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M.2 PCI-E AHCI or NVMe? CSM or UEFI boot? Win7 or Win10?

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,098
5,880
126
Just mulling over these things.

When I first got my Z170 boards, I used SATA SSDs on them, then I got a pair of PCI-E AHCI SM951 SSDs. I was still running Win7 64-bit on them.

I had picked out the AHCI drives, as they were available on ebay from Newegg at the time, and PCI-E M.2 was a relatively new thing, and I thought that logistically, it would have been more difficult to install Win7 64-bit on a Skylake system with an M.2 NVMe drive. (Realistically, it probably would have required re-building the install image, after slipstreaming the NVMe drivers.) Ultimately, a K.I.S.S. decision.

Now, those Z170 boards are running Win10, and one of them was upgraded to an Intel 600p, which, honestly felt like a downgrade.

I've also now got two DeskMini rigs, running Win10 Pro from the start, with 240GB 2.5" SATA SSDs. But they have M.2 PCI-E sockets.

So, I've ordered a pair of 128GB Adata M.2 NVMe SSDs.

I want to refurbish the Z170 rigs, as starter gaming rigs, and sell them.

I want to add M.2 drives to my DeskMinis, and make them each a triple-boot rig, with Win10, Win7, and Linux.

How should I configure them, and should I save the AHCI M.2 drives, if I ever want to run Win7 on them again?

Can you boot NVMe, through CSM / non-UEFI mode? Or is UEFI a requirement for NVMe drives?

I think that my secondary PC, for some reason, is booting is Legacy mode on the AHCI M.2 drive still in service.

I'm thinking, for the DeskMinis, to use the M.2 slot for Win10, then I could install in UEFI mode if I wanted / needed to. Put Win7 64-bit and Linux on the 2.5" SATA, and boot that in Legacy mode, and allow Linux to manage the boot menu with GRUB.
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,561
948
126
Just mulling over these things.

When I first got my Z170 boards, I used SATA SSDs on them, then I got a pair of PCI-E AHCI SM951 SSDs. I was still running Win7 64-bit on them.

I had picked out the AHCI drives, as they were available on ebay from Newegg at the time, and PCI-E M.2 was a relatively new thing, and I thought that logistically, it would have been more difficult to install Win7 64-bit on a Skylake system with an M.2 NVMe drive. (Realistically, it probably would have required re-building the install image, after slipstreaming the NVMe drivers.) Ultimately, a K.I.S.S. decision.

Now, those Z170 boards are running Win10, and one of them was upgraded to an Intel 600p, which, honestly felt like a downgrade.

I've also now got two DeskMini rigs, running Win10 Pro from the start, with 240GB 2.5" SATA SSDs. But they have M.2 PCI-E sockets.

So, I've ordered a pair of 128GB Adata M.2 NVMe SSDs.

I want to refurbish the Z170 rigs, as starter gaming rigs, and sell them.

I want to add M.2 drives to my DeskMinis, and make them each a triple-boot rig, with Win10, Win7, and Linux.

How should I configure them, and should I save the AHCI M.2 drives, if I ever want to run Win7 on them again?

Can you boot NVMe, through CSM / non-UEFI mode? Or is UEFI a requirement for NVMe drives?

I think that my secondary PC, for some reason, is booting is Legacy mode on the AHCI M.2 drive still in service.

I'm thinking, for the DeskMinis, to use the M.2 slot for Win10, then I could install in UEFI mode if I wanted / needed to. Put Win7 64-bit and Linux on the 2.5" SATA, and boot that in Legacy mode, and allow Linux to manage the boot menu with GRUB.
It seemed I asked that question last month, maybe a couple months ago. You had better cross-verify, but I thought someone from a tech-support group told me that I could use "Other" instead of UEFI.

But I tweaked my non-UEFI initial install into a UEFI and GPT affair. CSM is enabled, and I think I chose "Legacy and UEFI" and then [boot from] "UEFI first."
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,098
5,880
126
I want to add M.2 drives to my DeskMinis, and make them each a triple-boot rig, with Win10, Win7, and Linux.
I did that today. I started with the M.2 socket empty, and a SATA 2.5" 240GB SSD in the SATA1 port, that had previously been secure-erased.

I made a USB installs stick of Win7 Pro 64-bit SP1, using Rufus, and then Intel USB3.0 Win7 ISO tool, to inject the USB3.0 drivers into the USB installer.

I also made a USB stick with the DeskMini's Win7 64-bit drivers.

Installed Win7 Pro 64-bit, went smooth, chose to only format 120000 of the SSD, left the remainder for an eventual Linux Mint 18.1 installation.

I had to dig up some beta Win7 64-bit HD630 drivers on the net, thankfully, they exist. (Asus)

And then I shut down, installed the M.2 NVMe SSD, unplugged the SATA SSD, and proceeded to install Win10 Pro off of a previously-prepared USB3.0 stick.

Edit: Now ASRock has Win7 64-bit beta drivers for the Kaby Lake CPU iGPUs, on their DeskMini H110M-STX mobo site page. Haven't tried those yet.
 
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