports M.2 SSDs. Almost all the new motherboards on the market do, so you should be good as long as you’re not using a PC older than, say, five years or so. Also, not all M.2 SSD modules are same. As such they use different keys. Your motherboard compatibility will also depend on whether the slot is compatible with B Key drives, M+B Key or M Key drives.

How to install M.2 SSD: A step-by-step guide

  • The first thing you need to do is locating the M.2 slot on your motherboard. This is different for each motherboard, so you might want to consult your motherboard manual. You’re essentially looking for a vertical slot, usually found between the CPU and the PCIe slot, or towards the lower part of the board.

An image of an m.2 SSD slot covered under the heatsink

  • Some motherboards may have a heatsink covering the M.2 slot. This is mostly common in newer boards in which the chipset heatsink extends to cover the M.2 slots too. If your motherboard comes with a heatsink you need to open the heatsink. You can do this undoing the screws with a help of a screwdriver. One of the motherboards I am using for this guide does, the other one doesn’t.

A WD SN550 Blue M.2 SSD installed on a B550 motherboard

  • Once you’ve located the M.2 slot, you need to undo the placeholder screw and insert the M.2 module diagonally into the slot. You can’t possibly go wrong here because there’s only way to do this, really.
  • You’ll then have to push down on the side of the module that’s sticking out with your finger until you secure it with the same screw.
  • Once everything’s in place, you need to place the heatsink back into its original position and screw it in. With that, you’ve successfully instead an M.2 SSD modules on the motherboard.

It’s worth pointing out that some M.2 SSD modules also come with their own heatsink. Such modules may interfere with the motherboard M.2 slot heatsink, so you’ll be forced to get rid of either one of them to secure the installation.

How to install M.2 SSD: Final Thoughts

Installing an M.2 SSD is perhaps one of the easiest steps in the PC building process. A few boards in our collection of the best motherboards don’t even require you to fiddle with a screw. There’s a new locking mechanism in place to replace the screw. A lot of M.2 SSD modules are available on the market. Samsung, for one, has a lot of reliable storage options, including M.2 SSDs. You can check out our collection of the best Samsung memory products to check out some cool options. We also encourage you to check out our ‘How to build a PC‘ guide if you want a complete essay detailed all the important steps involved in PC building.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

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