Mass-Storage class  M.2   Cards...?  

Welcome to my personal Journal, I document what I do so others can see how things are done, and the results as it relates to  M.2  technology.
This is  solid state disk (of sorts and lacking any kind of disk at all).  It is in fact super fast Flash Memory , many times faster than any USB flash memory stick (aka: thumb drives)
The word disk is now ending, we now say MASS STORAGE device. (it's disk emulation really)
This whole page will covery legacy motherboards and how they fail to boot M.2,  and covers  a list of chip sets that do work.
The first issue of most importance is the memories on the card do get hot, so find away to get them cool.(my FLV gets way too hot) There are solutions to this problem (heat speaders are one)
Do not take speed tests and benchmarks as Gospel.  (they all cheat, unless you learn to be smarter, that means do the tests on a drive 1/2 full of data , not any empty SSD of any kind)
The M.2 bus speeds raw can be near X4 (500MB/s each, x4  or 2GB/s that SATA-III can not do)  NVMe drives,  provide write speeds as high as 3500MB/s. That’s 7x over SATA SSDs! (potentials only)
Keep in mind at all times, the cards speeds will be slow on old cards for sure x2 lanes working only.(B=key) and that many or most motherboards old have huge limits on preformance, due to 2 facts.
  • Shared PCI-e channels (  Learn to look up your I/O hub chip and see how PCI-e lanes are wired, all my PC's have documents and a  block diagram on now this is wired)
  • or uses old PCI-e version number 2. not 3.
You as the systems builder my be upgrading a Loptop/notebook from M.2 old to a newer faster M.2 card or installing your first new M.2 on a nice desktop PC. (I will talk about PCs no older than 10 years old (2008 sold new)
This topic here, is M.2.  this a simple green (red/blue/black) PCB (aka. printed circuit board) It in fact is a PCIe M.2 card, that uses the PCI-e data channels.(x4 is typical)

This is not a SATA SSD drive, at all, in fact we my be upgrading from a slow SSD drive to faster SSD CARD ! The SATA drives are slower because SATA has more overhead in the communications channel.
PCI-e channes x4 are faster than any SATA port made, so as M.2 gets faster, it shows this effect very well. ( 3500MB/s as high as)
I said slow SSD drive, but we all know they scream fast, what I mean is going from a fast SSD drive to a super extreme faster CARD seen below, from SAMSUNG, nobody can touch them on pure SPEED.

It can be a tricky beast. (PC's made before 2012)  To get a grasp of how hard this can be see this.
Questions to ask are: (before the leap or wallet out of pocket?)

  1. 1st is Physical,  if your PC only allows up to 60mm long max cards why ask if 80 or 110mm cards fit.  (no it will not fit) but... If you have a Desktop PC, buy a new Adaptor, card, and buy the 110mm as seen below.
  2. Are you going to use the card as a boot drive y/n?  yes and you need NVMe card to work, the UEFI BIOS must be upgraded.(buy the maker of PC or like this, forced)
  3. Disk media size matters too,  Windows10 needs 24GB just to load,(and 2x that for updates) so 60GB is minimum , also memory DDR huge (24GB) need more disk space for the virtual memory cache file.
  4. Speed is a whole other matter and is not free. ( In most cases as a boot drive, a faster SATA SSD , say going from SSD drive to M.2 you will not see windows run or boot faster.
Okay so you are going to use M.2 technology !
There are many cards now in the wild, most super thin Notebooks had them for years or the mSata it replaced years before.
Many older cards super old are slug slow devices (below 60GB), read the data sheets on any card first before spend cash on any old slug card.
There are 4 card types.
B slots (aka B key) (most times  x2 only speeds)
M slot (key)  the word key means the slot has a key and is keyed to only allow matching cards to work.  M-key cards are modern, 2012 or newer products use these.
B +M  (2 slots seen)
and those that have legacy boot ROMs on board to allow legacy PCs to boot.  The M-key is the fastest version of all cards.

What I am talking about here is mostly (B key slot ,legacy) and (B key slot NEW PCs) for the sole usage for  fast SSD media seen on all M.2 cards.
The tricky part is the M-key cards come in 2 major flavors (SATA  & NVMe) but are getting rare to find the former version. (I call them the "Stop Gap cards")  Some call the SATA verisons AHCI.
NVMe is the best for this reasons, (per Intel)

"The biggest advantage of NVMe is its lower latency. This is mostly due to a streamlined storage stack and the fact that NVMe requires no register reads to issue a command. AHCI requires four uncachable register reads per command, which results in ~2.5s of additional latency."

