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Best Motherboards with M.2 Slots

5 Best Motherboards with M.2 Slots in 2020

With more and more people flocking to get their hands on SSDs, it only makes sense that you a buy a motherboard with a built in M.2 slot.

M.2 is basically the name of the SSD physical form factor that is small, shaped more or less similar to a RAM module, and requires very little power.

There are different types of form factors like the 2.5 inch or the AddIn cards, however, M.2 is the most famous and the most sought after slot for SSD expansion.

Therefore, if you are looking for building a PC that can support these blazingly fast storage drives, then you need a motherboard that is capable of handling them.

In this article, we will thus talk about the best motherboards with M.2 SSD slots.

Also Read: Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt 3

List of Best Motherboards with M.2 in 2020

The following is the list of our chosen motherboard for this list. It also shows you the amount of M.2 slots supported by each motherboard along with some important information.

If you do not understand the SSD Jargon yet, we highly recommend you read our FAQ below.

  1. GIGABYTE H310M A 2.01 x M.2 Storage Slots
    1. 1 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/2260/2280
  2. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC2 x M.2 Storage Slots
    1. 2 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110
  3. Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master – 3 x M.2 Storage Slots
    1. 1 x M.2 Socket 1, Intel CNVi Module (DOES NOT SUPPORT SSD)
    2. 2 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110
    3. 1 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/2260/2280 PCIe
  4. GIGABYTE B450M DS3H 1 x M.2 Storage Slots
    1. 1 x M.2, M Key, 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110
  5. MSI B450 Gaming PRO Carbon AC 2 x M.2 Storage Slots
    1. 1 x M.2, socket 3, M Key, 2242/2260/2280
    2. 1 x M.2, socket 3, M Key, 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110

Best Intel Motherboard with M.2 Slot

1. GIGABYTE H310M A 2.0 – 1 x M.2 Storage Slots

One of the cheapest motherboard with LGA1151 socket for Intel processor. It has a Micro ATX form factor and therefore is suitable for budget builds.

This motherboard will appeal to those who want to build a budget Intel PC. It has a single M.2 slot. While this isn’t much, for a budget PC it is more than enough.

This is more centered towards home and office users who want an SSD so that they can boot and access their files and apps faster.

Of course the main attraction of this MOBO is the price point. However, besides that, another highly lucrative feature it offers is the USB 3.1 Type C port. This is quite a rare find on budget motherboards.

You must note that this motherboard only supports SSDs with the following sizes: 2242/2260/2280. As such, it does not support the longer 22110 form factor.

All in all, if you are building an affordable PC, then this is the best motherboard with M.2 SSD slot that we can recommend for Intel builds.

GIGABYTE H310M A 2.0 Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA 1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel B360
Form Factor – Micro ATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 32 GB Max
DIMM Slots: 2
audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe v3.0 X16: 1
PCI3 v2.0 X1: 2
SATA 3: 4
M.2 Slot: 1

Connectivity

1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C [Gen1] 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A [Gen1] 6 x USB 3.1 [Gen1] 6 x USB 2.0
1 x Ethernet RJ-45
3 x Audio Jacks

2. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC – 2 x M.2 Storage Slots

A premium grade LGA1151 motherboard with Z390 chipset and ATX form factor. It is suitable for most enthusiast builds. Comes with built in WiFi as well as a reasonable range of expandablity.

This is a mainstream motherboard. It has a large ATX form factor and it also costs much more than the GIGABYTE H310M A 2.0 above. However, if you are looking to build a more performance based PC, then the features on this will appeal to you.

For starters, this motherboard offers 2 x M.2 slot both of which can support 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110 sizes.

However, besides that, it also offers 3 x PCIex16 slots. Assuming that you utilize the first for your graphics card, you can use the rest of the PCIe slots for SSD Expansion Cards. You can literally add 4 or 6 more M.2 slots by utilizing the Expansion Cards.

Read more about how to expand SSD slots with PCIe below in the FAQ section.

Other than that, another highly lucrative feature it offers is the built in WiFi. Most people actively seek this feature out in motherboards.

Finally, while this doesn’t relate to the performance, this motherboard has exquisite looks and even offers RGB lightning making it a delight in your room.

