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Author Topic: GT75VR 7RF - Replacing default SSD with Super Raid 4  (Read 178 times)

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dannyx.michaudTopic starter

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GT75VR 7RF - Replacing default SSD with Super Raid 4
« on: 13-September-17, 17:15:53 »

I bought a GT75VR 7RF laptop. It came with a 256go SSD and a 1to HDD. I'm running out of place with my 256go SSD, so I thought about getting a 500go SSD M.2. Then I saw the "Super Raid 4" MSI sticker on my laptop. How do I know if my laptop support this feature and if so, what do I need to do to set it up?
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david

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« Reply #1 on: 13-September-17, 19:19:10 »

I bought a GT75VR 7RF laptop. It came with a 256go SSD and a 1to HDD. I'm running out of place with my 256go SSD, so I thought about getting a 500go SSD M.2. Then I saw the "Super Raid 4" MSI sticker on my laptop. How do I know if my laptop support this feature and if so, what do I need to do to set it up?

Hi dannyx.michaud,

MSI's "Super RAID 4" is nothing more than a striped RAID-0 array. It can theoretically increase the read/write speed by the number of drives in the array. A two-drive array will be twice as fast as a single drive. A four-drive array (which my GT80 Titan supports) is four times as fast. "Super RAID 4" is just MSI's marketing name for it and the number in the name has nothing to do with the number of drives is supports---rather it is just a version number.

In order to create one of these arrays, each drive should be identical---ideally, they should be the same model M.2 SSD. If they are not the same model, the drives will all be slowed to the speed of the slowest drive in the array and the storage capacity of each drive will be limited to that of the "smallest" drive in the array. But the touchy part is that dissimilar drives can sometime have timing problems and this can lead to failure of the array. Striped RAID-0 arrays are fairly easy to configure with M.2 SATA SSDs but can be a bit challenging to configure with M.2 PCIe SSDs (with or without the NVMe protocol).

The salient question is: Should you use a striped RAID-0 array? In most cases the answer is an emphatic NO! Then why does MSI ship gaming notebooks with them (or with the capability for them)? I believe it is just a marketing gimmick so MSI can claim that their gaming notebooks are a little faster than their competitors. But MSI fails to inform users that there are risks involved. You see, if just one drive in a striped RAID-0 array has trouble---if it fails in some way---you loose the contents of ALL drives in the array. And the risk increases with each drive in the array. Plus, there are additional risks that are seldom accounted for, like the complexity of the hardware involved (we're talking about a hardware-based array rather than a software-based array).

The problem is this: The user will observe virtually no increase in performance with a striped RAID-0 array. It can increase the load times of games and large programs by a tiny bit but once the programs have loaded into memory, the array has no further benefit. It does not make games or other programs run any faster unless they need to continually read/write large files and cannot parallel process during that time. So you get virtually no practical benefit and yet you increase your risk of catastrophic file loss. And, in case you think this rarely happens, just read through the past threads here and you'll see lots of users pleading for help when their MSI "Super RAID" array suddenly died, losing all their files, programs, and the OS.

Should you use a striped RAID-0 array? I think not. You'd be better served by buying a super-fast M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD that can actually sustain its maximum speed---almost none can. One of the few that can is the Samsung 960 Pro line. Samsung added a much beefier copper substrate to conduct heat away from the memory chips and it is one of the few M.2 PCIe SSDs that can operate at full speed for sustained writes of large files. Most other M.2 PCIe SSDs (with or without NVMe) quickly overheat and throttle down. Plus, a single Samsung M.2 960 Pro SSD is faster than many two-drive striped RAID-0 arrays. There's just one "bad" thing about these fast new SSDs: they aren't cheap.

So your best choice is usually to use your M.2 SSDs as stand-alone drives and, if you need speed, buy the high-end models like the 960 Pro that offer it without the need for a risky striped RAID-0 array. If you have the budget, the M.2 SSD with the largest storage capacity happens to be a 2 TB Samsung M.2 960 Pro SSD.

You should also be aware that MSI does not support more than two M.2 PCIe SSDs (with or without NVMe) in its notebooks. If your notebook model has more than two M.2 slots, the others are for M.2 SATA SSDs which are slower (but cheaper and easier to configure). Be careful when you install an M.2 SSD that you install it into the correct M.2 slot or your notebook will stop working (they usually won't boot).