The most important thing here is knowing if your PC runs  FAST M-key cards or not, and if your PC can boot any card at all.
Some PC only boot if you have BIOS and not UEFI, or like one of my PCs the UEFI was never completed ever so must be set to BIOS mode (CSM its called) or on some PCs the UEFI BIOS code must be upgraded.
In all cases of UEFI you need to turn off Safeboot, if it is there. (or you will not be able to clone, or much of anything if you want to boot to M.2)
First let me say if you are  speed demon (gamer?) you will want a SAMSUNG device, nobody today beats them.  Samsung M.2 SSD 960 Pro at,  MB/S , R=3,500  W=2,100 (seq) yes !, screams.
FAQ's?: short.

  1.  Do  not hot swap sticks of m.2 memory, Okay?  Unplug all power feeds, AC and if Laptop AC pack and the DC battery packs first. (then push power button to discharge all cap.'s now)
  2.  Do not try to install the card upside down,   if you try you will blow it to kingdom come. (reverse power  to chips of any kind, will blow them up , in fact LETs THE SMOKE out as we say in tech. land)
  3. Warning  Use ESD methods handling all cards, do not touch the pins for fun, do not fail to ground your left hand on the PCs ground frame , before touching the card or inserting it, even buy a ground wrist trap for $5 and win.
  4. The M.2 card fits only in M.2 slots, never directly in to any PCI slot of any kind or age or generation (ISA/AGP/PCI/PCI-e/PCIexpress. ever)  The M.2 car has KEY and must match your Slot. B to B or M to M.
  5. To boot any M.2 you need compliant BIOS, MOBO , CPU vastly newer, and and adaptor if the MOBO has no M.2 JACK.
  6. An X4 PCI-e to M.2 Adapter card will fit in any X4/X8 or X16 slot.
  7. Warning some old or  cheap mobos, have less lanes than marked on the mobo or by length of same, I have X8 lots that are wired X4 (on my server HP)  (some are marked X8 (4) ) The manual covers this, did you RTM ?
  8. Warning many PCs have shared lanes, so try all sockets to find best speed.

What the cards business end, look like. (nice photos I dredged up off the net) The left photo is wiki commons.

$300 got you say?     (what is NVMe)
Works only on newer PC's seen here  NVMe it is.
W8.1 or W10 or hot patched W7 works above.  (if the PC BIOS has NVMe support or CMS)


Cloning:?
Anyone can down load a free clone program or fresh load W10 (free to get at Microsoft.com) to a  new SDD, I am not covering how to  do this, this act is covered on 1000's of web sites to no end. (I pass)
Each of the vast numbers of cloning software , most have  free verson that works (clones only topic) or there is 30 day trail version   plently long enough for 1 hours work or less. No?

Free to use Macrium Reflect-7


Example #1,  Using real destop PC that already has a real SATA SSD, in place, but no slot for M.2.
The job at hand , legacy PC';s and adding M.2 cards.
This card does long 110mm M.2 and has 2 slots , the M slot and B slot. The car is X2 and X4 lanes, as needed.

The PCE-e to M.2 card adapter $10 big money (LOL)
Just about any PCI-PC can use this card, and work to access and format the drive. As a simply added driver , using DISK MANAGER.
The booting feature may not. (it is not the above adapters fault)
On old PCs lacking boot support of M.2 you need a special M.2 SSD card, that has OpROM boot code inside. Seen directly below.

