Let's talk about sex, baby, let's talk about.. nah, M.2

Discussion in 'PC Purchasing Help' started by RancidLunchmeat, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. RancidLunchmeat

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    So, I tried to read DSoup's message about building the smallest and most powerful gaming machine possible but considering he's going with an ATX mobo, it kind of made the whole discussion worthless for me.

    What I'm trying to do is that exact same thing, only I'm looking at a mini-itx build. But first, is there any disadvantage to a mini-itx build other than they are maxed at 32GB of memory?

    I can't seem to find one.

    Second, on the topic of this thread -

    HEY! There's apparently this thing called m.2 which I never heard of before today. It's essentially a SSD that connects directly to the PCIe bus instead of the SATA bus which allows incredibly crazy bandwidth. 32/GBs is pretty nuts.

    Anyway, so I saw a review about a Gigabyte motherboard (SOC something) that had THREE m.2 connections build into the motherboard between all the other PCIe (graphic cards for SLI) slots. They set up that system and ran all three m.2 SSD's in RAID-0 and it essentially saturated the DMI bus. Actually, they said just running two of them in RAID-0 saturated the bus.

    My questions are as follows:

    Are there any mini-Itx boards that support 2 m.2 slots natively on the board? I can't find any.
    Gigabyte makes a couple of mini-ITX boards that support 2 m.2 slots but one of those is done through an expansion card/cable. Can you still RAID 0 them?

    And finally, if there aren't any min-ITX boards where you can RAID0 two m.2 slots, is there any downside to just getting a single 1TB m.2 SSD and using that for both the OS and any game downloads and not using any additional storage? I know SSD's (m.2 or not) used to have problems with a limited number of reads/writes but I'm not sure if that holds true today. Why would I want to put in additional SATA drives if I don't need the extra storage space?
     
  2. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    You don't need to raid something as fast as a M2 SSD; you're not going to notice any performance improvement whatsoever, because the vastly most common disk operations are random small-buffer reads and writes, and these operations are not boosted by raid0.

    Any M2 SSD is way faster at random reads and writes than the disk I/O load a typical desktop computer user puts on their drives anyhow, so only benefit of raid0 is you get is you can merge two smaller SSDs into one larger (and get your fault tolerance halved to boot, so don't put any important stuff onto there... ;))

    If you find a sufficiently large M2 stick, just put OS and games onto that one same drive. It'll be OK.
     
  3. RancidLunchmeat

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    Thanks! :)

    That pretty much confirms my research, I just wanted to make sure.

    With 1 TB m.2 SSD's at around $300 why would anybody bother with spinning disks or hybrid-SSD's or any other type of storage and huge cases? Are they just for people who don't have some sort of NAS or do people just not know any better?

    Why build a huge ATX tower system when you can get amazing performance out of a tiny little box using m.2 storage? There's apparently a RAM limitation but is anything now or in the foreseeable future going to demand more than 32GB of DDR4?

    I mean, I'm looking at this as a system:
    http://wccftech.com/gigabyte-geforce-gtx-1070-mini-itx-oc-announced/
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117561
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA1UH40F6451
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...r0hcxgsGrDpFAwBPyr_c8BoCcSDw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

    Isn't that system going to be good enough to run any game currently, plus be VR capable? All in a nice mini-ITX form factor that will be smaller than an XB1?

    I'm worried that I'm missing something and not understanding why people are using other options that really seem like they are just making things more difficult for themselves.

    Thanks
     
  4. nutball

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    Be aware of the schizophrenic nature of M.2, ie. NVMe versus AHCI. The latter seems to be a much smoother ride than the latter, at lead for non-Windows operating systems. NVMe is where the real insane performance comes in, but there may well be speed-bumps.
     
  5. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Yes, I'm considering mini-ITX myself for my next PC. I have uATX now, and chassis with tons of 3.5 drive bays (and even 5.25) are driving me absolutely nutters. We don't need that shit anymore! :p
     
  6. Michellstar

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    What?? AHCI is ancient tech now??

    I'm getting old...
     
  7. nutball

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  8. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Yes, pretty much. :) It was designed for spinning disks, not solid-state storage media I've gathered.
     
  9. RancidLunchmeat

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    What? Nothing you said was helpfull. What exactly are you talking about in terms of bandwith, controllers, chipsets, etc.
     
