Wednesday , 1 October 2014
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M.2 NGFF PCIe SSD Adapter Overview – Birds Eye View of Our M.2 NGFF SSD Test Hardware

Over the past while, there seems to be an increased interest in our M.2 SSD testing, whether it be with respect to our thoughts on M.2 placement in the industry, ideas on how it best be introduced, or just plain “Where can I get a M.2 SSD?” concerns.  Unfortunately, we cannot elaborate on purchase ‘just yet’ but we thought we might be able to display a bit of the hardware that we use behind the scenes for our own testing.

We seem to have become a hub with manufacturers for M.2 SSD ideas and we are extremely grateful to each, as, just when we run into an issue, someone sends us along the next fix.  This first started with our initial difficulty in testing the Samsung XP941 M.2 SSD as there was yet to be a PCIe X4 M.2 adapter made, and carries right on to our latest ideas to enable a M.2 to boot on a PC or Mac system.  As easy as that sounds, it really isn’t as the task at hand is to have a separate BIOS boot for the adapter, prior to the system BIOS…and all the while, remain plug and play.  Be ready for some excellent news in the very near future, but for now, let’s see what we are using to test behind the scenes.

JWE M.2 ENABLER PCIe X4 M.2 SSD ADAPTER

M2 Enabler Front

This is the M.2 Enabler and is the brainchild of JW Electronics of Taiwan. This item cannot be found for sale and is a PCIe 3.0 X4 M.2 SSD Adapter, fully compatible with all previous PCIe interface generations.  Considering that PCIe 3.0 has a, 8GT/s bit rate and delivers up to 985MB/s per lane, this little baby is capable of up to 3.9GB/s throughput down the road when we see PCIe 3.0 stream into SSD controllers.

M2 Enabler LEDsM2 Enabler BackThis adapter is the first that we know of that will accept both X4 M keyed and X2 M and B keyed M.2 SSDs.  In addition, it has LEDs to identify whether throughput is X2 or X4, as well as any errors in data transmission.

SOLITON PCIE 3.0 X16 M.2 SSD ADAPTER

Soliton M.2 NGFF PCIe 3 X16 Adapter

Soliton Technologies of China were the first to help us along when we confirmed receipt of our Samsung XP941 M.2 PCIe SSD and manufactured a PCIe 3.0 X16 M.2 Test Adapter for our use. Saying that they went all out is just a drop in the bucket, considering this adapter can handle up to 15.7GB/s of throughput which I don’t really believe we will ever see from a single (or even dual) M.2 SSD design.  Kudo’s for the overkill though!  Sorry folks…once again not a retail item.

BPLUS M2P4S M.2 TO PCIE x4 ADAPTER

BPlus M.2 PCIe X4 Adapter

The BPlus M2P4S is a M.2 to PCIe x4 solution as works for M.2 PCIe X4 SSDs such as the Samsung XP941 only.  It is a retail item and can be found at RAMCity.

BPLUS M2PS M.2 NGFF TO DUAL SATA ADAPTER

BPlus M.2 SATA PCIe X2 Adapter

The BPlus M2PS is a M.2 SATA only adapter and can be used for dual cards.  Throughput is not accomplished through the PCIe lanes, but rather, through 2 typical data cables that attach to the end of the card.  This item is also availble through RAMCity.

MFACTORS SATA M.2 SSD TO SATA ADAPTER

MFactors SATA M.2 Adapter

Last but not least, we have the MFactors SATA M.2 to SATA adapter which, according to MFactors will accept SSDs of both connectors, however, will only work for SATA M.2 SSDs. It is also available for purchase.

THE FUTURE OF M.2 NGFF SSDS AND FINAL THOUGHTS

All in all, the future looks pretty much set for M.2 SSDs and, from a personal standpoint, I think that PCIe M.2 SSDs will end up overpowering that of SATA M.2 much quicker than anyone expects.  When push comes to shove, the consumer wants lightning fast performance, regardless if they will ever use it or not.  As for us….stay tuned!  Not only do we have a bunch of brand spanking new M.2 SSDs on hand for solo and more RAID testing, but also, we now have an adapter in our hands that enables both PC and Mac booting from M.2 SSDs.  Just consider the doors that will open from this alone…

Closing Picture

If you look real close at our feature shot on the first page, you just might see one of those new, and as of yet, unreleased M.2 PCIe SSDs.  Have a good one!

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About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

    Les, I’m so happy for you, that your influence led to solutions for this need! I’ve been holding off on any further SATA3 SSDs since summer, in favor of saving my $ for practical ways to blow past 550MB/sec!

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      The SATA end is near Paul!

  • Zaxx

    I believe the first AFFORDABLE power/pro ssd user solution is at hand. As soon as I see a pair of LSI 3700 pcie m.2s on a pci-e 2.0 x4 raid0 card, I’ll know we’ve arrived. The only trick will be finding a raid controller to handle that kind of thru-put but I imagine LSI is hot on the trail. Kudos to ssdreview for pushing and prodding things along.

  • Diagrafeas

    When should we expect the “new, and as of yet, unreleased M.2 PCIe SSDs” review?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Um…within hours? Just working on a report right now where the final product will be available on publishing.

  • guido

    hi Les have you test the samsung 840 msata ssd with m2p4s? thanks guido

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      No….why? I am sure they are fine. There has never been question with adapters that I am aware of.

  • rvborgh

    i’m kind of new to all this… but are any of these bootable?

  • dooma flatchie

    Hi, Les

    Nice article – wish I’d found you guys before today. :) :(

    I’m using a ASUS Z97-WS w/ an Intel i7 4770k and an Intel 530 series 180gb m.2 on-board ssd card. At the time of purchase information seemed rather thin so I made the jump, but now I wish I’d stuck with my older board and got a PCIe SSD raid drive and waited until some of these technologies sorted themselves out a bit.

    My Intel 530 series 180gb m.2 ssd is not bad w/ reads of over 530000.MB/sec ATTO plugged into my M.2 slot on the motherboard. Since learning a bit more about these technologies I’ve been thinking I could better my performance by strapping the M.2 SSD to a PCIe adapter card, just like you guys are discussing here.

    The problem is I can’t really tell if my SSD is a mPCIe SSD or just a M.2 6gb mSTATA that’s really tapped out. It has 2 notches so I think it’s the 4x variety.

    I’d like to know if it’s worth buying a PCIe adapter card, as I have I have available 16x, 8x, 4x and 1x slots. Or would it be better to get a stand alone PCIe SSD card?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Your M.2 SSD is a SATA version and not PCIe. It will not get higher than mid-500MB/s performance.

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