Alienware 17R3 and M.2 ports with Samsung 950 Pro report

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by AvalonTears, Nov 4, 2015.

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  1. AvalonTears

    AvalonTears Notebook Enthusiast

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    Greetings everyone. There were a few threads with questions about the M.2 slots as well as what the best/fastest SSDs to plug into them would be and I promised to post my results once the got my Pro 950s I preordered.

    Well I'm happy to save the drives are working well and I think I know what the ports support. I plugged two 512GB drives into each of the slots. Unfortunately there is no way to stripe them at the bios level and in fact the bios (A02) doesn't even see the drives at all. However, using a UEFI windows boot disk I was able to install windows onto the drives so it seems they are bootable. (although I had another small 2.5" SSD already installed and it might be using that as the boot manager I haven't checked yet)

    Once windows was installed I tried running AS SSD with pretty disappointing performance. I check for drivers and found Samsung has special drivers available for the 950 Pros. I also installed Samsung Magician while I was at it, and while missing support for some of it's features, Magician does recognize the drives. It also provided some nice details (see screenshots below). It looks like M.2 has 4 channels, while the other only has 2. Benchmarking them again with the drivers gave much better results and seems to confirm that one drive doesn't have full bandwidth.

    Overall though its working great and despite one drive being slightly gimped I think I'll be keeping both drives in the laptop.

    Boot drive. Notice link width is 4 of 4
    [​IMG]

    Storage drive. Notice link width is 2 of 4
    [​IMG]

    Boot drive performance
    [​IMG]

    Storage drive performance. Oddly the sequential read is a lot slower and the write is somewhat slower, yet because the 4k's were slightly faster it got a higher overall score. Also note that the Boot drive had windows running on it simultaneously which is why I expect the 4k's and read access were slower.
    [​IMG]

    If anyone has any questions let me know.
     
    ccsasuke, kgh00007 and NforceRaid like this.
  2. QUICKSORT

    QUICKSORT Notebook Evangelist

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    Too bad my Alienware 15 R1 doesn't have an M.2 with a PCIE interface.
    Otherwise, would have bought it too.
     
  3. john green

    john green Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks for the report, Avalon. I'm afraid I'm more confused than ever.

    I can see that one of the 950 cards is reporting that it's using x2 lanes vs x4 max. Is this a hardware limitation because of card position (slot1 vs slot 2), a logical limitation because of card priority or some other factor, or is it simply a temporary lane assignment for some PCIe reason?

    What would the results be if you switched the cards between slots?

    And is the Samsung magician now doing ram caching that somehow factors into this?
     
  4. NforceRaid

    NforceRaid Notebook Consultant

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    hi, my 17r3 have a PM951 on slot 1, I booked the 950Pro, when it comes, I connect to the slot1 to get the maximum performance and the PM951 slot2 I move on?

    Tnx
    Ciao ;)
     
  5. NforceRaid

    NforceRaid Notebook Consultant

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    Hi, but in the packaging is a screw to secure it to the pc.

    Tnx

    Ciao :)
     
  6. Irrational23

    Irrational23 Notebook Consultant

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    I also got the 950 Pro, and it works great. Removed the HDD, and installed the SSD. Ended up doing a clean install of Windows 10, and manually installed all the drivers.

    As noted above, make sure you install the Samsung 950 pro driver, else you won't get good performance.
     
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  7. Irrational23

    Irrational23 Notebook Consultant

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    Other thing, you need a M2 screw, but make sure the head is large. I ended up taking a screw from my other alienware, and using it.
     
  8. Alienware-L_Porras

    Alienware-L_Porras Company Representative

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    Thanks for sharing your experience with the community. I'm sure some users might find this very useful. Saving for my personal file of recommended readings haha. :thumbsup:
     
  9. NforceRaid

    NforceRaid Notebook Consultant

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    Thank you very much, while I downloaded it, then when I get the 950Pro, configure for well 17R3.

    ciao ;)
     
  10. thejager

    thejager Notebook Enthusiast

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    i am considering doing this to my new 17 (2 950's in raid) once i buy mine.... but im not as tinkering proficient .... would be nice to see a vid or walkthrough....seems easy enough but that also usually is my downfall....

    im also going to put in 32gb ram over the 16gb ram....and probably switch out the hard drive for a 850 pro 2TB SSD....getting the graphics amp with the titan x...but was thinking about an EVGA hydro copper version... thoughts?

    anyone can point me to what i need to do?
    I saw that HIDevolution will do it all for me if i buy from them... worth it? i dont really know that company
     
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