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Question PCIE nvme drive in old computer

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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I want to tinker with these new fangled m.2 drives. I have an old computer (from 2012) and wondering if I can use an nvme drive on an adapter board plugged into the pcie port.

I realize it can't be used as a boot drive, since the ancient bios doesn't support it. It would just be an auxiliary drive for storage.

I understand that windows 10 has built in drivers and should recognize a pcie adapter board/drive combination. Don't know about m.2 sata.

I thought I would start with a cheap, small drive to see if it would work, maybe 128 GB, if I can find one on ebay.

I ordered an adapter board from china, and am looking for suitable drives on ebay.

m.2 drives seem confusing (I'm an old fart) so I would ask for tips that might help me.

Thanks


Moved from peripherals.

AT Mod Usandthem
 
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Billy Tallis

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Aug 4, 2015
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If you want a really cheap M.2 NVMe drive to play around with, get one of the 16GB Optane Memory M.2 modules off eBay for about $15. It only supports two lanes of PCIe, and you might end up running it at PCIe 2.0 speed which would limit you to about 1GB/s, but that's still faster than SATA. And having a slow-ish PCIe link speed doesn't do much to reduce the really great latency of Optane. Those sticks are great for swap space, or you could explore using disk caching or tiering software like PrimoCache or FuzeDrive. And if you get tired of using it inside the PC, you can put it in a USB to NVMe enclosure and have a screaming fast portable SSD.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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If you want a really cheap M.2 NVMe drive to play around with, get one of the 16GB Optane Memory M.2 modules off eBay for about $15. It only supports two lanes of PCIe, and you might end up running it at PCIe 2.0 speed which would limit you to about 1GB/s, but that's still faster than SATA. And having a slow-ish PCIe link speed doesn't do much to reduce the really great latency of Optane. Those sticks are great for swap space, or you could explore using disk caching or tiering software like PrimoCache or FuzeDrive. And if you get tired of using it inside the PC, you can put it in a USB to NVMe enclosure and have a screaming fast portable SSD.
Interesting. I may try one. Do these (or any type) m.2 drives need a heat sink?
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
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Not really, especially if you are installing it to a PCIe adapter card, and not say, under a GPU, you should be fine. Especially if your case has decent airflow. That said, some of the higher end NVMe drives can get a bit warm, but I wouldn't worry about it.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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Tha
Not really, especially if you are installing it to a PCIe adapter card, and not say, under a GPU, you should be fine. Especially if your case has decent airflow. That said, some of the higher end NVMe drives can get a bit warm, but I wouldn't worry about it.
Thanks. I have a cheap sata ssd and noticed it doesn't even report temp using crystal disk info. And another one always reports 40C even cold. I figured ssds might not even report temp
Not really, especially if you are installing it to a PCIe adapter card, and not say, under a GPU, you should be fine. Especially if your case has decent airflow. That said, some of the higher end NVMe drives can get a bit warm, but I wouldn't worry about it.
Thanks. What about pcie x2, x4, etc.

I see drives specified with number of lanes. If a X4 drive is plugged into X2 port, or vice versa ...will it work?
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
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Sep 13, 2008
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Generally yes, just won't be as fast, as it would be limited to x2 lanes. Also speeds would be affected by the version of PCIe, like from 2.0 to 3.0.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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Generally yes, just won't be as fast, as it would be limited to x2 lanes. Also speeds would be affected by the version of PCIe, like from 2.0 to 3.0.
Yep, that's another question. Old machine has only one pcie gen 3 port (X16 for video I guess). The rest are gen 2. I'm thinking it will only affect speed. Is that right?
 

Viper GTS

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
38,039
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Yep, that's another question. Old machine has only one pcie gen 3 port (X16 for video I guess). The rest are gen 2. I'm thinking it will only affect speed. Is that right?
Yes, PCIe is backwards compatible. You'll just be at 1/2 speed vs the gen 3 slot.

Minor note if you're willing to risk breaking things - Some boards from that era IIRC have community hacked BIOS options and/or tools out there to DIY adding NVME boot support. I haven't looked at it in years and have never done it, but I think I remember that being a thing. YMMV of course.

Viper GTS
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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Yes, PCIe is backwards compatible. You'll just be at 1/2 speed vs the gen 3 slot.

Minor note if you're willing to risk breaking things - Some boards from that era IIRC have community hacked BIOS options and/or tools out there to DIY adding NVME boot support. I haven't looked at it in years and have never done it, but I think I remember that being a thing. YMMV of course.

Viper GTS
Thanks. I remember seeing some of those hacks, but most of them seemed to require a good bit of expertise and a list of things that had to be done right to finally end up with a file to flash the bios. Most of it was over my head. I figured I would probably screw it up :(

I do have a regular sata ssd for the boot drive, so it's not too awful bad.
 

kschendel

Member
Aug 1, 2018
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I had a couple NVMe drives running in a 2009 Mac Pro (running linux, mostly) using a PCIe adapter. PCIe 3.0 native SSD's running in PCIe 2.0 mode, x4 I think but they would have run in x2 just fine as well.

