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Bootable M.2 without M.2 slot or PCIe slot?

An0maly_76
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I am repurposing an old SFF workstation as a web surfer / media server that I expect will see some use as a media player, and looking to use an existing M.2 I have as a boot drive. Unfortunately, the machine has no M.2 slot and cannot boot from PCIe (Intel i3-2100).

 

Yes, I am aware that M.2s can be put in SSD-style enclosures and mounted as a standard SSD. However, the machine has neither free drive bays nor sufficient clearance for standard expansion slot SSD mount brackets. The existing 200GB HDD is being replaced with a 6TB already containing over 3TB of existing media with no way to back up (the drawback to copious amounts of mass storage), so a fresh OS install to that drive is not an option. As I'm already having to improvise, it wouldn't hurt to speed this thing up a bit, the 2100 needs all the help it can get.

 

I was hoping to find a riser or adapter cable that would allow me to connect the M.2 I have to the board's SATA interface as a boot drive. However, search results are somewhat confusing, so for all I know I may have found what I was looking for and not realized it. In this process, I found this guy below, similar to Asus' DIMM.2 card, available in DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 versions. It appears to mount as a dummy DIMM, holding an M.2, with ports for SATA data and power. Pretty slick. But will the machine boot from this arrangement? I don't see why it wouldn't, connected as the first SATA drive, seems to me the machine should see this as any other SSD on the SATA interface, same as using a standard SSD case adapter, which I don't have room for. I also found an 8GB stick of DDR3-12800 for $15. It has 4GB but supports 8GB. While I'm not sure it really needs 8GB for my purposes, $15 is dirt cheap.

 

Thoughts? Any reasons why this DIMM - M.2 - SATA adapter won't work for a boot drive? Any other ideas that might work better?

 

DDR3-DDR4-DDR2-to-M2-SSD-Adapter-M-2-NGFF-B-Key-Riser-Card-SATA-15Pin.jpg_Q90.jpg_.webp

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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It will work, it's just a passive adapter... The m.2 drive needs to be SATA obviously though. 

F@H
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Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

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5 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

It will work, it's just a passive adapter... The m.2 drive needs to be SATA obviously though. 

I see most are PCIe, though I should think the adapter would bridge the gap between PCIe and SATA. How can I tell which ones are SATA?

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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It'll be obvious from the specs, and have a differently keyed slot (only the 3rd, NVMe is PCie). Usually they're B+M

 

image.jpeg.754d6816fbb167f277143a820bf35b68.jpeg

 

image.jpeg.77e652f80a0b724d02867a907ebbd3cd.jpeg

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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Are there really any other options in such a cramped case? I'm thinking not, unless there is some sort of riser cable arrangement I haven't seen yet.

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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57 minutes ago, An0maly_76 said:

Are there really any other options in such a cramped case? I'm thinking not, unless there is some sort of riser cable arrangement I haven't seen yet.

You could just connect a SATA SSD to power and data, then find somewhere to just cram it into the case. It won't care if it's not mounted "properly' in a bay. I made a disc backing-up workstation in an old Antec Nine Hundred case; all nine of its bays are full of optical drives (and one trayless 3.5" cold-swap bay), so its boot SSD is just shoved next to the power supply.

 

You could also probably get the right cables to plug the drive into an eSATA port if the PC has one.

Dell owns my soul.

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Just now, Needfuldoer said:

You could just connect a SATA SSD to power and data, then find somewhere to just cram it into the case. It won't care if it's not mounted "properly' in a bay. I made a disc backing-up workstation in an old Antec Nine Hundred case; all nine of its bays are full of optical drives (and one trayless 3.5" cold-swap bay), so its boot SSD is just shoved next to the power supply.

 

You could also probably get the right cables to plug the drive into an eSATA port if the PC has one.

Yeah, I was looking at that too, but with the board right up against the PSU, that's not a good idea. Also, the cheapest SSD I found that's worth buying was about $44, and I already have a 1TB SN570. I also am very limited on space with this thing... As shown below. Pretty much, what the board doesn't hog, the PSU does. About the only place I'm sticking a 2.5" is to tape it to the floor up front, which will likely block airflow, as there are several contours for cable tie-offs and standoffs everywhere else. Trying not to hack things up too much, so I'm not keen on having stuff loose in the case in such cramped quarters, especially if this turns out to be something I flip (hey, it could happen).

 

image.thumb.png.2a300ac4779233b34610ba0bd5558a18.png

 

With all that said, I can get a 128 B+M key SATA for $30, $35 for a 256. No-brainer there, but they're not likely to have cache, and I already have the SN570. I'd really like to stay as far below the $100 mark as possible, as I'm going for bang for the buck here if I do anything over the HDD swap, which I'm only doing because it's an easy swap from my 5900X rig. Though as mentioned earlier, I did find an 8GB DDR3-12800 stick for $15. I also found a few i7-2600s in the $30-$40 range. Another problem I neglected to mention earlier is that the PSU has exactly two SATA power plugs, another reason to go DIMM.2, as I can get away with a splitter much more easily that way.

