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Xyspade
1 Nickel

XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details within)

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Hello all,

I have a Dell XPS 8900 machine that I purchased in 2016, it's the standard model with an i7-6700, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GT 730 and a single 1 TB hard drive.  I would like to upgrade the machine with a M.2 PCIe x4 NVMe SSD (the Samsung 970 EVO to be exact).  However, because of the x1 speed limitation with the motherboard's native M.2 slot, I would like to get a M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter to achieve the max performance the SSD is capable of.

I've searched forums for many hours trying to find as much information as I can, and many of my questions have been addressed but I can't seem to find a clear answer as to whether or not the 970 EVO can be used as the main (boot) drive on this machine.  Some have reported successful installations of the Samsung 950 EVO, and some mention they had to go through some loopholes to get it working, but there's almost no documentation on the 970.  It would be a huge dealbreaker if it can only be used as a secondary drive, so I would like to confirm before I make the purchases.

Can the 970 EVO, or any recent NVMe-based SSD be used as the boot drive with Windows 10 64-bit, installed in the XPS 8900 with a PCIe x4 adapter, and what would be the correct UEFI configuration if so?

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Tesla1856
6 Gallium

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@Xyspade wrote:

Hello all,

I have a Dell XPS 8900

1. However, because of the x1 speed limitation with the motherboard's native M.2 slot, I would like to get a M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter to achieve the max performance the SSD is capable of.

2. I've searched forums for many hours trying to find as much information as I can, and many of my questions have been addressed but I can't seem to find a clear answer as to whether or not the 970 EVO can be used as the main (boot) drive on this machine.  Some have reported successful installations of the Samsung 950 EVO, and some mention they had to go through some loopholes to get it working, but there's almost no documentation on the 970.  It would be a huge dealbreaker if it can only be used as a secondary drive, so I would like to confirm before I make the purchases.

3. Can the 970 EVO, or any recent NVMe-based SSD be used as the boot drive with Windows 10 64-bit, installed in the XPS 8900 with a PCIe x4 adapter, and what would be the correct UEFI configuration if so?


1. IIRC, that's what some users did when these machines were new. However, not sure it was this exact model (but there was a lot of posts, discussions, and success stories back then).

Also, whether the on-board M.2 slot is mSATA or NVMe is irrelevant in your case:
a. You are not planning to use it
b. There is no existing M.2-SSD to move

2. Yeah, many users have trouble and blame it on the SSD. Even Dell blames certain SSD as incompatible (and then knowledgeable users here prove they work fine).

3. It should work fine.
a. PCIe/NVMe is an industry standard like SATA.
b. XPS-8900 is UEFI based, so booting of NVMe SSDs from a PCIe Addin Card should work.

You can always return the SSD to Amazon, but don't "give-up" to quick.

https://www.dell.com/community/XPS-Desktops/XPS-8930-970-Evo-SSD-RAM-upgrade-instructions/td-p/62069...

 

 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
15 Replies
546insp
3 Argentium

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@Xyspade wrote:

Hello all,

I have a Dell XPS 8900 machine that I purchased in 2016, it's the standard model with an i7-6700, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GT 730 and a single 1 TB hard drive.  I would like to upgrade the machine with a M.2 PCIe x4 NVMe SSD (the Samsung 970 EVO to be exact).  However, because of the x1 speed limitation with the motherboard's native M.2 slot, I would like to get a M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter to achieve the max performance the SSD is capable of.

I've searched forums for many hours trying to find as much information as I can, and many of my questions have been addressed but I can't seem to find a clear answer as to whether or not the 970 EVO can be used as the main (boot) drive on this machine.  Some have reported successful installations of the Samsung 950 EVO, and some mention they had to go through some loopholes to get it working, but there's almost no documentation on the 970.  It would be a huge dealbreaker if it can only be used as a secondary drive, so I would like to confirm before I make the purchases.

Can the 970 EVO, or any recent NVMe-based SSD be used as the boot drive with Windows 10 64-bit, installed in the XPS 8900 with a PCIe x4 adapter, and what would be the correct UEFI configuration if so?


I wouldn't buy it, that PC doesn't work well with that drive (if at all), your money would be better spent on a sata drive.

Dell XPS 8920 silver edition
7th gen i7 Intel CPU
Samsung 850 evo SSD for boot
Added front fan
16gb of memory
AMD video/graphic card
I buy a new Dell every 4 years for the last 25 years

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Tesla1856
6 Gallium

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@Xyspade wrote:

Hello all,

I have a Dell XPS 8900

1. However, because of the x1 speed limitation with the motherboard's native M.2 slot, I would like to get a M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter to achieve the max performance the SSD is capable of.

2. I've searched forums for many hours trying to find as much information as I can, and many of my questions have been addressed but I can't seem to find a clear answer as to whether or not the 970 EVO can be used as the main (boot) drive on this machine.  Some have reported successful installations of the Samsung 950 EVO, and some mention they had to go through some loopholes to get it working, but there's almost no documentation on the 970.  It would be a huge dealbreaker if it can only be used as a secondary drive, so I would like to confirm before I make the purchases.