Best is to do a fresh install W10 and turn off GPT mode and UEFI mode and SAFE BOOT,  this latter mode is hell on wheels, it hates to boot from the non  C: origional SATA port. (thinks you are an attacker today)
The operating system must be 64 bit for UEFI support. (quote Intel)
Most motor older than the year 2012 will never be supported (ask you OEM vendor)
Some older mobo called X97, have  BIOS flash update that makes UEFI work here perfect. The new mode is called CSM. (legacy support mode)
Things that can help the boot:  (and even Windows 10 installed to find the M.2 card.
  • Update your BIOS first.
  • If your PC has UEFI (some are crippled forever) turn off SAFEBOOT, now.  (safeboot blocks alient boot devices, DVD/ USB thumb drives, etc)
  • If the UEFI is full blown and robust , then turn off safeboot and see if you can use the card in UEFI mode, the BIOS even has options to allow this.
  • If the UEFI BIOS  has CMS mode, try that, CMS is (legacy BIOS emulation) this too can work.     BIOS is old school now, and UEFI is (like SUPER BIOS) and renamed to UEFI. (read the wiki and weep)
  • UEFI can be the biggest PITA you have ever encountered, for sure 1/2 blown UEFI like my HP 8540w has... just turn it off in this case.
  • The Boot order must be set to M.2 . (if you can not, there will be a dead boot)
  • If you must run NVMe M.2 cards and not the special one below, you must upgrade the UEFI code, all of it by the PC maker or the hardway.

If W10 installer can not find the M.2 drive, you need to play with BIOS (be sure to update it first)
If all fails, on an old PC, see if the below card works.
BIOS UPDATES, do this first thing you do. (Many makers of PC or Mobo, have patched UEFI + NVMe that now works.)
Eg:
My Z600 Version 3.61a (2018) Get the BIOS 1 binary file NAME.BIN and use the BIOS update page to update the BIOS; do not use any other ways to do this, for sure not under Windows. (but Freedos is ok too, if supported)
The BIOS on most modern PCs 10 years old or less have  BIOS burn mode. Built in to the BIOS (or UEFI) the Burn mode here is SUPER SAFE. (lacking  OS to mess it up)

The Top legacy  mode DEVICE, is   AHCI  M-KEY SSD M.2 is this Jewel below:  ( a no long made stop gap device, sold until mobo makers got head out of sand and got NVMe working)
Kingston Predator M.2 SSD in PCIe interface card, inserted in PCIe slot 1, even  runs even W7Pro64 Here is the best old M.2 that boots on old PCs. 
This is an special type  M-Key, AHCI rare card below and boots on old PCs. (this card was made as  stop gap , until makers of PC woke up and added NVMe)
It is  very fast card too. (not x4 fast but fast x2)  By rare I mean for large cards,  there are endless used 16GB sticks sold, and mostly useless. This card has a special, ROM inside that acts like AHCI, SATA drive. (best I can tell)


Bench marks for above device, keep in mind this is best case, with no garbage collection going on,  (empty drive = fastest)  (amd  full disks of data are slower) ok?

Lane Madness? DMI and QPI. and X1  v2 or 3 speeds and DMI V2 /3? 

Keep in mind B Key devices use  X2 express channels not 4. So  the limit is at 500 MB/s. per lane or 1GB/S,  This is not all that bad for most SDD cards. (v3 express does near 2 times faster @ 985 MB/s (per channel )
Not to mention, that PCI- e lanes can be shared with many many things in the PC, that I can not predict this ever, learn to read you mobo manuals, and find out what glue chips are there first (like mine)
Let me bullet the steps: (do your own research )
  • Get the model number of motherboard off the board "a sticker there or painted on in white letters,  (lets say its ASUS bla bla)
  • Go to ASUS.com and  get the full manual, PDF and read it, search  out 2 things, what Glue logic chips you have, the one below the CPU is it and what CPU you have there, Intel numbers.(the book shows a list of CPU only)
  • Then see if the manual uses the word SHARED , for sure on express lanes, (like this, states SATA 1 is shared with x1 lane or some other deviced shared.
  • Last if totally unsure what is the even after running PCI-Z free program, then join ASUS forum. Ask them the express lane rules on this exact mobo.
Achetecture of any MOBO and Express LANES:  (etc)
The PC maker of your motherboard (mobo) decided this, not Intel, Intel gave them the chip with lots of lanes, but only the layout engineer of your mobo , connected it as he/she/? or their manager saw fit.  (same with AMD boards)
Mother boards come as a Home PC, Gamer, and Business work stations or fast graphic design stations or servers, the Xeons can be very good lane wise and lots of cores; (old or new)

