READ THIS before upgrading to a PCIe NVMe SSD...

davidh

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Greetings,

MSI has made the transition from mSATA to M.2 slots for all of its gaming notebooks. And now that Intel's Skylake CPU and chipsets are here, many of these notebooks offer a choice between a PCIe NVMe SSD or a SATA-3 SSD. At first glance, it appears that the PCIe NVMe SSD is the clear winner because of its speed. For example, a 512 GB Samsung 950 Pro PCIe NVMe SSD (MZ-V5P512BW) boasts a sequential read speed of 2500 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 1500 MB/s (random read/write speeds are 300K/110K IOPS). This compares to a 512 GB Micron M600 SATA-3 SSD with a sequential read speed of 560 MB/s and sequential write speed of 510 MB/s (random read/write speeds are 100K/88K IOPS).

So, what's not to like about an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD---except the higher price? Unfortunately there may be a lot not to like, depending on how you will use your SSD and your computer tech aptitude (if you plan to install one, yourself).
 
 
Thermal Limits
In order to operate at such a faster speed, an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD generates a lot more heat than an M.2 SATA SSD. According to MSI's FAQ 01990 (see link below): "One of the most pressing concerns with PCI-e (NVMe) SSD is its greater susceptibility to thermal throttling. Due to the slim form factor, SSD's inability to effectively disperse heat gives an easily overheat result under heavy load." This is why some users have observed a significantly slower-than-rated speed during benchmarking---their M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD overheated during the test and automatically throttled down to a slower speed.

From what I've been able to learn about this, you can expect an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD to exceed its thermal limit with sustained reads/writes of 5 minutes or more. However, this duration will be much shorter if the notebook is being used in a hot environment or if other factors like a heavy CPU and dGPU load are also generating high heat inside the notebook at the same time.

What this tells us is: If your SSD will be used for sustained reads/writes (gaming that depends on heavy file I/O or media production such as video recording/editing or 3D rendering) then an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD may not be the best choice. And, if you go with one any way, you can expect a shorter lifespan if it is regularly pushed to a high temperature. And, if it is part of a striped RAID-0 array (like MSI's "SuperRAID"), it will increase the likelihood of data loss. An M.2 SATA SSD may be a wiser choice. Another wise choice may be to have both a PCIe NVMe SSD for short read/write durations (perhaps the OS drive) and a SATA SSD for sustained read/write durations (like a game/data drive).
 
 
Limited PCIe NVMe Compatibility
MSI's FAQ 01990 also states: "...MSI can't guarantee the SSD performance and stability if you're not using our approval SSD." Evidently, an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD require BIOS support---I think this is due in part to the varying thermal profiles of the different models (but I'm just guessing---and I don't know what makes some PCIe SSD models "unstable"). Plus, MSI says that the option ROM in some of these unapproved super-fast SSDs cannot get past Secure Boot, requiring the user to disable Secure Boot in their notebook's BIOS. Because of the need for BIOS support, stability issues and the Secure Boot issue that some PCIe NVMe SSDs have, MSI recommends that users only install approved M.2 PCIe NVMe models. And good luck discovering which ones are approved! I've searched and have not yet discovered an MSI approved list. If they do provide one, it will vary depending on the BIOS version in the notebook. But one thing is fairly easy to anticipate: any M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD model that was introduced after the release date of your notebook's BIOS version will probably not be included. So, if you want to install the "latest, greatest" M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, it probably won't have MSI support yet. It will take them time to provide a BIOS update that includes that support---if it is a model that they approve---some models may never be approved because of the performance and stability issues.

Should you ignore MSI's advice and install an unapproved M.2 PCIe NVMe? Some users have---evidently there are some workarounds for the limited BIOS support. But you'll assume the risk. My advice is to contact MSI Support first to learn what models are supported with your notebook and BIOS version. They may recommend a BIOS upgrade to provide the support you need. But I would contact them before upgrading the BIOS.
 