3. Can the 970 EVO, or any recent NVMe-based SSD be used as the boot drive with Windows 10 64-bit, installed in the XPS 8900 with a PCIe x4 adapter, and what would be the correct UEFI configuration if so?


1. IIRC, that's what some users did when these machines were new. However, not sure it was this exact model (but there was a lot of posts, discussions, and success stories back then).

Also, whether the on-board M.2 slot is mSATA or NVMe is irrelevant in your case:
a. You are not planning to use it
b. There is no existing M.2-SSD to move

2. Yeah, many users have trouble and blame it on the SSD. Even Dell blames certain SSD as incompatible (and then knowledgeable users here prove they work fine).

3. It should work fine.
a. PCIe/NVMe is an industry standard like SATA.
b. XPS-8900 is UEFI based, so booting of NVMe SSDs from a PCIe Addin Card should work.

You can always return the SSD to Amazon, but don't "give-up" to quick.

https://www.dell.com/community/XPS-Desktops/XPS-8930-970-Evo-SSD-RAM-upgrade-instructions/td-p/62069...

 

 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
Xyspade
1 Nickel

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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Thanks so much for the advice.  As it turns out I went ahead and took the risk and purchased the SSD and adapter since I could return it if I had to.  I updated to the latest version of the UEFI, made a bootable flash drive with the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, then removed all the old HDDs and installed the SSD in the adapter and into a space PCIe slot.  To my surprise it was recognized instantly in the Windows 10 installer, not even any drivers needed, and after installation it booted up every time with no problems.  I now have the Intel Rapid Storage software, and am getting almost full specs performance from the drive.  For anyone else looking at using the Samsung 970 EVO (and I'm sure PRO as well) with the XPS 8900, this has been a success story.

Techgee
2 Iron

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@546insp wrote:

[…] that PC doesn't work well with that drive (if at all) […].


Is the above misleading, making it harder for those wishing to upgrade to a M.2 NVMe SSD figure out whether they can?

Yep, seems it is:


@Xyspade wrote:

[…] To my surprise it was recognized instantly in the Windows 10 installer, not even any drivers needed, and after installation it booted up every time with no problems […] and am getting almost full specs performance from the drive.  For anyone else looking at using the Samsung 970 EVO (and I'm sure PRO as well) with the XPS 8900, this has been a success story.


Glad you got it working, Xyspade!

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546insp
3 Argentium

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@Xyspade wrote:

Thanks so much for the advice.  As it turns out I went ahead and took the risk and purchased the SSD and adapter since I could return it if I had to.  I updated to the latest version of the UEFI, made a bootable flash drive with the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, then removed all the old HDDs and installed the SSD in the adapter and into a space PCIe slot.  To my surprise it was recognized instantly in the Windows 10 installer, not even any drivers needed, and after installation it booted up every time with no problems.  I now have the Intel Rapid Storage software, and am getting almost full specs performance from the drive.  For anyone else looking at using the Samsung 970 EVO (and I'm sure PRO as well) with the XPS 8900, this has been a success story.


Amazing because others have gotten much less than full specs with it.

Dell XPS 8920 silver edition
7th gen i7 Intel CPU
Samsung 850 evo SSD for boot
Added front fan
16gb of memory
AMD video/graphic card
I buy a new Dell every 4 years for the last 25 years

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Techgee
2 Iron

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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@546insp wrote:

Amazing because others have gotten much less than full specs with it.


Those who added a M.2 to PCIe adapter to the x16 or x4 PCIe slots got full NVMe specs, like Xyspade, since they're PCIe 3.0 and x4 lanes which a NVMe M.2 SSD needs for full speed.

Those who connected a NVMe SSD to the 8900's built-in M.2 slot - which although PCIe 3.0, turns out only has a x1 lane and not x4 - got reduced performance.  Here's a post/thread with that realization back in 2015 - thread ends with users getting full performance via add-in PCIe adapter card.  Here's another post in July of this year mentioning a chat with Dell confirming this as well.

So, to use Samsung as a specific example, if you want a Samsung 970 EVO/PRO NVMe SSD at it's rated performance (up to 3500 MBps or so) you'll need a M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter like Xyspade bought (lots of choices available - I use this one, also available here, plus this heatsink in another machine).  The adapter goes into either the x16 PCIe slot labeled #14 or the x4 PCIe slot labeled #15 in the diagram below.  Both #14 and #15 slots are electrically hooked up for x4 lanes and PCIe 3.0 and will give you full NVMe M.2 SSD performance.

 5672.Motherboard

There's a good (and readably short) thread on the PCIe slot capabilities of the XPS 8900 here on Dell's Forums with Dell going over how many lanes are actually hooked up to each.

If, on the other hand, you think full SATA III SSD performance (up to 550 MBps) is sufficient, you can either add a 2.5" SATA SSD like the Samsung 860 EVO/PRO in one of the 3.5" drive bays, or you could get a Samsung 860 EVO/PRO in M.2 format and add it to the 8900's native M.2 SSD slot (the slot labeled #9 in the diagram above).  You'll get full SATA III performance either way.