 

So, that said...

 

$0 for 1TB SN570 M.2 (I think this thing could do fine with one of the $30-$35 options above, but I already have this)

$15 for DIMM.2 adapter

$35 average for i7-2600

$15 for 8GB DDR3-12800

 

$65 for, I don't know, perhaps a 35-45% performance increase? Maybe that's too much to hope for, but I'd be going from two cores to four, 4GB to 8GB, and much faster storage for under $70.

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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This, cramped? 😄

Looks like plenty of space on the floor for 2.5" drives, a 7mm thick SSD won't do anything to airflow there. Might even be able to stick some on the side walls.

 

You have PCIe x1 slots so you could use something like this with your existing SSD if you're OK with not booting from it.

https://www.ebay.ch/itm/383542872049?hash=item594cefc7f1:g:ysAAAOSw0EJc0R-T

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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I see plenty of spaces in there where you could stick an SSD in place with Command strips.

 

12 minutes ago, An0maly_76 said:

Yeah, I was looking at that too, but with the board right up against the PSU, that's not a good idea.

I used an SSD that's completely covered in a metal shell. The power supply housing, chassis, and SSD shell would all be electrically connected if I had it mounted "properly" anyway. It's fine.

Dell owns my soul.

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44 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

This, cramped? 😄

Looks like plenty of space on the floor for 2.5" drives, a 7mm thick SSD won't do anything to airflow there. Might even be able to stick some on the side walls.

Wall mount is a nice idea, but a problem because the upper chassis has a flange on either side that helps it latch into place. And the whole point of this is to have a separate boot drive, unfortunately. Hence I'm having to get creative, as I know this machine can't do this from PCIe.

 

40 minutes ago, Needfuldoer said:

I see plenty of spaces in there where you could stick an SSD in place with Command strips.

 

I used an SSD that's completely covered in a metal shell. The power supply housing, chassis, and SSD shell would all be electrically connected if I had it mounted "properly" anyway. It's fine.

What I'm concerned about is the SSD's "metal" shell contacting solder points and such on the motherboard and shorting it out.

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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I'm seeing some other interesting options, and I think I might have found the solution to my problem... Should tuck away quite nicely, maybe even tie-wrap to a cable harness.

 

image.thumb.png.84eeb0b2f5b92ffbbd2315f9b109aa06.png

 

However, I'm boned on the existing M.2, because I thought it was SATA, and it's PCIe3/4. I know you get what you pay for, and I'd usually go with the WD Blue SN550 / SN570, but with an i3-2100, or an i7-2600 for that matter, will the read / write speed really matter that much? I'm not sure a faster drive makes that much sense in this scenario, and I'm looking at a 250GB WD Blue for $63 with up to 2,600 Mbps, right below that a 256GB TeamGroup MS30 for $22 with up to 400-500 Mbps. Will 2000 Mbps make that much of a difference with an i3 2-core or 4-core i7?

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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Since you have to go SATA 500Mb/s is all you'll get, anything higher needs PCIe.

F@H
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Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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4 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

Since you have to go SATA 500Mb/s is all you'll get, anything higher needs PCIe.

That much I know. What I'm asking is, will that matter with a two-core i3-2100, or a four-core i7-2600?

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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Depends what you're going to do with it as usual, but it doesn't exactly matter if you have no way to connect a faster one anyway. Doesn't matter in most cases anyway, see LTT's SSD blind test video.

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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Mostly I intend for it to be a web / media NAS, probably watch movies on it also. Not a whole lot. Sorta had some ideas about some things and I think I may be taking my gaming rig offline. Got hit with some NGINIX error or something the other day and then McAfee found about 3,500 trackers on my computer. After that, I'm not so keen on my nice new build being on the Internet all the time.

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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As an aside, I guess I can safely assume that a PCIe3 or PCIe4 M.2 cannot be adapted to work with SATA?

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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Correct.

F@H
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Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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I may have found the PCI riser I'm looking for... Though I don't understand why the SATA connection port is at the back of it... 🤨

 

image.png.6c4dae0d7b96280e8a55ecf136698947.png

 

@Kilrah@NeedfuldoerThe only reason I'm still considering doing this this way is because a $6 riser and $22 SATA M.2 (pictured below) ($28 total), it's still cheaper than a $43 Crucial MX500 2.5 and $12 half-height PCIe slot drive bay bracket I may never have another use for ($55 total). Also, the PCI riser card / M.2 arrangement is something that any system can use in the future.