Also Read: Best Motherboards with WiFi

MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA 1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z390
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max, XMP support
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe v3.0 X16: 3 (1 in x4 mode)
PCIe v3.0 X1: 3
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 2
2 way SLI – 3 Way Crossfire

Connectivity

WiFi / BT v5.0 / LAN
2 x USB 3.1 Type C
6 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen1)
1 x USB 3.1 Type A (Gen2)
6 x USB 2.0
1 x Serial Port
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DP
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out

3. Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master – 3 x M.2 Storage Slots

A premium grade ATX motherboard with a whopping 3 x M.2 slots for high range of SSD storage expansion.

In our opinion, this is the best in the lot if you seek high performance. When it comes to functions, number of M.2 slot as well as value for money, nothing beats this.

This motherboard offers a whipping 3 x M.2 SSD slots built in to the motherboard. Therefore, as far as default expansion goes, you are pretty much covered.

However, if you want to expand even further, you would be able to do so thanks to 3 x PCIEx16 slots working in 16x 8x and 4x modes.

Besides an extensive array of SSD connectivity, this motherboard also offers plenty of heatsinks in order to keep your drives and the motherboard cool.

As such, this is a motherboard built for gamers and for high performance usage.

It can support a large 128 GB of DDR 4 RAM and if you seek overclocking, you would be able to do so.

This motherboard also features a built in WiFi, as such you wouldn’t need to reserve one of your PCIE slot for a WiFi Card. You can use it  instead for SSD expansion cards.

All in all, if you need M.2 and SSD heaven, then this is best motherboard with M.2.

Also Read: Best Motherboards with Integrated Graphics

Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Master Specifications

Essentials

Socket: LGA1151
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z390 Express
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: 8th and 9th Gen Intel / Pentium Gold and Newer Celeron Processors
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 128 GB Max
DIMM Slots: 4
audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe Verision: 3.0
PCIe X16 (16x mode): 1
PCIe X16 (8x mode): 1
PCIe X16 (4x mode): 1
PCIe X1: 3
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 3 for Storage *READ NOTE

Connectivity

WiFi / BT v5.0 / LAN
2 x USB 3.1 Type C [Gen2] – one on the rear panel
3 x USB 3.1 Type A [Gen2] 4 x USB 3.1 Type A [Gen1] 8 x USB 2.0
1 x HDMI
1 x Ethernet RJ-45
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio Jacks

*NOTE

There are 4 M.2 slots but only 3 support SSDs.

  • 1 x M.2 Socket 1, Intel CNVi Module (DOES NOT SUPPORT SSD)
  • 2 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110
  • 1 x M.2, Socket 3, M Key, 2242/2260/2280 PCIe

Best AMD Motherboard with M.2 Slot

1. GIGABYTE B450M DS3H – 1 x M.2 Storage Slots

A highly affordable Micro ATX motherboard for budget AMD builds requiring AM4 socket.

GIGABYTE B450M DS3H is a budget motherboard for AMD builds. It comes with a single M.2 slot and therefore, it is a functional motherboard for entry level setups.

One lucrative feature that it offers is the PCIEx4 slot. While you can use the PCIEx16 slot for your graphics card, you can use the PCIEx4 for SSD expansion cards IN CASE if you need more than a single M.2 slot.

Alternatively, you can use the PCIEx4 for Dual AMD graphics card for a crossfire setup. However, this way you will have to give up on the prospect of any additional M.2 slots.

The motherboard is small and has a micro ATX form factor. Micro ATX motherboards generally have the cheapest price tag of all.

Overall, if you have a limited budget, then this is among the best motherboard with M.2 for AMD build.

GIGABYTE B450M DS3H Specifications

Essentials

Socket: AM4
Motherboard Chipset: AMD B450
Form Factor – Micro ATX
CPU Support: AMD Ryzen 1 / Ryzen 2 / Ryzen 3
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 64 GB Max
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe v3.0 X16 (X16 mode): 1
PCIe v2.0 X16 (X4 mode): 1
PCIe v2.0 x1 : 1
SATA 3: 4
M.2 Slot: 1

Connectivity

1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
6 x USB 3.1 [Gen1] 8 x USB 2.0
1 x DVI-D
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x Ethernet RJ-45
3 x Audio jacks

2. MSI B450 Gaming PRO Carbon AC – 2 x M.2 Storage Slots

An ATX motherboard for gaming enthusiast that require built in WiFi for their AMD AM4 build.

For a mid-range AMD build, this may seem like a reasonable motherboard to you.

