If your PC still has an HDD-type hard drive, and, moreover, an operating system is installed on it, then all the power of your latest processor and 16 GB or more of RAM will be nullified by the outdated principle of operation of the HDD type. If you are an advanced user, then you probably have an SSD instead of the usual screw, and your work at the computer is 4-5 times faster than with an HDD.
Well, if you are an even more advanced PC user, then instead of a simple solid-state device, you have the latest M.2 SSD supporting the NVMe data transfer protocol… And in this case, your data read/write speed can reach a fantastic 3500 MB / s. “What more could you want?” – you say. The answer is that you can make an M.2 drive work even faster by 40-70% (and sometimes 100%) by creating a RAID 0 array from two M.2 SSDs using your motherboard’s BIOS.
Below we will look at a specific example of how to create, configure RAID 0 from two M.2 SSDs and install Windows 10 on it. And we will also look at the read and write speeds of the array data.
RAID 0 2 M.2 PCI-E 3.0 SSD
Note: friends, on our site there is a whole series of articles about the creation and operation of RAID arrays of different redundancy. Use the RAID tag and you can learn what hardware and software RAIDs are, why they are needed, how to create them, and how they work.
In this post, we will take a look at creating a RAID 0 from two M.2 SSDs. RAID 0 (“striping” or “striping”) is a disk array of two or more drives with no redundancy. In simple words: we install two or more drives in a computer, and it is desirable that these are the same drives, at least of the same size and from the same manufacturer, and these drives work in pairs, combining their high-speed potential. When writing, RAID 0 technology distributes information into blocks and writes it to two SSDs simultaneously, due to which, in fact, the performance of disk operations is doubled. But what is important: if any SSD fails, all information on the second drive is lost. A prerequisite for creating a hardware RAID 0 is that both the hardware RAID itself and the configuration 0 must be supported by the motherboard.
In our case, we will work on the Asus Tuf Gaming Z490-Plus motherboard. If you have a different motherboard, accordingly, it will have a different mechanism for configuring the operation of RAID, but you can proceed by analogy. And we will create a RAID array from two M.2 NVMe SSDs with a PCI-E 3.0 interface – Samsung 970 EVO Plus. This is one of the best NVMe SSDs on the market today, it can read data at speeds up to 3500 MB/s, write at speeds up to 3300 MB/s.
Create RAID 0 M.2 SSD in BIOS
Both M.2 SSDs are connected to a computer, both of them have no valuable information because, during the process of creating a RAID, all of it is lost. We need to enter the BIOS and configure the use of drives within the framework of the RAID array. We enter the BIOS of the Asus Tuf Gaming Z490-Plus motherboard. We go into the advanced settings “Advanced Mode“.
First, we need to configure the computer to work in UEFI-only mode. Only in UEFI will RAID from M.2 SSDs work, while RAID from regular SATA-SSDs can also work in UEFI / Legacy compatibility mode. So the first thing we do is go to the “Boot” settings tab. And the option of the Secure Boot function is set to the “Windows UEFI Mode” position, i.e. boot only in UEFI mode.
For the Boot\CSM function, we also set the value of all options “UEFI”, i.e. work only in UEFI.
Go to the “Advanced” settings tab. We go to the item “PCH Storage Configuration“.
And here we set the SATA Mode Selection option to the RAID position, in our case “Intel RST Premium With Intel Optane System Acceleration (RAID)”. Set the “M.2_PCIE Storage RAID Support” options to the “RST Controlled” position.
In the same tab of the “Advanced” settings, go to the “Onboard Devices Configuration” item.
We set the M.2_1 Configuration to the “PCIE” position.
Press F10 to save the settings we made in the BIOS and reboot. Next, enter the BIOS again.
We go back to the advanced settings “Advanced Mode”, and again go to the “Advanced” tab. Go to the Intel Rapid Storage Technology item.
This is where the creation of our RAID 0 array will take place. Click “Create RAID Volume“.
And we create the required RAID configuration, in our case, it is RAID 0. First, we choose a name for our array. Secondly, we choose the same RAID 0 (Stripe). Thirdly, to add M.2 SSD drives to the array, mark them as X. And click “Create Volume“.
That’s it: our RAID 0 array has been created.
Press F10 to save the settings we made in the BIOS and reboot.
Installing Windows 10
After rebooting, click the Boot menu, boot from the Windows 10 installation flash drive. And install the system to a RAID 0 array. The operating system installer will see the RAID array of two M.2 SSDs as one unallocated space. And at the stage of choosing where to install Windows 10, we do everything the same way as on a regular hard drive: if we want, we put the system on all the space, if we want, we divide it into partitions. There will be no differences from the space of a regular disk.
Well, in the future, the installation of the system will be no different from the usual one.
RAID 0 SSD M.2 in system environment
How will the RAID 0 array we created from two M.2 SSDs appear in the Windows 10 system environment? In the management of disks on a disk map, our RAID will also be listed as single disk space.
The array, like a regular disk, has a GPT partitioning style.
In the Windows 10 Device Manager, the drives do not appear separately, they appear as a RAID disk.
Data read / write speed RAID 0 SSD M.2
And, of course, the most interesting part of this whole process is the read and write speed of RAID 0 data from two M.2 SSDs. We measure the read/write speed in the CrystalDiskMark program. But, alas, two of them in the RAID 0 array did not give a noticeable increase in performance compared to the tests of one Samsung 970 EVO Plus drive. Only linear data recording increased by 50%. Here’s a look at the tests of one Samsung 970 EVO Plus and RAID 0 of two Samsung 970 EVO Plus running on the same hardware.
Why is there no high-performance gain? We will understand and supplement the article, but for now, I recommend reading the article on creating a RAID 0 from 2 SSD M.2 PCI-E 4.0 Samsung 980 PRO on the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite motherboard, where we managed to reach a read speed of more than 9600 MB/s!