 

The drive linked below states the 400 / 500 MBps you stated. Yet it clearly states it is for SATA up to 6Gbps. What makes these so much slower, are they limited to SATA I in this configuration? If so, that might make the 2.5" a much better idea if it's faster (and I can make it work). But will that extra speed matter with a two-core 2100 or four-core 2600? From what I'm seeing, that Crucial MX500 I was looking at is rated 560MBps anyway, unless it has a cache I don't know about.

 

https://www.amazon.com/TEAMGROUP-512GB-Solid-State-Drive/dp/B07H23ZD94/ref=sr_1_5?crid=10FW0Z401T1XN&keywords=sata%2Bm.2&qid=1655976248&sprefix=sata%2Bm.2%2Caps%2C59&sr=8-5&th=1

 

image.png

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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1 hour ago, An0maly_76 said:

The drive linked below states the 400 / 500 MBps you stated. Yet it clearly states it is for SATA up to 6Gbps.

No, it's just that 6Gbps raw speed over the SATA link translates to about 500MB/s in practice once the error correction overhead, commands etc are accounted for.

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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3 hours ago, Kilrah said:

No, it's just that 6Gbps raw speed over the SATA link translates to about 500MB/s in practice once the error correction overhead, commands etc are accounted for.

So, from what you're saying, 500 Mbps is pretty much max SATA throughput. So it would seem the only way to help performance is to only use drives with a 512MB-1024MB cache, and there's no point in paying through the nose for the biggest and baddest. Which basically means for SATA M.2s, a $63 WD Blue might not perform much better than a $22 TeamGroup?

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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9 hours ago, An0maly_76 said:

I may have found the PCI riser I'm looking for... Though I don't understand why the SATA connection port is at the back of it... 🤨

It's only using the PCIe slot for power, and passing the data pins straight through to the SATA connector. 

Dell owns my soul.

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I get that, but I don't understand why they couldn't invert it to put the SATA port closer, is all. Must be the pinout.

 

But with either adapter, would a 256MB to 512MB cache make any difference with this scenario?

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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Probably not. 

F@H
Desktop: i7-5960X 4.4GHz, Noctua NH-D14, ASUS Rampage V, 32GB, RTX3080, 2TB SX8200Pro, 2x16TB Ironwolf RAID0, Corsair HX1200, Thermaltake Overseer RX1, Samsung 4K curved 49" TV, 23" secondary, Mountain Everest Max

Mobile SFF rig: i9-9900K, Noctua NH-L9i, Asrock Z390 Phantom ITX-AC, 32GB, GTX1070, 2x1TB SX8200Pro RAID0, 2x5TB 2.5" HDD RAID0, Athena 500W Flex (Noctua fan), Custom 4.7l 3D printed case

 

Asus Zenbook UM325UA, Ryzen 7 5700u, 16GB, 1TB, OLED

 

GPD Win 2

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12 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

Probably not. 

Good. So the cheapie TeamGroup MP30 should do as well as any. I did contemplate a better processor upgrade beyond the 2600, though. I found this list  that purportedly shows the H61 Express chipset supports a lot more processors than Lenovo's listings for this machine show. Of course, I know that doesn't mean they'll work in THIS machine. Any better bang-for-the-buck CPU upgrades for this one that can still use a stock Intel cooler? No clearance for anything taller.

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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So, these little guys are on their way to me later today... Just over $30. EDIT: Was on the fence about a cheapie processor upgrade for this thing, but in the end, I figured four cores are better suited for ripping / recording new media to the HDD. Though I was tempted to try typically H61 Express-supported offerings such as a 3570, the M71e's best Lenovo-certified offerings were limited to the i5-2400, i5-2500, and i7-2600 *sigh*.

 

Since the machine owes me nothing to start with, and similar refurbished machines with the 2600 and an SSD upgrade are being offered on eBay and Amazon for about $160-$200, I figured throwing a C-note at it couldn't hurt, if it can better serve some purpose for awhile yet.

 

Research showed the E97378-001 cooler's copper core is superior to the E97379-001 the i3 presumably has, so I snagged one of the former and an i7-2600 from eBay. The 2600, $4 protection plan (reimburse if DOA or damaged in the process of installation), cooler, and XMT50 thermal paste totaled $57.63. The M.2 upgrade below is $30.01, totaling $87.64, for which I HOPE a 35%-55% combined performance increase isn't too much to ask.

 

image.thumb.png.a00a546b19894cc36900cfed591283a2.png

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

OP: My PC cuts off and crashes. Is the 1000W PSU enough?  ME: 1000W is plenty, PSU or system board could be faulty. Get both tested.

OP: I don't think so, both parts were purchased last week.        😒  Why bother asking if you second-guess the advice?

Friends don't let friends use Apple.                                              NOTE: Recently diagnosed autistic. I don't intend to ruffle anyone's feathers.

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