RAIDING M.2 NVME BUT CAN IT BOOT?
If you have a motherboard with two M.2 slots and you have two M.2 NVMe SSDs, you can create a logical RAID through the OS but it won’t boot. You can even mix and match two M.2 NVMe SSDs with a M.2 AHCI SSD and create a RAID that will give you very similar results of three NVMe SSDs, but it still won’t boot. Presently, the only way a bootable M.2 RAID configuration can be accomplished is through the UEFI/BIOS where Intel Rapid Storage Technology has been included in the UEFI. Our board of choice is the only with three fully NVMe compatible M.2 PCIe Gen 3 slots, the ASRock Z170 Extreme 7+.
Having said this, we haven’t tried every multiple M.2 slot motherboard on the market, but it seems we are the number one e-mail address buyers hit when they run into that wall. The RAID won’t boot…with or without Windows 10…and with NVMe drivers working properly.
ASROCK Z170 M.2 RAID SETUP
The Z170 chipset feastures Intel Rapid Storage Technology integration and ASRock has incorporated it into the UEFI of their Z170 Extreme 7+ motherboard we are using for this report. This allows one to RAID two or three M.2 SSDs as a boot device. There is a bit of a process, however, and we will explain that here.
First, let’s note that the IRST Menu is not present when we first go into the Advanced/Storage Configuration of their UEFI. To make it appear, we first need to switch to switch to RAID and enable M2_1, M2_2 and M2_3 RST PCIe Storage Remapping:
Go to the ‘Boot’ menu, scroll down to the bottom (it will most likely be hidden off screen) and select CSM ( Compatibility Storage Module). Change all three policies to ‘UEFI only’. Hit F10 to save.
Return to Storage Configuration and IRST will be visible at the bottom; select it:
You may have to restart prior to the M.2 SSDs being recognized, but on returning, you can now create a RAID volume of your AHCI/NVMe M.2 SSDs.
Once this is complete, the RAID volume will be recognized as a logical drive by your OS, a bootable one to boot (small pun).