Question I need help understanding NVMe SSDs

Ronstang

Lifer
Jul 8, 2000
12,493
18
81
I am a little confused because I have to admit both of my systems are pretty old...but function perfectly for how I use them. One has an ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 with an i5 4690K and this motherboard has an NVMe slot that I already have a card in but I would like to change it but retain the current SSD also.

Now when looking at NVMe SSDs I see them listed as M.2 2280 and PCIe. I do not understand the difference or their respective compatibility with my existing card slot in the above Mobo. The PCIe version of the SSD I am looking at has DRAM cache so that is the one I want but will it work in the NVMe slot in the ASRock Z97 Extreme4?

I would also like to move the existing SSD to a PCIe adapter so I can still use it as it is my recording drive for my cable tuner that is in this machine. Once again, are there specific adapters for M.2 vs PCIe NVMes? I see the M.2 cards have two notches in them yet the PCIe only have one....so there is my confusion. I don't want to order something that will not work and have to send it back as it's a pain and I don't want to waste Amazon's money either.

The other machine has an MSI Z77A-G43 (MS-7758) motherboard with on older i7 but it meets my needs as a server so I am not wasting money replacing it....but I also want to put a new NVMe SSD in it so I know I will have to use an adapter so the above question pertains to this machine also because I would like to buy 2 of the SSDs I am looking at and have them as my boot and OS drive in each machine.

Sorry for the confusion but I know this is the place to ask as this community is always full of very knowledgeable people with way more understanding than myself.

Thanks
 

kschendel

Senior member
Aug 1, 2018
270
203
116
m.2 is the form factor, i.e. the physical size and shape. There are SATA m.2 SSD's, and PCIe m.2 SSD's. The PCIe SSD's come in two flavors, one of which (AHCI) is essentially extinct, and the other flavor is NVMe.

m.2 also has multiple keyings, such as M key, B key, M+B key. These can be pretty confusing, but bottom line is that all NVMe drives I know of are M key.

So what you want is a PCIe to m.2 adapter that accepts M keying. M+B is OK as well, and that's probably where you are seeing the adapters with two notches. Since an NVMe drive is basically a PCIe device that talks a specific (NVMe) protocol, these adapters are mostly just pinout changers, there's no active circuitry on them, and so they are (should be) fairly inexpensive.

I wouldn't expect any issues using an NVMe drive in a PCIe adapter as a storage drive. Whether it will work as a boot drive depends on whether the motherboard can boot from NVMe at all. I don't know enough about those older boards / CPU's to say whether you might have an issue or not; it sounds like they will be OK.

By the way, the 2280 bit is the m.2 length; m.2 defines a number of standard lengths, with 2280 being the most common.
 

Ronstang

Lifer
Jul 8, 2000
12,493
18
81
Thank you so much....that helps a lot. I know I can boot to the NVMe slot on the ASRock, even though I don't because the OS was already set up on an older Crucial 256G SATA SSD and I didn't have the time to totally redo the machine.

But now it is time to totally revamp that machine with a clean install of Windows 10 since I only upgraded last month from an 8 year old install of Windows 8.1 and the machine is still having issues and I think it's the SSD.

If I can't boot from the new NVMe in the other machine because it is in an adapter that is no big deal as that machine is running rock solid on the old 128GB SATA Samsung SSD that came in the machine when I got it out of the trash....no lie, my buddy's nephew what throwing it out because it wouldn't boot and I snatched it had had it working within an hour of getting it home....dead GPU and bad CPU cooler.

I have a brand new 1GB Crucial SATA SSD I can throw in this second emby server if I have to as the boot and OS drive....or just leave it be as is until I have a problem.
 

kschendel

Senior member
Aug 1, 2018
270
203
116
I did have one brain-fart in my post that should be corrected: I said something about an M+B adapter, which was nonsense, as the socket is the part with the notches. A B+M (M+B) adapter wouldn't accept an M-key SSD.

Bottom line is you want an M-key PCIe to m.2 adapter and you'll be good. The other thing is that most such adapters are PCIe x4, so you'll need a PCIe slot that is physically at least x4 if not more.
 

Tech Junky

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2022
3,567
1,204
106
Well, if you're doing a complete overhaul PCPartPicker.com will be your best friend.

Seeing as though the m2's in question are SATA there are boards that have a pcie and SATA socket in them. My z690 steel legend has 3 pcie and one of them does SATA as well. PCP has filters though to narrow the search based on the types of drives you want to use.
 

Ronstang

Lifer
Jul 8, 2000
12,493
18
81
By "overhaul" I mean a clean install of Windows 10 on both machines, one at a time so I have at least one working as a server. My only goal is to make the machines better on the storage end so upgrading SSDs and adding SATA ports as necessary to increase storage. I just added a 4 bay hot swap to the i7 machine yesterday so I need more SATA ports.

I have no intentions of changing motherboards or CPUs at this point as it is not cost effective as these machines are both powerful enough to do what I am asking of them on a daily basis with more than adequate performance. I just need increased storage capacity with some new SSDs for better transfers from one server to the other over the Gigabit hardwired LAN.
 

Tech Junky

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2022
3,567
1,204
106
SATA ports
All you need for more ports then is a hba. They're fairly cheap and can add anywhere from 2-8 more prorts.

Gigabit is a waste of SSDs though as it only will do 125MB/s. A descent spinner can do up to twice that these days. You would want to bump the LAN speed to 5GE for an SSD for full speed transfers.
 

Ronstang

Lifer
Jul 8, 2000
12,493
18
81
[QUOTE="Tech Junky, post: 40953386, member: 477000"
Gigabit is a waste of SSDs though as it only will do 125MB/s. A descent spinner can do up to twice that these days. You would want to bump the LAN speed to 5GE for an SSD for full speed transfers.
[/QUOTE]

I understand that but the SSDs are actually for a different purpose. They are to handle the load of the OS and recording up to 6 channels of cable TV either actively for my emby DVR or simply buffering watched channels and then editing and encoding the recordings which all works faster with SSDs.

My 16GB Toshibas have transfer rates that are limited by what they are transferring to but I don't like to have multiple read/write actions happening all the time on spinners, they are merely storage drives.......I have my content encoded in a way that the quality is excellent yet the bit rate is usually 2 MB/s or less so multiple accesses at that rate don't thrash the drives in question as much.....plus they are cheap to replace and I have physical back ups of everything.