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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding NVMe Solid State Drives (SSDs)

Summary: This article provides the information on "New technology (NVMe, Skylake etc.) and their interaction during the installation of Windows on systems that have the Intel Skylake Chipset

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New Technologies

Many of the exciting new hardware technologies included in the latest Dell OptiPlex, Precision, Latitude, Venue, & XPS systems work optimally with a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)/GUID Partition Table (GPT) based image. UEFI also offers increased speed, performance, and added security with new Microsoft features.


While some of the newest Dell systems require UEFI, other recent models have increased stability when configured using UEFI. The new Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) drives also represent a technology leap forward which works optimally in UEFI configurations. While Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 natively utilize the UEFI standard, additional preparation and consideration must be taken with Windows 7 for compatibility.


Dell systems manufactured since 2011 are UEFI capable. Depending on the order configuration of the system, and the operating system installed from the factory and other considerations, your system may have shipped in a UEFI configuration or in a Legacy BIOS configuration. As a general rule, systems shipped with Windows 8/8.1 shipped with UEFI enabled. All Windows 10 systems ship from Dell in the UEFI mode.

 
Note: You may hear these drives referred to as M.2 drives, and while technically correct, it is a bit of a misnomer. All NVME drives utilize the M.2 form factor, but not all M.2 SSDs utilize NVME technology. M.2 is simply the form factor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is NVMe?
  2. Should I use NVMe drives with MBR?
  3. Why does my NVMe drive not work with Windows 7?
  4. Do I need to do anything for my NVMe drives to work with my Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 image?
  5. Why won't my Windows 7 disc work with my new Dell systems?
  6. What is Skylake and what do I need to know about it?
  7. What is UEFI?
  8. What is the difference between MBR and GPT?
  9. Which imaging technologies support UEFI?
  10. What is the difference between Legacy BIOS and UEFI?
  11. How are GPT and UEFI associated?
  12. Is MBR the same as Legacy BIOS?
  13. How do I switch my Dell system from Legacy Mode to UEFI?
  14. Can I configure my Windows 7 systems setup on UEFI for Secure Boot?
  15. Can I configure my Windows 7 systems setup on UEFI for BitLocker?
  16. Can I configure my Windows 7 systems setup on Legacy for BitLocker if I am unable to use UEFI?
 
  1. Q: What is NVMe?
    A: Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) is a communications interface/protocol developed specially for Solid State Drives (SSD). Previously, Solid State drives used hard drive controller interfaces (SATA, SAS etc.) that were designed for spinning hard disk drives. NVMe (Based on the PCI Express data bus) standardizes the interface for SSDs requiring only 1 driver for all drives using this specification. (Similar to USB devices)
  2. Q: Should I use NVMe drives with MBR?
    A: No, Dell recommends NVMe drives be configured via UEFI & GPT for optimal performance, security and reliability.
  3. Q: Why does my NVMe drive not work with Windows 7?
    A: Windows 7 does not include support for NVMe drives natively. In most cases, Windows 7 imaging failures are rooted in improper device configuration, legacy imaging software/processes and failure to load required drivers during the imaging process to provide Windows 7 support for NVMe drives. Dell recommends UEFI and GPT configuration of Windows 7 systems.
  4. Imaging Articles
   

Model

Current BIOS Version
(as of April 14, 2016)

Latitude E7270 /7470

1.4.2

Latitude E5270 /5470/5570

1.4.7

Latitude 5175/5179

1.0.7

Rugged Tablet 7202 Venue 11 Pro (5)

A06

XPS 13 9350

1.3.3

XPS15 9550

1.2.0

OptiPlex 7440 All-in-One (AIO)

1.3.9

OptiPlex 7040 MT, SFF, Micro

1.2.8

OptiPlex 5040 MT, SFF

1.2.7

OptiPlex 3040 MT, SFF, Micro

1.3.5

Precision T3420/T3620

1.3.2

Precision 3510

1.4.7

Precision 5510

1.2.0

Precision 7510/7710

1.4 .8


If your system is not listed then Legacy BitLocker is not currently supported on your system.


