Testing & Results
It’s important to understand that the SilverStone ECM20 adapter has no active electronic components. It’s a very simple device that provides an m.2 mounting point for interfaces that already exist on your system. While the performance of the SATA m.2 slot will be pretty constant (since you’re simply connecting the port to an existing SATA interface via a cable), the bandwidth available to the PCI-E m.2 slot– and thus its performance– will vary.
Top-end PCI-E SSDs like the Samsung 950 PRO are designed to use 4 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. If you have fewer lanes available, or the lanes use the older 2.0 protocol, the SSD will still function, but not at peak performance. And it’s not always easy to determine how many lanes, and what type, your system can provide.
You will get the full 4x PCI-E 3.0 lanes easily in these configurations:
- A Z99-based system
- A Z170-based system
- A Z77, Z87, or Z97-based system with only one graphics card
If you have a Z77, Z87, or Z97-based system running multiple GPUs, all 16 of the available PCI-E 3.0 lanes will be used by the card, leaving only the 8 PCI-E 2.0 lanes provided by the chipset. And some of these remaining lanes may be used by other features of the board; complicating the issue is the fact that some boards allocate the remaining lanes automatically, while some have configuration switches on the board…so you’ll need to check your motherboard manual to ensure that you set up the best configuration.
Note that even with PCI-E 2.0 lanes, the performance of PCI-E m.2 SSD will be much better than that of a SATA SSD.
I tested the SilverStone ECM20 on Benchmark Reviews’ updated SSD test platform, using an MSI Z170A Gaming M7 motherboard and Intel Core i7-6770K CPU, with a Samsung 950 PRO m.2 SSD.
Unsurprisingly, the performance of the Samsung 950 PRO SSD in the SilverStone ECM20 adapter card was identical to the performance we recorded with the SSD in one of the board’s native m.2 slots:
|Z170 Native m.2||SilverStone ECM20|
|AIDA64 Linear Read (average)||2165 MB/s||2193 MB/s|
|AS-SSD 4K/64 thread read||1175 MB/s||1170 MB/s|
|AS-SSD 4K/64 thread write||374 MB/s||376 MB/s|
|ATTO max read||2584 MB/s||2510 MB/s|
In each case, the differences were minor, with less than 1.5% variance between the performance achieved with the native m.2 port and the performance achieved on the adapter card.
In the last section I’ll give my final thoughts and recommendation.