• Dell Optiplex 7010 Mini Tower no M.2 slot – use existing PCIe slot for NVMe SSD?

    Home » Forums » AskWoody support » PC hardware » PC hardware-General Questions » Dell Optiplex 7010 Mini Tower no M.2 slot – use existing PCIe slot for NVMe SSD?

    • This topic has 12 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 2 months ago by anonymous.

    Tags:

    Author
    Topic
    #2403602

    I have a Dell Optiplex 7010 Mini-Tower from maybe 2014.  It has no M.2 slots.

    1. Can I plug an NVMe SSD drive into an existing PCIe slot?
    2. Maybe I need a physical converter of some kind?  What would that be?
    3. If I do this, will I get the full benefits of the NVMe SSD technology (super-fast drive speeds)?
    4. Per the manual for my Dell Optiplex 7010 Mini-Tower, I have four PCI slots:
      PCI Express x16 slot (wired as x4)
      PCI slot
      PCIe x1 slot
      PCI Express x16 slot
      —–  Which would I use if I do this? —–
      (The manual is available at https://downloads.dell.com/manuals/all-products/esuprt_desktop/esuprt_optiplex_desktop/optiplex-7010… )
    5. ADDED Q – Will this model Optiplex boot from an NVMe drive?  Elsewhere, the answer seems to be “No”.  Bummer !!!!

    FYI – I am currently dual-booting Win 7 Pro 64-bit and Win 10 Pro 64-bit (now V 21H1) but using the Win 10 almost exclusively these days.  A single SATA hard drive has my two OSes, and those OS partitions also carry all my apps.  However, to a certain extent, and more and more over time, I am putting data files on other hard drives inside the case.

    Thanks for your thoughts re my questions above.

    • This topic was modified 6 months ago by glnz.
    Viewing 9 reply threads
    Author
    Replies
    • #2403605

      1 and 2 According to here, you can use an NVMe drive in an adapter in a PCIe slot, but it will probably not be recognized as the boot drive.  Adapters are links there.  https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/does-it-matter-what-pcie-to-nvme-adapter-you-get.3078989/

      3.  PCIe works with the speed of NVMe, https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-pci-express-nvme-solid-state-drives-ssds

      But a big benefit of fast drives is fast booting and O/S file loading, so you want your boot drive to be SSD.  Likely you will need a SATA ssd for that purpose.

      4. Most of the adapters are x4 so they work best in the slot 1. PCI Express x16 slot (wired as x4)

    • #2403673

      The M2 drive has a controller so you could use your on board SATA port – though you might need to set the port to RAID and install UEFI for it all to work as Dells are  a little strange that way – AHCI will likely work, though (and the latest BIOS is probably an idea – check the drivers page..). There can be compatibility issues – the physical length of the M2 format varies for one, so you need to check with the supplier the parts you get work together. Once you’ve united your drive you screw it in a 2.5 drive bay or adapter and fit it in place of your boot drive. it might not be as hot as using a  PCI adapter but it should boot – and be somewhat better than a mechanical drive. If you want an adapter to boot it has to have an option ROM which can work with a EFI / UEFI- and they’re rare below the major RAID controllers though you could pick up a pulled Adaptec 8405 PCIe raid controller or such you’d probably find that needed firmware updates, you’ll have to convince your machine to hook the option ROM (which may involve turning off secure boot and being thus less secure in theory) and might not be at its best in a single drive configuration, I doubt anyone has even tried…I was surprised to find driver support..

      Probably you need to work out where the bottleneck in your configuration is – if that’s in the PCIE controller, it doesn’t matter if you use a fast card with a single drive as the data will not arrive fast enough through the PCI bus for the card throughput to be a restriction, so in that case you might as well use the high speed SATA ports on the main board – enjoy the convoluted manual – probably all there is to go on.. the image is the sort if adapter I’m referring to.

      The manual was too large to attach. find it at:

      https://web.archive.org/web/20121113203852/https://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/optix/en/optiplex_7010_technical_guidebook.pdf

    • #2404248

      About 3 years ago I bought a refurbished Dell Optiplex 790 which I believe is the version before your 7010. I wanted to replace its 3.5 inch hard disk drive (HDD) with 2 SSDs to allow dual-booting and a HDD for “data”. (I already had a spare 1st SATA 2.5 inch SSD in the conventional 2.5 inch laptop size packaging and a large 1TB SATA 2.5 inch HDD for long term “data”.) I read the same or similar articles to you about being able to connect a NVMe SSD via a PCIe adaptor, but that the PC would not be able to boot from it.

