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MSI z97 Gaming 5, how to use the M.2 port?

Hey all,

So I'm looking into building a new computer and I've decided on the MSI z97 Gaming 5 motherboard for my build. On thing that MSI went on about was this new M.2 port that they included in all their new boards. The board is here:

http://www.msi.com/product/mb/Z97_GAMING_5.html#overview

So I've done some research on this M.2 port and from my understanding, we can dock SSDs into it and it will run at 10GB/s (considerably faster than the 6GB/s from SATA). That info is gathered here:

http://rog.asus.com/308552014/labels/guides/ssd-guide-pci-express-m-2-msata-and-sata-express-the-differences-explained/

That being said, I found that there are a few different M.2 connections that are used, which are M, B, and M+B. That information is gathered here:

http://rog.asus.com/313352014/labels/guides/buying-an-m-2-ssd-how-to-tell-which-is-which/

Though the MSI board doesn't specify which type of M.2 connection is used, I found a picture of the port from someone's review of the board:

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/Z97_GAMING_5/images/m2_slot.jpg

From that I gathered that the connection is an M. Now all I need is to buy a M.2 SSD that fits an M. Easy right? Well I can't seem to find any drive that looks like it will fit this port. This leads me to believe that either I'm not understanding something correctly, or that this M.2 port mumbo jumbo is so new that it has little support for it. Anyhow, I'd appreciate any comments/clarification on my research here, and if anyone knows where to find an appropriate drive that would be greatly appreciated. Also, is it worth all of the trouble?

Thanks,

Ryan
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  1. Best answer
    Please note that the information below is my best guess as to how M.2 works. The documentation for this socket is still scarce at best.

    M Key ID for M.2 signifies: "PCIe ×4 and SATA" support

    B Key ID signifies: "PCIe ×2, SATA, USB 2.0 & 3.0, Audio, PCM, IUM, SSIC and I2C" support

    Samsung XP941: keyed for M only
    Crucial M500/M550, Intel 530, MyDigitalSSD SC2*: keyed for M and B

    There doesn't seem to be many other options for M.2 at the moment. My understanding is that for SSDs keyed for both M and B, they can work in either slot. SSDs keyd for M only must be placed in a M slot, it will not fit in a B slot. Hopefully this helps.

    For what it's worth, I'm getting a M.2 SSD for my Gigabyte board tomorrow (also keyed for M) and will be able to confirm my theories soon enough.


    *I've personally never heard of MyDigitalSSD before and SC2 stands for super cache 2. I'm not sure if that means their SSD can only be used with Intel SRT or if it can be used as a normal SSD.
  2. weilin said:
    Please note that the information below is my best guess as to how M.2 works. The documentation for this socket is still scarce at best.

    M Key ID for M.2 signifies: "PCIe ×4 and SATA" support

    B Key ID signifies: "PCIe ×2, SATA, USB 2.0 & 3.0, Audio, PCM, IUM, SSIC and I2C" support

    Samsung XP941: keyed for M only
    Crucial M500/M550, Intel 530, MyDigitalSSD SC2*: keyed for M and B

    There doesn't seem to be many other options for M.2 at the moment. My understanding is that for SSDs keyed for both M and B, they can work in either slot. SSDs keyd for M only must be placed in a M slot, it will not fit in a B slot. Hopefully this helps.

    For what it's worth, I'm getting a M.2 SSD for my Gigabyte board tomorrow (also keyed for M) and will be able to confirm my theories soon enough.


    *I've personally never heard of MyDigitalSSD before and SC2 stands for super cache 2. I'm not sure if that means their SSD can only be used with Intel SRT or if it can be used as a normal SSD.


    Most SSD's are either PCIe Attached, Sata 3 Gbps or MSata, 3.0 Gbps.

    M.2 is 10Gbps vs 6 and its much cheaper then PCIe ssds, that are fast as ramdisks because they are ram.
    The advantage of m.2 is having either 3-4 Sata express (also 10 Gbps) Or a single m.2 msata equipped SSD.
  3. I guess my next question is that if using one of the Crucial SSDs:

    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-M500-240GB-6Gbps-Internal/dp/B00HBKN2GG/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1400693013&sr=8-19&keywords=crucial+m500
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-256GB-Internal-Solid-CT256M550SSD4/dp/B00ITFZTLI/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1400693045&sr=8-9&keywords=crucial+m550

    with the M.2 port on my board, will I be getting the full 10 Gb/s? I only ask because in the amazon listing it mentions 6 Gb/s. Just want to make sure.

    Thanks,

    Ryan Santos
  4. Ryan Santos said:
    I guess my next question is that if using one of the Crucial SSDs:

    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-M500-240GB-6Gbps-Internal/dp/B00HBKN2GG/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1400693013&sr=8-19&keywords=crucial+m500
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-256GB-Internal-Solid-CT256M550SSD4/dp/B00ITFZTLI/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1400693045&sr=8-9&keywords=crucial+m550

    with the M.2 port on my board, will I be getting the full 10 Gb/s? I only ask because in the amazon listing it mentions 6 Gb/s. Just want to make sure.

    Thanks,

    Ryan Santos


    I don't think you will, If you look at my response above, the M Key ID supports both PCIe 4x and SATA III. This means the drive can use either standard and be compatible with the socket.

    Crucial M500/550 are SATA III based (hence the 6 GBPS in the listing, and keyed for M and B because both support SATA)
    Plextor M6e is PCIe 2x based (also keyed for M and B because both support PCIe 2x)
    Samsung XP941 is PCIe 4x based (and thus only keyed for M and NOT B)

    I guess the better question is, are you willing to pay more for the further increase in bandwidth. PCIe based M.2 SSDs cost a lot more... I personally don't think the extra bandwidth matters (which is why I got the M550), but that's something you have to decide.
  5. For others who may stumble upon this thread,

    I have plugged my M550 M.2 SSD (Keyed for both M and B) into my GA-Z97X-UD3H (Keyed for M) and everything does work. The pins missing due to the B Keying isn't needed apparently.
  6. weilin said:
    For others who may stumble upon this thread,

    I have plugged my M550 M.2 SSD (Keyed for both M and B) into my GA-Z97X-UD3H (Keyed for M) and everything does work. The pins missing due to the B Keying isn't needed apparently.


    .....Does it really matter if your getting 10gbps, a 2133mhz ram disk can easily do 9.4+ GBps read and well over 13 gigabytes per second write. Its not much of a improvment over the ram disk, next your loading time will be bottle necked by your CPU and GPU.
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