For starters, it has won fairly high and favourable reviews from its customers. This is basically a gaming motherboard, but if you are not a gamer, you can use this instead as a motherboard for a high performance desktop.

It offers 2 x M.2 slots and also offers PCIex4 for adding in an SSD expansion card which can grant you with additional M.2 slots.

What sets this apart is its build quality. The motherboard not only looks great with it RGB lights, it also offers plenty of heatsinks as well as reinforcements for handling overclocking as well as heavier components like graphics card.

Besides, it offers WiFi modem built in which you cannot find on budget motherboards like the GIGABYTE B450M DS3H above.

All in all, if you are looking for a mainstream and a performance based option, then this is among the best motherboard with M.2.

MSI B450 Gaming PRO Carbon AC Specifications

Essentials

Socket: AM4
Motherboard Chipset: AMD B450
Form Factor – ATX
CPU Support: AMD Ryzen 1 / Ryzen 2 / Ryzen 3
Memory Support: DDR 4 (OC), Dual Channel, 64 GB Max
DIMM Slots: 4
Audio: 8 channel 7.1

Expandability

PCIe X16 v3.0: 1 (X16 mode)
PCIe X16 v2.0: 1 (X4 mode)
SATA 3: 6
M.2 Slot: 2
2 Way Crossfire Support

Connectivity

WiFi / BT v5.0 / LAN
3 x USB 3.1 Type A Gen1
1 x USB 3.1 Type A Gen2
1 x USB 3.1 Type C Gen2
6 x USB 2.0
1 x Serial Port
1 x Optical S/PDIF
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DP
1 x Ethernet (RJ45)

FAQ

What to Expect Here

The maximum number of M.2 slots that you can find on-board is three and that is only found on an Intel Motherboard.

Most budget motherboards only have a single M.2 Slot. If you need more than 1 on-board or built in M.2 slot, then you will need to look in to mainstream motherboards.

The point to note is that DUAL M.2 slots can be found on motherboards ranging from a mere $100 all the way to $500. This is a fairly vast range.

To tackle this issue, in this article, we will only list those that are either most budget friendly or offer an exceptional value. After all, there is no point in spending on a $500 motherboard if the only thing you need is a DUAL M.2 slot and none of the other fancy features.

How to Install More SSDs Using PCIE Slot?

If you do not have sufficient M.2 slots or if you want to expand your SSD storage capacity, you can do so by utilizing the PCI-E x16 expansion slots.

Basically, you purchase separate M.2 Expansion Card that are installed over the PCI-E slots. These cards can support up to four SSD drives.

However, before you go about finding the SSD expansion card for yourself, you need to understand the requirements for expansion.

Firstly, you need a free PCIEx16 slot.

Understanding PCIEx16 Slot

Secondly, you need to understand how PCIEx16 slots generally work on motherboards. The following is VERY IMPORTANT to understand.

  • Every motherboard has at least a single PCIEx16 slot working in full 16x mode – meaning it utilizes the entire 16 lanes.
  • Some motherboards may have another PCIEx16 slot but working only in 4x mode – meaning it has the same size as a full PCIEx16 slot physically, but only utilizes a quarter of its lanes. This is used for weaker components.
  • Some motherboards may have three PCIEx16 slots. In these motherboards, the first works in 16x mode. The third is reserved at 4x mode. The second one works in 8x mode. However, as soon as you use the second PCIE slot, the bandwidth of the first PCIEx16 slot is also halved so that both the first and second PCIEx16 slots now work at 8x mode.
  • Besides the above three main configurations for mainstream boards, you can find plenty of other PCIEx16 configuration on more expensive motherboards. Some may even feature 4x PCIEx16 slot. However, you must understand it modes which are highlighted in the specsheet.

Getting the Right SSD Expansion Card

Thirdly, depending upon how many SSDs the Expansion Card can support, you will need the PCIEx16 slot working either in 4x, 8x or 16x mode.

For example, the generic brand Ableconn PEXM2-2SA expansion slot requires a free X4 PCIe slot. It supports two SATA SSDs (SATA are Slow SSDs – Read Below).