      Rather than take the risk, I bought a 2nd 2.5 inch SATA SSD, a PCIe to SATA adaptor and a bracket which allows me to physically fit three 2.5 inch, laptop disk drives into the metal cage originally holding the 3.5 inch desktop sized HDD. There is enough physical space in the 790 Small Form Factor (SFF) metal cage for three 2.5 inch laptop type packages PROVIDED at least one drive is of the 7mm height normally used for SSDs. There is not enough space for three 9.5mm height laptop type packages normally used for HDDs.

      I currently have Windows 8.1 (my default OS) on the SATA SSD connected to Port 0 on the motherboard, the SATA “data” HDD connected to Port 1 on the motherboard (and I needed to enable this Port 1 in the BIOS which threw me for a while) and Windows 10 (which I might need to change to full time eventually) on the PCIe connected SATA SSD. Even though I would expect W10 to boot more slowly than W8.1 and it is connected via PCIe, in practice (subjectively – I don’t have timings) they seem to boot in similar times.

      The important thing is that both Port 0 and PCIe connected SATA SSDs boot in much shorter times and are much more responsive than when running on HDD. So even though NMVe SSD is probably not an option, you will probably see a big improvement with SATA SSD compared to the HDD you have now.

    • #2404351

      Anonymous: Just for interest do you have UEFI enabled (under Boot list option)?

      Mainly as that moves the grunt work for provisioning boot time drivers from the installed OS to the firmware, so for a boot failure the card would have to be one which doesn’t work in Windows without a driver, and has no boot rom (with or without UEFI support; lacking support mainly means you need secure boot off and have to hand Windows a driver at install), but you can most times still use UEFI and as it’s a tower HSTI compliance is less of a requirement. It would also indicate that maybe that’s a hole whereby the machine might fail to boot on SATA (though it seems unlikely).

      The adapter should cost a lot less than the drive so as  long as the supplier can confirm the drive and adapter are compatible with the BIOS configured UEFI the on board adapter should perform just fine as the previous guest indicates, so speak to the drive supplier and see what they say, and if there is no support there try to bag some support from potential adapter suppliers. If no joy, there’s  link at the bottom, literally look at what you have.. You haven’t actually said what make or model the drive is..

      Remember take copious notes of what plugs in where and what BIOS settings were before you changed them so if it doesn’t work you can at least return to the working configuration.

      I found the site below, which explains what plugs in (or doesn’t) – basically you need to ensure a physical fit, you have the right interface on your M2 drive to use an adapter, and then the software to support the drive (which as the drive should be SATA, should be correct  with a good BIOS configuration). The right adapter turns your drive into a SATA drive; the machine should boot no differently. Suggest removing all the connections from your existing hard disk while working – If you get the new drive working with a flat Windows install and maybe at that point ask one on the many Macrium reflect users here about backing up and restoring to the new drive. (I don’t use it myself – nothing much to save!)

      https://www.atpinc.com/blog/what-is-m.2-M-B-BM-key-socket-3

       

    • #2404371

      oldguy and anonymous – Many thanks for your detailed responses.

      I might at some point “give up” and get a SATA SSD, but I’m still thinking about the higher speeds supposedly available in an M.2 NVMe SSD, and there are indeed adaptors that would permit me to connect an M.2 NVMe SSD via my PCIe slots (using the x4 slot, which is recommended elsewhere).

      The big issue is that my 7010 (and I also have a 3010 for my wife’s mini-office) simply won;t boot from that configuration because (as explained in other forums) their older motherboards and their UEFIs/BIOSes simply don’t provide for that.

      Now, there is apparently a workaround in this situation – use a boot loader called Clover that itself will make the PC boot from the M.2 NVMe in the PCIe slot.  But the authoritative forum about Clover is not at all clear to me.  See my post there at
      https://www.win-raid.com/t2375f50-Guide-NVMe-boot-without-modding-your-UEFI-BIOS-Clover-EFI-bootloader-method-53.html#msg154677
      and then go to its page 1 to see the basic (?) instructions.

      Clover itself is a github project, and you can find the latest version at
      https://github.com/CloverHackyColor/CloverBootloader/releases/tag/5142
      but, again, github does not explain what to do with these files or how to use them to create a Clover bootloader USB stick, and so I still don’t know what to do.

      Thoughts on this?  Thanks.