Who knows what you got:?
My Z600 has 36 lanes, just off one IOH chip. X58,  the maker HP could have wired those up any way  the want.
A good to own and good starting PC uses this CHIP below, Z97, series 9 it is called. 
Z97  (known as series 9 chip set) the chip has only 8 lanes v2, not expanded or direct from CPU x16 bus v3. see the "OR" there, that is because Intel does not make your MOBO, ASUS does (For example) use the CPU lanes!
The Best Lanes are fastest lanes and those are from the CPU directly.
The 2nd base lanes ,(all things equal , say  fast CPU and many cores) is the newer DMI communications to the South Bridge or IOHub  chip or PCH or by any other name , a.k.a.  Glue Logic.
Best is lanes that are not shared, only your motherboard maker or their, manual covers this topic, no 2 motherboards are the same, (sure if model number is , sure it is )

DMI v1 is. 1.16 GB/s) in each direction using a 4 link.
DMI v2 is 2 GB/s with a 4 link
DMI v3  is August 2015, allows the 8 GT/s transfer rate per lane, for a total of four lanes and 3.93 GB/s for the CPU–PCH link. Intel Skylake microprocessors  7980XE at $2000 each (i9)

ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E Gaming mobo. $199, does DMI v3 LGA 2066,  o
If buying a new MOBO shop for DMI V3. (it has agreat future)

See NVMe support and choices here.

end lanes.





STOP GAP #2 card:
One more stop gap, M-key  card. (no photo but is sold here used) no longer made, it too is a STOP GAP card. (made to bridge the time gap to when real NVMe PCs are in full production)
The hard to find, Samsung M.2 , AHCI version is called    MZ-HPVxxx  (where xxx is the capacity in gigabytes) also works.
The FLV code is NVME:  (One other clue on the stick of ssd memory is the white sticker the word code NVME is printed there , but not one the HPV cards)
My very first Samsung card. (it will not boot on my PCs laking NVMe BIOS)
PM-941 MZ-FLV128HCGR-000MV   (I have one of these too)  Read 1,277(ave) Write 263. (ACHI card) FLV card.
Bench markes show (empty and formatted NTFS) DiskMark-v9 = Read 681 MB/s, Write =151 (best case SEQ)



Samsung makes the best cards, for sure, (fastest) but the sad part is they have no published, product matrix, or  tables to decode their partnumbers. (that I can find !) so here is what I learned the hard way.
For modern PC, with BIOS upgraded to 2017 or newer the below work great. (or z97 X99 updates) using these Vxx cards.

Other top  NVME cards sold by SAMSUNG , are (MX-)V7E,VLW,,V7P,V6P,VLB,VPW,V6E,VKW,VKV,VPV (I can not show them all, sorry) The the V prefix, is clear here.
Some cards are near $1000 new or more. (speed max, size max = super expensive)



Vast persons say this m.2 boots in old laptops.  Boots in almost all Laptops if you  read reviews. ( I do not have one to test)
I am testing other B- cards  on my adaptor above.
Sold at Amazon.com $50 +?
To bad all cards are not super boot cards.  (maybe the logic can not  shift to NVme mode ?)  IDK !

sold up to 240GB (testing now)

Testing M.2 on all these PCs will be done: In each case remove current SSD SATA drive cable to test M.2
Hardware: (aka. Platforms or as the kids say now "full metal" lol  )  using my new adapter
Tools:  A screwdriver, and a box of USB memory OS install media, W10 and Ubuntu V17,  and the demo mode too. (I have Windows PE in all versions in my media kit)
Systems:.
  • A: HP XW-4600 work-station. 
  • B: HP Z600  work-station.(dual CPU, 8 cores total) (with 2, E5672 Xeon's inside) 16GB of ECC DDR
  • C: X99 gaming box. (Asus M5a99x -evo) (GTX1050, 12GB DDR RAM) 256k SSD + 3TB HDD +
  • D: A very old Asus M5a78l-m-lx-plus PC circa 2011  ,, but has one x16 express slot. . AMI BIOS Version 1701, I am curious if my FLV Stop gap card will boot here.
Tests:
  1. Testing for does it even work? (using the existing OS , or  using Windows 7PE , linux boot media,"USB boot")
  2. Can I load windows on it, W7 , W10 , or Linux)? Just because it loads does not mean it will boot.(UEFI will stop you , unless you learn now to tame it)
  3. Boot M.2 into  linux, Ubuntu v17, after installed ,see how it likes it?
  4. Boot M.2 in to Windows 7  (or W10) after installed.
  5. Benchmarking. (to see if  x2 performance or what is happening)?
Results by end of month.   WIP work on progress
The FLV card fails to boot on  PCs (A & B & D) above, and windows 10-64bit installer fails to find the drive, but the card works perfectly under Windows 10, and Ubuntu as a 2nd drive.
FLV on system C: above , results. (AMD FX PC) no boot allowed, UEFI is there but is brain dead version, I call this HALF Backed UEFI. W10 has no trouble seeing and using it booted to HDD or real SSD SATA drive.
I do not have a working PC with NVMe BIOS.(NVMe Firware for  the purest)


