[SOLVED] MSI Z97 Gaming 5 & SSD NVMe with Adapter and Graphics Card

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Nick Rabbitz

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Hello, I'm new in this forum and I have a question regarding the compatibility of the title's components. I have the following configuration:

  1. MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard with these specifications:
    • PCI Express:
      • 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, (support x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4 modes)
      • 4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
    • SATA Interfaces:
      • 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports
      • 1 x M.2 Key M Socket 2280/2260/2242 PCIE Gen2 x2 & SATA mode:
        • M.2 port supports M.2 SATA 6Gb/s module
        • M.2 port supports M.2 PCIe module up to 10Gb/s speed
  2. And a MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4 graphics card installed in the Gen3 x16 slot.
I've been searching all forums and all related threads with no solution with my configuration. In these forums they hold that:

Using an NVMe SSD in the M.2 slot will run "PCIE Gen2 x2 & SATA mode", i.g. (as I understand):
  • PCIe Gen2 x2: 500MB/s · 2 lanes = 1GB/s throughput (As the mobo specs show, it is 10Gb/s, which is 1.25GB/s)
  • Sata Mode: 6Gb/s = 750MB/s throughput
This M.2 throughput is very small. I want to install a Samsung 970 EVO Plus on my Z97 mobo. Here are the specs:
  • Sequential Read: Up to 3,500 MB/s.
  • Sequential Write: arround Up to 3,200 MB/s (depending on the capacity).
Therefore I would only get up to 1GB/s = 1000MB/s so it doesn't pay off. Then the M.2 is not an option. Now, is it worth the following assembling instead?:
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus on a PCIe Adapter plugged in any of the Gen3 x8/x8 or Gen3 x8/x4/x4 slot.
  • Keep the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4 graphics card plugged in the Gen3 x16 slot.
I've read that the throughput is divided among the components, so the graphics card will perform with only x8 lanes to leave other x8 lanes to the SSD, regardless the SSD is getting 4 lanes due to its interface. However, it seems that these graphics can perfectly work with x8 lanes. These are my main questions:
  • Is this configuration going to decrease the speed of my graphics card? I know that it will perform with x8 lanes, regardless it is plugged in a x16 lane. But is it worth it?
  • Is the SSD going to perform up to the 3,200MB/s?
  • Are x4 lanes unused (useless) due to this configuration?
  • What kind of adapter do I need and why? Some suggests:
I'm quite confused with the lanes and how the CPU splits the throughput among the connected components.​

  • Can I boot Windows 10 or any other Linux OS from the SSD NVMe plugged in the PCIe adapter?
  • If I purchase a better graphics card (like GTX 1080 or GTX 1080Ti) are the SSD in PCIe adapter and the new graphic going to keep the same speed?
Thanks in advance and sorry for this huge text.:sweatsmile:
 
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Nick Rabbitz

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First of all, I apologize for the delay of my response :confused_old:. Now, there you have my research:

Purchase

I finally purchased the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. I've always purchased Samsung SSD devices because they are very reliable and none of them have failed so far. I've got:
  • Three 850 SATA 3. One of them with 10.8 TBW (terabytes written)
  • Two 860 SATA 3. But with a low TBW.
  • The Samsung 970 EVO Plus mentioned with 1GB storage.
This particular SSD runs at 3,500 MB/s read speed max, and 3,300 MB/s write max.

In addition to the SSD I also purchased two different PCIe Adapters:
  • 4x Lane PCIe Adapter: this adapter has a 4x lane bus, this means the theoretical speed would be 3940MB/s. Each lane has a 985MB/s bus speed.
  • 16x Lane PCIe Adapter: this one has a 16 lane bus, so the theoretical speed would be 15760MB/s.
Both adapters are a Glotrends products and had a high review marks in Amazon. I picked the ones with the best ratings.

Mind that these links are for spanish products and might not exist in your countries. However, there are tons of similar ones in Amazon US.

SetUp and Installation

Once I received all the products I just pluged in the new NVMe SSD into the Adapter and pluged in the Adapter to the second PCIe slot of the motherboard.
I booted from my old Samsung 850 SSD where Windows 10 is installed and there were no problems at all. Windows recognized it inmediately.

My MSI z97 Gaming 5 motherboard had already the latest BIOS update, so I don't know if it works with an older version. However is very easy to update it.

