Dec 04, 2015 Written by: MasterC

Guide: Install M.2 PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 for Speed

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M.2 PCIe SSDs are capable of being twice as fast as SATA SSDs, and like graphics cards in SLI or CrossFire; you can drop in another for even more performance! If you are interested in building them in RAID 0 (Stripe) configuration on your ROG or ASUS Z170 motherboard, here is a step-by-step guide to get you set up in no time! For this guide, the ASUS Z170-DELUXE motherboard is being used to demonstrate, the same process can be used for other applicable ASUS and ROG motherboards such as the ROG Maximus VIII Extreme

1 PCIe RAID Two Samsung SM951 PCIe SSDs were used (one in M.2 Socket, other in ASUS Hyper M.2 X4 Mini Card).

EZ Tuning Wizard

There are two ways to do the RAID configuration; the easy way is to use EZ Tuning Wizard.

First enter the UEFI BIOS, then press F11 to get in and simply go through the process.

2 PCIe RAID

After creating the RAID, remember to select X4 Mode for best bandwidth support (varies by model). And disable CSM if you plan on installing the OS into this RAID array (highly recommended for performance!).

 

 

Manual Configuration

The other way to do your RAID configuration is not as simple but not very complicated either. For those of your keen to learn, you can try to do it manually. For advanced users, there are more options available, such as the size of partitions.

First, from the UEFI BIOS, you need to select RAID Mode.

5 PCIe RAID

Next, Enable all RAID support (M.2, SATA Express and PCIe16_3).

 

 

It is very important to select X4 Mode for best bandwidth support (varies by model). 

8 PCIe RAID

And disable CSM if you plan on installing the OS into the RAID device (highly recommended for performance!)

9 PCIe RAID

Alternatively, you could just select UEFI Driver First from boot options.

10 PCIe RAID

Now head to the Advanced page and look for the IRST (Intel Rapid Storage Technology) option.

11 PCIe RAID

From there you can create or delete RAID volumes easily.

12 PCIe RAID

Remember that for the SSDs which you plan to RAID with, select X for each one (to mark them as selected).  RAID Level should be in RAID 0 (Stripe) configuration for speed (RAID 1 (Mirrored) offers reliability rather than performance). 

13 PCIe RAID

Voilà! The RAID volume has been created.

14 PCIe RAID

For those of you looking to increase the overall Windows experience by installing the OS to the RAID array, during the OS installation you will need to install the driver. Just download and copy onto a USB drive, use the file iaStorAC.inf to load the driver. When loading the driver it should look like this.

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After the driver is installed, you can create or delete partitions however you like.

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Here is a screenshot after the OS installation.

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After you have installed all the latest drivers,  you are ready to run some benchmarks to check out how awesome your rig is!

 

 Note: if you do decide on using RAID 0, it is recommended to have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS - the other kind).  Sudden power cuts can sometimes be harmful to hard drives.  In the unlikely event when one disk in a RAID 0 array fails, the whole array fails. If you have important data you can't live without, you can try RAID 1 (total storage=one of the disks), or keep using RAID 0 and backup in the cloud, a router with file-sharing capability (so you don't need to buy a router and a NAS), optical or other storage options.

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