Advice needed M.2 MLC SSDs, reliable HDDs, ReFS, etc.

StanLee

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Apr 10, 2022
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Its my first crack for a long time at building a workstation. I've started convservatively, perhaps too much so (& certainly bush-league by thus forum's standards, but I didn't want to fry $10,000 worth of parts with my rusty PC skills), but the process has started with an Asrock X399 Taichi (PCIe 3.0), Threadripper 1950X (likely to be upgraded), & 128GB DDR4, other parts are being selected now. The purpose is for GPU rendering, falling back to CPU if necessary. Windows 10/11 Professional, upgrading to Workstation version if necessary

I've figured out that TLC based SSDs tank in performance after their SLC buffer gets filled, dropping to less than the speed of HDDs. I may seriously need to rely on a fast M.2 SSD to provide a large chunk of virtual memory, so that's not ideal. I'm looking at MLC drives, which seems pretty much extinct, at least at the consumer level as a new purchase.

1. The Samsung 970 or 960 Pro was where I turned next, but Samsung uses proprietary NVMe drivers which seems to raise concerns with Linux, but I'm not clear on the details, but eventually there will be an unsupported OS upgrade (even for Windows) and they will be useless. Also, in the past I remember articles about incompatibility between Samsung SSDs & X399, but after searching I can't seem to find if its been resolved. Does anyone have any recommendations on these issues?

2. So, I am looking for the fastest sustained disk writing and reading for a reasonable price. I assume SLC M.2 SSDs are even more unobtainable, slower, and smaller than MLC. Is an M.2 NVMe MLC SSD the best solution to this need?

3. What alternatives are there for brands & models (of M.2 PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 NVMe MLC SSD), new or used? New or used, just as long as they are obtainable and not unreasonably expensive. I didn't find much on eBay, but that was only using MLC as a keyword.

4. The new M.2 MLC SSDs I see at Newegg are Chinese brands, cheap, & and I doubt these are really 2-bit MLC. Does anyone have any info on these?

5. The stats I did find for quad M.2 full slot adapters didn't seem to be an improvement, birfurcation seems to be problematic, and PCIe slots are at a premium for my purposes. Is a full enterprise dedicated x4 or x16 PCIe SSD card requirred to better M.2, and is it much better? If so, what reasonably-priced recommendations does anyone have?

6. Would a U.2 SSD using an M.2 adapter be a better solution? This is what I could find, most results were adapters going the other direction, are there better adapters available?:


7. I also need one or more HDDs, & all these new, non-disclosed by model, standards such as SMR have me a bit concerned about programs crashing due to an HDD taking some time to do housekeeping and being unresponsive. Or am I misunderstanding the situation and that's unlikely to happen? I know they have caused issues with RAIDs.

8. Backblaze has no current Western Digital drives (if I understand correctly), Toshiba has no direct to consumer support (???), & Hitachi seems to be less reliable above 4TB these days, perhaps on par with Seagate in some ways. Long-term reliability is a primary concern, followed by reasonable price and speed. Does anyone have Model/Brand recommendations of current drives?

9. Is there a good way to plug a SAS drive into a SATA port (to widen the popl of HDD candidates)? I have a vague memory that this works, or vice-versa, but I don't remember the details.

10. Is there an x1 adapter to run SAS drives, and would it work well?

11. Or a multi-drive SAS adapter for an M.2 slot?

12. In terms of a file system, is ReFS a viable option for preventing data corruption over time? This is with non-ECC DDR4. I am aware MS gimped earlier versions of Windows for creation of volumes & Pro for Workstations / Enterprise / Server is now requirred. I really don't get the Windows log system, and under Win10 have to go there for errors, and I can't usually even figure out if I am looking at the correct log. I must need a dummies book.

