It has been about a year since Intel released the 750-series of solid state drives and it is still the only U.2 drive on the market. A few U.2 drives were shown at Computex but when those will be available is currently unknown and the other SSD manufacturers are currently hesitant to invest in the form factor.
While a few high-end motherboards exist with the built-in SFF-8643 (Mini-SAS HD) connector needed to connect directly to a U.2 drive and some were announced at Computex, it’s a rare sight on Mini-ITX and microATX boards. On the other hand, M.2 slots are common on most any mid-range to high-end Intel Skylake mobo. Perhaps in recognition to the current state of the market, PC Perspective is reporting that Intel plans to offer a SKU of the U.2 version of the 750-series drives that comes bundled with a M.2 to U.2 adapter.
While I think that M.2 is the future, U.2 does offer the advantage of moving the SSD away from other heat-generating components and can reduce the chance of thermal throttling in a SFF build if you’re willing to put up with the clunky cabling. The problem with the existing M.2 to U.2 adapters though is that they simply stick the Mini-SAS HD connector on top of a M.2 card, which simply won’t fit if the M.2 connector is under a PCIe slot and a video card is installed or if it’s on the backside of the motherboard, as is often the case on Mini-ITX boards. So I’m really glad that Intel’s adapter addresses this issue and makes their U.2 drives compatible with many ITX and mATX motherboards for those who are concerned about thermal throttling with a M.2 drive.
No word on availability.
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Image source: PC Perspective