YOU NEED UEFI and NVMe working and booting?  You will of  using M.2 cards to boot.   (warning no moble PC's covered here laptops or notebooks, ask your book maker what to do ,ok?)
The system firmware must at least have UEFI (or have DUAL boot BIOS (has both !) or is called CSM)


Turn off fast boot and safe boot, (fast boot is  land mine)
Safe boot kills botting to alien media,  you will be cloning disks or doing lost of disk work so turn this off now. (it kills dead DVD boot and USB boots, turn it off now)
The first step is always go to your MOBO makers we site and burn the newest BIOS on to your PC, us the Easyflash to do that never us windows to flash the ROM ever, or use freedos (learn now)
If you do that, the new NVMe code may be part of that.  (I see that some top makers do not even show the text file of all updates done in  a newer BIOS,  now that really does suck swap gas !!!)

Learn this about UEFI (or Max pain BIOS)  the pro's will tell you BIOS 
≠ UEFI. ( but we all know,  "A rose is but a rose  by any other name?") I'd have called it , SBIOS, for secure bios, to use K.I.S.S.)

  1. It works perfectly on 2015+ PCs. and new like the below ugrade section shows.
  2. It fails badly, like my HP 8540w , has what I call "half backed UEFI" the maker has the first wild stab and installing UEFI and then drops the ball dead. (its ok by me I hate UEFI, so don't use it)
  3. The UEFI  was completed (fully baked), by the maker but is full of bugs, some PCs have 10 UEFI BIOS updates,  and it still is buggy,,,, not to mention the BIOS fix called."Spectre and Meltdown'" 2018 ry (LOL)
  4. The no UEFI present at all and is just good old , tried and true and stable BIOS. (aka legacy)  It will not boot to NVMe ever but may boot to this old card.
  5. Last and best DUAL BIOS, or CSM or other names that have  full blown Legacy BIOS page options seen below..
If you don't need the M.2 to boot, the M.2 card runs great in all PCs made with,  the correct OS below.
Full NVMe support is found . (Windows 8.1 and 10 have native support at the OS level, and W7 if you get the hot patch from MS.com) { and Linux Ubuntu
14.04 LTS , or newer}
If yoiu want support on M.2 (NVMe) and don't want to buy $1000 in gamer MOBO's (or  more) then you find your  self bottom fishing (no shame) and the 1st board that comes to mind is z87 , series 8, intel chip sets and this one.
If saving cash and still want NVMe (aka,  NVM Express or Non volitle, memory express)  Get a Z87 chip on up? (Series 9 is a far better choice  and newer series 100,200,300 as seen here clearly, Z270 is a fine choice here.)
A very wise person said . (my comments in red)    I say don't make custom BIOS, buy a motherboard that works, and win.

 

"NVME does not work naively on any motherboard Z87 or earlier.

(but in every case ask you motherboard maker this, there can be NEWER UEFI/NVME firmware BIOS upgades (like this xxxxxxxxxxx)

However, it's really just a matter of inserting NVME microcode into the bios manually as many others have done.

As long as your macihine has a UEFI bios (already), it should in theory work after performing that bios mod.  (and then brick the motherboard for eternity)

next up is....

Z97 and above will work natively with NVME drives. (if the maker upgraded UEFI that is true)

Between Z68-Z87 will work, but requires a bios mod on your part stated above above.

 Anything X58 or older (like my HP z600 will not work since those machines usually have a BIOS as opposed to a UEFI.

I have heard of ways to get NVME working even on X58 though by placing the windows boot partition on a standard SATA SSD.

That  then redirects to an NVME SSD for the rest of windows, but this is tedious to set up and difficult to get right. (and keep right, ugh)

end quote and comments.

