Migrating SATA SSD to PCIe 3.0 4x SSD with Windows 7 and Z97 motherboard


By: Fingers
May 8, 2017

This of course cannot be completely comprehensive unless someone could purchase all combinations of systems and drives but it is my experience and may help some who are daunted by the task. I will first state my hardware so you can judge how suitable this will be for you. I will include briefly what I researched and how I proceeded. I hope that this will help some of you out there.

Hardware:
Gigabyte Motherboard: Z97X-UD3H ver:1.0
Processor: Intel i5-4690K
Original Boot Drive: OCZ Vertex 460 256GB
New Boot Drive to be installed: Western Digital Black series PCIe 3.0 4x MVMe M.2 2280mm 256GB
M.2 PCIe to PCIe 3.0 4x Adapter used (details/reason in text): IOCREST SI-PEX40110
Storage Drive: WD 1TB Black SATA drive
Graphics: GTX750Ti
CPU Cooler:Noctua CPU heat sink Cooler
RAM: GSkill 4x4GB DDR3 2133

Understand first that many Z97 motherboards and Windows 7 do not natively support NVMe which is essential to running this type of drive. Although this motherboard has an M.2 socket it is not PCIe 3.0 4x as required. Some motherboards of this era support M2 in SATA or PCIe 2.0 2x or possibly PCIe 3.0 2x but to be compatible SATA is out and to get full speed on this drive type you need PCIe 3.0 4x so I found a PCIe adapter card for my open PCIe 8x slot and installed the m.2 drive on that. Some may point out that I am giving up some graphics performance because my PCIe 16x graphics slot will be restricted to 8X. Being that my graphics is not maxed out with a super card and only one card at that, I understand that this will not effect my graphics at all. For the very serious gamer the small hit to the graphics may be offset by the faster drive access but you will have to judge that for yourself. My research found that I supposedly needed a BIOS on my motherboard version F8e to add NVMe support but Gigabyte did not show this possibility on their site (I had F7 BIOS due to 4690K) so I installed the F9 BIOS figuring that the newer BIOS would have all advantages of the prior one and more. Windows 7 also needs a Hot Fix to support MVMe booting, this fix is KB2990941 and they say that is you get a certain error then you may also need Hot Fix KB3087873 (but only if you need it). I also decided that it would be far easier to do all of the fixes on my current system and then clone the drive over to the new drive. You can get the fixes and necessary drivers on a flash drive or CD and install them during the installation of Windows 7 but I elected to go the other way and I was not having any issues with it at the time outside of the sleep issue with the SSD controller on the old drive.

Once you upgrade your BIOS to support NVMe, your Hot fixes to Windows 7 (not needed for Windows 8 or 10) to support NVMe installed, and any drivers required for your drive, the next step is to go into BIOS set up and get it ready for the drive. You need to Enable CSM, Option ROM, Disable Legacy boot or select Boot UEFI first (to allow booting to CD, etc), and pretty much anything to UEFI and NVMe to enable. Make sure that you Save and Exit BIOS menu, and boot to Windows to be sure all is still working and you have access to all current drives. Shut down, unplug, ground yourself, and install your PCIe SSD drive now (on PCIe card unless you board supports the full M.2 current specs (2.0 and 2x will slow your access). Boot to Windows and launch your cloning software. The Western Digital Black drive comes with the WD version of Acronis True Image and this detected the drive and cloned the entire drive (boot sector and all) over to the new drive in a matter of a 8 or 10 of minutes. I then shut down, Unplugged the old SSD drive, booted into the BIOS set up, set the new boot order, saved and exited and booted into Windows 7 in a very short time. Everything worked perfectly due to serious research before hand making sure all was ready at hand and all was compatible as I saw it. I am very thankful to many sites that I looked at in my research and warn also that there is a lot of information that is old and not current as well as some that did not agree with other information I found. Do your research and double check anything that is not clear to you and I hope that this is as easy for you as it was for me.

Fingers


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