Installing an SSD in your computer is becoming common in high-end and even mainstream systems. Many motherboards nowadays are coming with an M.2 slot, so we can expect that SSD units that use this form factor will become more and more common in a near future. Today, we are testing an M.2 SM2280S3 120 GiB SSD from Kingston, and comparing its performance to a very popular 2.5” SATA SSD, the Kingston SSDNow V300 120 GiB SSD.

The M.2 form factor, formerly know as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), comes to replace the mSATA form factor. However, the M.2 format is more flexible and can be used with different types of connection, such as SATA-600, PCI Express 3.0, and USB 3.0.

An M.2 module is 22 mm wide and can be found in lenghts of 30, 42, 60, 80, or 110 mm. (More sizes will likely be released in the future.) The module we are testing is an M.2 2280 SATA-600 model, which means it is 22 mm wide and 80 mm long, but keep in mind that there are M.2 SSD modules that use a PCI Express connection rather than a SATA port, and, at first sight, they look the same.

The Kingston M.2 SATA SSD can be found in 120 GiB or 240 GiB capacities. The part number of the 120 GiB model, which is the one we are testing, is SM2280S3/120G. It has 128 GiB of memory inside, but is sold as 120 GiB, since 8 GiB is reserved for overprovisioning, used by the garbage collection and wear leveling mechanisms of the unit.

In our tests, we will compare the performance of the M.2 module against the Kingston SSDNow V300, with the same capacity but using the traditional 2.5” format, which is one of the best-sellers in the martket.

Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our “Anatomy of SSD Units” tutorial, which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.

In the table below we compare the Kingston M.2 SATA SSD 120 GiB with the Kingston SSDNow V300 120 GiB. Both units use a SATA-600 interface, despite of the different form factor.

Manufacturer Model Model # Nominal Capacity Form Factor Price
Kingston M.2 SATA SM2280S3/120G 120 GiB M.2 2280 USD 89
Kingston SSDNow V300  SV300S37A/120G 120 GiB 2.5” SATA USD 65

We researched the prices on the day that we published this review. In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives.

Model Controller Buffer Memory
Kingston M.2 SATA SSD PHISON PS3108-S8 2 Gib Nanya NT5CB128M16HP-CG 4x 32 GiB Kingston FA32B08UCT1-BC
Kingston SSDNow V300 SandForce SF-2281 None 16x 8 GiB Kingston FT64G08UCT1-8B