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Plextor M8Pe NVMe SSD Windows 7 succesful install in GA-Z97X-Gaming 3

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I am here to report that i have successfully installed Windows 7 on my 256 GB Plextor M8Pe SSD.

Plextor M8Pe - an M.2 2280 socket NVMe based SSD, which uses PCI-E lanes for bandwidth transfer instead of SATA cables, has been widely described over the last year in various articles.

https://www.techpowerup.com/223176/plextor-also-unveils-m8pe-series-pcie-ssds

NVMe based SSDs are the "future now" thing, but i, like many other people, wish to stay with Windows 7 for as long as the OS is relevant and supported by Microsoft. The problem is, that Windows 7 does not have drivers for NVMe based SSD.

Also, only some of the Z97 and H97 systemboards with BIOS implementations superseding 2015/3 - 2015/06 period might actually support NVMe drives. Luckily some of the cheaper high-end systemboards like my fresh Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 3 apparently came with the needed BIOS update for 5 generation CPUs and NVMe straight out of the box. Obviously the current Z170 and Z270 systemboards should have no problem with NVMe support.

What is needed for Windows 7 install?

1. USB Win7 iso is not needed to install OS, a common DVD works! All over the internet articles pop up that you need a Win7 iso in a USB drive in order to install OS; don't know where that came from, since a regular DVDROM works just fine!

2. Make sure that UEFI boot ROM and UEFI storage interfaces are selected in your BIOS menu, select no legacy options.

3. Format a USB drive to FAT32, create a folder named "Drv" and paste your OS pendant (x86 or x64) drivers, which are provided by your SSD manufacturer. In case of Plextor, everything is to be found here:

http://www.goplextor.com/Support/Downloads

4. When the time comes to select a hard drive for Windows 7, you will see nothing; click the CD icon "browse files" on the left lower filed, find your USB drive, search your Drv folder for your X86 or X64 drivers, and click ok.

The biggest catch is the speed. Since i've just installed Windows 7, it will take time to organize my stuff and actually test the speed of the Plextor SSD.

Now, i see that my systemboard supports PCI-E 2.0 X4 interface for my SSD, which means a 1600 MB/s bandwidth should be realistically possible - that is below the SSDs 2100 MB/s read speed, but above, it's 900 MB/s write speed. I am ok with that, but i can not guarantee that it will perform like it.

If anybody knows why PCI-E 3.0 was not an option, please reply.

I will write once more when i will test my SSD.

Cheers, i hope this will be useful to somebody!


 
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As far as I am aware NVMe is BIOS dependent and should work on most Z97 and newer Motherboards.
 
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Correct. The big issue if your BIOS has support is will it allow you to use SATA and NVME drives at the same time. In at least a few it is one or the other.
 
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Crystaldisk Mark 5 reports reading speeds of 780 MB/s and writing speeds of 680 MB/s. While the writing speeds are bit less specification wise correct, the reading speeds are twice slower than they should be. What other software would you recommend for testing? What else would you recommend to improve SSD performance? The write caching policy has been enabled by default (i guess); system restore is disabled; allocated 2048 - 4096 MB for file paging. Any other tweaks in Windows 7 those are hampering SSD performance of which i do not know?
 
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How about AS SSD Benchmark
 

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You can just slipstream the NVMe drivers into the windows installer as well. The one I use at work is good for USB3/3.1, XHCI and intel/hynix/samsung/OCZ NVMe's
 

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As far as I am aware NVMe is BIOS dependent and should work on most Z97 and newer Motherboards.
My board. 2301/2501 No nvme, 2901 NVMe supported.
 
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I have updated the bios to the latest non beta version. Now while booting up i get this screen for a very very short time



It seems that this is the problem. Instead of working at PCI-E 3.0 X4 mode, it only works at PCI-E 2.0 X2 mode, which is why the speed is limited. Any ideas why is this so and how this should be fixed? Is there a registry fix around in the net that can fix the value of PCI-E links for Windows 7?
 

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Board only supports a 10gb/s port.

 
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Most Z97 boards only support 10 Gb/s М.2. You should try using an add-in card M.2 adapter that goes in the PCI-E 8x 3.0 slot. You loose 16x PCI-E GPU interface but in most cases 8x is enough for gaming.
If you really want a 32 Gb/s M.2 you need to upgrade to Skylake or Kaby Lake.
 
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So the motherboard supports 10 Gbit/s speed, that is 1250 MB/s. The SSD works at PCI-E 2.0 X2 mode, which provides maximum 1024 MB/s speed, but the programs "As SSD" and "Crystal Disk Mark" both confirm the sequential read speed of 700 MB/s, which is 300 MB/s slower than PCI-E 2.0 X2 bandwidth, and 500 MB/s slower than motherboard's capabilities... So the SSD is working slower than it should...

I would so like someone to test this SSD in Z170 board with Windows 10 and report to me the speeds!
 