13. Finally, where can I buy quality cables? I may need some extenders for use in a full tower case. And I was about to buy some Phanteks, based on good Newegg reviews, but then I saw some horror stories on Amazon reviews. I really don't like parts that seem well made & deliver a lot of power and then fail taking other things with them. I suppose cables would also be about the easiest thing ever to counterfeit, if buying directly from the manufacturer isn't possible.

Hopefully, someone will have some feedback for me. I've posted some questions elsewhere and got little response. An ad on TV has introduced me to the term TLDR. Apologies for that, I figure information up front prevents additional questions & delays.

In any case, thank you all for contributing here, over the years I've learned a lot.
 

Stephan

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Apr 21, 2017
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Welcome to STH... how did you find it?

For SSD look into Micron 7300 PRO/MAX m.2. Solid, PLP caps. For MLC the Samsung 840 Pro are/were nearly indestructable. SATA 2.5" though.

For HDD look into WD My Book (USB) drive shucking. Like 14 TB drives. Some drives need a pin mod though if your cabling delivers 3 volts on pins which in enterprise gear (these HDDs) prevent spin-up.

You can use breakout cables (careful... two kinds. one doesn't work) to split x4 SAS into 4 SATA connections. SAS drives will not work on SATA connections. For the beginnings stick with m.2 PCIe x4 or SATA. Everything else like 2.5" U.2 SSDs on PCIe cards, m.2 PCIe to U.2 cable etc. only with 2-3 hours of serious research.

ReFS... never. Ask Wendell hrhr. Oops wrong forum. Microsoft really lost its mojo. Define "over time". Years? ZFS on Linux with online disks and monthly "scrubs" is the only option that will detect really all and any bad bits in data+metadata.

I am not buying any cables off of Amazon anymore. For power anything but those https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/sata-power-plug-fire-hazards.16962/ If your PSU brand has replacement cables then that. For generics I'd probably look what Supermicro has or Corsair.
 
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victhor393

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I honestly think your fear of TLC may be misguided, high end TLC drives are plenty fast these days. MLC is seldom used anymore, outside of enterprise drives (though even these are turning to TLC, thanks to improvements in performance and a growing need for density) and embedded devices. But those embedded SSDs aren't even that good, their whole gimmick is "endurance", so these MLC and pSLC drives don't perform that well.

As for disk drive reliability, I don't know, but it does seem to me there's not much of a difference... I wouldn't put much thought into that.
 
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nabsltd

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I've figured out that TLC based SSDs tank in performance after their SLC buffer gets filled, dropping to less than the speed of HDDs
Although performance does drop, the 150MB/sec you see from a good single hard drive is still way below the 1800MB/sec you can sustain from a good NVME. Other drives (like Seagate FireCuda, etc.) can get you the same sort of sustained performance.

Do not buy the M.2 to U.2 adapter that you linked. It is only 60mm long, and most motherboards don't have holes for locking down at 60mm. I ended up with this one, that is a full 110mm, but you can chop it off and anchor at 80mm if you need to.
 

acquacow

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After losing all data on my ReFS twice trying different DR scenarios... I'd never use it.
 
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BlueLineSwinger

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1. The Samsung 970 or 960 Pro was where I turned next, but Samsung uses proprietary NVMe drivers which seems to raise concerns with Linux, but I'm not clear on the details, but eventually there will be an unsupported OS upgrade (even for Windows) and they will be useless.

This is not correct. They are standard NVMe SSDs, and do not require any special driver to use.

Samsung, like many major SSD producers, does offer an app that provides diagnostics and may provide caching/acceleration features, but it's optional.
 
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StanLee

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Thank you, everyone, that is more responses than the rest of the internet have provided for me altogether.

Apologies for the delays, I was exhausted after getting home the first day, had a headache I couldn't shake the next, so no rational thoughts could form. I have spent what time I've had readdressing the TLC issue, mostly, I have a response but would like to print out a poorly made graph from Tom's Hardware and take a ruler to it before finishing -- if I can remember to do so while I'm out. Apologies also for grammer & spelling, I'm using a cell phone, & it's a small miracle it has not been launched at a wall. I turned autocorrect off, it was just making things worse. So, under these conditions, less than proper english = less stylus tapping = less errors as well. Sorry for it, again.

eStephan,
> Welcome to STH... how did you find it?