So yes, it should work.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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I had a couple NVMe drives running in a 2009 Mac Pro (running linux, mostly) using a PCIe adapter. PCIe 3.0 native SSD's running in PCIe 2.0 mode, x4 I think but they would have run in x2 just fine as well.

So yes, it should work.
Thanks, good to know. I ordered a small WD nvme pcie (Gen3x2) to play around with. It confused me at first because it has both B and M notches, instead of a single M notch, but I think that's due to having only 2 lanes. I plan to put it into a X16 size slot which is "wired X4". It sounds like almost anything that physically fits should work, presuming win 10 has all the right drivers built in.

I did some more reading, and I think this old Dell machine has only pcie 2.0 for all it's ports.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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Update:
I put it in and I think it's working. I copied a partition I use for downloads and browser cache to this new drive, then renamed it to the same drive letter. (after deleting the old partition).

I imaged the old partition with macrium reflect in case this goes tits up.

It's fun playing with old stuff (all I can afford)
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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One thing I've noticed is that the SMART data shows an increment of the "unsafe shutdowns", each time the power is unplugged from wall outlet. (I always unplug during thunder storms.)

It doesn't increment if windows is normally shut down, with AC power kept on, so I reckon the PSU standby rails must keep the disk powered?

In windows device manager, I have tried both caching checked and unchecked ; same results.

Checkdisk never finds any errors. Can I blithely ignore these data?
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
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One thing I've noticed is that the SMART data shows an increment of the "unsafe shutdowns", each time the power is unplugged from wall outlet. (I always unplug during thunder storms.)

It doesn't increment if windows is normally shut down, with AC power kept on, so I reckon the PSU standby rails must keep the disk powered?

In windows device manager, I have tried both caching checked and unchecked ; same results.

Checkdisk never finds any errors. Can I blithely ignore these data?
Welcome to the "old farts" club.

What chipset does this 2012 system use? Z68-gen-3 will offer PCIE v.3.0 if the CPU is an Ivy Bridge.

I started a thread the other day about the SK Hynix 1TB "Gold" P31 NVME M.2 drives. They're about $135.

I'm not bothering to install NVME M.2 drives in my Z68 boards, and don't want to attempt the hacks that might make them bootable. To get the full speed out of a drive like a Sammy Pro/EVO or the Hynix, you'd want to use a PCIE x4 slot, or use an x8/x16 so that you have x4. I guess the Optane modules for which you were advised for testing purposes only use x2. Not having tried one, I wouldn't know.

The fact that you can use one, two or more of these depending on your PCIE slots and motherboard M.2 slots just changes things about a strategy to use SATA SSDs and spinners.

I wouldn't know about your results for just unplugging your system from the wall AC socket. Frankly and whenever I can, I recommend to people that they purchase the "insurance policy" of a UPS/battery-backup to weather those thunderstorms. I still have friends who merely insert a surge suppressor between the wall and the computer. Maybe I'm "extreme", neurotic or obsessive, but a UPS is something I deem essential. You can pick up a modest APC model of UPS for almost less than a Franklin.
 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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Welcome to the "old farts" club.

What chipset does this 2012 system use? Z68-gen-3 will offer PCIE v.3.0 if the CPU is an Ivy Bridge.

I started a thread the other day about the SK Hynix 1TB "Gold" P31 NVME M.2 drives. They're about $135.

I'm not bothering to install NVME M.2 drives in my Z68 boards, and don't want to attempt the hacks that might make them bootable. To get the full speed out of a drive like a Sammy Pro/EVO or the Hynix, you'd want to use a PCIE x4 slot, or use an x8/x16 so that you have x4. I guess the Optane modules for which you were advised for testing purposes only use x2. Not having tried one, I wouldn't know.

The fact that you can use one, two or more of these depending on your PCIE slots and motherboard M.2 slots just changes things about a strategy to use SATA SSDs and spinners.

I wouldn't know about your results for just unplugging your system from the wall AC socket. Frankly and whenever I can, I recommend to people that they purchase the "insurance policy" of a UPS/battery-backup to weather those thunderstorms. I still have friends who merely insert a surge suppressor between the wall and the computer. Maybe I'm "extreme", neurotic or obsessive, but a UPS is something I deem essential. You can pick up a modest APC model of UPS for almost less than a Franklin.
Thanks Duck. Please read down to the bottom. Sorry for the long winded reply.

I have an ancient dell 790. intel i5, 2nd gen. It meets my needs and is a little better than my 2001 amd athlon xp, Which served me well for 19 years and was better than several 486 and 386 rigs still here. I did finally get rid of my home built 8080 and 6502 machines from the early 1980's. But sometimes I still miss them.

