Question NVME drive motherboard installation

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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NVME drives became viable options just before I built my Z170 system. I can only guess about recent boards, but it seems they offer you about two M.2 slots.

The motherboard manual notes that one of the slots shares bandwidth with SATA devices on your mobo SATA controller. The remaining slot, as also explained by the manual, shares bandwidth with "U.2" or PCI-Express. When I installed my first NVMEs, I just used PCIE slots of x4 or greater, with $20 expansion cards.

I'm still not entirely clear about this. If I use the slot sharing bandwidth with SATA, is that slot primarily for M.2 drives called "SATA"? Or can either slot take an NVME?
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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New boards these days have up to 5 slots for M2's. The flip side is they take away PCI slots in the process since the number of lanes is limited.

HBA's work fine in the case of scavenging SATA ports by using more than one slot for NVME.

Example... my board has 3 NVME slots and 1 & 3 don't conflict with the SATA ports but, M2-2 nicks 2 sata ports.

Look at the manual... the PCI slots for cards don't fac tor into the sata ports typically. If they did then there would be bigger issues. However some PCI slots are direct to the CPU and others are routed through the DMI. DMI on ADL and newer will support double the speed of prior generations

1653782540952.png

Now, if we were talking AMD it's a different world when it comes to lanes to be used in systems and the way you can use them from a single X16 slot to be able to divide them up in the BIOS into x4/x4/x4/x4.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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New boards these days have up to 5 slots for M2's. The flip side is they take away PCI slots in the process since the number of lanes is limited.

HBA's work fine in the case of scavenging SATA ports by using more than one slot for NVME.

Example... my board has 3 NVME slots and 1 & 3 don't conflict with the SATA ports but, M2-2 nicks 2 sata ports.

Look at the manual... the PCI slots for cards don't fac tor into the sata ports typically. If they did then there would be bigger issues. However some PCI slots are direct to the CPU and others are routed through the DMI. DMI on ADL and newer will support double the speed of prior generations

View attachment 62259

Now, if we were talking AMD it's a different world when it comes to lanes to be used in systems and the way you can use them from a single X16 slot to be able to divide them up in the BIOS into x4/x4/x4/x4.
Are you talking about bifurcation in your last remark?

I may be a growing annoyance with my "old" boards and processors. I may drop in something like Alder Lake next year. Right now, I've either got PCIE slots or the motherboard ports for the NVMEs. I'm in progress putting together another system with a workstation motherboard featuring a larger set of PCIE lanes, although the latest technology, as you suggest, may also have ample PCIE lanes. [EDIT; Oh. you suggested that late-model boards have a limited inventory of PCIE lanes as well . . . ]

So, not wanting to delve into this more than necessary, if I just configure the BIOS to "share" bandwidth with PCI-Express when I have no PCI-Express drives cabled, I assume I avoid sharing bandwidth with SATA?

And, are you saying that the NVME drives wouldn't fit into a mix of the SATA configuration anyway? Or would they?
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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Basics...

1 NVME = no SATA issues
2+ NVME = potential SATA ports being disabled

Check the manual for specifics
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,347
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Basics...

1 NVME = no SATA issues
2+ NVME = potential SATA ports being disabled

Check the manual for specifics
Thanks and sure -- that's pretty clear in the manual, as to which SATA ports would be affected.

I aim only to socket one SK Hynix NVME to the motherboard on the port that shares bandwidth with PCI-Express. I have two more NVMEs on a Startech dual-M.2 PCIE card with its own bifurcation -- which can use x8 lanes.

In addition, there are two hot-swap HDDs which will be cabled to SATA ports, and an additional two SATA ports connected to eSATA plugs that I've rigged for the case front-panel. Those latter will only be used with an external Startech eSATA/USB3 device (similar to that linked here) -- or some external aluminum SATA drive boxes for temporary use, one at a time.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,347
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QUESTION:

If I choose "PCI Express" mode for the M.2 slot instead of "M.2", should I disable the U.2 PCI Express feature in BIOS, or leave it enabled? The NVME is supposed to share bandwidth with U.2/PCI Express. But I'm not using that technology, only the M.2 NVME.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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U2 is basically a NVME in 2.5 format.
I want to make sure that the first time I fire up this system and enter BIOS, that the NVME I put in the onboard slot sharing bandwidth with U2 PCI-Express is visible and accessible.

Should I therefore leave U.2 enabled?
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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The manual doesn't specifically state whether to enable or disable U.2 PCI-Express. It just says that the second M.2 slot (for NVME) shares bandwidth with it.

You can inform me about newer motherboards, and I'd be interested. I think I"ve concluded that the BIOS on my Z170's doesn't indicate whether the NVME is "there" -- or not. I think I"ll only see it when I try to install Windows 10.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS SO FAR. Somewhere I've said recently that I have "First Boot/Startup Anxiety". I finally plugged in the new system-in-progress and fired it up. No problems so far: it went into BIOS as it should for pressing the Delete key. Right now, I'm running HCI-Memtest64 -- which I'm beginning to think is an impractical way of testing RAM. With 64GB, I suspect a single 100% pass could take all week.

I should probably just go ahead and stick the flash drive and Media Creation Tool in a USB port, see that it shows up in BIOS and go forward with Windows installation. So far, everything is working as it should. Or at least -- what I've been able to test so far . . .