I found it from some random HW search, no doubt. I have no idea how long I've been using it, 5+ years maybe. I actually have a "regular" account, but the PW is on my laptop (packed up at the moment), & I'm on a phone, so I just logged in with my standard bogus Google ID for expediency. I'm not a fan of how privacy is handled on the internet, particularly, by Google. I'm not sure if I posted before, not much certainly. I lurk, therefore I am.

There is always great info here, & considerate, knowledgable posters. I probably have a couple of hundred pages, at a minimum, saved as MHT files for later reference. I think I've only found one or two sites giving Patrick some mild competition on server-related reviews. Like the Chevy commercials say, it's simply the best.

> For SSD look into Micron 7300 PRO/MAX m.2. Solid, PLP caps. For MLC the Samsung 840 Pro are/were nearly indestructable. SATA 2.5" though. <

Looked the 7300 up on Newegg, found a lot of models in various formats, I will have to give them more attention. Hadn't gone farther back than 960 Pro, I will have to check it out.

> For HDD look into WD My Book (USB) drive shucking. Like 14 TB drives. Some drives need a pin mod though if your cabling delivers 3 volts on pins which in enterprise gear (these HDDs) prevent spin-up. <

I've heard of the pin thing. Not surprised they would do that to discourage shucking. WD due to quality or ...? Is there a walkthrough on this pin conversion you could recommend? Maybe someone should make an adapter & sell it on eBay?

> You can use breakout cables (careful... two kinds. one doesn't work) to split x4 SAS into 4 SATA connections. SAS drives will not work on SATA connections. <

Yeah, the last was what I was wondering about, so that limits enterprise HW to use w/o an SAS card. Or using U.2, same cable or just the connector??

> For the beginnings stick with m.2 PCIe x4 or SATA. Everything else like 2.5" U.2 SSDs on PCIe cards, m.2 PCIe to U.2 cable etc. only with 2-3 hours of serious research. <

I'm generally familiar with the technology, just not the actual implementation of U.2 & M.2. It's been a long way from MFM & RLL drives. Always interested in adapters, can't help myself.

> ReFS... never. Ask Wendell hrhr. Oops wrong forum. Microsoft really lost its mojo. Define "over time". Years? ZFS on Linux with online disks and monthly "scrubs" is the only option that will detect really all and any bad bits in data+metadata. <

That's too bad. My main application is Windows based, unless one is masochistic enough to try the crappy MacOS port. Not sure how well it runs under Wine, years ago it was so-so, but everything has been modified since then. I used to use Linux exclusively, then switched back to Windows. Different problems, same feeling of beating your head against a wall.

I had run across a 3rd party product that did Ram Disk, RAM/SSD caching, & scrubbing for Windows. Don't remember its name, saved info is on a data drive somewhere in the pile. Will have to see if I can find it again.

> I am not buying any cables off of Amazon anymore. For power anything but those https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/sata-power-plug-fire-hazards.16962/ If your PSU brand has replacement cables then that. For generics I'd probably look what Supermicro has or Corsair. <

I've read that I'll likely need extensions, at least for ATX/CPU cables. I would prefer they not go up in smoke. The SATA cables post was interesting, I wish the thread would have continued with disection, etc. Not sure the actual cause was nailed down. I've assumed idiot miners burning up systems was due to using SATA to 6-pin PCIe adapters. Maybe it's that *and* combustible SATA cables? Poof go the crypto rigs.