Version 1.D Release date 2016-02-17

You can see the motherboard version here:


Finally, this MSI motherboard has tree different PCIe configurations, and depending on each one, the devices attached have different bus speeds. However, all the three PCIe slots have a physical 16x buslane, regardless the following configurations:
  • x16/x0/x0: this configuration lets use all the bandwith for one device. In my case it was the graphic card.
  • x8/x8/x0: this one shares the bandwith for two devices.
  • x8/x4/x4: this one lets use 3 different devices but the lates two ones only with 4x bus speed.

Boot Windows 10
  • Can I boot Windows 10 or any other Linux OS from the SSD NVMe plugged in the PCIe adapter?
The answer is yes. With the configurations mentioned above I could install and boot Windows 10 from the NVMe SSD with both adapters. I didn't have to do anything else apart from checking the last update of the BIOS and installing the SSD with the adapter.


However, I think that Samsung Magician cannot recognize the NVME as a Samsung device. But Windows 10 perfectly recognizes it as a NVMe SSD devide storage. For further information about the drivers and performance, see the following topic.



These images show the software in spanish. General speaking says that the Samsung 970 Evo Plus is not admited and cannot be confiured with RAPID mode.

Performance

Now I'll explain the performance using the adapters.
First of all l'll show how's the Samsung 850 performance:


This last image shows the standard SSD in SATA 3 mode with 500 - 550 MB/s on average.

Now the NVMe SSD.

x4 PCIe Adapter

This configuration uses the x4 PCIe Adapter and a x8/x4/x4 BIOS mode. The theoretical bandwith is 3940MB/s. However, the SSD does not use the whole bandwith. It has 2380MB/s in sequential read speed and 2855MB/s in sequential write.



This first image above shows the performance using no Samsung NVME drivers

x16 PCIe Adapter

This other configuration uses the x16 lane PCIe Adapter and a x8/x8/x8 BIOS mode. This means that the motherboard won't use the whole bandwith of x16 but it is still enough to use the NVMe. The theoretical bandwith here is 15760MB/s. However, the SSD does not use the whole bandwith aswell and should perform the same as the other x4 configuration since the . However, there are some slighly differences:

3100MB/s in sequential read AND 2965MB/s in sequential write.



This other image shows the performance using the Samsung 970 Evo Plus drivers. You can download it in the Download Files section.

NOTE: in my opinion the NVMe just perform worse using drivers because of the thermal throttling, since I ran the test inmediately the other finished. Also, Samsung Magician does not recognize the NVMe as a standard M.2 due to the adapter so I don't think that the drivers are so useful.

The SSD performs better using this x16 Adapter, even in Random read/write test.
  • Is the SSD going to perform up to the 3,200MB/s?
The simple answer is no, it doesn't perform to the theoretical speed, but it does a really great job, and we won't notice it in the day a day work. However, as Samsung warns, the SSD will perform up to a certain speed.
  • Are x4 lanes unused (useless) due to this configuration?
According to my own research, using a x8/x4/x4 configuration the last PCIe slot will be usless, since there is no device attached and the second slot just runs at x4 speed.
  • What kind of adapter do I need and why?
Apparently, using a x8 or a x16 adapter the SSD will perform better than a x4 adapter. However, the theoretical information does not match the empyrical results.

I will still use the x16 adapter after all, since the speeds are very good.

Graphic Card Topic

I've been testing my rig with the Samsung EVO Plus 970 along with my graphic card MSI Gaming 4 970 to see if there's any difference in terms of the PCIe bus lanes. These are my results:

The graphic card perform exactly the same using a x16 and a x8 configuration. I ran both configurations (x4 adapter and x16 adapter) to see the difference but they carry out the test the same.



I'll update the graphic test results soon. I'll try to test a 4K configuration to stress the GPU and check whether there's difference. Despite that I'm using a 1080p monitor so I don't think I'll notice it while gaming.
  • Is this configuration going to decrease the speed of my graphics card?
Apparently no. I think you won't have problems while gaming. In spite that, my graphic card is not so powerful.
  • If I purchase a better graphics card (like GTX 1080 or GTX 1080Ti) are the SSD in PCIe adapter and the new graphic going to keep the same speed?
I haven't got a better graphic card so I couldn't test it. If I purchase it I'll post it here.

Hope this huge research is useful :giggle:. Let me know if you need more information.
 

USAFRet

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That Z97 board will absolutely constrict a Samsung 970 EVO in that M.2 port.
It will be little better than a SATA III SSD.

PCIe adapter depends entirely on any BIOS updates for that board.
Most Z97 era boards did NOT allow booting from a drive connected like that.
Some got a later BIOS update to allow it. You'll have to verify for a BIOS update like that on your particular motherboard.

