Help needed to understand NVME/SATA ssd types.

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  1.    #1

    Help needed to understand NVME/SATA ssd types.


    Right my system is an Acer pre-built, it comes with a 1Tb SATA HDD and a 16Gb Intel Optane cache. The system works perfectly, I have no issues really but I was considering swapping the Optane module out for a normal NVME SSD.
    To me it makes sense because instead of relying on the Optane system to cache most used programs a 500Gb NVME system drive (or maybe a 1Tb if I can stretch to it) would accelerate everything, all the time, allowing me to use the HDD just for personal files, backups etc.
    A small caveat is that Optane seems to interfere with Macriums disk imaging (so another reason to change).
    However I have just spent a good 2 hours scouring Amazon for suitable NVME drives and I'm completely confused.
    At first I looked on Intel's site to determine the connection for the Optane, it is apparently an m.2 2280 NVME PCIE 3 device, in the image it has 3 edge connectors (1 is a "B" key, 1 is a "M" key, and the middle 16pin?, I assume the data connectors).
    So I tried to find the same in a NVME drive, all I could find at first were for example EVO drives stating NVME PCIE 3, but with only 2 edge connectors, then I found NVME PCIE 3 drives with 3 edge connectors, then SATA 3 SSD's with 3 edge connectors.
    So my issue is, if my motherboard socket is an m.2 (mechanical key "B") as reported by HWInfo does it matter how many connectors are on the replacement drive, are 3 connectors for wider compatibility? Or do I need a drive with 3 connectors to make it work?
    And why are some of these drives listed as SATA 3 and others as NVME and others as PCIE3?
    Anyone who can shed some light (preferably in non techno-bable) please?
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  2. Lance1's Avatar
    Posts : 46
    Windows 10 Professional x64
       #2

    I think you may be overcomplicating things. Here's a list of compatible drives from Crucial.
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  3. Megahertz's Avatar
    Posts : 278
    Windows 7 HP 64 - Windows 10 Pro
       #3

    You have basically 4 types of SSDs interface.
    PCIe - The SSD card is connected to the computer by a PCIe slot

    SATA - The SSD is connected to the computer by a power connector and a SATA cable

    mSATA - The SSD card is connected to the computer on a mSATA slot

    M.2 - The SSD card is connected to the computer on a M.2 slot


    SATA - It has 2 sizes
    2.5" - It's the size of a laptop HDD
    3.5"- It's the size of a desktop HDD

    SATA - It has 3 speed interfaces
    SATA 1 - 150MB/s
    SATA 2 - 300MB/s
    SATA 3 - 600MB/s

    M.2 card - It has different lengths:
    2242 - 22 mm wide x 42 mm in length
    2260 - 22 mm wide x 60 mm in length
    2280 - 22 mm wide x 80 mm in length
    22110 - 22 mm wide x 110 mm in length

    NVM Express (NVMe) or Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification (NVMHCIS) is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus.

    This are the three options I would consider. You have to find out if the computer can boot from the M.2 drive.

    1) Replace the M.2 Optane with a 128G or 256 G M.2. Use the SSD for Windows and programs and the HDD for data. Use Kari tutorial to move the C:\Users to D:\Users (HDD). You will have the speed of a SSD with the space of a HDD at low cost.

    2) Replace the M.2 Optane with a 512G or 1T M.2. Remove the HDD and use it on a USB caddy for backups.

    3) Replace the HDD with a 512G or 1T 2.5" SATA drive. Keep the M.2 Optane.
    Last edited by Megahertz; 04 Jul 2019 at 11:58.
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  4.    #4

    Lance1, I have already looked at the Crucial upgrade link, it wrongly identifies my chipset as Z370....it is actually B360, so I cant rely on its advice to provide suitable upgrades (not saying they wont work, just cant say 100% they will) as there is a lot of difference between the two chipset's (and more so since its an Acer proprietary motherboard).
    Megahertz, thankyou for your visual explanation, however I think you slightly missed the point, my confusion isn't with the different standards, it arises due to the fact that I can find several makes of SSD's that connect via the m.2 port but they all have different edge connectors but also have the same designator.
    Example Samsung Evo 960 is NVME but only has 2 edge connectors, Crucial MX300 is NVME but has 3 edge connectors then there are others having 3 edge connectors stating they are SATA 3 not NVME (these also have half the read/write speed of NVME drives).
    As for my system, the boot priority is Windows boot manager as first device, I assume this allows to boot from NVME drives as there is no specific choice for HDD or specific ports. Other options include Optical drive, removable and LAN. I'm assuming Windows Boot manager could in theory be on any device type and that is what the bios looks for rather than specifically for a HDD.
    Based on the image you provided it would seem the Corsair MP series (or similar from other manufacturers) would be the correct choice based on the connectors. The Optane module fitted currently is also a 3 connector part and reports as a NVME device.
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  5. Megahertz's Avatar
    Posts : 278
    Windows 7 HP 64 - Windows 10 Pro
       #5

    B360 or Z370 chipsets are from the same family (CoffeeLake). So any device that works for one will work on the other.

