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Old 2021-05-25, 18:59   #1
kriesel
 
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Default M.2 SSD help sought

These have become available very economically as USB external drives; ~$37 for 2TB, ~$30 for 1TB. Lower cost than an internal 1TB rotating HDD, $50+.
So I picked up one each, thinking I'd be able to use them as backup drives, or temporary boot drives for the occasional short term Linux test system build. Well. The external SSDs come preformatted exFAT. And at least one vendor warns reformatting them to something else ruins them immediately. And the CentOS 8 installer won't use an existing empty preformatted exFAT or NTFS or FAT32 partition, on a brand new SSD, or a used HD, or a USB memory stick, and the ~30MB unformatted remainder is much too small for its ~19GB minimum Strange. For what it's worth, the external drives tried were advertised as Windows, Mac and Linux compatible.

I have a new to me MSI Z170a motherboard that has a single M.2 compatible slot, which would take a bare M.2 module, of 4.2, 6 or 8 cm length.
For 1TB, these cost over $110. That is a huge markup for not packaging it in an enclosure or including a USB interface and cable. Any ideas why that's so much more expensive?

Is anyone using M.2 SSDs for Windows or Linux boot drives? Which ones are recommended, for compatibility, reliability, and price? Not looking to do anything fancy, like raid or special file systems. Although the ability to partition for Windows and Linux boot might be handy.

Last fiddled with by kriesel on 2021-05-25 at 19:33
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Old 2021-05-25, 19:45   #2
moebius
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
Is anyone using M.2 SSDs for Windows or Linux boot drives? Which ones are recommended, for compatibility, reliability, and price? Not looking to do anything fancy, like raid or special file systems. Although the ability to partition for Windows and Linux boot might be handy.
I use a M.2. NVMe SAMSUNG SSD 970 EVO 500 GB as Windows 10 Pro boot and work drive. I formatted it to NTFS with the Samsung Magician Tool. Had no problems with the drive since a year. At that time it cost 90 euros, but is very fast in sequential reading 3536 Mb/s and writing 2437 Mb/s. Today this one cost 70 Euro at Saturn market.

Last fiddled with by moebius on 2021-05-25 at 19:58
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Old 2021-05-25, 19:59   #3
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
And at least one vendor warns reformatting them to something else ruins them immediately.
Likely FUD. Or perhaps just lack of knowledge. If true, I would return as "not fit for purpose".

I've only deployed one SSD locally (so far; on my main workstation) as my "/", "/boot", and SWAP. The "/home" is on encrypted spinning polished rust.

Code:
Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 238.49 GiB, 256060514304 bytes, 500118192 sectors
Disk model: Sabrent                                 
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: 5266D7A9-9EF5-40EC-B307-5859C7507A8C

Device             Start       End   Sectors  Size Type
/dev/nvme0n1p1      2048      4095      2048    1M BIOS boot
/dev/nvme0n1p2      4096   2101247   2097152    1G Linux filesystem
/dev/nvme0n1p3   2101248 253759487 251658240  120G Linux swap
/dev/nvme0n1p4 253759488 499126271 245366784  117G Linux filesystem
Using the SSD as swap was an experiment. But it's worked out amazingly well! Highly recommended for things like large Blender renders.
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Old 2021-05-25, 20:18   #4
retina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
The external SSDs come preformatted exFAT. And at least one vendor warns reformatting them to something else ruins them immediately.
This is often a sign that the drive is a scam.

The actual internal size will be smaller than 1TB, a lot smaller. The header for the exFAT has been manually constructed to make it look like it is a full size drive.

So, if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

My suggestion is not to buy. You won't get what is advertised.

Or if you are keen to waste a lot of time and some money, buy one and check out its actual physical storage size.
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Old 2021-05-26, 00:27   #5
PhilF
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
This is often a sign that the drive is a scam.

The actual internal size will be smaller than 1TB, a lot smaller. The header for the exFAT has been manually constructed to make it look like it is a full size drive.

So, if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

My suggestion is not to buy. You won't get what is advertised.

