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Asus Z170 Deluxe: Samsung SSD 960 Evo NVM.e M.2 as boot drive?

Hi,

Just purchased a samsung 960 Evo NVM.e M.2 1 TB at a really good price. Since this will be my first time installing an m.2 form factor card, I'm looking for some advice. I've seen some conflicting advice especially when it comes to boot/UEFI changes and set-up, so I thought it wise to just ask again.

I'm using an Asus z170 deluxe mobo, which has native M.2 support.
- It has 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key, for type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode) on the board itself
- It also has a PCIe add-in card ('HYPER M.2 X4 MINI'), with 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key, type 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE mode only).

My questions:
1) Socket choice:
Which socket to choose? The on-board M.2 slot, or the slot on the Hyper M.2 add-in? What's the difference, and does the choice matter?
If installing on the mobo slot, I assume PCIE mode is what I'd want? Would this require changes in boot options? (which brings me to my next question)

2) Possible Boot changes/UEFI:
If installing as boot drive, some comments on this site have suggested quite tortuous (from my pov, at least) steps in boot changes with asus mobos, including disabling CSM in boot, clearing of boot keys to install default secure boot keys, switching from Win UEFI to 'other OS' and back, etc., just to get it working properly.
Does this apply to a mobo with native M.2 slot, or are these changes necessary in any scenario, with any (asus 170) mobo?

Anyhow, thanks in advance!
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  1. Best answer
    1) It doesn't matter, I would use the M.2 slot on the board just for a more clean look. The card is just so you can another M.2 drive if you wanted since the board only has 1 built in M.2 slot. Both will allow for PCIE x4 gen3 speeds. Yes PCIE mode x4. Not boot options, it would be in the advanced tab somewhere, my mobo was set to PCIE mode but only two PCIE lanes, I had to manually change it to x4. I will look at your manual if you cant find it.

    2) No that board should accept a 960 evo as the boot drive, you would install windows like you would on any other drive. I had no problems installing one on my Asus Z270 Strix. As far as I know an M.2 drive can be used as the boot drive with no issues on Z170, no changes that you mentioned should be necessary.
  2. Dunlop0078 said:
    1) It doesn't matter, I would use the M.2 slot on the board just for a more clean look. The card is just so you can another M.2 drive if you wanted since the board only has 1 built in M.2 slot. Both will allow for PCIE x4 gen3 speeds. Yes PCIE mode x4. Not boot options, it would be in the advanced tab somewhere, my mobo was set to PCIE mode but only two PCIE lanes, I had to manually change it to x4. I will look at your manual if you cant find it.

    2) No that board should accept a 960 evo as the boot drive, you would install windows like you would on any other drive. I had no problems installing one on my Asus Z270 Strix. As far as I know an M.2 drive can be used as the boot drive with no issues on Z170, no changes that you mentioned should be necessary.


    Thanks, mate! Easier works for me. Appreciate your advice.
    Link to the manual.

    In theory, if I were to purchase a second one of these, could I install that on the Hyper M.2 card with PCIE?
    For dual-boot if I'd install a linux distro on the one drive and the win10 version on the drive on the mobo slot? I know this would require tinkering in Bios for linux (especially dual boot on 2 different drives, now there's a challenge), and it's a whole new thread on its own - but just as a hypothesis, this could work, right? Or can you only run one NVMe in PCIE?

    I'll try and substantiate that hypothesis, you know, if I ever get three days off work in a row ;)
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