External SSD vs Internal SSD: Which is Faster

Speed is king when it comes to SSD drives. However, when choosing an SSD drive, the bigger question is “Which is faster? The external or the internal SSD?” Both of these drives have advantages and disadvantages. Stay with us as we discuss this in further detail.

Hello folks. My name is Lavelle and since 2009 I have been a professional photographer and videographer. For the past two years, I have been producing feature films and as such I have used SSD drives extensively for saving film data.

In this article, I will explain the difference between external SSD and internal SSD drives and which is faster. I will discuss who should use which drive and why.

Key Takeaways

  • The speed of your SSD depends, in part, on the system that you are using it with.
  • External drives typically have a faster write speed but the speed is dependent upon the interface connection.
  • Internal SSDs generally work better for users who are stationary and work on large data volumes.

What is the Difference Between External SSD and Internal SSD

The most obvious difference is that the external SSD is a separate drive that attaches to your device/computer by a USB connection normally. The internal SSD is directly attached to the motherboard of the computer. The external SSD is faster for uploads, while the internal SSD is faster for downloads.

The first thing to understand about SSD drives is the form factor. For internal SSDs, the form factors include 2.5 inches, M.2, and mSATA. External drives have the Crucial X8 and X6.

For a long time, the standard internal SSD drive has been the 2.5 inch. However, newer developments with the internal drive have brought about the M2 and mSATA form factors. 

The M.2 is the smaller version of the internal SSD and attaches directly to the motherboard. The mSATA is slightly larger but still only about an eighth of the size of a 2.5-inch SSD and is inserted into the MSATA socket on the side of the motherboard.

The external (or portable) SSDs use the Crucial X8 or X6, which house the same technology as the internal SSD but come with an added enclosure and a cable interface.

Who Should Choose External SSD

The external SSD is a portable version of the SSD drive. As far as speed goes, the external SSDs have incredible write speed which is important when uploading data. However, it depends on the interface connection and on the computer that you’re using the external SSD with. 

You should strongly consider using an external SSD if you need the convenience of portability. Having the option to take your SSD with you to other locations and use it on various devices is the primary reason for using an external drive.

Who Should Choose Internal SSD

If you are a user who works on high-end data rates and works primarily from a set location, then using an internal SSD is probably your best option. 

It is highly probable that the internal SSD drive is fully compatible with your operating system and motherboard and will facilitate maximum output when paired appropriately. Typically, editors, data researchers, and other such users have more success with internal drives.


Here are some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions.

How Much Faster Is an External SSD?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Speed depends on several factors including the interface connection and the computer system that you are using with the drive. However, external SSDs do typically have a faster write speed than internal SSDs.

Will an External SSD Make My Computer Faster?

No, an external SSD will not make your computer faster. The SSD does not have a direct impact on your system speed.

Why Is My External SSD So Slow?

The speed of your SSD is largely dependent on your interface connection and overall system processing speed. If your external SSD is slow, it is probably due to one or both of these factors.

Is An External SSD Fast Enough for Gaming?

The short answer is yes, however, it depends on the speed of your system, the port you are using, and the graphic card that you are using.

Final Thoughts

The debate regarding the best type of SSD to use is an ongoing one. Depending on your needs and the type of system you’re working on, either type may work for you. It is important to understand that while the SSD is a faster type of drive than the traditional HDD, its overall speed is largely dependent upon the system you use the drive with.

Have you noticed a difference between external and internal SSDs? Share your experience in the comments below.

Until next time, enjoy technology!

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