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Windows Transition Schedule

  • June 30, 2017 End of Distribution
    • Windows 8
    • Windows 8 Pro DOWNGRADE to Windows 7 Pro
    • Windows 8.1 DOWNGRSDE to Windows 7 Pro
    • Windows 7 Home Basic (China ONLY)
  • July 31, 2017 End of Distribution
    • Windows 10 Pro Small Tablet
    • Windows 10 Tablet 2-in-1 DOWNGRADE
  • October 31, 2017 End of Distribution
    • Windows 7 Pro
    • Windows 8.1
    • Windows 10 Pro DOWNGRADE to Windows 7 Pro or 8.1 Pro


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Glossary

  • UEFI - Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, System Setup interface that replaces BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) used for system configuration.
  • NVMe - Non-Volatile Memory express, a new technology that uses the PCI-Express bus for SSD operations, which is considerably faster than SATA technology .
  • PCI Express - A high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard, designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards
  • SATA - Serial ATA (abbreviated from Serial AT Attachment) is a computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives, optical drives, and solid-state drives.
  • SAS - Serial-attached SCSI (Small Computer System Interface), a computer bus interface using SATA devices and the speed of the SCSI host controller.
  • MBR - Master Boot Record
  • GPT - GUID Partition Table
  • GUID - Globally Unique IDentifier
  • ZiB - Zebibyte (1 zebibyte = 270 bytes = 1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424bytes = 1024 exbibytes)
  • SCCM - System Center Configuration Manager (Microsoft)
  • MDT - Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
  • Legacy ROM - (Legacy Read-Only Memory) enables older boot device options when systems are configured for UEFI (Shows boot options other than EFI enabled boot drives.)
  • Firmware - permanent software programmed into a read-only memory.
  • Skylake - Refers to the 6th Generation of the Intel Core processor design.
  • Kaby Lake - Refers to the 7th Generation of the Intel Core processor design. (It is expected that Kaby Lake will only support Windows 10.)
  • Broadwell - Refers to the 4th Generation of the Intel Core processor design
  • Haswell - Refers to the 4th Generation of the Intel Core processor design
  • Thunderbolt 3 - Thunderbolt 3 is a hardware interface that uses the USB Type-C connector. Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into one serial signal, and additionally provides DC power, all in one cable. Up to six peripherals may be supported by one Thunderbolt 3 connection.
  • DisplayPort (DP) - A digital display interface primarily used to connect a video source to a display device such as a LCD Display. DisplayPort connections can also be used to carry audio, USB, and other forms of data over a single connection.


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Dell Skylake Models with Windows 7 Support

Dell Skylake Models
with Windows 7 Support

Legacy BIOS/MBR Partition  

UFEI BIOS/GPT Partitioning  

Latitude 12 7000 Series (E7270 )

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 14 7000 Series (E7470)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet (7202)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 15 3000 Series (3470)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 15 3000 Series (3570)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 12 5000 Series (E5270)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 14 5000 Series (E5470)

Yes1

Yes

Latitude 15 5000 Series (E5570)

Yes1

Yes

OptiPlex 24 7000 Series All-in-One (7440)

Yes1

Yes

OptiPlex 22 3000 Series All-in-One (3240)

Yes1

Yes
OptiPlex 7040

Yes1

Yes
OptiPlex 5040

Yes1

Yes
OptiPlex 3040

Yes1

Yes
Precision 15 5000 Series (5510) No2 Yes
Precision 15 7000 Series (7510) No2 Yes
Precision 17 7000 Series (7710) No2 Yes
Precision 15 3000 Series (3510) No2 Yes
Precision Tower 3000 Series (3620) Yes Yes
Precision Tower 3000 Series (3420) Yes Yes
XPS 13 9350 Ultrabook No2 No2
XPS 13 9360 Ultrabook Yes1 Yes

Notes:

  1. Windows 7 Legacy BIOS/MBR Partition configurations support Non-NVMe drives only.
  2. Windows 7 not supported but may be supported at a future date.


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Article Properties


Affected Product

Latitude 3470, Latitude 7202 Rugged Tablet, Latitude E5270, Latitude E5470, Latitude E7270, Latitude E7470, OptiPlex 3040, OptiPlex 3240 All-in-One, OptiPlex 5040, OptiPlex 7040, OptiPlex 7440 All-In-One, Precision 3510, Precision 5510Latitude 3470, Latitude 7202 Rugged Tablet, Latitude E5270, Latitude E5470, Latitude E7270, Latitude E7470, OptiPlex 3040, OptiPlex 3240 All-in-One, OptiPlex 5040, OptiPlex 7040, OptiPlex 7440 All-In-One, Precision 3510, Precision 5510, Precision 7510, Precision 7710, Dell Precision Tower 3420, Dell Precision Tower 3620, XPS 13 9350See more

Last Published Date

12 Apr 2021

Version

5

Article Type

Solution

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