I built a PC for my parents to use with parts I had lying around. Building their new machine with entry-level specifications: AMD Athlon 3000G paired with a Gigabyte B450M DS3H and HyperX Fury ram.
While I have a spare 480gb 2.5″ SATA SSD as a portable drive, I also have a 256GB NVMe SSD which was more suited for my parents’ usage, which is mainly internet surfing and watching videos. The issue? The mainboard’s sole M.2 connector offers PCIe x4 SSD support, but the AMD Athlon does not support NVMe as it only offers 6 PCIe lanes, x4 for graphics cards and x2 for the M.2.
In contrast, the Gigabyte B450M DS3H has an additional PCIe x16 slot running at x4 speed as it is controlled by the B450 chipset.
In order to utilise the NVMe, the 3 options were:
- AMD Ryzen 3 3100. Overkill for the PC’s intended use.
- Disassemble the PC, return the B450M DS3H, and top up S$45 for a B450 Aorus M, as it offers PCIe x4 support from B450 chipset.
- Buy a M.2 SATA SSD: $60, which is exactly what you pay for a faster NVMe drive.
- Purchase the Silverstone ECM21 for S$11.08 on Amazon SG.
The card arrived in a simple box, wrapped in an anti-static bag with a mini screwdriver and a low-profile bracket. The protective sticker is the final reminder that this card is only compatible with M-Keyed “PCIe M.2” cards. You can install 30mm, 42mm, 60mm or the most common: 80mm length cards.
Installation is straight forward, and the system immediately recognises the NVMe drive from boot. The card has a green LED for activity indication, and a red LED for power indication, which is opposite from the typical PC case LEDS where the green indicates power and red for HDD activity.
The only gamble is the mainboard supporting the ECM21 and NVMe drive. Gigabyte claims that the slots “conform to PCIe 2.0 standard”, but it is working well with the NVMe at PCIe 3.0.