For sure Z97 or X99 and up are far better candidates for working NVMe.  (what does and up mean, it means newer intel series chip sets)
I'm checking in July 2018 ,long enough for any mobo maker to do the right thing,  and they did not. (99% sure)
Now my research on just Z87 chipset mobo's and what works for NVMe if at all.  ( each maker and each motherboard they make has many submodels of Z87 so I only look at the the most expensive, and newest BIOS)
MSI  Z87 MPOWER MAX AC , UEFI AMI BIOS,  but is what I called half baked (means full of bugs or missing suppor UEFI) last update was  05-15-2015  (fails)
Asus is king, if your read this series 9  announcement.(see that "ALL" word" nice)
ASUS MAXIMUS VI HERO - Intel Z87 Chipset LGA1150 Socket ATX Motherboard,  BIOS version 1603 Sept 2014. see page 3-44 in the manual on CSM.(C= compat mode)  (seems half backed UEFI, fails)
Asrock z87  (no)
Gigabyte z87  (answer no, and the UEFI lists it but it does not work ,way go GB,  it's half baked UEFI (IMO))
But many cheap z97 do work. and for sure all ASUS work.  RIP the ASUS forum,  The EU killed it with laws. GDPD bull.(aka the path way to H3LL is paved..... with ...... yah
If you have the cash to buy a good mobo do so, and ignore all this, get Z270 or up.

See below. now.

CHIPS SETS THAT WORK (M.2)!
But you need NVMe UEFI support + CSM to boot modern M.2 cards. Using the
Compatibility Support Module, enabled.(CSM)
UPGRADE TIME?:  (one must replace the MOBO if the BIOS patch was never done to your MOBO like the lest line below shows:
First off , please  upgrade the BIOS On ASUS Z97 x99, the April 2017 release announcement says it works on M.2 now..  (see the horror link below) and 2015.
Most if not all Z170 boards works with NVMe.
Lots more.... ASUS boards have as seen here , vast)
&  more.... Asus Prime Bxxx, H370,P8h61,h97,h81,B85,h110,A88,f285,H170/270,Q170,H310,H370,Q20,Q170,W87... and more click CSM here.
Look for DUAL BIOS logo's (means CSM) or M.2 direct support or NVMe support.
Know that the above is Chip set, name, many mobo makers never upgraded the BIOS, to NVme certified. (ASUS is one that did)
Best is to find a mobo listed as , NVMe and M.2 support. (or dual BIOS/CSM). So it will boot.
The 
ASRock A320M-HDV AM4 AMD Promontory A320  (at Newegg.com) is $44
I did some research on prices and it seems ASRock is the only maker of new boards (lots) below say $60, as seen here.  Asus has some starting at $60 and up. (
ASUS Prime A320M-K + RYZEN 7 2700X  )
Combo deal at NewEgg?( you need RAM too)
The best deals are combo's in many situations, AMD usually wins, and the cheapest versions are AM4 Ryzen™  that do NVME. (no Memory below, that is extra and not cheap)
This is just July2018 listing at NewEgg,  I like new, and I like combo's from them. (upgrades)

The below is just a set of links showing the endless horrors dealing with old motherboards that lack updated BIOS.

https://rog.asus.com/articles/gallery/asus-announces-all-x99-and-z97-motherboards-support-nvm-express-devices/


Ever better is this link, (pre X97 mobos are a problem) 2012 and older , the z97 new BIOS works.
This list is HUGE,  a major bunch of work here.  (but really if you asked your mobo maker this, that be the most easy fast answser or better yet there the manual on your mobo , search for "NVMe"
https://www.ramcity.com.au/blog/m.2-ssd-guide-compatibility-list

INTEL processors that support NVME ( RAID) are: (It is not a processor thing, it is chipset, BIOS and OS supported)
The Z97 far better runs Broadwell chips GEN 5 and is fully 64bit supported on W10 but not the cheap 3120 Celery chip.(4120 does)
And no need for DDR3, upgrade.(costs)
Z97 is better as is the X99 Wellsburg August 29, 2014 LGA-2011 + needs DDR4 or newer mobos.  A Broadwell (microarchitecture) or better. 5775C is a good start. 2015 release mid year.

