How do you install and configure a PCIe SSD for improved performance in a custom-built PC with an ASUS motherboard?

13 June 2024

In the realm of custom-built PCs, performance is a paramount concern. One of the most efficient upgrades you can make to enhance your system's speed and responsiveness is installing a PCIe SSD. Today, we will guide you through the process of installing and configuring a PCIe SSD for optimal performance, specifically in a custom-built PC with an ASUS motherboard. This step-by-step guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to make this upgrade seamless and beneficial.

Understanding PCIe SSDs and Their Benefits

PCIe SSDs, or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express Solid-State Drives, are a significant advancement in the world of storage solutions. These drives connect directly to the motherboard, offering faster data transfer rates compared to traditional SATA SSDs. By installing a PCIe SSD, you can reduce your system's boot time, accelerate application load times, and enhance overall system performance.

The key benefit of a PCIe SSD lies in its speed. With data transfer rates that can exceed 4,000 MB/s, these drives are leagues ahead of their SATA counterparts. They are ideal for tasks that require quick data access, such as gaming, video editing, and 3D rendering. Additionally, they contribute to a more efficient and smoother computing experience, making your custom-built PC not only faster but also more reliable.

Preparing for Installation: Tools and Pre-installation Steps

Before you commence the installation of your PCIe SSD, it is crucial to gather all necessary tools and prepare your system. This includes ensuring compatibility and organizing your workspace.

Gather Necessary Tools

To install a PCIe SSD, you will need the following tools:

  • A Phillips-head screwdriver
  • An anti-static wrist strap to protect electronic components
  • Your PCIe SSD
  • Your ASUS motherboard manual for reference

Check Compatibility

Ensure that your ASUS motherboard supports PCIe SSDs. Most modern ASUS motherboards have M.2 slots that support PCIe NVMe SSDs. Refer to the motherboard manual or the manufacturer's website to verify this.

Backup Data

Before proceeding with the installation, backup any important data. Although this process should not affect your data, it is always prudent to take precautions.

Power Down and Open Your PC

Shut down your computer and disconnect it from the power source. Use the screwdriver to remove the side panel of your case, providing access to the motherboard.

Installing the PCIe SSD on an ASUS Motherboard

With your system prepared, you are now ready to install the PCIe SSD. This process involves locating the M.2 slot on your motherboard, securing the SSD, and ensuring proper seating.

Locate the M.2 Slot

Your ASUS motherboard will have one or more M.2 slots. These slots are typically located near the PCIe slots. Refer to your motherboard manual if you have trouble locating them.

Insert the PCIe SSD

Unpack your PCIe SSD and hold it by the edges. Align the notch on the SSD with the key in the M.2 slot. Insert the SSD at a 30-degree angle and press it down gently.

Secure the SSD

Secure the SSD with the screw provided. This screw is usually located near the end of the M.2 slot. Tighten the screw carefully to avoid damaging the SSD or the motherboard.

Close the Case

Once the SSD is secured, replace the side panel of your PC case and reconnect the power. Your hardware installation is now complete.

Configuring the PCIe SSD in the BIOS

After physically installing the PCIe SSD, the next step is to configure it in the BIOS. This ensures that your system recognizes the new drive and can utilize it effectively.

Access the BIOS

Power on your computer and enter the BIOS setup. This is usually done by pressing a specific key, such as F2, F10, or DEL, during the initial boot sequence. The exact key will be indicated on the screen during startup.

Enable the PCIe SSD

In the BIOS, navigate to the storage configuration section. Ensure that the M.2 slot is enabled and that the BIOS recognizes the PCIe SSD. You may need to set the drive mode to NVMe if it is not automatically detected.

Set Boot Priority

If you plan to use the PCIe SSD as your primary boot drive, change the boot priority settings. Set the PCIe SSD as the first boot device. This ensures that your system boots from the faster SSD rather than an older, slower drive.

Save and Exit

Save your changes and exit the BIOS. Your system will restart and, if configured correctly, should recognize the new PCIe SSD.

Installing the Operating System and Optimizing Performance

With the PCIe SSD installed and configured, you can now install your operating system and optimize the drive for the best performance.

Install the Operating System

Insert your operating system installation media (USB drive or DVD) and restart your computer. Follow the installation prompts, selecting the PCIe SSD as the installation destination. This will ensure that your OS benefits from the speed of the new drive.

Install Drivers and Update Firmware

Once the operating system is installed, download and install the latest drivers from the ASUS website. These drivers may include updates for the motherboard, chipset, and storage controllers. Additionally, check for firmware updates for your PCIe SSD to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

Enable TRIM

TRIM is a command that helps maintain the performance of your SSD over time. In Windows, TRIM is usually enabled by default. However, it is good practice to verify this by running a simple command in the Command Prompt: fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify. A response of 0 indicates that TRIM is enabled.

Configure Power Settings

Adjust your power settings to favor performance. In Windows, navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Power Options, and select "High Performance." This ensures that your SSD operates at its full potential.

Optimize Storage Settings

Lastly, ensure that your system is configured to optimize the SSD. This may include disabling system services that are unnecessary for SSDs, such as defragmentation.

Installing and configuring a PCIe SSD in a custom-built PC with an ASUS motherboard can significantly improve your system's performance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can enjoy faster boot times, quicker application loads, and an overall enhanced computing experience. From understanding the benefits of PCIe SSDs to the detailed installation and configuration process, you now have the knowledge to make this upgrade successfully. Embrace the power of PCIe SSDs and transform your custom-built PC into a high-performance machine.

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