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X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

X1/X1-Carbon (X1Cx)/X1-Extreme (X1Ex) series and later, specific matters only
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E90
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X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#1 Post by E90 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:07 am

I currently have the i5-5300u, 8Gb RAM, 120 Gb SSD. I want to upgrade the SSD mostly because with my limited RAM, I rely heavy on the pagefile.

The X1C3 fully supports SATA III and PCIe AHCI. Amazon currently has the 500Gb EVO 860 (SATA III) for $90. I would like to buy a PCIe AHCI drive (like the SM951 or HyperX Predator) but they are extremely expensive since they are now out of production. Does anyone know of an affordable m.2 PCIe AHCI drive of at least 250 gb?

Or alternatively, can someone direct me to a workaround for booting off of an NVMe PICe m.2? It appears to be a BIOS limitation and I heard of at least 1 person making it work, but his instructions linked to webpages that have since been taken down.

Thanks in advance!

w0qj
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Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#2 Post by w0qj » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:24 am

Executive Summary:
From our own experience, you might be better off buying a retail M.2 PCIe "2280" SATA III SSD, instead of buying a refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD from ThinkPad for your X1C3.

--------------------
X1C3 came out in January 2015, and we actually have our X1C3 under 5-year extended warranty which is still valid.
This means that ThinkPad may still have a (very) limited number of refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD available to honor folks with 5-year warranty.

1. ***Last year in 2018, we actually approached ThinkPad in our region, explained nicely to them that we wish to outright *buy* a refurbished refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD,
and they allowed us to purchase this, albeit at a very expensive price. (Even more expensive than a new SSD of the same type/capacity!!)

***The refurbished refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD was noticably slower than the original ACHI SSD which is still in our X1C3. Just our anecdotal observation.
This refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD It clearly showed "SM951" on it, but was listed under a different P/N (Part Number).

***From our own experience, you might be better off buying a retail M.2 PCIe "2280" SATA III SSD, instead of refurbished refurbished M.2 "2280" PCIe ACHI SSD from ThinkPad.

2. The reason being that even on Amazon, etc. there are no more "new" ACHI SSD to buy, as you have also found out.

3. We tried to put NVMe "2280" SSD into X1C3, and it refused to boot from it, threw a boot error.
Pressing [Esc] after this SSD bootup error does nothing; X1C3 simply refused to boot up from our NVMe "2280" SSD (which was SM961 from our X1C4, and SM981 from our X1E1 [X1 Extreme 1st Gen]).

Therefore as you've already noted, X1C3 can only use M.2 PCIe "2280" SATA III SSD, or M.2 PCIe "2280" AHCI SSD (technically it's SM951 (ACHI) ).

For what it's worth, X1C3 was designed to be compatible with NVMe in theory, but Samsung "suddenly" announced that SM951 "cannot" support NVMe at the last minute,
meaning that X1C3 suddenly had to make do with SM951 (ACHI).

Either ThinkPad had removed hardware support for NVMe at the last minute (I think this is unlikely), or ThinkPad had a BIOS that locked out any NVMe support.
Not sure which (or both) is true?

- - - - - - - -
You may be interested in another related discussion,
X1C models...what's the difference and what should I get? [X1C3 vs X1C4]
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=128822
Last edited by w0qj on Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

E90
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:23 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#3 Post by E90 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:51 pm

Thanks w0qj! Very well put. I'll stick with SATA III. The AHCI drives are too expensive and NVMe is not a feasible option. Looks like the only other reasonable option is upgrading to X1C4, but I can't justify the added expense yet.

w0qj
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Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#4 Post by w0qj » Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:18 pm

If you can wait for prices to drop, may we advise you wait for the dual-core CPU X1C5, which is the first generation to have USB-C for future-proofing!

Also, X1C5 is the only X1Cx generation which accepts *both* older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip, and USB-C charging.
So you can keep on using your older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip from other older ThinkPads as spare ones.


Correction:
Aarrgghh... X1C5 does not accept older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip.
ie: X1C5 only accepts USB-C charging; it cannot use older power adapters.
X1C5 and onwards accept only USB-C charging, and do not support the older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip anymore.

fyi, X1C6 was the first generation to have quad-core CPU.
E90 wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:51 pm
Thanks w0qj! Very well put. I'll stick with SATA III. The AHCI drives are too expensive and NVMe is not a feasible option. Looks like the only other reasonable option is upgrading to X1C4...
Last edited by w0qj on Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:33 am, edited 3 times in total.
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

E90
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Location: New York, NY

Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#5 Post by E90 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:14 pm

Awesome, thanks for the advice!

dr_st
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Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#6 Post by dr_st » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:48 pm

w0qj wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:18 pm
Also, X1C5 is the only X1Cx generation which accepts *both* older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip, and USB-C charging.
No, it doesn't.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

w0qj
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Re: X1C3. M.2 upgrade: hacked NVMe vs SATA III vs PCIe AHCI

#7 Post by w0qj » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:27 am

Hey E90,

Correction:

Aarrgghh... X1C5 does not accept older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip.
ie: X1C5 only accepts USB-C charging; it cannot use older power adapters.

Many thanks for dr_st for the correction, and as usual dr_st is always spot on ;)
dr_st wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:48 pm
w0qj wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:18 pm
Also, X1C5 is the only X1Cx generation which accepts *both* older/rectangular slim-tip charging tip, and USB-C charging.
No, it doesn't.
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

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