Kind regards, David
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GT80 2QE Titan SLI-001 • i7-4720HQ • 32 GB DRAM • 2 x GTX 980M in SLI • 16 GB VRAM (8 GB/GPU) • 2 x 512 GB Micron M600 M.2 SSDs in mirrored Recovery array • 2 x 128 Toshiba M.2 SSDs in mirrored RAID-1 • 2 TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD • MiniPro RAID V2 external case w/ 2 x 2 TB Seagate ST2000LM003 HD in RAID-1 for local backup • 40" Philips 4K UHD BDM4065UC monitor • Gigabyte Aivia Osmium external keyboard • SteelSeries Sensei MLG mouse • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit • Adobe Master Collection CS6

dannyx.michaudTopic starter

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« Reply #2 on: 13-September-17, 19:32:23 »

Wow, what an amazing answer. Not only I better understand the famous "Super Raid 4" but you actually answered another question I had in mind when I was browsing my BIOS. My SSD happens to be plugged as a SATA drive. I was concerned of why it wasn't plugged as a PCIe if it's an M.2 SSD. Should I open my computer and switch the SSD to an actual PCIe slot? Or there is a reason as why MSI used the SATA M.2 slot?
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david

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« Reply #3 on: 13-September-17, 23:09:46 »

... My SSD happens to be plugged as a SATA drive. I was concerned of why it wasn't plugged as a PCIe if it's an M.2 SSD. Should I open my computer and switch the SSD to an actual PCIe slot? Or there is a reason as why MSI used the SATA M.2 slot?

Hi dannyx.michaud,

I don't have an answer for that. The GT75VR is such a new model that it is not yet listed in MSI's storage device document. You can download a pdf of the document at the MSI FAQ here (click on the red "Download" button). Without more information, I don't know what kind of M.2 SSD slots are provided with your model.

In general, there are two kinds of M.2 SSDs and MSI has offered three different M.2 slots to accommodate them. First, the M.2 SSDs come in two types: M.2 SATA SSDs and M.2 PCIe SSDs. They are NOT interchangeable. You cannot use a SATA SSD with a PCIe slot and you cannot use a PCIe SSD with a SATA slot. There are also two types of PCIe SSDs, those that include the optional NVMe protocol for faster communication and those that do not. But both PCIe versions are fully interchangeable with each other---all of MSI's M.2 PCIe slots can work with M.2 PCIe SSDs with or without NVMe.

Here's where things get a bit tricky: MSI accommodates these two different types of M.2 SSDs with three different M.2 slots. The first are the M.2 SATA-only slots---they only work with M.2 SATA SSDs. The second are the M.2 PCIe-only slots---they only work with M.2 PCIe SSDs (with or without NVMe). And the third are the "combo" slots that have both SATA and PCIe interfaces---they can (in theory) accept either an M.2 SATA SSD or an M.2 PCIe SSD (with or without NVMe). These "combo" slots are the newest and are intended to be "universal" in that any kind of M.2 SSD interface can be used with them. It's also my impression that these "combo" slots appear twice in the BIOS (once as a SATA port and again as a PCIe port). Note: When MSI first introduced the "combo" slots, some failed to live up to their claim and would work with only one type of M.2 SSD. So don't take anything MSI says for granted---they can make mistakes.

But you must also bear in mind that MSI gaming notebooks can only have two M.2 PCIe SSDs. Yet some models have more than two M.2 slots. This usually means that two of the slots are either PCIe-only or "combo". The rest of the slots will be SATA-only.

Back to your question, I don't know what kind of M.2 slot your M.2 SSD is plugged into now. Nor do I know what kind of M.2 SSD it is. If your current M.2 SSD is a SATA model and it's plugged into a SATA-only slot, then the answer is NO, you cannot plug an M.2 PCIe SSD into that slot. However, if the slot is a "combo" slot, then YES, you should be able to. But again, there are no guarantees---you'll have to try it or talk to someone else who has.

At this point it should be very obvious that do-it-yourselfers MUST open their notebooks and inspect them to see what they've got before buying any new parts. Just this week, a user wrote in to this forum asking why his notebook went dead when he plugged in a new M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The reason was because he already had two installed from the factory and he was trying to install a third by inserting it into a SATA-only M.2 slot. That's a great way to kill a notebook! Hopefully, once he removes the PCIe SSD from the SATA-only slot, his notebook will boot again. But who knows if his expensive M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD will ever work now? I don't know if they can survive being plugged into an incorrect M.2 slot. Hopefully, they can.

Kind regards, David
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GT80 2QE Titan SLI-001 • i7-4720HQ • 32 GB DRAM • 2 x GTX 980M in SLI • 16 GB VRAM (8 GB/GPU) • 2 x 512 GB Micron M600 M.2 SSDs in mirrored Recovery array • 2 x 128 Toshiba M.2 SSDs in mirrored RAID-1 • 2 TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD • MiniPro RAID V2 external case w/ 2 x 2 TB Seagate ST2000LM003 HD in RAID-1 for local backup • 40" Philips 4K UHD BDM4065UC monitor • Gigabyte Aivia Osmium external keyboard • SteelSeries Sensei MLG mouse • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit • Adobe Master Collection CS6
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