 
Limited Win 7 Support for NVMe
Most readers probably won't care about Win 7 support but there are a few of us who do. Can you use Win 7 on an MSI gaming notebook with a Skylark CPU and chipset and an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD? In theory, yes. However, Win 7 does not have native support for NVMe like Win 10 does. (NVMe is an optional protocol that speeds communication over a PCIe interface.) Intel has an NVMe driver for Win 7 that it claims will provide limited support under Win 7. Microsoft also has a hotfix for Win 7 that it similarly claims will add limited support for NVMe. But the best thing you can do for Win 7 support is to buy an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD from a manufacturer who provides Win 7 support, including the necessary NVMe driver for Win 7.

What happens if you install an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD for Win 7 without any NVMe support? I'm not sure. The SSD may simply operate at a slightly slower speed as if it was a plain M.2 PCIe SSD without NVMe. This may vary by manufacturer and model. So, contact the SSD manufacturer before you buy one.

Also, you'll need to study MSI FAQ 01971 (see link below). It describes how to install Win 10 and Win 7 on a Skylake system and it includes tables that show how to configure the Boot mode, SATA mode and Secure Boot settings in your notebook's BIOS in order to use an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD as an OS drive with Win 7. MSI FAQ 01191 (see link below) describes how to use an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD as a data drive under Win 7.
 
 
Relevant MSI FAQs
FAQ 01990 - What should I know before upgrading PCI-e storage devices on my notebook? - (Click on the red "Download" button to download the pdf document.)
FAQ 01971 - How to install Windows system on my notebook with 6th Generation Intel Core CPU and PCH (Skylake)? - (Click on the red "Download" button to download the pdf document.)
FAQ 01191 - Why isn't my PCI-e NVMe SSD detected in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) control panel when I use it as a data disk in Windows 7?

Kind regards, David
 

davidh

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sportkung date=1473654713 said:
Two more links for adding SSD.

Storage Device Information:
http://www.msi.com/faq/notebook-1117

How to use Win7 Smart Tool?
http://www.msi.com/faq/nb-1988.html
Hi sportkung,

Thanks for the Win 7 Smart Tool link---I was unaware that MSI had made such a tool. It looks very helpful for anyone wanting to install Win 7 on a Skylake system.

However, the storage device links in the FAQs can be problematic. The information in them often lags well behind the current products. This is the case again now. For example, none of the new VR and NVidia 10-series systems are yet included in it. And I've found that you have to periodically search the FAQs to discover the new storage device document when it is updated because MSI doesn't always update the exiting FAQ but sometimes creates a new FAQ with a link to a new storage device document. Therefore, past links might not take you to the latest version. So readers need to get into the habit of searching the FAQs for the latest information and not rely on the links that we post here because they can become outdated over time.

I hope that MSI will eventually move some of the information from the FAQs area into the forums in a dedicated MSI "How To" or "Support" sub-forum. I've made this suggestion to them but I don't know if they will do it. However, if they do, it could make it much more accessible and easier for newbies to find.

Kind regards, David
 

davidh

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Greetings,

Update: Samsung is introducing a new 960 Pro series of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in early 2017 that appear to overcome the thermal problem of earlier M.2 SSDs of this type. Evidently they have added a thicker layer of copper inside the memory chips to better dissipate heat. It's been reported that the upper thermal limit of these new SSDs is 70?C and independent tests running benchmarks non-stop could not push the temperature any higher than 61?C in a desktop computer. (Leave it to us notebook owners to push it to 70?C.)

If the marketing hype and preliminary tests by independent reviewers are true, these are the first M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs that can handle continuous operation at full or near-full performance (3500 MB/s sequential read and 2100 MB/s sequential write) during sustained use.

The 960 Pro is not cheap and will be available in three capacities: 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB. Wow! A 2 terabyte M.2 SSD---that's fantastic! Amazon.com is taking pre-orders in the U.S. for the 1 TB model for about US$630. You can expect the 2 TB version to cost more than double that.

Kind regards, David
 

datum9

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This is really good info. 