Best Motherboards with M.2 Slot
Ableconn PEXM2-2SA – Generic Expansion Card for X4 PCIe slot

On the other hand, the more premium SSD expansion card such as the ASUS Hyper M.2 can utilize the entire 16x mode of the PCIEx16 slot and can handle 4 x NVME SSDs! (NVMe are Fast SSDs – Read Below)

Hyper M.2
Asus Hyper M.2 uses X16 PCIe lanes

The larger the interface of the SSD Expansion slot the faster would be its operating speed.

In other words, a X4 PCIE SSD expansion slot works at 32 Gbps max. On the other hand, the one utilizing 16x interface like the ASUS Hyper M.2 can operate at 128 Gbps. This is four times faster.

In short, you can expand, your SSD capacity if you at least have one X4 slot free.

HOWEVER, SPEED IS NOT JUST DEPENDENT ON THE AMOUNT OF PCIe LANES OCCUPIED BY THE SSD CARD. WHETHER THE SSD IS SATA OR NVMe ALSO MATTERS. READ NEXT.

SATA vs mSATA vs NVMe

SSD Key Type
SSD Types – Source: atpinc.com

SATA is the most common interface in motherboards and in PCs everywhere. SATA SSDs utilize the SATA 3rd Gen protocol and as such are limited to 6 Gbps transfer speed.

This may seem fast, but it is nowhere close to the what the more powerful SSDs can achieve.

Basically, SATA SSDs leverage the SATA interface.

NVMe are a lot more interesting and are much much faster. These are found on high performance PCs as well as server grade computers.

NVMe SSDs utilize the PCIe interface instead of the SATA interface.

As such an NVMe SSD installed on a PCIe x4 slot can achieve speeds up to 31.5 Gb/s. Similarly, an NVMe SSD installed on a PCIe x16 slot can achieve speeds up to a whopping 128 Gbps!

In short

  • SATA SSD – 6 Gbps – Slow
  • NVMe SSD – 4x – 31.5 Gbps – Fast
  • NVMe SSD – 8x – 128 Gbps – Lightening Fast

Important: A SATA SSD installed on PCIEx4 expansion slot like the Ableconn PEXM2-2SA above WILL NOT achieve 32 Gbps. It will be bottlenecked by the SATA interface at 6 Gbps.

This brings us to the the elephant in the room: What is the mSATA?

It basically the same as a SATA SSD but has a smaller form factor. It is used on laptops and other smaller mobile devices.

What are SSD Sizes?

SSD sizes
SSD sticks have different standardized sizes.

When reading the motherboard or the SSD specification, you may have come across some numbers as: 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110.

They mean seem trivial on first glance, but they are very important to note.

They basically define the size of the SSD drives supported by the motherboard. Therefore, when buying an SSD, make sure the size is compatible with your motherboard.

What are SSD Keys?

SSD Key M
SSD key types- Source: atpinc.com

SSD Keys, as the name suggests, are the PHYSICAL CUT OUTS on the SSD drive that are there to make sure that you do not insert them in to the incorrect socket.

There are many types of keys for various modules, however, the ones utilized by SSDs are M and B keys.

These keys also shed plenty of information about the type of SSD you are holding.

  • M Key is used by NVMe SSDs
  • B+M Key is used by SATA SSDs

What are SSD Sockets?

SSD sockets aren’t too important to learn, however, they may still help you in understanding the product you purchase.

Basically, a socket and it can have varying types of KEYS to handle different types of modules. This is differentiated by the socket number.

  • M.2 Socket 1: These connect WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC modules.
  • M.2 Socket 2: Mainly utilized for Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) module and Global Navigation Satellite System module, however, if not in use, it can be used to install an SSD as well.
  • M.2 Socket 3: This is the most important socket to take note off here. This is the socket that support SATA or a maximum PCIe-x4 (32 Gbps) SSD drives. When we talk about motherboards with M.2 Slot for SSDs, we are actually referring to M.2 Socket 3.

Final Words

In this article we learned about the best motherboards with M.2 SSD slots.  We looked at budget motherboards that only harboured a single M.2 slot, all the way to premium grade motherboards with up to 3 x M.2 slots.

However, before you make any purchase, whether it is the motherboard or the SSD, make sure you know the SSD jargon and terminology as well as understand how you can expand the number of supported SSDs using the PCIe slots.

SSDs can get quite confusing. You have to make sense of various terms like SATA, NVMe, Sockets, Size numbers etc. Therefore, we recommend that you thoroughly read our guide above and should you have any questions you can feel free to leave a comment below.

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