Personally, I would NOT bother trying to forcefit that drive into that system.
(and I have a Z97 board and Intel 660p NVMe drive, parts list below)

Put that purported NVMe money into a newer system.
 

Nick Rabbitz

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After a long research and asking to MSI official support it seems that the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 (with its BIOS update) does support a PCIe Adapter Card for NVMe M.2 drives such as the Samsung 970.

However I'll finally try it my self. I'll purchase a Samsung 970 (Evo, Evo Plus or Pro) and try to boot from it and do some speed tests. If doesn't work I'll return the SSD and the adapter card.

Thank you for your advice, but building a new rig with similar or the same specs will cost so much.

I'll post my results soon, when I get the SSD and the adapter.
 
Last edited:
Jul 4, 2020
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Hi! I am currently planning the same set of upgrades to my Gaming 5 motherboard build (adding a GTX 1660S as well as a Samsung 970 Evo). I ran into the same set of questions that you did, and after three hours of research, I am very curious about your results.

Any issues booting from the adapter setup?
Any speed bottle-necking from your graphics card or the adapter connected drive?

Let me know if there is anything I can help with! There isn't much up-to-date information for builds using this motherboard, so I am happy to share what I know.

Side note: I wholeheartedly agree with you; a new build just isn't cost effective, but the $120 I spend on the Samsung drive will be a massive upgrade over my current SSD and give me several more years of life out of my current build.
 
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Nick Rabbitz

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Apr 14, 2020
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Hi! I am currently planning the same set of upgrades to my Gaming 5 motherboard build (adding a GTX 1660S as well as a Samsung 970 Evo). I ran into the same set of questions that you did, and after three hours of research, I am very curious about your results.

Any issues booting from the adapter setup?
Any speed bottle-necking from your graphics card or the adapter connected drive?

Let me know if there is anything I can help with! There isn't much up-to-date information for builds using this motherboard, so I am happy to share what I know.

Side note: I wholeheartedly agree with you; a new build just isn't cost effective, but the $120 I spend on the Samsung drive will be a massive upgrade over my current SSD and give me several more years of life out of my current build.
I actually purchased the Samsung 970 Evo Plus and two different adapters a few days ago on Amazon. I'm currently waiting for them. I'll post my results very soon. 😃
 

Nick Rabbitz

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Apr 14, 2020
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First of all, I apologize for the delay of my response :confused_old:. Now, there you have my research:

Purchase

I finally purchased the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. I've always purchased Samsung SSD devices because they are very reliable and none of them have failed so far. I've got:
  • Three 850 SATA 3. One of them with 10.8 TBW (terabytes written)
  • Two 860 SATA 3. But with a low TBW.
  • The Samsung 970 EVO Plus mentioned with 1GB storage.
This particular SSD runs at 3,500 MB/s read speed max, and 3,300 MB/s write max.

In addition to the SSD I also purchased two different PCIe Adapters:
  • 4x Lane PCIe Adapter: this adapter has a 4x lane bus, this means the theoretical speed would be 3940MB/s. Each lane has a 985MB/s bus speed.
  • 16x Lane PCIe Adapter: this one has a 16 lane bus, so the theoretical speed would be 15760MB/s.
Both adapters are a Glotrends products and had a high review marks in Amazon. I picked the ones with the best ratings.

Mind that these links are for spanish products and might not exist in your countries. However, there are tons of similar ones in Amazon US.

SetUp and Installation

Once I received all the products I just pluged in the new NVMe SSD into the Adapter and pluged in the Adapter to the second PCIe slot of the motherboard.
I booted from my old Samsung 850 SSD where Windows 10 is installed and there were no problems at all. Windows recognized it inmediately.

My MSI z97 Gaming 5 motherboard had already the latest BIOS update, so I don't know if it works with an older version. However is very easy to update it.

Version 1.D Release date 2016-02-17

You can see the motherboard version here:


Finally, this MSI motherboard has tree different PCIe configurations, and depending on each one, the devices attached have different bus speeds. However, all the three PCIe slots have a physical 16x buslane, regardless the following configurations:
  • x16/x0/x0: this configuration lets use all the bandwith for one device. In my case it was the graphic card.
  • x8/x8/x0: this one shares the bandwith for two devices.
  • x8/x4/x4: this one lets use 3 different devices but the lates two ones only with 4x bus speed.

Boot Windows 10
  • Can I boot Windows 10 or any other Linux OS from the SSD NVMe plugged in the PCIe adapter?
The answer is yes. With the configurations mentioned above I could install and boot Windows 10 from the NVMe SSD with both adapters. I didn't have to do anything else apart from checking the last update of the BIOS and installing the SSD with the adapter.


