NVME Storage Options for a Mobo with No M.2 Slot

GDI Lord

Limp Gawd
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Hi

What options are available to people with motherboards like mine, an MSI B150M Mortar, that doesn't have an M.2 Slot for storage?

I'm currently running Win10 from a 500GB Samsung 750 EVO as my C:. I'm very happy with it, I'm just curious as to future upgrade paths.

Broadly:
  1. What PCIe NVME cards are available that don't cost the earth and can be booted off of?
  2. What PCIe cards can accept M.2 cards that can be booted off of?
  3. Should PCIe cards that accept U.2 cards also be considered?
  4. Other options that I'm missing.
Thank you
 

Overblod

Limp Gawd
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PCIe card is your only option but they do not cost a lot... i have cheaper ones for as low as 10 dollars... NVMe is PCIe interface, and that adapter is basically connecting it to PCIe port so not much going on there, no reason for them to be expensive... But do make sure that your mobo have PCIe 4x slot...

Newegg search link
 

Maxx

[H]ard|Gawd
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I've used the Syba card off Newegg to good effect. Only newer motherboards can boot off NVMe drives; your motherboard has a BIOS update to improve NVMe compatibility so my guess is you'll be okay with a PCIe adapter. Don't worry about U.2.
 

Maxx

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Thanks Maxx.

Keep in mind that cheap cards like the one I linked don't have a controller or OPROM - it's really just routing the PCIe to the slot. There are more expensive cards/controllers with their own capabilities, and some drives (like the Samsung Pros, I believe) which also support their own booting process. Then there is also UEFI (BIOS/motherboard) that lets you boot off anything from the chipset (a PCIe adapter in anything but the GPU slots - which use CPU lanes - should be bootable this way). Although that's assuming you are using a modern OS (e.g. Windows 10).
 

blandead

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You can also get a cheap nvme to usb 3.0 enclosure and actually 5gbs would be faster than 4gbs from x4 pcie lanes bandwidth

If you have usb type c look for nvme to usb c enclosure and that'll give you 10gbs

Plug and play is nice, and bootable
 
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You can also get a cheap nvme to usb 3.0 enclosure


No, you can't. There's no such thing.

For m.2 form factor SSDs there are:
- Multiple SATA-USB adapters.
- Multiple NVMe-PCIe slot adapters. Some even have slots for multiple m.2 drives, but most of those only work with mainboards that support PCIe bifurcation.
- A smattering of NVMe u.2 adapters.
- One or two USB adapters for the older, AHCI-only (predating NVMe) m.2 PCIe SSDs.
- Apparently, a couple large, expensive, difficult-to-source NVMe-thunderbolt adapters.


5gbs would be faster than 4gbs from x4 pcie lanes bandwidth


A PCIe x4 link (assuming v3.0) is ~4 gigabytes per second (GB/s). In other words, 32 gigabits per second (Gb/s). Far faster that any USB connection, even the announced v3.2.

PCIe


If you have usb type c look for nvme to usb c enclosure and that'll give you 10gbs


USB 3.1 10 Gb/s is independent of the connector type. Such bandwidth is also supported over a type-a connector.

USB 3.0
 

Maxx

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You can get a NVMe to USB-C enclosure from China for ~$40 ($80-100 in the US, via Newegg) but it is limited to 10 Gbps. Ones with support for Thunderbolt 3 are closer to $300 ($360 at B&H).
 
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Huh, interesting. I've searched a few times (even recently) for such a thing and always came up empty. That, plus the fact that any NVMe drive would be severely handicapped by USB, led me to believe there was no such animal.

Good to know they do exist, if only for data recovery or maybe imaging activities. Given the minuscule gains over a SATA-USB adapter I can't see using one for any other purposes.
 

Maxx

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Yes, there's not much point to the USB3.1 ones aside from a sequential bump; I get about 440 MB/s on USB3.0 so double that would be nice in some circumstances. The NA611TB3, though, is pretty interesting. It actually has two M.2 sockets (each PCIe 3.0 x2) and is capable of some pretty insane performance with two NVMe drives. Then again it costs an arm and a leg.
 

blandead

Limp Gawd
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Yea got the numbers wrong there but regardless just making you aware of another option
 

dexvx

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Upgrade wise, probably best to just stick with SATA SSD, for time bring. Z170 board is a drop in replacement, if you want to go that route; or just wait for next system upgrade.

IMO PCIe card not worth the cost.
 

likeman

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SATA is still the better option for you if you need a larger SSD and you be able to clone your install if you use a SATA SSD (can't do that if its a NVME SSD has to be clean install)
 
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SATA is still the better option for you if you need a larger SSD and you be able to clone your install if you use a SATA SSD (can't do that if its a NVME SSD has to be clean install)


There's no reason you can't clone a partition between SATA and NVMe drives. AFAIK any cloning app is is going to be operating at the block level or maybe file, well above the physical and protocol levels.

Unless the Windows cloning apps are weirdly gimped somehow (not my general area, never really bothered with them on Windows).
 

hitched

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Just stick with sata ssd and keep life simple... a new mobo is what you really need to take advantage of nvme
 

daglesj

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SATA is still the better option for you if you need a larger SSD and you be able to clone your install if you use a SATA SSD (can't do that if its a NVME SSD has to be clean install)


I cloned mine across from a SANDISK PRO SATA to SAMSUNG NVME just fine.
 

GDI Lord

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Thanks for all your replies, everyone.

Also, I'm from the old school of "do not clone, reinstall" so cloning isn't an issue for me. (And that goes for both Windows and *nix. : -)
 

cyberguyz

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Your Windows install and boot experience will vary depending on your motherboard and whether you have NVMe support in UEFI. Not sure if there has been any bios updates for your motherboard that provides booting to NVMe support. You will have to check with the board vender's forums to see if tit is there. If you are scrapping the idea of booting from NVMe. I know Windows earlier than windows 10 is pretty touchy about installing to NVMe without hardware specific drivers. Windows 10 is better but it will refuse to if the drive is marked as GPT rather than MFT.
 

Luke M

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For booting it depends what boot ROM (if any) is present on the PCIe SSD. Some boot on any system, whether classic BIOS or EFI. Others require EFI. And some have no boot ROM at all, so you can only boot if an NVMe boot module is integrated in the main BIOS.

Unfortunately reviews rarely bother to mention what is supported.
 

MixManSC

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As mentioned, NVMe on anything but a very recent mobo from the last year or two can be tricky. In real world regular desktop use the speed is really not all that noticeable over a good SATA SSD. They are the way forward though and have really come down in price. Seeing Windows 10 hit the desktop in just a few seconds from power on is fun and for certain uses (I work in wide format print) it is flat out awesome. Best best is to make sure the mobo you have or are considering supports UEFI NVMe booting first of all. Then get a UEFI boot media for you OS (Windows 10 is easiest here - it can be done with Windows 7 x64 too though). The Dell T7910 I'm using supports PCIe bifurcation and came with a PCIe card with 4 m.2 NVME slots. Fun stuff though it can get complicated and fiddly to setup. But once it is, no problem and stupid fast speeds.
 
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