FYI, a processor like i3-990 is to be avoided ( should have been called 0990, for GEN 0, relics, it not gen9)

Recap to boot a PC with M.2 NVM-express  and W10-64bit (in order of easy to harder and more expensive.
  1. BIOS upgrade. (If it can do CSM right) Costs $0
  2. Newer Processor, Intel GEN  5 up for win 10-64b  or save a bundle of cash and get a  RYXEN (AMD.com)
  3. Newer mobo with NVMe support  Z97 maybe, X99 more likely but for sure  100,200,300 as seen here clearly,)
  4. Build a whole new PC just for this, nah. Buy a SSD SATA drive and be happy.
 One more idea is buying a new MOBO,  many  newer cards are now cheaper...  some even brand new are 1/2 the price of  Z87/97 sold used, or even less (a shock that is!)
I Got an  Asus Z270-p Prime for exactly $60  and  CPU for about $100  i7-7500.   (seems there are lots of demo boards sold, if you look  for them, from Benchmark lab.s)
This  BIOS from AMI is, version 1205. (revsied 10 times now) The manual is here.

You will see others that bought these motherboards and  tired  to mine BITCOINS (hopeless?) and got nothing (like most 1849'ers), or they  burn out and just want to give up,  and now sell all that hardware dirt chip (a glut now)
The top processor here is Core i7-7700K (4.2GHz, 4C, HT, L3:8M,Intel HD 600 series , 91W, rev.B0) Intel Gen6 or Gen 7 chips work here, and not Gen8 (300 chipset needed for that...)
This Z270 has 2x  M.2 socket that work in both modes (M-key). ( + XMP for wild kids that overclock and burn up the Processor)
The speed step is real and very useful.
 This mobo also has full blown, UEFI and CSM (full dual mode, BIOS at your demand) This is always best, you get to chose what you want.  Here is what CSM looks like.


Pick other on both.



CSM or DUAL BOOT BIOS as some call it.  EXAMPLES BELOW:


CSM looks like this:
This is what you should know (see UEFI rules)(
requires a special mainboard BIOS EFI module,
Here is 1 example of using CSM to run M.2  (aka compatibility Selection mode) 
As you can see the Newer AUSU boards have M.2 settings here, the other boards were upgraded in April 2017  (using EZ-flash)
As you can see there are lots of things here to FIDDLE, and each mother board type, has less or more things here, or nothing at all, to support M.2.... (I mean booting it)
This is clearly a DUAL BOOT BIOS,  Note the CSM mode this is legacy mode.

I like this quote from PC world
"Without an NVMe-aware BIOS, you can’t boot from an NVMe drive, though anyone with a x4 PCIe slot or M.2 connector can benefit from employing an NVMe drive as secondary storage.
An NVMe BIOS is not a difficult technical hurdle, but it does require engineering hours and money, so it’s unlikely it will stretch far back into the legacy pool. "
The key word there is UNLIKELY ! Sure nobody (OEM) will upgrade 10,000 old motherboards, even though it is easy.(for them)

end.

RIP ASUS.com
Asus just killed dead their  great  forum.  (it is now gone, but one ROG Gamers pit that will never let you ask a question , not related to ROG gamers world! )
A GDPR graveyard? Let's make it interesting and start a GDPR deadpool. (who will be next)?
My guess, is the GDPR laws , make all forums (99%) now obsolete or illegal now.  Nobody is going to the explense of compliance, unless Gill BATES or Paul Allen kicks in. and for sure porting the old data to any new forum engine.
Imagine having terabytes of forum comments, full of now illegal real persons names, real persons email addresses, addresses, phone numbers or Geo locations (omg) or even SSN clear as day there, Imagine trying to clean it. (impossible)
I see may sites saying that there ads are not paying now. oops. (donate now).
The internet as we knew it, will die or at least , collapse. (not  sellers  pages, but TECH pages of any kind with public help are doomed "sharing facts and tech details are doomed")
I went to ASUS.com and all that is there is  useless NOOB FAQ. totally a waste,
GOOD BY ASUS ! I'm no longer customer    ZERO SUPPORT now.  (just lame FAQ pages)
I tried their email support and this fails too. it asks for a 20 digit serial number,  and mine fails, so how do you ask questions say a new sales question,?  like say buying 1000 PC's for a company and you have no freak'd GD serial #.


 

One more last cool link is this new high speed MXC interconnect via FIBER, for the future SSD  that is way way faster yet.

version 1.  7-1-2018