  10. RancidLunchmeat

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    ...still confused about why anybody would build a system that has spinning drives in it. Sure, there's the capacity issue but.. WTF? Who needs that capacity locally? And Who doesn't have a quick enough network with powerline adaptors or ac?
     
  11. nutball

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    None of the above. Operating system support. NVMe is so new that support for it is not good in Linux or OS X, Windows I'm not so sure. AHCI on the other hand more or less just works under all of them. Point is, M.2 is more than one thing, it's complicated, asking "does M.2 work on this board" or "does this M.2 SSD work on this OS" on a forum has gotten many people burned.

    If that's not helpful, then I'm sorry. Just saying that right now simple questions end up with simple, and wrong, answers.
     
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  12. Malo

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    Completely agree. Mechanical drives are for large capacity in network storage, not local drives anymore. None of my 5 PC'S have mechanical drives and haven't for a couple of years now.
     
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  13. BRiT

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    I agree. Even my parents and sister's systems haven't had mechanical drives for 4 years now. They're still on sata ssd cause its easier for me to upgrade if they ever run low on space but with most of their stuff living online, they dont have need for any mass local storage. Perhaps 40 gigs for photos, but that's about all.

    As for NVME support, the latest versions of the Linux kernel supports it and Windows 10 had support before Linux too.

    The only systems I have with spinners is my fileserver running unraid software for 16TB of parity protected data. I'll soon expand that to dual parity and add another 4TB drive for more movies and tv show storage. Though my cache drive which runs dockers and vms is ssd 480gb. If i run low on space it'll be upgraded to a 2tb ssd.
     
  14. Michellstar

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    My current rig was the first I put together with an SSD drive, It was like 2 windows before...

    Thanks, good to know, M2 is just a pcl express plug, or it is physically different??
     
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  15. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Electrically it's PCIe 4x and some power and ground connections; mechanically it's a much smaller, flatter connector than regular PCIe slots, made for thinner circuit boards. Typically the M2 card would lie parallel to the circuit board it attaches to (secured in the far end with a screw), but it would seem there are uprise sockets too. A few of these latter ones could absolutely fit on a mini-ITX mobo. :p
     
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  16. RancidLunchmeat

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    No, that's actually very helpful. So I need to find out if the motherboard I'm looking at allows you to boot from the M.2, otherwise, the entire solution is pointless. I think I did read somewhere about difficulties booting from M.2, but I think that has been fixed with most of the newer boards. Something I'll have to explore.

    Thanks
     
  17. Malo

    Malo Yak Mechanicum
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    Damn, apparently I haven't been keeping up with the latest tech. When did these m.2 slots and drives sneak up on us??
     
  18. RancidLunchmeat

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    Two years ago I think they started being built into motherboards.

    As I think I mentioned above, some even have have three of the built in right now. Here's the review I was talking about earlier that tests running three of them in RAID0


    Apparently they totally saturate that half of the PCIe bus though, so they have to be used in place of other SATA drives. Which was the motivation for me to ask, why would I even want those other SATA drives?

    So, to answer your question, relatively new tech, but not like something that just came out last month or anything.
     
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  19. Malo

    Malo Yak Mechanicum
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    That's insane. Really looking forward to my build next year. Single drives doing 2.5Gb/s read!
     
  20. Blazkowicz

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    I was thinking of the opposite thing.

    Why bother getting another computer to put the hard drives in if it's not strictly needed? For some time I used a small PC as a "NAS", main benefit is "sharing" pirating content 24/7 while keeping power bills low.
    Accessing data from outside was nice too, but at 120KB/s because of doing it over DSL, it just wasn't worth it. I thought I'd have fiber after a couple years, but while it's being deployed it only goes to condo building with at least 9 flats or something like that.
    There were stupid networking and configuration troubles with the NAS (admittedly, not a commercial solution nor even a NAS-oriented distro or OS)

    And of course, it slowed down storage.
    So one day when my NAS was fubar'ed in a baffling and unknown way, I just put the storage back in the desktop. Good bye NAS.
    If you have a recent, efficient desktop that idles low why not use it as the NAS?
    There are some high capacity, high height 2.5" hard drives too.

    Umm, too bad that I do otherwise attribute equal usefulness to bulk network accessible storage whether it's stored on a desktop or a NAS, rendering this argument irrelevant. Also only really works if the desktop is running Linux (no reboot needed for updates)
     
    #20 Blazkowicz, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
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