I could make a museum :) And yes, I'm a very old fart, who will only be here for a short while, till there is room in Valhalla.

Nvme is supported only by win 10 automatically installing generic drivers. It works, but SMART data whines like a fishwife.

Dell's prehistoric bios knows nothing about these newfangled disks. And after a few years, dell supports NOTHING. No bios updates ... nothing. I guess it's same for any prebuilt, like hp lenovo, etc.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
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You can easily understand, then. I built my last PC 4 years ago. It was a great Intel chip, and there was mild criticism in the forums because I upgraded it to the 14nm refresh "toc" chip -- the Kaby Lake. Everybody was trying to tell me, or insinuate perhaps, that I needed to build a new i9-10900K or even an i7-10600K deca-core or hexa-core. Of course, all these new chips use Skylake cores, new and improved times 6 or 10.
I developed this "formula" for building a tower desktop four years ago with that quad-core chip. For all I did with what I had, all the refinements, the fan deployment, the Lexan duct I built for the motherboard and the Coolermaster Cross-Flow barrel fan as a specialized exhaust, I was so happy with it that I decided to repeat the project this year with the spare parts acquired just because I needed to replace my motherboard (blowing out the USB controller with a *$%#!! vaping-pen and my body's static charge), and started spending "stimulus" when all would've been well for just $88 shipping to ASUS.

Now I'm looking for an LG BD-RE optical reader-burner. It took me a while! I keep thinking I'm getting behind this technology and that I won't find the parts I want and therefore "need". I think I found my answer in the LG BU40N BD-RE, 9.5mm thick. I've been using laptop parts in my desktop PC builds.

Anything I did and plan to do with the case, drive-deployments, hot-swap bay with ODD slot -- can be quickly converted with an upgrade to these fancy new CPUs. I just don't feel the need for six cores!

There is no bottleneck for older NVME drives like the 960 Pro/EVO or even the 970 Pro/EVO, if the PCIE bus is version 3.0. I don't know how much version 2.0 would cripple the throughput, but it shouldn't be hard to find out.

Motherboards began appearing with PCIE v. 3.0 around the time of the boards released for both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, but you'd only get PCIE 3.0 if you used the Ivy Bridge chip. That's all I can say from my personal experience. To get the full spec of performance, you need a slot providing PCIE x4. And again, it should be easy to find out what PCIE v.2.0 poses for performance limitations. I still imagine that it would be vastly better than the top performance of any SATA HDD or even SSD.

I ran a search for the "Dell 790" and I turn up the Dell Optiplex 790, and the model that appeared on my screen has a sandy bridge i5-2400 in it. So you likely have PCIE v.2.0 in the hardware. I wouldn't be deterred, though; I'd just try to determine what I have, what I would get with NVME, and then make my decision as to whether I would be happy with it. I really think if one would investigate further, it might be worth capping off the experiment with a purchase of a larger capacity NVME. You'll have to find out.

Those 10-year-old Sandy Bridge systems last a long time. I've still got two of them running, and they don't miss a lick -- one of them being about 11 years old. Running 24/7/365, too.

My dentist buys corporate-asset-turnover Dell refurbs. He says he just replaces the PSU in them, and he's perfectly happy.
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
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Nothing wrong with a refurb for basic office work, as long as it at least has an SSD. And I would get a quality one, with DRAM cache. And not QLC. There isn't much of a price difference honestly, to get a decent SATA SSD vs an el cheapo one. And the good ones will have 5 year warranties.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
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Nothing wrong with a refurb for basic office work, as long as it at least has an SSD. And I would get a quality one, with DRAM cache. And not QLC. There isn't much of a price difference honestly, to get a decent SATA SSD vs an el cheapo one. And the good ones will have 5 year warranties.
For SATA SSDs, I remember watching the prices as they came out in 60GB capacities. My first one was a Patriot. Then, when you could get a 500GB SATA SSD, I spent the money for a Samsung 860 (?) Pro. That outlay gave some wings to a bundle of cash, for sure!

I've got a couple ADATA 500GB units, which weren't very expensive at all. Last I looked, those things could last another half-lifetime for me.

With the NVME drives, I was setting up my system for hibernate and sleep with (first) 16GB and (then) 32GB of RAM. Originally, I was concerned about disk writes for hibernation that might occur twice a day -- who knows? -- maybe more?

So with the modest TBW spec for the EVOs and some other NVME drives, I finally sat down and did the math. With a couple hibernations per day and all the other writes to disk that might take place, they're likely to last over 50 years.

If you have to wipe them and restore an entire Windows volume from backup, it may add a TBW to the cumulative total. Three such restorations might add up to 3 TBW. Still -- really -- a drop in the bucket.
 

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