Solved! Z97 Mobo for NVME Drive using PCIE 3.0 x4 while KEEPING Graphics Card @ PCIE 3.0 x16?

hornirl

Junior Member
May 25, 2015
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Looking to extend longevity of my current LGA1150 socket setup (Specs: H87M-PRO i5-4690k 16GB RAM Win 10), with cheapest mobo possible that can allow for an NVME drive using PCIE 3.0 x4 lanes.

The kicker here is I want to keep the PCIE 3.0 1st slot at x16 lanes, for when I finally get that top graphics card that'll threaten to bottleneck it.

Looking around, that'd seem to imply an Z97 mobo to do the job, and there are some cards that have M2 solutions that might help, but everywhere I look I can't find a solution (M2 or PCIE) that allows me to use an NVME PCIE 3.0 x4 card WITHOUT dropping to x8 lanes for the graphics card.

One solution that looked promising was here (#2, #3), with an Ultra M.2 Socket using PCIE 3.0 x4 lanes (32 GB/s). But when I looked closer at board specs it too says when that M2 socket is used, the main PCIE slot also drops to x8 lanes.

Any ideas appreciated, though remember cash is short and I have to stick with what I have other than a change in mobo at lowest cost to sort a solution (if possible). If not I'll stick with the PCIE 2.0 x4 lanes solution I've got at present in the 2nd x16 slot using an adapter which does leave the 1st x16 slot operating at PCIE 3.0 x16 lanes, but doesn't give me the speed on the NVME drive it's capable of (PCIE 3.0 x4 lanes).
 
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Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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Looking around, that'd seem to imply an Z97 mobo to do the job, and there are some cards that have M2 solutions that might help, but everywhere I look I can't find a solution (M2 or PCIE) that allows me to use an NVME PCIE 3.0 x4 card WITHOUT dropping to x8 lanes for the graphics card.
Look no further:

https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z97 Extreme9/

Now finding one is a different matter. Ebay would be my bet, but I doubt it's worth what they'll be asking for it. You should really consider doing a full upgrade, even with current pricing. Haswell is getting on a bit, and the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations really tanks performance both on NVMe drives and in general usage.
 
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sdifox

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Look at the manual, they tend to have a section that shows the config and number of pcie lanes depending on which slots are used.
 

Insert_Nickname

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May 6, 2012
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Looking around, that'd seem to imply an Z97 mobo to do the job, and there are some cards that have M2 solutions that might help, but everywhere I look I can't find a solution (M2 or PCIE) that allows me to use an NVME PCIE 3.0 x4 card WITHOUT dropping to x8 lanes for the graphics card.
Look no further:

https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z97 Extreme9/

Now finding one is a different matter. Ebay would be my bet, but I doubt it's worth what they'll be asking for it. You should really consider doing a full upgrade, even with current pricing. Haswell is getting on a bit, and the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations really tanks performance both on NVMe drives and in general usage.
 
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hornirl

Junior Member
May 25, 2015
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Look no further: https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z97 Extreme9/

Now finding one is a different matter. Ebay would be my bet, but I doubt it's worth what they'll be asking for it. You should really consider doing a full upgrade, even with current pricing. Haswell is getting on a bit, and the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations really tanks performance both on NVMe drives and in general usage.
Eureka! Thanks and God bless you! On the right trail there with Ultra M.2 and the ASRock Z97 Extreme6, just the extra distance to the Extreme9 never showed anywhere in any DB I looked at.

Now this exotic creature- the ASRock Z97 Extreme9- has been tracked down I do see it in PCPartPicker, I may have just passed it over as it's got so many bells and whistles I don't need and something of a 'cludgy' solution (PEX 8747 PCIe bridge) to get the functionality I want (as described here). Besides which the board provides 4xPCIE 3.0 x 16 lanes, 2 of which could be used at full PCIE 3.0 x16 lanes, so the Ultra M.2 solution then becomes redundant itself for my use case anyway.

And at over 400 for where I could first it (only 1!) I'd be well on my way to a new rig. The above and links are for those following in my tracks and I'd agree with the suggestion that it'd be better to do a full upgrade for the $s than go this route. For the moment I'll stick with my ASUS H87M-PRO or maybe go up to Z87M-PLUS which I can get for c90 for better quality components and OC support. Both can put an NMVE drive in a PCIE 2.0 x 4 lanes slot, and as a Win 10 boot drive with a modded BIOS too.
 
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Furious_Styles

Senior member
Jan 17, 2019
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Eureka! Thanks and God bless you! On the right trail there with Ultra M.2 and the ASRock Z97 Extreme6, just the extra distance to the Extreme9 never showed anywhere in any DB I looked at.

Now this exotic creature has been tracked down I do see it in PCPartPicker, I may have just passed it over as it's got so many bells and whistles I don't need and something of a 'cludgy' solution (PEX 8747 PCIe bridge) to get the functionality I want (as described here). Besides which the board provides 4xPCIE 3.0 x 16 lanes, 2 of which could be used at full PCIE 3.0 x16 lanes, so the Ultra M.2 solution then becomes redundant itself for my use case anyway.