    • #2404431

      WRT oldguy’s question “Anonymous: Just for interest do you have UEFI enabled (under Boot list option)?” commenter #2404248 replies that “Legacy” is enabled in the 790 BIOS. My default position is to try to keep things as simple as possible, wherever possible 🙂
      (I vaguely remember that to change to UEFI I would need to re-install Windows again from scratch, re-install all 3rd party programs & data, and re-configure everything again to get back to where I am now, so for me it just isn’t worth the effort and aggravation (for W8.1, W10 and earlier W7, 2 or 3 re-installations).)
      WRT “Clover” I agree that it is not clear what to do with this stuff from either the Github page or the other win-raid link, but I have not read through all 45 pages of it 🙂
      WRT your question at the end of win-raid link about using EasyBCD, if the end point of the setting up Clover process is a .iso file to be put into a USB stick (using a tool like Rufus?) to create bootable USB media, then you may be able to store the .iso file on a disk drive and use EasyBCD to create a Boot entry to it. I do this for a Macrium Reflect bootable media .iso file, rather than run it from a slower USB stick or DVD/CD (when possible – I do have slower CDs as backup, just in case the BCD menu gets broken). If you want to try this, I was advised when creating the ISO entry using EasyBCD (using the Add New Entry -> ISO tab) to change the “Mode” option (using the dropdown menu) to “load from memory” (NOT its default “Run from Disk”). For my .iso file this mechanism works. My guess is that you would need to put the .iso on the SSD connected to the motherboard and use the Boot menu from there to select the Clover/PCIe disk (however that is done). This is assuming that the PCIe SSD would not be accessable until after the Clover stuff has run, so you need to get to Clover via a mechanism not relying on Clover. But this is just a “guess” because I don’t understand how the Clover stuff works.
      Finally, although I did not realise it at the time, I have used a PC with a M.2 connected SSD. A relative has a newish 3 year old Dell Optiplex 3060 and I fixed some problems with it late last year. At the time I did not notice it being particularly quick. This is not to say it was slow, just nothing outstanding, or which I remembered or thought about afterwards. If it had not been for this thread I would not have thought about it again, but a quick check of its spec’ shows that it does have a 256GB M.2 SSD (no further details). A sample size of one may not be representative of M.2 SSDs in general, but I thought I might as well mention it while I’m here.
      HTH.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2404634

        Commenter #2404431 adds:

        There is a YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPduqB-_aIs which might tell you what you need to do to create bootable USB media using the “Boot Disk Utility (BDU) by Cvad”. This has no audio explanation and it was difficult to follow on a single viewing. It might have made more sense after several viewings.

        I think at about 2:30 in, the BDU itself downloaded Clover files, so maybe you as a user don’t need to know which files to download, you just let the BDU do it for you?

        I tried to dowload the BDU from the link to see if it came with instructions, but Malwarebytes Antimalware (MBAM) Premium (the real-time protection version – I have a lifetime licence) gave a Trojan warning and blocked the download. Now MBAM might consider the BDU a “potentially unwanted program (PUP)”. It changes PC boot behaviour which will be “unwanted” by people who do not want to do this. Anyway I did not take the risk of something more serious and did not override MBAM.

        Searching online there is a newer version of the BDU at the respected Softpedia site and MBAM did not object to that download. I did not run the BDU. It does not come with any instructions or explanation, so the YouTube video might be the best you will find?

        The video has had over 6000 viewings, but there were no comments either praising or critising it. I don’t know if the lack of comments is a good or bad sign.

        HTH.

        PS: As I’m happy with my current SATA SSD via PCIe performance, none of this makes me any more enthusiastic about buying a NVMe SSD and adapter on the off chance I could get it to work 🙂

         

         

    • #2404569

      Legacy says the firmware is doing all the heavy lifting but seems to be coping well though its also likely to be clipping the performance a bit. The need to reinstall for UEFI is normal – in part as the setting changes the presentation of the hardware and enables the firmware to configure a lot of the Windows driver environment, in setup at least, and also as it’s better to use a GPT disk layout so all the security and recovery options inherent in UEFI can operate as intended.

      To be honest for all I’d give it a go – get a gash drive out of a dead hard disk recorder or the like in the machine ON ITS OWN, erase it with something like Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN), set the BIOS to UEFI and partition the drive manually for GPT (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/configure-uefigpt-based-hard-drive-partitions?view=windows-11) and install your OS (that is to say boot recovery media, command prompt, start diskpart, type in the diskpart commands, change drive to the installation media and run setup as booting recovery with UEFI drive partitions will attempt repairs and that takes an age. I had no issues at all doing this on 2010 hardware at Windows 7 using two cheap 30GB SSDs raided to RAID 0 to get enough space for Windows 7, and Windows 10 by digital entitlement (both needing no “F6” boot drivers), so I find it unlikely Dell hardware would fail to perform on its own controllers, even if compatibility with newer PCI add in cards is patchy, but that compatibility is something a good supplier should be able to advise on.

      If it works, you’ve learned something and if not, change the setting back and plug in the old drive and continue..

      As to the non bootable, I would wonder if you left the install media in place and did a single partition install if Windows setup might knit the installation to the boot on the recovery as that’s the only one available? I seem to recall I managed that by accident once as I forgot to reimage a boot partition..