I'm still pretty desperate for a recommendations for a company that makes reliable cable extensions.

heromode
> If you decide to go for a 2.5" U.2 drive, here is the cable i'm currently waiting for to arrive

M2TO8639 M.2 M-Key to U.2 SFF-8639 Adapter Cable for 2.5 inch NVMe SSD @H1 | eBay

I figure it's better to get a cable that's directly soldered to the M.2 adapter in terms of signal integrity. In Europe the same adapter cable by DeLock costs about 60€ <

Well, uBlock Origin (installed in Kiwi browser because ÷&>$*×=^ Android versions of other browsers can't install extensions -- remember, I'm a privacy nut... er, advocate) didn't like that link, because it contains "skimresources.com", because it's "Found in: Peter Lowe’s Ad and tracking server list" -- it was inserted by the forum SW, I assume -- bypassed: on to German eBay, someplace new for me.

Looks like some thought has been put into it, at least its not using blatantly chintzy cables. I wonder why they have a photo of it next to a laptop, they don't have external M.2 slots...??? Those cables wouldn't fit inside??? Very interesting, thanks for pointing it out, heromode. But the farthest away I've ordered is the UK. I don't know if it's a hassle to import from Germany. I forgot to mention I'm in the USA, BTW.

nabsltd
> Do not buy the M.2 to U.2 adapter that you linked. It is only 60mm long, and most motherboards don't have holes for locking down at 60mm. I ended up with this one, that is a full 110mm, but you can chop it off and anchor at 80mm if you need to. <

It was just something I linked to quickly to make myself clearer, I'm not so sure about that brand anyway, but there are worse.

uBlock Origin bleeted again at the link... The price is certainly reasonable, but the reviews are split, worth a gamble, certainly, assuming nothing catches on fire.

Here's Asrock's storage info on my MB - 80mm is it's M.2 limit, but it does have a native U.2 connector shared with an M.2 (I missed that detail):

- 8 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
- 2 x Ultra M.2 Sockets (M2_1 and M2_2), support M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)*
- 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_3), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)*
- 1 x U.2 Connector**
*Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
Supports ASRock U.2 Kit
***If M2_1 is plugged, U.2 Connector will be disabled.

Also (not intended for storage):

- 1 x Vertical M.2 Socket (Key E) with the bundled WiFi-802.11ac module (on the rear I/O)

Missed this too:


acquacow
> After losing all data on my ReFS twice trying different DR scenarios... I'd never use it. <

Ouch, the advice is greatly appreciated. But now that MS is open-sourcing it I'm sure its much better. Sorry, gallows humor.

BlueLineSwinger
> This is not correct. They are standard NVMe SSDs, and do not require any special driver to use.

Samsung, like many major SSD producers, does offer an app that provides diagnostics and may provide caching/acceleration features, but it's optional. <

I guess I missed that the driver was now 950-970 series only, thanks. It was optional, but for optimal performance it was needed, as I understand it. I'm glad its officially not needed. I think I actually saw a review of a different SSD where the lack of a proprietary driver was a con! FWIW, some claim to have installed the driver anyway and to have slightly improved performance.


https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/jh1bb3
BTW, as best as I can tell, there was (is?) an incompatibility between AMD 9xx chipsets and Samsung 8xx series SSDs. So, not my issue, unless there is something else.

And Linux and Samsung blamed each other for a trim issue causing data loss, Samsung sent a patch for the Linux code to fix it... hopefully.

Again, thanks for all the help, guys, it is much appreciated.

P.S.,

Something I really could use is a comprehensive database, spreadsheet, or wiki of SSD data. I don't suppose anyone's come up with that?
 
