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Thread: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

  1. #1
    janner66 is offline Junior Member
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    Default M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Hi,

    Is there an up to date compatability list for M2 SSD on Z97 Extreme 6 motherboard please?

    Will I be able to use the M2 for the OS on Windows 8.1?

    I have read that the M2 uses PCI Express. If I purchase a M2 and use it for the OS (if possible) will this interfere with the potential use of other SATA hard drives,DVD or Blu-Ray drives or other expansion cards?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is online now Senior Member
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    There is no need to worry about the M.2 compatibility list, any M.2 SSD should work in the Z97 Extreme 6, and you can boot an OS from that SSD fine.

    Actually this board is the only one currently that would allow you to boot from the Samsung XP941 M.2 SSD, which has a special requirement that this board meets, without going into those details.

    This board has two M.2 interfaces, the standard M.2 and the Ultra M.2. Any potential interference with anything else depends upon which one you use.

    Neither M.2 connection will interfere with any other SATA drives or DVD/Blue Ray drives.

    The standard M.2 interface uses the PCIe 2.0 lanes from the Z97 chipset that are specifically allocated to that M.2 connection only, so that won't interfere with anything else.

    The Ultra M.2 interface will use up to four PCIe 3.0 lanes provided by the CPU (16 total) if an x4 M.2 SSD is connected to that port. The PCIe 3.0 lanes are used for the video card slots, so it would reduce the lanes available if two video cards are used, from x8/x8 to x8/x4 on the PCIE2 and PCIE4 slots. An x2 M.2 SSD would only used two lanes, so the result would be x8/x6.

    The only M.2 SSD that currently uses four (x4) PCIe lanes is the Samsung XP941, all the others use two (x2) PCIe lanes. Currently, no M.2 SSDs can use PCIe 3.0 speeds, they all operated at PCIe 2.0 speeds.
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    janner66 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    So if I have got this right, any M.2 will fit my motherboard. Does this include any ultra M.2?

    Standard M.2 is the same as getting any SSD SATA3 drive. i.e. 6gb whereas ultra M.2 is a bit faster?

    That's not a problem about the graphics card as the other slot is not being used anyway. However will an ultra SSD affect USB3 usage? At the moment I have all 10 USB3 ports being used. If I put in an ultra SSD will this stop some of those ports working? If it is just the graphics affected that is fine but if it makes some of the USB3 ports redundant then that would be too high a price to pay unfortunately.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by janner66; 08-16-2014 at 07:10 PM.

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    parsec's Avatar
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Ultra M.2 is a name that ASRock created AFAIK, and is not a standard term in the PC industry.

    The physical connection aspect of an M.2 connector is the same for all M.2 SSDs, the electrical connection varies depending upon the SSD.

    Any M.2 SSD will physically fit fine in the standard M.2 or Ultra M.2 ports on this board, the only difference between them is the number of PCIe lanes they are connected to. Standard M.2 uses two PCIe lanes, Ultra M.2 uses four PCIe lanes.

    Almost all M.2 SSDs at this time (8/2014) use two PCIe connections, connecting them to a four lane Ultra M.2 slot makes no difference in the number of PCIe lanes they will use. The Samsung XP941 is the exception, it can connect to four PCIe lanes, and must be used with an Ultra M.2 port.

    There are really two types of M.2 SSDs, one that uses the board's SATA controller, and the other doesn't.

    Most M.2 SSDs are the same as standard 2.5" SATA III SSDs, in that they use the board's SATA chipset/controller, and are no faster than standard SATA III SSDs.

    The other type of M.2 PCIe SSDs are the Samsung XP941 and Plextor M6e. They don't use the board's SATA controller. The M6e can connect to two PCIe lanes, so works fine in the standard and Ultra M.2 slots.

    The Plextor M6e is faster than standard SATA III SSDs in sequential read speed, ~750MB/s vs ~500MB/s. The Samsung XP941, with its four lane connection, can do ~1,400MB/s sequential read speed.

    The USB 3.0 interface is completely separate from the PCIe and SATA interface, they don't share IO lanes within the chipset once they are configured by the mother board manufacture. So using an M.2 SSD in either M.2 port will not affect the USB ports.

