NVMe on X79
Hi, Doc. Ever since I built my current rig back in January of 2014, I’ve watched SSDs bump up against the limitations of SATA 6Gb/s, and then be freed once again by NVMe. The problem is, most NVMe-based SSDs are designed to drop into an M.2 slot, which my Asus X79Deluxe motherboard lacks. I see that there are a few PCIe interface options, but I also noticed a number of PCIe-to-M.2 cards available. These would open the world of M.2-based drives to me, if they work. My question is: Do you have any information or caveats on the adapter cards out there? Are there any manufacturers to steer clear of? – C. Steinway THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: First things first: Make sure that you download the latest firmware for your X79-Deluxe motherboard before installing an NVMe SSD.
With that base covered, you shouldn’t have any trouble upgrading your storage subsystem. Add-in cards are indeed rarer than NVMe SSDs with M.2 connectors, but they do exist. Take a look at Corsair’s Neutron NX500 or Plextor’s M9Pe, for instance. If neither of those interest you, a PCIe-to-M.2 adapter should be fine. Its only purpose is converting physical interfaces. Four lanes of PCIe 3.0 from an expansion slot become four lanes of PCIe 3.0 through an M.2 slot.
HTPC vs. Smart TV
Doc, I own several TVs and Blu-ray players, and I notice that their “smartness” varies from one model to the next. The more modern (and expensive) consumer electronics naturally have more so-called intelligence.
Recently, I was thinking about buying a new top-end DVD player for about $ 350, because I have trouble accessing my Asustor Media Server, where I keep family movies, pictures, some music, and other audio stuff. I also wanted to prep my media cabinet for the purchase of a new 4K TV.
But then I had the idea that it might be better to keep a PC next to the TV. After all, it would have more “smartness” than any DVD player or TV with an embedded operating system. If the PC had an HDMI output and a decent graphics card, it’d serve my purpose nicely.
Do you think I can build a small PC to serve as a media server for around $500? It would be a big bonus if this setup could capture some TV content, too. I’ve never used a DVR, and I generally don’t worry about saving anything on TV, but I might be tempted to experiment with this.
Any thoughts? If you believe this is a worthwhile endeavor, then please suggest some hardware that would work well in the context of a home theater PC. I don’t need to spend big bucks on a graphics card designed for high-end gaming; it just needs to be good enough to drive a 4K TV.
– John Gaydos THE DOCTOR RESPONDS: Yes, it is possible to build a fully functional HTPC for $500 or less, particularly if gaming isn’t one of your priorities.
In the Doc’s house, there’s an Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) hooked up to his stereo receiver via HDMI. The compact system (and its big SSD) host an entire library of audio and video. It’s also responsible for streaming Hulu, Netflix, and HBO subscriptions. It runs Jackbox during game nights with friends, Pandora for background music, and Lexia Learning when the kids get home from school.
If you want to add over-theair digital TV to the mix, check
Corsair’s Neutron NX500 drops into afour-lane PCIe 3.0 slot to deliver 3GB/s sequential writeperformance.