However, I think that Samsung Magician cannot recognize the NVME as a Samsung device. But Windows 10 perfectly recognizes it as a NVMe SSD devide storage. For further information about the drivers and performance, see the following topic.



These images show the software in spanish. General speaking says that the Samsung 970 Evo Plus is not admited and cannot be confiured with RAPID mode.

Performance

Now I'll explain the performance using the adapters.
First of all l'll show how's the Samsung 850 performance:


This last image shows the standard SSD in SATA 3 mode with 500 - 550 MB/s on average.

Now the NVMe SSD.

x4 PCIe Adapter

This configuration uses the x4 PCIe Adapter and a x8/x4/x4 BIOS mode. The theoretical bandwith is 3940MB/s. However, the SSD does not use the whole bandwith. It has 2380MB/s in sequential read speed and 2855MB/s in sequential write.



This first image above shows the performance using no Samsung NVME drivers

x16 PCIe Adapter

This other configuration uses the x16 lane PCIe Adapter and a x8/x8/x8 BIOS mode. This means that the motherboard won't use the whole bandwith of x16 but it is still enough to use the NVMe. The theoretical bandwith here is 15760MB/s. However, the SSD does not use the whole bandwith aswell and should perform the same as the other x4 configuration since the . However, there are some slighly differences:

3100MB/s in sequential read AND 2965MB/s in sequential write.



This other image shows the performance using the Samsung 970 Evo Plus drivers. You can download it in the Download Files section.

NOTE: in my opinion the NVMe just perform worse using drivers because of the thermal throttling, since I ran the test inmediately the other finished. Also, Samsung Magician does not recognize the NVMe as a standard M.2 due to the adapter so I don't think that the drivers are so useful.

The SSD performs better using this x16 Adapter, even in Random read/write test.
  • Is the SSD going to perform up to the 3,200MB/s?
The simple answer is no, it doesn't perform to the theoretical speed, but it does a really great job, and we won't notice it in the day a day work. However, as Samsung warns, the SSD will perform up to a certain speed.
  • Are x4 lanes unused (useless) due to this configuration?
According to my own research, using a x8/x4/x4 configuration the last PCIe slot will be usless, since there is no device attached and the second slot just runs at x4 speed.
  • What kind of adapter do I need and why?
Apparently, using a x8 or a x16 adapter the SSD will perform better than a x4 adapter. However, the theoretical information does not match the empyrical results.

I will still use the x16 adapter after all, since the speeds are very good.

Graphic Card Topic

I've been testing my rig with the Samsung EVO Plus 970 along with my graphic card MSI Gaming 4 970 to see if there's any difference in terms of the PCIe bus lanes. These are my results:

The graphic card perform exactly the same using a x16 and a x8 configuration. I ran both configurations (x4 adapter and x16 adapter) to see the difference but they carry out the test the same.



I'll update the graphic test results soon. I'll try to test a 4K configuration to stress the GPU and check whether there's difference. Despite that I'm using a 1080p monitor so I don't think I'll notice it while gaming.
  • Is this configuration going to decrease the speed of my graphics card?
Apparently no. I think you won't have problems while gaming. In spite that, my graphic card is not so powerful.
  • If I purchase a better graphics card (like GTX 1080 or GTX 1080Ti) are the SSD in PCIe adapter and the new graphic going to keep the same speed?
I haven't got a better graphic card so I couldn't test it. If I purchase it I'll post it here.

Hope this huge research is useful :giggle:. Let me know if you need more information.
 
Oct 7, 2020
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@Nick Rabbitz
I had been doing research as well and contacted MSI to no solution or help a few months ago. Just ran across this newly thread. I have the Z97M-G97 which is almost the same as in Specs. Would you know if running the M2 will be the same...? and getting a PCI-adapter would be better and beneficial than using the M2 Slot? Many Thanks!!!
 

Nick Rabbitz

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@Nick Rabbitz
I had been doing research as well and contacted MSI to no solution or help a few months ago. Just ran across this newly thread. I have the Z97M-G97 which is almost the same as in Specs. Would you know if running the M2 will be the same...? and getting a PCI-adapter would be better and beneficial than using the M2 Slot? Many Thanks!!!
Hi @Al50

Sorry for the late replay. I haven't found your motherboard on Google. Just found the MSI Z97-G43, MSI Z97-G45 the MSI Z97M.