But, if you buy a Samsung 970 EVO/PRO and put it in the 8900's native M.2 SDD slot (labeled #9 in the above diagram) you'll only get about 800 MBps.

Be aware, that the small file 4k performance of all the above SSDs are about the same.  Because of this for many real-world situations actual performance of all of them may not be much difference.

Martin B
1 Nickel

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD upgrade - boot compatibility

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NVMe PCIe SSD upgrade for Dell XPS 8900

 

I thought I would add to this post in case there is anyone else who, like me, wishes to give their XPS 8900 a mid-life upgrade by fitting an SSD system disk.  I used a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe PCIe SSD.  The XPS 8900 motherboard will boot from an NVMe PCIe SSD, but I recommend updating to the latest UEFI BIOS first (2.4.0).  The 8900 M.2 NVMe motherboard slot is only PCIe x1, and so it is essential to use a PCIe add-in card for the new SSD in order to benefit from the full PCIe x4 speed.

I wanted to keep the existing 2GB HDD for data, and so did not wish to disturb its SSD cache acceleration (32GB SSD set up as RAID 0 with the HDD in Intel RST).  I therefore left RAID on in the BIOS, as an SSD is plug-and-play with RAID on using the native Windows 10 Intel RST driver.  The only downside is that you cannot use Samsung’s driver or Magician SSD management software (both require the BIOS to be set to ACHI), but in my view this is not a significant issue unless you are a demon gamer and wish to wring out every last drop of performance.

The procedure I used was as follows, derived from a number of different sources:

 

1. Backup the system in every way!
    - create & test a new Macrium Reflect Rescue CD
    - ensure you have a Windows 10 Recovery USB Drive
    - defrag the HDD

2. Fit the SSD card in a PCIe slot:
    - Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe PCIe SSD on Lycom DT-120 add-in card
    - use slot 23 (or 24) on illustration in Dell Service Manual (both are actually wired x4)
    - depending upon clearance from graphics card fan (24 is tight on my machine)
    - (N.B. these slots are labelled 14 & 15 on the illustration posted above)

3. Clone HDD to SSD using Macrium Reflect:
    - Macrium Reflect > “Run as administrator”
    - N.B. disable antivirus & online backup first!
    - also disconnect from network & set power to “High Performance”
    - adjust OS (C: ) partition size, but keep partitions in the same order
    - (the contents of my HDD comfortably fitted onto the SSD, making this straightforward)
    - after cloning put a text file on the desktop of the HDD that says “This is the old HDD”

4. Set BIOS (tap F2 just before Dell splash screen):
    - to make SSD the boot drive C: (the boot drive is automatically assigned C: )
    > Settings > General > Boot Sequence
    > set SSD as 1st Boot device (i.e. above “Windows Boot Manager”)

5. Check system is booting from SSD:
    - desktop text message from 3 above (“This is the old HDD”) will not be there!
    - size of C: drive should be size of SSD
    - as shown in File Explorer, Disk Management (right-click Start), and Macrium Reflect

6. Run for a while to ensure all is well:
    - check TRIM is turned on for SSD
    - also turn on System Restore for SSD

7. Format the HDD when you are sure the SSD is OK:
    - use DISKPART from Command Prompt to clean HDD & remove EFI boot partition
    > use Disk Management (right-click Start) to re-initialise, format & name HDD 😧 as “DATA”
    - this will result in failure to boot!
    > run Macrium Fix Boot Problems from Rescue CD to re-create Boot Configuration Data
    > move data folders to HDD

 

This upgrade has resulted in a terrific increase in the speed and responsiveness of the system, with a much shorter boot time, and is highly recommended!

Vic384
3 Zinc

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD upgrade - boot compatibility

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@Martin B wrote:


7. Format the HDD when you are sure the SSD is OK:
    - use DISKPART from Command Prompt to clean HDD & remove EFI boot partition
    > use Disk Management (right-click Start) to re-initialise, format & name HDD 😧 as “DATA”
    - this will result in failure to boot!
    > run Macrium Fix Boot Problems from Rescue CD to re-create Boot Configuration Data
    > move data folders to HDD


You don't need to use Disk Management to re-initialize, format, etc.

Diskpart Clean will remove any and all partitions

Diskpart Format will format and /v option will name (label) a volume

Diskpart Convert will convert MBR to GPT

There are many more commands.

 

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Edongzki
1 Copper

Re: XPS 8900, M.2 NVMe SSD boot compatibility? (details wit

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I also have the XPS-8900 factory default configuration and am planning  to upgrade to Samsung NvMe SSD also. Could you please if not too much to ask give me the exact link and model number of the Samsung 970 EVO that you bought including the adaptor. Will this SAMSUNG 970 EVO M.2 2280 1TB PCIe Gen3. X4, NVMe 1.3 64L V-NAND 3-bit MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V7E1T0BW from newegg work as a bootable and data drive?

Also I currently still have no idea how did you update the UEFI like what you’ve said. Is it a straight BIOS update from dell website under download support/drivers? Please help I am new to UEFI BIOS settings and 100% coming from OLD legacy BIOS settings so this is totally new to me.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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