    • #2432992

      Commenter #2404431 asks:
      Did you manage to get this PCIe adapter connected NMVe M.2 SSD, made bootable using Clover mechanism to work in your Dell 7010?
      If yes, how?
      Just curious 🙂

    • #2433004

      I have 6 SSD’s in my UEFI daily driver, one of which is a Samsung 970 EVO 250GB M.2 NVMe in a PCIe 16X4 adapter. I don’t boot from that drive, my programs are installed there. I boot from a Samsung 860 EVO mSATA (SATA 3) 250GB SSD.

      The 970 EVO reports 3265MB/s sequential Read and 1544MB/s Sequential Write. The 860 EVO mSATA has Rapid Status enabled (a Samsung feature) and reports 1941MB/s Sequential Read and 3672MB/s Sequential Write.

      It performs well for 2013 era hardware.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
      We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do. We don't all have to do the same things.

      • #2433064

        Commenter #2404431 adds:

        Interesting. My PCIe adapter connected SATA SSD is an older Samsung 850 Pro (originally bought for an old laptop which I no longer use, so I re-purposed the SSD). Assuming its measurements are performed in the same way as bbearen’s newer 870, I opened the 850’s Samsung Magician support software and ran the Performance Benchmark tool. Via a x4 PCIe to SATA adaptor it shows Sequential Read of 404 MB/s and Sequential Write of 384 MB/s. So bbearen’s arrangement is about 8 times faster than my setup for Read and about 4 times faster for Write.

        For completeness I temporarily connected the Samsung 850 to the 790 motherboard Port 0 (just swapping 2 SATA data cables) and repeated the Performance Benchmark test. This time the Sequential Read was 554 MB/s and Sequential Write was 515 MB/s. So in my PC, the PCIe connection method is about 75% as fast as the corresponding direct connection to the motherboard method. In practice in normal everyday use it doesn’t “feel” any different.

         

    • #2434031

      Commenter #2404431 writes:

      While looking at a YouTube video for something else related to my Dell Optiplex 790, on the right hand side I noticed a link to a video for a different Optiplex to ours, but explaining how to add the missing NVMe driver to its BIOS (the thing which OldGuy has written about above) – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYEoRLXGdPA .

      In this video he is working through some written instructions and I’ve found the corresponding instructions for both my 790 (see https://www.tachytelic.net/2022/02/dell-optiplex-790-990-nvme/ ) and your 7010 (see https://www.tachytelic.net/2021/12/dell-optiplex-7010-pcie-nvme/ ). These appear to be an alternative means of creating a bootable PCIe adapter connected NVMe SSD setup in our old Dell PCs.

      In my 790 case I’ve compared the figures quoted at the start of the 790 instructions in the link above with the corresponding figures measured just now using the same CrystalDiskMark tool for my Gigabyte 240GB SATA SSD connected to Port 0 on the 790 motherboard.

      These numbers for Read (working down the column) are for the SEQ1M Q8T test NMVe 11666.21 MB/s & SATA 551.48 MB/s (so NMVe 3.02 times faster), SEQ1M Q1T1 1330.48 & 504.56 (so NMVe 2.64 times faster), RND4K Q32T1 355.64 & 210.95 (so NMVe 1.21 times faster), and RND4K Q1T1 50.23 & 30.51 (so NMve 1.65 times faster).

      For Write SEQ1M Q8T1 NMVe 1246.10 MB/s & SATA 505.41 MB/s (so NMVe 2.47 times faster), SEQ1M Q1T1 1249.20 & 450.91 (so NMVe 2.77 times faster), RND4K Q32T1 172.52 & 209.03 (so NMve 0.83 times faster or actually slower!), and RND4K Q1T1 109.50 & 55.20 (so NMVe 1.98 times faster).

      So overall based on these numbers in a Dell Optiplex 790, NMve is somewhere between 1 and 3 times faster than SATA (depending on the particular test), but for RND4K Q32T1 it is actually slightly slower. This is considerably less than the “10 times faster” often quoted for NMVe compared to SATA.

      Based on these hard numbers I don’t think it would be sensible for me to buy a new NMVe SSD and PCIe adapter. (If I didn’t already have a SATA SSD and SATA to PCIe adapter, and I was changing from HDD to SSD for the 1st time now I might think differently – I don’t know.)

      I don’t know what the corresponding MVMe improvement would be in a 7010 compared to 790, but comparing the NMVe numbers at the links above, a 7010 is roughly twice as fast as a 790 for the sequential tests (1st and 2nd rows) and roughly the same for the random tests (3rd and 4th rows).

      HTH.

       

    Viewing 9 reply threads
    Reply To: Reply #2403673 in Dell Optiplex 7010 Mini Tower no M.2 slot – use existing PCIe slot for NVMe SSD?

    You can use BBCodes to format your content.
    Your account can't use all available BBCodes, they will be stripped before saving.

    Cancel