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Question Can I plug in NVMe drive in my M.2 port (Intel Z97 chipset)?

Bobsy

Member
Jan 5, 2010
162
39
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I have an older computer with an older MSI motherboard based on the Intel Z97 chipset. I would like to upgrade the storage. There is a M.2 slot on it. Here is what the OEM specs say about it:

On-Board SATA
Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~6)
- 1 x M.2 port*
- M.2 port supports M.2 SATA 6Gb/s module
- M.2 port supports M.2 PCIe module up to 10Gb/s speed**
- M.2 port supports 4.2cm/ 6cm/ 8cm length module
- Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10***
- Supports Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology****
Can I simply drop a NVMe drive in there, or do I have to buy a slower SATA drive? Thank you for your help!
 

solidsnake1298

Senior member
Aug 7, 2009
204
113
116
The manual says it supports PCIe M.2 drives. But it appears that the M.2 slot on your board is limited to PCIe 2. It will still be faster than SATA SSDs, but keep that in mind if you do any speed tests.
 
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Billy Tallis

Senior member
Aug 4, 2015
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I missed the fact that support for "PCIe module" means "NVMe".
NVMe was in its infancy when that motherboard was made. Many of the early PCIe M.2 SSDs didn't use the NVMe protocol and instead used AHCI, basically emulating the combination of an extra SATA controller with one drive permanently attached (and able to outperform the 6Gbps limit of SATA). Those AHCI drives could work with operating systems and motherboard firmware that didn't yet have NVMe drivers. These days, "PCIe SSD" is synonymous with NVMe, but that wasn't true in 2014/2015.
 
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Bobsy

Member
Jan 5, 2010
162
39
101
That's very interesting! When I bought the motherboard, I remember thinking that the M.2 slot was very cutting edge and that, for some reason, I couldn't simply use it to connect a boot drive. It may also have been that drives in the M.2 form factor was very expensive at the time. That thought stayed with me until it became obvious that M.2 NVMe drives were the way to go at some point, a few years later.
 

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