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Aurora 10, Slot 4 not recognizing SSD expansion card

Hello

      I have an Aurora 10 (Ryzen Edition) and purchased a NVMe SSD and PCIe expansion card to add it to my system.  It's a Sabrent SSD and card combo.  The card is full length so naturally I installed it first in slot4, which is a PCIe-x16 slot (functioning only -x8).  My drive should have been recognized by the system but was not, not even in disk management.  Next I moved the card/ssd over to slot3 which is a PCIe-x4 slot, but functions only as -x2 (as explained on page 8 of the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition Setup and Specifications document).  This time the ssd was recognized by disk management and I was enable to initialize and format the device.  It seems to be functioning normally, but is not.  With CrystalDiskInfo I can see the SSD is performing only at half speed:  1.5GB/s, instead of its rated speed of 3.0GB/s.  And indeed, CrystalDiskInfo indicates the Transfer Mode is PCIe 3.0x2.  That's because the slot functions only as a PCIe-x2 slot, so the card only has access to half the lanes it needs in order to run at full speed.  So, in summary the computer's expansion capability looks like this:

Slot1 is occupied by the Nvidia 2080 Super.

Slot2 functions as PCIe-x4, but is blocked by the 2080 Super so I can't use it

Slot3 functions only in PCIe-x2 mode and my ssd only runs at half speed

Slot4 functions in PCIe-8 mode and should theoretically recognize my card, but doesn't.

Shouldn't it?  I looked to see if there's a switch in BIOS to turn the slot on, but nope.  Is there a dipswitch on the board itself?

Thanks

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4 Beryllium

Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

Odd that it wasn't working on the bottom GPU slot.  I'm wondering if there is something wrong with slot 4.  You can always do this (assuming slot 4 works - if not, I'd contact Dell for warranty and/or technical support): 

SLOT 1:  NVME pcie ssd

SLOT 2: empty

SLOT 3: empty

SLOT 4: GPU

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Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

As an aside, I am able to use the lower x8 with my PCIE NVME ssd.  

Another aside, SLOT 3 in the R7/8/9  runs at x4.  Interesting that it runs at x2 in the R10.  

inside.jpg

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2 Bronze

Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

You can't run a GPU from slot4 because that only functions as -x8.  Slot1 is the only place you can put the GPU.

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4 Beryllium

Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

SLOT 1 functions as x8 too.  Exact same speed as SLOT 4.  There is no x16 electrical in the Aurora. What do you think happens when you run SLI.   

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Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

If you read the user manual it says slots 1/4 are both x8 here on page 8 too: 

https://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/alienware-aurora-r10-desktop_users-guide_en-us.pdf

The reason other people run the GPU on SLOT 1 is some motherboards have x16 on top, x8 on bottom. That is not the case for Aurora. They are x8 top and bottom.  Thermals would be better up top, but speedwise it's the same. 

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2 Bronze

Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

Ah yes!  My apologies!

I'd still like to discover why slot4 isn't seeing my SSD.  If it isn't functioning correctly then moving the GPU there wouldn't be very productive.

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4 Beryllium

Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

Troubleshoot:

1.  If you plug the NVME to the top X8, with monitor to onboard graphics (GPU removed), and it works, that would tell you the pcie adapter card is OK, and you can rule out a problem with the card.  If the card does not work, then that would tend to indicate there is a problem with the pcie adapter card on x8 (since it works fine in the middle slot).  Then, go on to #2. 

2.  Next, if you connect the GPU to the lower X8, monitor to GPU, and it does work, that would tell you there is nothing wrong with the lower X8 slot (this further confirms that the problem is likely with the card).  If the GPU does not show up, then that would indicate something is wrong with your lower X8 slot as opposed to the card (slot not functioning or it has been disabled). 

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Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card

@r72019 is correct:

PCI-Express X16 (graphics slot 1)

NOTE: The PCI-Express X16 slot works at X8 lanes only.

PCI-Express X4 slots (2)

NOTE: The PCI-Express X4 slot 3 works at X2 lanes only.  maybe that is why ssd is slower in this slot?

PCI-Express X16 (graphics slot 2)

NOTE: The PCI-Express X16 slot works at X8 lanes only.

p.8-9/17 https://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/alienware-aurora-r10-desktop_users-guide_en-us.pdf

b550A chipset has only PCIe3.0 (Gen 3) slots.  there is no PCIe2.0 slot.

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Re: Slot4 Not Recognizing My SSD Expansion Card and Other Issues

Well, I've learned a bit more about my system, which I'll explain below.  Plus, I need to vent.  My apologies.

To recap, I wanted to add another NVMe drive to my system.  It's not possible.

First, slot4 wouldn't recognize my original expansion card, nor would it recognize two additional cards I purchased to see if my original card is bad (it's not).  Either, Slot4 is defective, or the design prohibits recognizing another nvme drive card.

Second, I tried my drive card in slot3, but it won't work there because slot3 only enables 2 pcie lanes, not 4 as required by the drive card.  Slot3 sees the drive but it will only run at 1.5GB/s instead of the rated 3.0GB/s

Third, I purchased a pcie riser cable for slot2 because it's blocked by the gpu card.  Slot2 sees the drive but again it only runs at 1.5GB/s.  Why?  Apparently, slot2 is PCIe 2.0 not PCIE 3.0.  This is what CrystalDiskInfo tells me. What a letdown!

Another user recommended moving the gpu from slot1 to slot4 then seeing if the drive could be recognized in slot1.  That can't be done because the gpu would block the front audio connector and the SATA ports.

After 3 weeks of fiddling around with the system what I've learned in total would prevent me from recommending an Alienware desktop to anyone.  What I've discovered is a series of shortcuts, shoddy engineering, and poor quality control.  Here they are:

1. One of the reasons I selected an AMD 3000 system is because this particular processor supports PCIe 4.0.  But not this motherboard!  It's 3.0 and I can only assume that's for cost cutting reasons.

2.  The liquid cooling is totally inadequate.  It's a half-length radiator with just one fan.  There's no way to check fluid levels and it's not addressed in any of the documentation.

4. Slot4 can't recognize nvme drive cards.  At least mine won't.  Is this a quality control issue or an design/engineering shortcoming?

5.  Slot3 has only 2 lanes and that much is stated in the documentation.  WTH?  Why?

6.  Slot2 is only PCIe 2.0. Yes, NOT PCIe 3.0.  At least that's what mine runs at.  Is this a quality control issue or an design/engineering shortcoming?

7.  The memory would not run at full speed until I selected OC1 in the BIOS.  WTH?

8.  The Alienware Control Center software is buggy as hell, continually throwing errors in the event logs.

9.  I purchased the Premium Support but I can't get support via email, it's not an option.  I'm given online chat as an option but it's been unavailable several times during working hours (!).  Phone is the other option.  I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.

In short, it's not possible to add another NVMe drive that can run at full speed.  If I were to hang on to this system I would have to settle for a secondary NVMe that runs at half speed but hey, that's faster than the next available option (a SATA 3 drive).  But, I've been short-changed and I'm not getting my money's worth.

This isn't a system suitable for enthusiasts and it's not designed to support any kind of future expansion or growth.  I spent $2,500.  For this.

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