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10 Steps for NVMe Drives | Microsoft, Intel, Toshiba

On 2 separate occasions today, I ran into problems with NVMe drives. These are SSD drives on a chip through a pcie slot rather than a SATA connection.

The drives were Toshiba KXG60ZNV512G NVM and would BSOD coming out of sleep/hibernate.

Here are 10 steps to make sure you have the best NVMe experience.

1- Update the drive firmware. Be sure to match the model number (KXG60ZNV512G). Dell's web site provided the wrong drive firmware. This firmware would not install as the drive was not found on the system. I found the correct firmware by showing all downloads for the model (Precision 7530).

2- Update the bios. The bios needs to be built to work with an NVMe drive. So if the bios doesn't work, it may need updated.

3- Write down the bios settings for the drive and reset to the default bios settings. Reboot. After reboot, manually set the settings again. There are some settings that cannot be changed manually. If there are hidden settings the default should be appropriate. But we want to make sure we have the drive settings (probably RAID/RST) because we don't want to guess after the update. Changing them incorrectly produces a BSOD on bootup. Not the end of the world as it can be fixed.

4- In the bios, turn off the C-STATE. While we are at it, turn of SPEEDSTEP... ugh.

4- Update the chipset drivers.

5- Update the NVMe drivers. There are 4 providers of NVMe drivers:

  1. Microsoft built-in drivers.
  2. Samsung.
  3. Intel RST (iastorAC.inf).
  4. OpenFabrics Alliance.

Word on the street is that the OpenFabrics drivers perform best but let's stick with the crowd and use Intel RST drivers.

6- Manually install the drivers; UPDATE-DRIVERS > BROWSE > LET-ME-PICK > HAVE-DISK > choose IASTORAC.INF > Reboot.

7- Enable the Device Manager Write Caching Options by disabling the write cache buffer; DEVICE-MANAGER > DISK-DRIVES > RIGHT-CLICK > PROPERTIES > POLICIES > CHECKMARK "turn off windows write cache buffer."

8- Disable the Link Power Management (LPM). Open the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Software > PERFORMANCE > LINK-POWER-MANAGEMENT > DISABLE.

9- Set to ultimate performance. Windows has power settings for both plugged into power and for battery. If it is plugged in, use it for maximum performance. Some settings are hidden in the Windows UI, so set it via command line:
powercfg -s e9a42b02-d5df-448d-aa00-03f14749eb61

While we are at it, make sure the hibernation is off:
powercfg -h off

10- Have fun! Remember, if this "feels heavy," get someone else to do it for you. Here is a benchmark:

nvme-test-v1

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