You Better Have An Older Notebook If You Need A 4 TB SSD

One and a half years ago in March 2019, prices for 2 TB SSDs had finally come down enough so I could afford upgrading a couple of notebooks. Since then, despite constant efforts to move unused data to long term offline storage, the amount data I store on my work notebooks keeps rising. So I am keeping a close eye on the price for 4 TB SSD drives just for the fun of it. As it turns out, it’s better at the moment to actually have an older notebook for that amount of SSD storage!

One and a half years ago, my Samsung 2 TB SATA SSD cost €319. Today, a 4 TB SATA model from Sandisk costs around €378. On first glance it looks like prices have come down quite nicely over the last year. However, if you have a relatively recent notebook that you want to upgrade, chances are it only comes with an internal M.2 connector. So when you look for M.2 SSDs it’s still quite difficult these days to find 4 TB SSDs at all! Of the few, the MP 510 Corsair 4 TB M.2 NVMe costs a hefty €700! Models by manufacturers such as Samsung and Sandisk I use today are nowhere to be found. Hm, I’m a bit flabbergasted!? So what’s the limitation here? Is the size of M.2 extension cards too small for the number of chips required today for 4 TB?

Yes, the big advantage of M.2 and the NVMe protocol is that in theory, data transfers can be almost an order of magnitude faster than over the SATA bus. However, even today, I can’t reach the maximum SATA speed as I use CPU based data encryption which ultimately is the limiting factor, not the interface speed. But that can’t be the reason for this significant price difference. This is because for 2 TB SSDs, there are many different M.2 variants on offer. The premium over SATA drives is around 10%.