[SOLVED] SSD upgrade - PCIe Lanes on Asus Maximus VII Hero

OnlyCORE

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Hey,
I'm rocking an i5 4690k in Asus Maximus VII Hero with RTX 2060.
I wanted to upgrade to 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD but I am not sure what's the best way to do it.
I read somewhere that the M.2 slot on my motherboard only gets to around 700MB/s because it's only 2x so I thought I could buy an adapter from M.2 to PCI.
I don't really understand how the lanes work and the specifications of my MB and what's the best way to connect all my PCI devices and set them up in BIOS:
  • RTX 2060
  • Firewire card (I don't use it very often so I can pull it out to free some lanes if necessary)
  • potential M.2 card
Here are the specifications from Asus website:
Storage:
1 x M.2 Socket 3, black, with M Key, type 2260/2280 storage devices support (PCIE mode)
Expansion Slots:
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8, red)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black) *1
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 *2

*1: The PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCIEX4_3) shares bandwith with PCIe 2.0 x1 and M.2 slot. The default setting is Auto Mode, which automatically optimizes the system bandwidth. If you install a PCIe 2.0 x4 device, the system will automatically detect and disable PCIe 2.0 x1 and M.2 slot.
*2: The PCIe 2.0 x1 slots (PCIEX1_1/2/3) will be disabled when PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCIEX4_3 ) operates under x4 speed or M.2 mode.
 
If you use PCIE M.2 adapter card in second PCIE x16 slot (x8 mode), then you can get full speed of PCIE 3.0 x4 M.2 drive.
This will limit first PCIE x16 to x8 mode though. But performance impact is minimal. So, it's ok to do that.

M.2 slot on motherboard is limited to PCIE 2.0 x2 mode. So it's 1/4 of PCIE 3.0 x4 bandwidth.
With PCIE M.2 adapter in third PCIE x16 slot (x4 mode) it's limited to PCIE 2.0 x4.
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
For your platform I'd advise o not spending any money towards an M.2 drive, instead buy a 2.5" SATA based SSD. Even if you did get an expansion card that would use one of your PCIe slots, you're not going to be able to get the maximum speed out of your M.2.
 

OnlyCORE

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For your platform I'd advise o not spending any money towards an M.2 drive, instead buy a 2.5" SATA based SSD. Even if you did get an expansion card that would use one of your PCIe slots, you're not going to be able to get the maximum speed out of your M.2.
I'm not going to upgrade my PC (MB,CPU,RAM) probably for another 3-4 years minimum and the price difference between sata and NVMe drives isn't that big.
From what I understand and read online the GPU and adapter from M.2 to PCI will both have 8x link right?
 
If you use PCIE M.2 adapter card in second PCIE x16 slot (x8 mode), then you can get full speed of PCIE 3.0 x4 M.2 drive.
This will limit first PCIE x16 to x8 mode though. But performance impact is minimal. So, it's ok to do that.

M.2 slot on motherboard is limited to PCIE 2.0 x2 mode. So it's 1/4 of PCIE 3.0 x4 bandwidth.
With PCIE M.2 adapter in third PCIE x16 slot (x4 mode) it's limited to PCIE 2.0 x4.
 

OnlyCORE

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If you use PCIE M.2 adapter card in second PCIE x16 slot (x8 mode), then you can get full speed of PCIE 3.0 x4 M.2 drive.
This will limit first PCIE x16 to x8 mode though. But performance impact is minimal. So, it's ok to do that.

M.2 slot on motherboard is limited to PCIE 2.0 x2 mode. So it's 1/4 of PCIE 3.0 x4 bandwidth.
With PCIE M.2 adapter in third PCIE x16 slot (x4 mode) it's limited to PCIE 2.0 x4.
Excellent, Thank you.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Thanks, I will check it out.
Will Windows installation see the drive or do I need a driver or something?
If wanting to use this as the OS drive, it may or may not work on that motherboard.
Look in the BIOS updates over time, and see if there is a specific BIOS update that addresses this.

Boards of that era did NOT have the capability to do this initially. Only after subsequent BIOS updates, maybe.
 

OnlyCORE

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If wanting to use this as the OS drive, it may or may not work on that motherboard.
Look in the BIOS updates over time, and see if there is a specific BIOS update that addresses this.

Boards of that era did NOT have the capability to do this initially. Only after subsequent BIOS updates, maybe.
Wrote a message to Asus support and they assured me that it can boot from the slot.
I will test if it really works.
 

OnlyCORE

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UPDATE:
It works ;)
I am on the last stable BIOS and it found the drive in adapter and can boot from it.
All I had to do was change something in BIOS soo it uses all 8 lanes insted of 4. benchmark shows speeds of over 3400MB/s and 2300MB/s
 

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