Anyway . . . . I actually got some "adult" tasks completed this week. My computer-building derives from what I regard as an adolescent impulse. I'm so happy at this point, I may just squander the day for doing "serious stuff". It's going to be hot today, in the 90s. When I was a kid here in So-Cal during the late 1950s, we would stay indoors with the air-conditioning and play board games. I think I"ll pop open the brandy bottle and hit up on my ARGO Arizer.

First startup on a new PC build is always a great milestone, and it requires "celebration".
 
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Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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I don't even bother with memtest. I only really had an issue once with a DOA PSU that I needed to get a meter to verify it was dead. I personally don't get why people spend days running memtest at this point. If it fails or is glitchy then replace it under warranty....you'll know within a couple of hours of play with the system whether its' good or not.

So, NVME vs U2.... are you using both formats or just the stick? I'd start with it disabled and if it boots great...if not then enable it and it should boot. sounds like RST which poses issues with reboots post BIOS updates. You have to manually go i and disable it again to get your system to boot.

As to the temps outside... summer is early... the car yesterday said it was 104 but, that's the temp sensor pointing at the pavement on the bumper. It was a bit toasty though.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,347
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I don't even bother with memtest. I only really had an issue once with a DOA PSU that I needed to get a meter to verify it was dead. I personally don't get why people spend days running memtest at this point. If it fails or is glitchy then replace it under warranty....you'll know within a couple of hours of play with the system whether its' good or not.

So, NVME vs U2.... are you using both formats or just the stick? I'd start with it disabled and if it boots great...if not then enable it and it should boot. sounds like RST which poses issues with reboots post BIOS updates. You have to manually go i and disable it again to get your system to boot.

As to the temps outside... summer is early... the car yesterday said it was 104 but, that's the temp sensor pointing at the pavement on the bumper. It was a bit toasty though.
Yeah -- the heat -- My cousin may come over to chew the fat today and I'm eager to show him the new PC. We're NOT going to sit on the patio under my canopy, even if I switch on the misters to lower the temperature. Indoors, it's a nice, cool 75F.

I guess at some point one has to try something one way, and if it doesn't work, try it the other way. I just need to convince myself to drop the running memory test, install the USB drive, enter BIOS and see if it installs Windows.

I've got two HDD spinners currently connected and they show up in BIOS with the ODD. I will disconnect them and install Windows before I install the PCIE card with NVMEs and reconnect the spinners. I don't want any confusion as to which NVME will be the boot disk . . .
It's been four and a half years since I've built any system from scratch. I think my skills are actually improved. But since it has been that long, this is a Great Day.
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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ha! My ADL build was ~6 mo's ago? I rebuilt my 8700K setup 3 times as my focus kept changing and revising the HW connected. 3 new cases / MOBO's over 2-3 years was a bit much. It's kind of a blessing ADL doesn't come in mATX options that are worthwhile.

I tend to go from the component level as the foundation to build off of. I bought my current laptop with the intent of changing quite a bit about it which made the barebones $1300 appealing as I didn't need to take out a bunch of junk items nor pay for them. I just picked up some RAM and has drives / wifi adapter on hand and finally just swapped the screen for a 4K120 after hunting for 2 months for the right option. I guess you could consider it a build as well even though not picking all of the components like the PSU or case.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,347
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THE GOOD NEWS: Not much of a problem getting the OS directly installed to a bare NVME. There were some complications. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the "Secure Boot" feature in BIOS. In the BIOS boot menu, the "boot priority" list was grayed-out, no drives showing.

I surmised that the NVME drive needed to be initialized, so I went through the hoops of creating a Windows PE bootable USB with a utility that would fix that problem. I ended up running DISKPART through the command window available through the Windows PE screen. So Windows 10 suddenly "saw" the NVME drive, but told me it had to be a GPT and not an MBR. So I deleted the partition, and had Windows install create a new one. For some reason, I didn't have to do anything at that point. The NVME boot device was suddenly showing up in the Boot menu.

THE BAD NEWS -- for now -- I'd purchased a license and activation key from MyChoice Software. I downloaded the Creation tool -- as I already mentioned -- to complete the Windows 10 install. "Activation error", encouragements to go to the Windows Store and purchase a "genuine Windows". I sent an e-mail to the vendor, asking them to fix this.

MyChoice is usually pretty reliable for offering genuine software, and vendors usually fix this sort of thing themselves. Asking me to "activate by phone" or whatever means are available is a bit much.

It sort of throws an obstacle in my way of getting this system set up and connected to my network. I'd prefer to see it activated first and beforehand. I suppose I'll start installing the hardware drivers tonight, though.
 

Tech Junky

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2022
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Use the key off your other machine to activate it. I don't even bother with it anymore and just download it pre-activated. Easier than keeping track of the dumb keys. As long as there's a license tied to a purchase at some point you've paid the M$ TAX.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,347
1,201
126
Use the key off your other machine to activate it. I don't even bother with it anymore and just download it pre-activated. Easier than keeping track of the dumb keys. As long as there's a license tied to a purchase at some point you've paid the M$ TAX.
MyChoice Software. Not the Egg, not Amazon. I've always looked for legitimate "surplus" software vendors, and I've been lucky.

So I don't know how they acquire their product -- perhaps several different ways, but they're apparently legitimate. They have some MS blessing or imprimatur -- I forgot what they call it.

But to the point. THESE FOLKS were JOHNNY-ON-THE-SPOT. I think I sent them my complaint and request for support on Saturday. They fixed it during the weekend, and it was all good by Sunday afternoon.

I was about ready to purchase a retail installation. You wonder how long any of those will be available. $200 is a bit much to address some contingency. So again, I was lucky.
 

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