And at over 400 for where I could first it (only 1!) I'd be well on my way to a new rig. The above and links are for those following in my tracks and I'd agree with the suggestion that it'd be better to do a full upgrade for the $s than go this route. For the moment I'll stick with my ASUS H87M-PRO or maybe go up to Z87M-PLUS which I can get for c90 for better quality components and OC support. Both can put an NMVE drive in a PCIE 2.0 x 4 lanes slot, and as a Win 10 boot drive with a modded BIOS too.
You should be able to get a Z97 E6 on ebay pretty easily for somewhere around $130-150 USD.
 

hornirl

Junior Member
May 25, 2015
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You should be able to get a Z97 E6 on ebay pretty easily for somewhere around $130-150 USD.
Tx- I should have probably made my reply clearer (I'll edit), it's the Extreme9 needed (rare, expensive @ 400), the Extreme6 just had me in right direction with the Ultra M.2 but unfortunately won't work.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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Now this exotic creature- the ASRock Z97 Extreme9- has been tracked down I do see it in PCPartPicker, I may have just passed it over as it's got so many bells and whistles I don't need and something of a 'cludgy' solution (PEX 8747 PCIe bridge) to get the functionality I want (as described here). Besides which the board provides 4xPCIE 3.0 x 16 lanes, 2 of which could be used at full PCIE 3.0 x16 lanes, so the Ultra M.2 solution then becomes redundant itself for my use case anyway.
To clear up a few things, the LGA-1150 platform only has 16 PCIe lanes directly from the CPU, so the only way you can get a PCIe 3.0 x16 for graphics at the same time as having a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD is using a PLX PCIe bridge. Those devices connected to the PLX bridge also have to share the x16 CPU link. You cannot have both at the same time.

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z97-express-three-way-sli-motherboard,3974-2.html

The LGA-1150 PCH only supports PCIe 2.0, and uses a DMI 2.0 link to the CPU which is limited to 2GB/s in both directions.

This article explains the platform limitations pretty well:

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/samsung-xp941-z97-pci-express,3826-3.html
 

hornirl

Junior Member
May 25, 2015
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To clear up a few things, the LGA-1150 platform only has 16 PCIe lanes directly from the CPU, so the only way you can get a PCIe 3.0 x16 for graphics at the same time as having a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD is using a PLX PCIe bridge. Those devices connected to the PLX bridge also have to share the x16 CPU link. You cannot have both at the same time.

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z97-express-three-way-sli-motherboard,3974-2.html

The LGA-1150 PCH only supports PCIe 2.0, and uses a DMI 2.0 link to the CPU which is limited to 2GB/s in both directions.

This article explains the platform limitations pretty well:

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/samsung-xp941-z97-pci-express,3826-3.html
Thanks so much for this. I'd actually found the 1st article (link embedded in '(as described here) ') but not the 2nd -thanks. So given these restrictions, what I was looking for was never a possibility, since my only route to get the 4 lanes for the NVME drive was via the DMI 2.0 link, limited to 2 GB/s in both directions. There's a useful diagram here that helped me understand this from page here.

So my current ASUS H87M-PRO is actually used to the max, since the NVME drive is on the PCIE 2.0 x 16 lanes 2nd slot using a 2.0 x 4 lanes adapter for- wait for it- 2 GB/s transfer rate, exactly the DMI 2.0 limit. And my GC is using the PCIE 3.0 x 16 lanes 1st slot. The text in the manual is:

1 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot [yellow] (at x16 mode)
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot [dark brown] (max. at x4 mode, compatible with PCIe x1 and x4 devices)
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots

* The PCIe x16_2 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x1_1 and PCIe x1_2 slot. The default setting is x2 mode. Go to the BIOS setup to change the settings.

And I've indeed changed those BIOS settings. So all as good as possible, and there's no room for improvement given what I want to achieve (of course I could set the GC to use PCIE 3.0 x8 lanes and then more options are available NVME drive-wise)?

So all the H/Z87/97 cards with more than 1 PCIE x3.0 x16 lanes slot are then really for SLI/Crossfire solutions chaining together earlier lower spec graphics cards which were never going to fully utilize a PCIE 3.0 x16 lanes slot anyway- so you see 2 or 3 PCIE x3.0 slots with operating modes of x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/ x0, or x8/x4/x4?

And I guess that's why the PCIE 2.0 x16 slot- if there is one- is only wired for x4 or less, since that's all the DMI 2.0 link can handle?
 

Furious_Styles

Senior member
Jan 17, 2019
447
151
86
Tx- I should have probably made my reply clearer (I'll edit), it's the Extreme9 needed (rare, expensive @ 400), the Extreme6 just had me in right direction with the Ultra M.2 but unfortunately won't work.
Yeah the E9 is a pretty rare board. Have you looked at picking up a cheap Z170 board? The CPUs aren't priced too high either.
 

hornirl

Junior Member
May 25, 2015
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0
66
Z170 would get me DMI 3.0 and the PCIE 3.0 x4 lanes I'm looking for to x 2 NVME drive speed while keeping a PCIE 3.0 x 16 lanes for my GC, and it seems possible to use my current DDR3 RAM with something like an ASUS B150M-PLUS D3. That'd cost maybe 50, then a new CPU too (i7-6700K c150). And Skylake always seemed something of a skippable generation (from Haswell).

All a lot of trouble given folks are saying real world benefits are minimal. For me it's more the challenge of squeezing best performance possible out of what you've got at reasonable cost but this crosses the $ boundary for me.

So I'll 'live' with the PCIE 2.0 x4 lane speed for the NVME boot drive on my ASUS H87M-PRO, and continue the am routine of starting up the PC and getting a cup of Joe while it warms up.;) Thanks to all for the help!
 

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