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So the motherboard supports 10 Gbit/s speed, that is 1250 MB/s. The SSD works at PCI-E 2.0 X2 mode, which provides maximum 1024 MB/s speed, but the programs "As SSD" and "Crystal Disk Mark" both confirm the sequential read speed of 700 MB/s, which is 300 MB/s slower than PCI-E 2.0 X2 bandwidth, and 500 MB/s slower than motherboard's capabilities... So the SSD is working slower than it should...

I would so like someone to test this SSD in Z170 board with Windows 10 and report to me the speeds!
It also goes through the chipset which has shit ton of overhead. Those numbers line up perfectly with everyone else's numbers for a chipset driven PCI-e 2.0 port
 
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As noted by pbm86, mounting the M.2 drive on an add-in card is the way to go, this one should do nicely - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=12K-017B-00001 . I use the Intel 750 (PCIe 3.0 x 4) in my Z97 board, and it runs perfectly, and the reduction to 8 lanes for my GTX 780 Ti does not affect graphics performance at all. $25 to double your boot drive performance. No need to reinstall anything, your board should find it and boot from it, might not even need to change any BIOS settings.
 
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As noted by pbm86, mounting the M.2 drive on an add-in card is the way to go, this one should do nicely - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=12K-017B-00001 . I use the Intel 750 (PCIe 3.0 x 4) in my Z97 board, and it runs perfectly, and the reduction to 8 lanes for my GTX 780 Ti does not affect graphics performance at all. $25 to double your boot drive performance. No need to reinstall anything, your board should find it and boot from it, might not even need to change any BIOS settings.
Excellent suggestion. Which should i choose?

Ebay is FULL of these "noname" PCI-E to M.2 adapters - there are so many of them, and they are super cheap. What can you tell me about the quality of those? These adapters don't "have" manufacturer's model written on them...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/M-Key-PCI-E-X4-NGFF-to-M-2-PCI-E-SSD-NGFF-SSD-2230-2242-2260-2280-Adapter-card-/282248062018?hash=item41b74ba442:g:V8gAAOSw5cNYIO0e
http://www.ebay.com/itm/M-Key-PCI-E-X4-NGFF-to-M-2-PCI-E-SSD-NGFF-SSD-2230-2242-2260-2280-Adapter-card-/282248062018?hash=item41b74ba442:g:V8gAAOSw5cNYIO0e

Or i can buy Silverstone or Icy Box branded ones here:

https://www.alternate.de/SilverStone/SST-ECM21-Controller/html/product/1311638?event=search

https://www.alternate.de/ICY-BOX/IB-PCI208-PCI-Karte-Serial-ATA-Controller/html/product/1325147?event=search

I am from EU, so newegg is not for me.
 
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Excellent suggestion. Which should i choose?

Ebay is FULL of these "noname" PCI-E to M.2 adapters - there are so many of them, and they are super cheap. What can you tell me about the quality of those? These adapters don't "have" manufacturer's model written on them...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/M-Key-PCI-E-X4-NGFF-to-M-2-PCI-E-SSD-NGFF-SSD-2230-2242-2260-2280-Adapter-card-/282248062018?hash=item41b74ba442:g:V8gAAOSw5cNYIO0e

Or i can buy Silverstone or Icy Box branded ones here:

https://www.alternate.de/SilverStone/SST-ECM21-Controller/html/product/1311638?event=search

https://www.alternate.de/ICY-BOX/IB-PCI208-PCI-Karte-Serial-ATA-Controller/html/product/1325147?event=search

I am from EU, so newegg is not for me.
ALL of the 3 you listed are probably PCIe 2.0, the Silverstone actually has a max speed of 6Gb/s (SATA speeds), so no, do NOT buy any of these. These were made back when there were no 3.0 x 4 drives, and they immediately became useless when the faster drives arrived. The card you want will list full specs, PCIe 3.0 x 4, 32Gb/s, M key, 2280, and should have comments from buyers who had success getting full speeds out of fast NVMe drives like Samsung 950 Pro or 960 Pro. Like the Addonics ADM2PX4 that I linked above, read the review comments...
 
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Just order the Asus card and be done?
 
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ALL of the 3 you listed are probably PCIe 2.0, the Silverstone actually has a max speed of 6Gb/s (SATA speeds), so no, do NOT buy any of these. These were made back when there were no 3.0 x 4 drives, and they immediately became useless when the faster drives arrived. The card you want will list full specs, PCIe 3.0 x 4, 32Gb/s, M key, 2280, and should have comments from buyers who had success getting full speeds out of fast NVMe drives like Samsung 950 Pro or 960 Pro. Like the Addonics ADM2PX4 that I linked above, read the review comments...
I did buy one of them (the no-name stuff) and it is PCI-E 2.0 X4, which is enough for resolving Z97 bottleneck. However i now use that M.2 Plextor NVME SSD in my other benchmarking rig with GA-Z170XP-SLI. For my own uses i bought M.2 Samsung 850 Evo 500 GB AHCI SSD and i will be fine.
 
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