    The M.2 slot is connected to the PCIe bus and depending on the kind of the device it can be treated by the chipset in different manners.

    You can use a M.2 slot to attach a WiFi card or a SATA SSD or a MVMe SSD.....
    So the M.2 slot connector has a standard. The card you attach to it doesn't.

    Windows boot manager is a boot loader on a EFI Fat32 partition. It can be on a SATA disk or on a M.2 disk. Some computers can't boot from M.2 devices. I don't think it's your case but better to check.
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  6.    #6

    Yeah, after digging around and looking with my trusty torch (LED head lamp, very useful) I can see that slot m.2_1 has a wireless/ blue tooth adaptor in it, slot m.2_2 has the Optane module in it. Cross checking with HWInfo confirms that.
    I am currently scouring the Acer forums for info on whether my model can boot from the m.2_2 slot with a compatible device.
    Im pretty confident it will boot as the BIOS see's the Optane + HDD as a raid setup, so does Windows and HWInfo, also if I disable the Optane the PC takes forever to boot into Windows so some boot files must be moved onto the Optane module when active and accessed at boot time.
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  7.    #7

    I am 99% certain that any computer that supports Optane will also support booting from an NVME device in the same M.2 slot.
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  8.    #8

    Pejole2165 said: View Post
    .......................all I could find at first were for example EVO drives stating NVME PCIE 3, but with only 2 edge connectors, then I found NVME PCIE 3 drives with 3 edge connectors, then SATA 3 SSD's with 3 edge connectors.
    So my issue is, if my motherboard socket is an m.2 (mechanical key "B") as reported by HWInfo does it matter how many connectors are on the replacement drive, are 3 connectors for wider compatibility? Or do I need a drive with 3 connectors to make it work?
    Here's my understanding:

    If an m2.2280 drive has a total of 2 edge connectors (visible copper cutouts), it is designated as an "M key" drive.

    If it has a total of 3 edge connectors, it is designated as "B key".

    You need to find out if your particular motherboard m2.2280 ports support "M key" or "B key". As far as I know, a port will support one or the other, but not both.

    My ASRock motherboard is strictly M key for m2.2280 drives.

    Or do I misunderstand you?

    AFTER you determine that, then you can restrict your shopping to the appropriate key.

    Some boards will boot from an NVMe drive and some won't. You need to find this out also if booting is your intention. If no, you are forced back to SATA and as far as I know, there is no particular advantage to SATA on an m2.2280 rather than SATA on a standard 2.5 inch drive---other than avoiding cables. NVMe on the other hand is considerably faster than SATA although you may not notice that other than in benchmarks.

    I recently bought an M key Intel 660p for a data only drive. No issues so far. I have it mounted in a standard PCIe slot on an adapter card only because I did not have the appropriate screw to affix the drive directly to the motherboard. Those screws are tiny and proprietary to the motherboard manufacturer and will not likely be included with your drive purchase. I think some folks are using tape to hold the drive down, but I refrained and spent the necessary $15 on a SIIG adapter card.
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  9. Megahertz's Avatar
    Posts : 278
    Windows 7 HP 64 - Windows 10 Pro
       #9

    ignatzatsonic said: View Post
    Here's my understanding: If an m2.2280 drive has a total of 2 edge connectors (visible copper cutouts), it is designated as an "M key" drive.
    If it has a total of 3 edge connectors, it is designated as "B key".
    You need to find out if your particular motherboard m2.2280 ports support "M key" or "B key". As far as I know, a port will support one or the other, but not both.
    Good Point.
    Read Overview of M.2 SSDs

    The best option (and the cheapest) would be to replace the HDD with a 512G or 1T 2.5" SATA drive. Keep the M.2 Optane.
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  10. ThrashZone's Avatar
    Posts : 5,138
    3-Win-7Prox64 2-Win10Prox64
       #10

    Hi,
    Only advantage to m.2 is copy large files around a lot most people do not do this benchmarks like Performance test 8-9-10 like them
    Most others don't care.
    Majority of use is all reads where you'd never notice any difference between 2.5" and m.2 ssd devices.

    Issue with most m.2 devices also is heat
    They are always located in hot spots where a heat sink is also needed which increases the cost more than already

    2.5" ssd's can be mounted anywhere even with velcro away from hot spots
    I stick with 2.5" ssd's I have no need for m.2's/ heat sinks...
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