    Since the Ultra M.2 port uses PCIe 3.0 lanes provided by the CPU (shared with the x16 video card slots), and the USB interface is provided by the Z97 chipset, there is no possibility of interference. The standard M.2 port uses two PCIe 2.0 lanes from the Z97 chipset, which is a fixed, unshared allocation.
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  5. #5
    janner66 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Thank you Parsec. That was beautifully explained. Much appreciated. I think I will wait for the prices to drop a little before I dive in however.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I'm a complete SSD geek as you can see.

    I have this ASRock board because of its capabilities with M.2 SSDs, and the unique (at this time) Ultra M.2 slot.

    I had the luck of testing a Plextor M6e, which is really an M.2 SSD on a PCIe adapter board. I removed it from the adapter board, and used it in both M.2 slots. I was able to clone an OS installation to it, and it booted up just fine.

    The XP941 has not been available at retail until lately through one or two places. That is due to it needing a certain BIOS configuration in order to boot an OS, which this ASRock board has. Other Z97 boards have not been able to boot from an XP941, and will need a BIOS update to make it work.

    There should be a successor to the XP941, late this year or next year, which is when more M.2 SSDs will begin to appear.

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    janner66 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Quote Originally Posted by parsec View Post
    Thanks for your kind words.

    I'm a complete SSD geek as you can see.

    I have this ASRock board because of its capabilities with M.2 SSDs, and the unique (at this time) Ultra M.2 slot.

    I had the luck of testing a Plextor M6e, which is really an M.2 SSD on a PCIe adapter board. I removed it from the adapter board, and used it in both M.2 slots. I was able to clone an OS installation to it, and it booted up just fine.

    The XP941 has not been available at retail until lately through one or two places. That is due to it needing a certain BIOS configuration in order to boot an OS, which this ASRock board has. Other Z97 boards have not been able to boot from an XP941, and will need a BIOS update to make it work.

    There should be a successor to the XP941, late this year or next year, which is when more M.2 SSDs will begin to appear.
    I am so tempted to get a Plextor M6e 256gb card. They are half the price of the XP941 at 150. I have just got my bonus from work too! But I keep telling myself I don't "really" need it but then I keep looking at it.

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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    If you can get a 256GB M6e for 75, that is a better price than in the USA, if I'm not mistaken about the to $ conversion. Normally the 256GB M6e is $250 as of today's date (8/18/14). Plus it's the only non-SATA M.2 SSD available now, besides the XP941. We can't get the XP941 from a retailer in the USA, now or ever.

    How often to we really need a new part for our PC? My SSD collection is a monument to that notion, or really my ability to ignore it.

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    janner66 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Quote Originally Posted by parsec View Post
    If you can get a 256GB M6e for 75, that is a better price than in the USA, if I'm not mistaken about the to $ conversion. Normally the 256GB M6e is $250 as of today's date (8/18/14). Plus it's the only non-SATA M.2 SSD available now, besides the XP941. We can't get the XP941 from a retailer in the USA, now or ever.

    How often to we really need a new part for our PC? My SSD collection is a monument to that notion, or really my ability to ignore it.
    Sorry I have confused you. I did read it before I posted it and thought it could be misunderstood. What I meant to say was that the M6e was half the price of the XP so the XP was 300 and the M6 was 150 not 75. Sorry.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: M2 SSD card for Z97 Extreme6

    Quote Originally Posted by janner66 View Post
    Sorry I have confused you. I did read it before I posted it and thought it could be misunderstood. What I meant to say was that the M6e was half the price of the XP so the XP was 300 and the M6 was 150 not 75. Sorry.
    Oh, too bad, I was considering asking you to purchase one for me...

    I'm not serious, I thought that price seemed to good to be true. To bad you can't get it for that price. The M6e has remained near its introductory price in the USA for months now, and they don't seem to be selling that well. A major Internet retailer in the USA had the M6e for 10% off, which would take the 256GB model down to $225.

    Frankly, besides higher sequential read speeds, the M6e is not faster than the best standard SATA III SSDs in other aspects of performance, and actually not as good in some important areas like latency. OTOH, the one I used for a while booted an OS as fast as a Samsung 840 Pro, possibly a tiny bit faster... hard to tell when it's three seconds from POST beep to desktop display.

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