Or if you are keen to waste a lot of time and some money, buy one and check out its actual physical storage size.
I agree with this 100%.
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Old 2021-05-26, 07:21   #6
M344587487
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
This is often a sign that the drive is a scam.
...
As does the price, a 1TB M.2 drive costs way more than $30. They are definitely doing the fake header trick, and if you crack open the "external M.2" enclosure you'll probably find an SD card and some material to give it some weight.
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Old 2021-05-26, 10:19   #7
LaurV
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I used a 1TB M2 (for which I paid close to US$200 ) for my newest build (as posted, with photos, in Mike's HW thread), Win10, no other HDD. It boots fine and runs like a charm.
Professional defect: I also use small RamDisk's every time when I have chop-chop jobs (like starting new sequences or new bases for crus, or thinks who do a lot of disk swap).

Last fiddled with by LaurV on 2021-05-26 at 10:28
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Old 2021-05-26, 20:11   #8
bhelmes
 
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I bought a 128 Gbyte M.2 card for 20,- Euro, made a linux system on it.
I do not note any difference to a ssd card, but it does not need a cable.

Writing on a M.2 for mprime is faster than printing the timings to the screen.

Cheap solution and a lot of fun to check it.
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Old 2021-05-26, 22:10   #9
PhilF
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhelmes View Post
I bought a 128 Gbyte M.2 card for 20,- Euro, made a linux system on it.
I do not note any difference to a ssd card, but it does not need a cable.

Writing on a M.2 for mprime is faster than printing the timings to the screen.

Cheap solution and a lot of fun to check it.
How much data have you written to it? If it is still mostly empty then you may have not hit the problem yet. I suggest you back it up, then fill it up. If you can write more than 64GB to it, then :
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Old 2021-05-26, 22:22   #10
retina
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In Linux there are tools like lsblk -nrdbo SIZE /dev/sda that display the hardware size and will ignore any file system data. You can use that to query the real size.
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Old 2021-05-26, 23:54   #11
kriesel
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
These have become available very economically as USB external drives; ~$37 for (allegedly) 2TB, ~$30 for (mislabeled as) 1TB. Lower cost than an internal 1TB rotating HDD, $50+.
So I picked up one each
Note the past tense there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Likely FUD. Or perhaps just lack of knowledge. If true, I would return as "not fit for purpose".
Well there was that one time I formatted a 1TB rotating rust Seagate in an external USB enclosure, and that was the end of being able to access it. I subsequently extracted it from the enclosure and put a replacement drive in the enclosure, which is serving regular duty as a backup destination for a multigpu rig. I gave the Seagate another try this week, with Win10, Debian, and Ubuntu, before putting it in my to-recycle bucket. Ubuntu 20.04 reported "ata1 comreset failure" twice per install try and had no more to do with it. The other OSes didn't seem to notice it existed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
This is often a sign that the drive is a scam.

The actual internal size will be smaller than 1TB, a lot smaller. The header for the exFAT has been manually constructed to make it look like it is a full size drive.

So, if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

My suggestion is not to buy. You won't get what is advertised.

Or if you are keen to waste a lot of time and some money, buy one and check out its actual physical storage size.
Too late for me. Good advice for other potential buyers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilF View Post
How much data have you written to it? If it is still mostly empty then you may have not hit the problem yet. I suggest you back it up, then fill it up. If you can write more than 64GB to it, then :
20 Euros may be ballpark for 128GB SSD, from a recent look at eBay.

The 1TB has dismally failed the write-a-lot-to-it test; ~63GB is where errors started in "writing" 150GB to it. NT cmd line Dir /s shows 63GB of contents. chkdsk /f logs are 20MB of error messages. The jury's out yet on the 2TB; no errors shown yet at over 190GB / 10%. Write rates are poor, ~4-8MB/sec oscillating at ~1Hz.
I'll try to clean off the 1TB and return for refund. If either fails testing and can't be returned, I'll open one and perhaps post pics of what I find in there. The enclosures are beautiful, so I'll proceed carefully. EBay sellers were 1TB, delphine23on; 2TB, archward71 (no longer a member)

Meanwhile a new laptop arrived, and upon completing the registration-required startup, a quick look shows it has the right quantity ram, display resolution, but wrong cpu; AVX2 instead of AVX512, 14nm instead of 10nm, and a considerable benchmark deficit. So that's definitely going back too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rdF7o08KXw Looks like, NOT.

If there's interest, I could follow up with a "2TB SSD" testing update later.
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