Cheap pci-e dual-SSD adapter for nvme on Asus Z87-A MB?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by sohosources, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. sohosources

    sohosources n00b

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    Oct 7, 2006
    Hi, gang,

    My main productivity PC has been running flawlessly for 5+ years. It's a 4770k clocked at 3.8 GHz on a Z87-A MB with 32 GB DDR3, an old Samsung SSD that boots Win 8.1 (presently) and a bunch of SATA hard drives. The base PC really only hosts a bunch of VMWare virtual PCs that have their respective tasks (Win and Linux). My present VM storage drive is a 512-GB Mushkin SATA SSD. Nothin special, but very reliable.

    I have been playing around with Win 10 LTSC VMs to prepare for future necessity, and I had been thinking about getting a 1-TB SSD now that they're cheap. The Mushkin will run out of room with several larger Win 10 installs. I was prepared to buy a 1-TB Sammy or Crucial SATA SSD when I discovered how speedy a native M.2 / NVME drive can be...which got me thinking...

    My Z87-A can't boot from a pci-e drive (and I don't want to mess around with putting a minimal bootloader on a SATA drive and then hand the OS drive over to a pci-e drive unless someone figures out a foolproof, idiot-proof method), so I'm expecting to be stuck with a SATA SSD boot/OS drive, but I'm wondering about whether it's reasonable to use a single or dual pci-e/nvme/m.2 adapter (lots on eBay and amazon) with one (and then maybe 2?) 1-TB m.2 drives to host my VMWare images?

    The Z87-A has at least one x16 or x8 pci-e version 3 slot open (only vid card in main slot).

    Do these adapters work?

    Reliability issues?

    Performance benefits (or not enough to worry about?)

    Thoughts?

    As always -- thanks,

    --sohosources
     
  2. noxqzs

    noxqzs Limp Gawd

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    Aug 2, 2013
    I don't think the Z87 chipset will support NVME without modifying the BIOS. I remember reading a long winded thread on Win-Raid forums. HERE is the link to the thread.
     
  3. BlueLineSwinger

    BlueLineSwinger Gawd

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    Dec 1, 2011
    Yeah, that mainboard isn't booting from a NVMe SSD, but once WIn10 is up it should be able to access them just fine with the proper PCIe-m.2 adapter.

    However, trying to split a single PCIe slot for multiple m.2 drives (bifurcation) typically isn't supported on consumer-level systems, even if there are enough lanes on the slot to support all the intended devices. So any of the cheaper adapters you're seeing are right out. There are some that some with a PCIe switch (e.g., PLX), but those are typically very expensive and still don't always work.

    Anyways, if the guest VMs are stationary (i.e, your not constantly moving them around between different drives), you probably won't notice much performance difference between NVMe and SATA SSDs. Both have similar latency and access numbers (orders of magnitude above HDDs), which is where the perceived speed benefits of SSDs really come from.
     
  4. Unknown-One

    Unknown-One [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Mar 5, 2005
    You'd be surprised. I have a Z68 board booting from NVMe, just had to add the appropriate module to the UEFI and flash the modified BIOS. It's really just a software limitation, and OEMs simply didn't bother going back and adding the feature to older motherboards.

    Bingo. The lack of bifrication support is what's going to be an issue here. I'm willing to bet that the only dual-M.2 adapters that will work as expected are the more-expensive ones that include a PLX chip.

    For two drives, this would probably work: https://www.amazon.com/CREST-SI-PEX40129-Ports-Bifurcation-Controller/dp/B07HYZY7P2/
    For a single drive, a simple adapter like this will work for sure (I've used this one in multiple systems without issue): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075MDH28Y/
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 3:28 PM