The most significant improvement you can make to an old PC is quicker storage. Other components, such as the CPU and GPU, have undoubtedly improved over the previous decade, but everyone will benefit from speedier storage.
NVMe is the most recent storage interface for laptops and desktops, with substantially faster read and write rates than earlier technologies that load up your OS faster and reduce loading times in games significantly. However, this comes at a cost, so depending on how you want to use the computer, purchasing an NVMe SSD may sometimes not be effective.
What is an NVMe Drive?
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a storage interface launched in 2013. The term “non-volatile” refers to the fact that the storage is not deleted when your computer reboots, whereas “express” refers to the data traveling via the PCI Express (PCIe) interface on your computer’s motherboard. Because data does not have to pass via a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) controller, the drive has a more direct link with your motherboard.
NVMe SSDs are far quicker than SATA drives, which have been available for years. The latest edition of the PCI Express standard, PCIe 3.0, offers a maximum transfer speed of 985 megabytes per second (Mbps) per lane. NVMe SSDs may use up to four PCIe lanes, resulting in a theoretical maximum speed of 3.9 Gbps.
NVMe SSDs have become the new standard for main hard drives in PCs, even in the low-cost category. NVMe SSDs are no longer unreasonably pricey and only suitable for high-performance configurations.
Unfortunately, unlike SATA Hard Disk Drives and SATA SSDs, which may be connected to many SATA ports on any given motherboard, NVMe SSDs require specialized and uncommon NVMe enabled M.2 slots. The good news is that practically all current motherboards, whether cheap or costly, include an M.2 slot for NVMe SSDs.
The generation of NVMe SSDs supported by your motherboard is an essential feature since each newer generation of NVMe SSDs greatly improves transfer speed over the previous generation.
Does my motherboard support NVMe Drives?
The simplest approach to determine whether or not your motherboard supports NVMe SSD is to read the standard descriptions provided by the motherboard’s manufacturer. To find out what sort of drives it supports, look at the standard description’s storage or hard drive portion.
However, there are various cautions and factors to be aware of when determining what type of SSDs your motherboard can handle. Hard drives, in general, employ two interfaces: SATA and PCIe.
SATA is the slower option. SATA SSDs and spinning hard disc drives use this interface. The newest SATA 3 iteration has a theoretical maximum transmission speed of 6 Gbps (750 MB/s).
NVMe SSDs use the PCIe interface. PCIe gen 3 NVMe SSDs have typical speeds of 3500 MB/s, whereas the newest PCIe gen 4 NVMe SSDs have typical rates of around 5500 MB/s. On the other hand, the PCIe interface makes use of the PCIe lanes, which are significantly quicker.
As a result, it is critical to understand that SATA SSDs are not the same as PCIe NVMe SSDs.
If your motherboard’s specs state that it supports two M.2 slots, keep in mind that the presence of M.2 slots does not automatically imply that the motherboard supports NVMe SSDs.
Some motherboards feature one M.2 slot connected to the CPU PCIe lanes and another to the chipboard PCIe lanes. However, the M.2 slot on some motherboards may only allow SATA SSD.
Why you should get an NVMe drive:
An NVMe drive has various advantages over a traditional SSD or HDD, including quicker speeds and enhanced performance. NVMe is the fastest storage technology on the market today, with reading speeds up to 4x faster and write rates up to 2x faster than SATA III (6Gb/s).
Furthermore, NVMe is tuned for random I/O performance, which implies it will give better performance for workloads like gaming and software. Another major advantage of NVMe is its tiny form size; many devices are M.2 compatible. This enables you to place the NVMe device in an available PCIe slot or connect it to an M.2 port.
How do NVMe drives work?
NVMe SSDs can have either an M.2 or PCIe connection type, which specifies how it connects to your motherboard and transmits data. It’s more formally known as a form factor.
To choose the NVMe drive to purchase, you must first determine what type of connection your motherboard supports. Some NVMe SSDs can be installed in a PCIe slot on a motherboard, and they are surely gaining popularity among users.
High-end PCIe NVMe SSDs, on the other hand, are still highly specialized and are largely employed by major organizations to operate their server networks. As a result, you’ll most likely be looking at a lower-end PCIe or, more likely, an M.2 connection.
The PCIe form factor has several generations, increasing the number of communication lanes available on the motherboard. That implies it can transfer data more quickly. Most M.2 drives have 2 – 4 communication channels.
How to check NVMe compatibility with your CPU?
The motherboard is the essential factor in deciding whether or not your system is compatible with the NVMe drive you want to buy. The M.2 slots can accommodate a wide range of M.2 cards, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards, SATA SSDs, and NVMe SSDs.
Because its adaptability is an essential feature in motherboards, it should be relatively simple to locate a motherboard with an M.2 Slot nowadays. It’s also worth noting that just having an M.2 slot doesn’t ensure NVMe compatibility.
M.2 was intended to support USB 3.0, SATA, and PCIe, yet most early M.2 slots only supported SATA. The manual for the motherboard will state the sort of operation the M.2 Slot is capable of and if it is compatible with both SATA and NVMe SSDs.
Don’t panic if your motherboard lacks M.2 slots. A reasonably inexpensive PCIe M.2 Adapter card that uses the PCIe x4 slot on the motherboard itself to connect the NVMe drive to the motherboard with very little performance loss can be purchased online.
Just be careful when buying the card for your motherboard. As, like your graphics card, it connects into your PCI lane and converts it into an M.2 slot for your NVMe drive.
Do motherboards support both NVMe and SATA drives?
Although they are both types of SSDs, all motherboards support SATA drives, and most newer ones typically support NVMe as well. A motherboard can support both NVMe and SATA SSDs or only support one of them.
Remember that just because your motherboard has an M.2 slot doesn’t ensure it supports NVMe. Because the slot may still only accept an M.2 SATA disc, having an M.2 slot does not immediately imply that your motherboard supports NVMe.
Because NVMe and SATA drives are not interchangeable, a single M.2 cannot support both. However, your motherboard may have numerous M.2 slots that accept both types.
Although it is far more typical for a motherboard to support only one of the two, a motherboard with an M.2 slot that supports NVMe will often allow SATA drives connected through SATA cables. There’s no need to cater to just one drive type because they don’t take up the same amount of space/slots on the motherboard.
That means your motherboard may support both NVMe and SATA, but you may not be able to use both in the M.2 slots.
What generation of NVMe is right for your motherboard?
The chipset and CPU determine the version of NVMe SSD supported by your motherboard. The difference between Gen 4 and Gen 3 NVMe SSDs is substantial. Essentially, Gen 3 SSDs, such as the Samsung 970 Pro, follow the PCIe 3.0 system, whereas Gen 4 SSDs, such as the Samsung 980 Pro, follow the PCIe 4.0 system.
A Gen 3 SSD may achieve rates of up to 3500 MB/s. A Gen 4 SSD, on the other hand, has a read speed of 5500 MB/s and a transfer speed of 5500 MB/s.
However, currently, there are not many Gen 4 NVMe SSD’s out there; this is probably because of their cost and, although they are very high-performance storage devices, it’ll still take some time for them to be included for Budget PC’s.
At first, answering the question, “Does my motherboard support NVMe?” may appear difficult. Fortunately, you can determine this on your own using a few simple procedures.
Reading the motherboard description is the only way to go. So, the easiest way you can determine whether your motherboard has NVMe support or not is by reading the motherboard’s technical document or product description before making a purchase.
If your motherboard is less than four or five years old, it most likely supports NVMe. However, checking compatibility can help you avoid wasting money on components that do not function together.