  • MSI Z97M:
    • M.2 Slot: According to the MSI data sheet, this motherboard is almost exactly as mine (Z97 Gaming 5). Despite does not specify what type of PCIe generation (PCIe 2.0 or 3.0) nor how many lanes it uses, I think it will perform as mine, based on the following specs:
Intel Z97 Express Chipset - MSI Z97M
  • 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~6)
  • 1 x M.2 Key M Socket supports type 2280/2260/2242 storage devices in both PCIE Gen2 x2 & SATA mode*
  • M.2 port supports M.2 SATA 6Gb/s module
  • M.2 port supports M.2 PCIe module up to 10Gb/s speed**
  • M.2 port supports 4.2cm/ 6cm/ 8cm length module
  • Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10***
  • Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel® Smart Connect Technology****
* The SATA5 and SATA6 ports will be unavailable when installing a module in the M.2 port.
** M.2 PCIe interface only supports UEFI option ROM, NOT support legacy option ROM.
*** M.2 PCIe interface does not support RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10.
**** Supports Intel Core processors on Windows 7 and Windows 8/ 8.1
This means 6 G bits/s = 0.75 G Bytes/s OR up to (may be less than specified due to aspects I don't know yet) 10 G bits/s = 1.25 G Bytes/s.​
Warning! : This last PCIe option let the motherboard 2 SATA III ports unavailable.​

  • MSI Z97M:
    • PCIe Slot: According to the specifications, this motherboard has 2 ports PCIe Gen 3.0 x16 each. (Also 2 ports PCIe Gen 2 x1 each but are useless since have just one lane and are one generation older). If you are using a graphics card on one of the PCIe Gen 3.0 port, then the graphics card is getting all the x16 lanes for itself. Now, if you plug in a PCIe Adapter you'll need to set your UEFI in x8/x8 mode (like me) and the graphics card will perform just with x8 lanes (however aparently it is not so important, graphics cards never use that bandwith, maybe a GTX 3090 or so). To sum up with the PCIe 3.0 Adapter, I think it will work, specifically up to:
      • 985 M Bytes/s on x1 lane adapter
      • 3940 M Bytes/s on x4 lane: apparently M.2 M-key drives are design for x4 lanes.
      • 15760 M Bytes/s on x16
      • Note: despite the theoretical speeds, practical ones may differ. Have a look at my research above.
    • UEFI Boot issue: now, that hardware issues covered, software may differ. My motherboard has had more updates than this one. However both have the same date in the last update (around February / March 2016) so I believe it will be able to boot perfectly like me.
Moving to the other motherboard:
  • MSI Z97M-G45:
    • M.2 Slot: This motherboard has no m.2 slot, just mSATA which has different key.
    • PCIe Slot: Is exactly as mine (3 slots of PCIe Gen 3.0 x16). If you use a PCIe Adapter you'll need to set the motherboard for x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4 mode. Speeds will be the same as mine.
    • UEFI Boot: last update is arount Feb 2016. Should work but I'm not completely sure.
Finally:
  • M.2 Slot: this motherboard has no m.2 port nor mSATA.
  • PCIe Slot: this motherboard only has 1 PCIe Gen 3.0 slot. You'll only be able to plug in a graphics card or an adapter.
  • UEFI Boot: last update is around Feb 2016. However I have no idea it will work.
Despite my research I really recommend you to purchase both PCIe Adapter (x4 or x16) and your favourite M.2 NVMe SSD and test it out. If neither of them satisfies your needs nor espectations then return them.

If you found this reply useful please consider to vote up this reply.

Have a nice day :D
 
Jan 23, 2021
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Hi Nick. Really good post. I'm lost with all the technical details about bandwidth and adapters. I have this configuration:

OS Name Microsoft Windows 10 Home
Version 10.0.19041 Build 19041
Other OS Description Not Available
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Manufacturer MSI
System Model MS-7917
System Type x64-based PC
System SKU To be filled by O.E.M.
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-4460 CPU @ 3.20GHz, 3201 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. V1.13, 2/16/2016
SMBIOS Version 2.8
Embedded Controller Version 255.255
BIOS Mode UEFI
Adapter Description NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
BaseBoard Product Z97 GAMING 5 (MS-7917)
BaseBoard Version 1.0

Do you think is worth it to install a Samsung (MZ-V7S1T0B/AM) 970 EVO Plus SSD 1TB - M.2 NVMe), if so, which adapter I need?. My idea is to clone the old Intel 240GB 530, so I can have a new OS drive. Also maybe upgrade video with GeForce RTX 3060 Ti . Thanks for your help.
 
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