I have SanDisk X400 which not the newer faster type but I was able to get it cheap, 512GB modules for 150 each. 
But it looks like there is a 960 in my future.
 

jodyhiscock

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I bought a brand new MSI GT72-7RD and went to install my NVME SSD and found there is no bracket.  WTF?

Can MSI explain why there is no bracket for an M.2 SSD? 

Huge benefit of a new laptop these days is because of M.2 SSD port.  My cheap laptop has a bracket but an expensive GT series laptop doesn't?

MSI please explain why these models doesn't come with a bracket to support M.2 form factor SSDs aka PCIe SSD??

I'm not impressed!! 

This is my model

https://www.msi.com/Laptop/GT72VR-7RD-Dominator.html#hero-specification



 

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davidh

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jodyhiscock date=1502262699 said:
I bought a brand new MSI GT72-7RD and went to install my NVME SSD and found there is no bracket.  :censored:?

Can MSI explain why there is no bracket for an M.2 SSD?  

Huge benefit of a new laptop these days is because of M.2 SSD port.  My cheap laptop has a bracket but an expensive GT series laptop doesn't?

MSI please explain why these models doesn't come with a bracket to support M.2 form factor SSDs aka PCIe SSD??

I'm not impressed!!  

This is my model

https://www.msi.com/Laptop/GT72VR-7RD-Dominator.html#hero-specification
Hi jodyhiscock,

This is a volunteer user-to-user forum and MSI does not participate here. You need to contact MSI directly and give them your opinion. All you're doing here is preaching to the choir. MSI has a bad habit of omitting parts that are not required at the factory. If you purchase an MSI gaming notebook without a factory-installed M.2 SSD, there will be no guarantee that a mounting bracket or mounting screws will be included. I think it's a lousy practice and my guess is that MSI thinks buyers should go back to their MSI dealer for upgrades.

By the way, not all MSI gaming notebooks require M.2 brackets. My GT80 2QE Titan has four M.2 slots and no brackets are required. All four mount directly to the motherboard and all the user needs is a short mounting screw to secure each one in place.

To other readers: Before upgrading any components inside an MSI gaming notebook, ALWAYS open it and inspect it first so you'll see if any adapters, mounting brackets or mounting screws are needed. Adapters and/or mounting brackets usually must be obtained from an MSI dealer. Screws you can get anywhere as long as the size is correct. If my memory is correct, metric M-2 screws are usually used but the length can vary.

Kind regards, David
 

miang0998

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"Limited Windows 7 compatibility"?

Are you serious? Is there really people still using Win7 nowadays?

That is very laughable.
 

datum9

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I will upgrade to Samsung 960 Pro when the prices drop to reasonable levels, right now they are over $400 for 1TB sticks.

You can get another brand substantially cheaper. 

Even the slowest SSD is a lot faster than the fastest HDD.

My GT80 boots in about 28 seconds because the SanDisk X400 I have is not the latest-greatest PCIe NVMe, I didn't realize there was a difference. I am completely satisifed however.  The Toshiba 128GB were faster, especially in the RAID-0 configuration that I broke and turned into what you might call RAID-1, a mirror drive that is used for snapshots weekly.

My old desktop HDD used to boot in under 5 minutes, so anything under 30 seconds is very fast.
 

drzhabinaa

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Hi! Is it possible to install nvme ssd samsung 960 pro with copper heatsink (67*18*2 mm) on msi gp72mvr 7rfx? Do I need a bracket to install this ssd (even without heatsink)? Thank you.
 

saffetdincer

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Hi there,

I have GL62 6QD, I will upgrade to SSD and here is the model I want to buy. (Samsung 960 EVO NVMe M.2 250 GB).  I have attached the system info. but I have some doubts whether this is compatible with my system or not. Can you please help me to decide.



------------------
System Information
------------------
Serial Number:                9S716J612079ZG8000045
Product Name:                 GL62 6QD
OS:                           Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 bit Ver.1703(OS build 15063.0.amd64fre.rs2_release.170317-1834)
Windows Product Key:          H8Q99
HDI Build:                    non-OEM
BIOS Version:                 E16J6IMS.107
BIOS Release Date:            2016/06/03
EC Version:                   16J6EMS1.1060621201616:04:02
CPU:                          Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6300HQ CPU @ 2.30GHz
Memory:                       8192 MB @ 1066 MHz
                              - 8192 MB, DDR4-2133, Samsung M471A1K43BB0-CPB    
Graphics:                     Intel(R) HD Graphics 530, 1024 MB
Graphics:                     NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M, 2048 MB
VBIOS Version:                82.07.99.00.10,2097152
Drive:                        HDD, HGST HTS721010A9E630, 931,51 GB
Network:                      Qualcomm Atheros AR8171/8175 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (NDIS 6.30)
Network:                      Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
Network:                      Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network)
SHIFT mode:                   None
Power Plan:                   Power Scheme GUID: 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c  (Y?ksek performans)
 

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andrew.mcconville

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saffetdincer date=1509521900 said:
Hi there,

I have GL62 6QD, I will upgrade to SSD and here is the model I want to buy. (Samsung 960 EVO NVMe M.2 250 GB).  I have attached the system info. but I have some doubts whether this is compatible with my system or not. Can you please help me to decide.



------------------
System Information
------------------
Serial Number:                9S716J612079ZG8000045
Product Name:                 GL62 6QD
OS:                           Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 bit Ver.1703(OS build 15063.0.amd64fre.rs2_release.170317-1834)
Windows Product Key:          H8Q99
HDI Build:                    non-OEM
BIOS Version:                 E16J6IMS.107
BIOS Release Date:            2016/06/03
EC Version:                   16J6EMS1.1060621201616:04:02
CPU:                          Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6300HQ CPU @ 2.30GHz
Memory:                       8192 MB @ 1066 MHz
                              - 8192 MB, DDR4-2133, Samsung M471A1K43BB0-CPB    
Graphics:                     Intel(R) HD Graphics 530, 1024 MB
Graphics:                     NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M, 2048 MB
VBIOS Version:                82.07.99.00.10,2097152
Drive:                        HDD, HGST HTS721010A9E630, 931,51 GB
Network:                      Qualcomm Atheros AR8171/8175 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (NDIS 6.30)
Network:                      Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
Network:                      Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network)
SHIFT mode:                   None
Power Plan:                   Power Scheme GUID: 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c  (Y?ksek performans)
Google-fu on your machine specs tells me you have an M2 slot.  Then the 960 Evo should be fine.  Before spending money, open up your machine and look to be sure.

Obviously Back up your C:  before you start playing with installing stuff, and make sure you have all the latest BIOS and EC Firmware updates (do these before install, just in case)
 

saffetdincer

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I've ordered it now.. probably i'll have it in a few days.. after installing the windows I will let you know, of course.. :)
 

saffetdincer

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I've ordered it now.. probably i'll have it in a few days.. after installing the windows I will let you know, of course.. :)
 

hmurrayhocp

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Running Samsung 960 Pro 512 since April and no issues. 

Product Name:                 GE62MVR 7RG
OS:                           Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Ver.1709(OS build 16299.15.amd64fre.rs3_release.170928-1534)
Windows Product Key:          omitted
HDI Build:                    non-OEM
BIOS Version:                 E16JCIMS.306
BIOS Release Date:            2017/07/31
EC Version:                   16JCEMS1.1060220201715:09:02
CPU:                          Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7700HQ CPU @ 2.80GHz
Memory:                       32 GB @ 1333 MHz
                               - 16 GB, DDR4-2667, Kingston KHX2666C15S4/16G    
                               - 16 GB, DDR4-2667, Kingston KHX2666C15S4/16G    
Graphics:                     NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, 8192 MB
Graphics:                     Intel(R) HD Graphics 630, 1024 MB
VBIOS Version:                86.04.33.00.04,8388608
Drive:                        HDD, HGST HTS721010A9E630, 931.51 GB
Drive:                        SSD, NVMe Samsung SSD 960, 476.94 GB
 
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