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heromode

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May 25, 2020
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heromode
> If you decide to go for a 2.5" U.2 drive, here is the cable i'm currently waiting for to arrive

M2TO8639 M.2 M-Key to U.2 SFF-8639 Adapter Cable for 2.5 inch NVMe SSD @H1 | eBay

I figure it's better to get a cable that's directly soldered to the M.2 adapter in terms of signal integrity. In Europe the same adapter cable by DeLock costs about 60€ <

Well, uBlock Origin (installed in Kiwi browser because ÷&>$*×=^ Android versions of other browsers can't install extensions -- remember, I'm a privacy nut... er, adcovate) didn't like that link, because it contains "skimresources.com", because it's "Found in: Peter Lowe’s Ad and tracking server list" -- it was inserted by the forum SW, I assume -- bypassed: on to German eBay, someplace new for me.
Just search aliexpress.com for "U.2 SFF-8639 Adapter Cable"
There's lots of options. Also then check if your motherboard supports 2260 M.2 length, as suggested. (i did and mine supports 60cm)
 
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StanLee

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Apr 10, 2022
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Just search aliexpress.com for "U.2 SFF-8639 Adapter Cable"
There's lots of options. Also then check if your motherboard supports 2260 M.2 length, as suggested. (i did and mine supports 60cm)
The specs say:

- 2 x Ultra M.2 Sockets (M2_1 and M2_2), support M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module

Unless I am mistaken 2260 = 60mm, but if I'm right I' not sure what they call a 110mm. 2310? 22110??

I'm sure I would feel more confident with the item you suggested first off of German eBay than what I would find from China on Aliexpress, but that might be my heritage showing. ;)

Again, I greatly appreciate your help, have a great day.
 

heromode

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May 25, 2020
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The specs say:

- 2 x Ultra M.2 Sockets (M2_1 and M2_2), support M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module

Unless I am mistaken 2260 = 60mm, but if I'm right I' not sure what they call a 110mm. 2310? 22110??
22110.
22 millimeter wide, 110 millimeter long. Check your motherboard for standoff mounts. 42, 60, 80, 110

I'm sure I would feel more confident with the item you suggested first off of German eBay than what I would find from China on Aliexpress, but that might be my heritage showing. ;)
They are the same, originally i just linked to the chinese selling the same stuff on german Ebay. If you are in the US then just use ebay.com or aliexpress.com.

The only western manufacturer of these i know of is DeLock, their similar products costs more than 200% more here in europe (60€ vs. 15-20€ from china)

Edit check the key, if your M.2 slot is SATA only, then none of these will work.
 
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StanLee

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22110.
22 millimeter wide, 110 millimeter long. Check your motherboard for standoff mounts. 42, 60, 80, 110

They are the same, originally i just linked to the chinese selling the same stuff on german Ebay. If you are in the US then just use ebay.com or aliexpress.com.

The only western manufacturer of these i know of is DeLock, their similar products costs more than 200% more here in europe (60€ vs. 15-20€ from china)

Edit check the key, if your M.2 slot is SATA only, then none of these will work.
The manual indicates three different nut locations for affixing the three suppported M.2 lengths. Specs say each M.2 socket supports M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s). So, short of going up to 110mm, I think I'm covered.

What did you think of the Asrock U.2 kit? At least Asrock couldn't tell me it's not compatible. With 3 of those, or equivalent, I could in theory have 4 U.2 ports on this MB. Someone at Asrock seems to be looking ahead.


The thought occurred to me, if M.2 drives get hot & throttle, what happens to U.2 SSDs, which are enclosed?

It's probably still best to leave 10-20% unused for manual overprovisioning in most SSDs, in addition to anything the manufacturer has built in? Especially on a SSD that is going to be used for writes frequently, i.e., virtual memory or disk cache?

I was mostly joking about Aliexpress, but I have feeling it would take awhile for anything to arrive, & returns/disputes are supposed to be a nightmare.

Amazon has some Delock stuff, but not what we are discussing, as best as I can tell.
 

victhor393

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Feb 13, 2022
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U.2 have a finned enclosure sometimes, but you're right. They are designed to be cooled by forced air. Actually if you are dead set on buying U.2s, the reason why these enterprise drives have such weird capacities (960GB, 1.92TB so on) is that they have a little (or a lot more, for "write intensive" models) overprovisioning. Even the consumer drives do, but not as much, maybe a couple dozen GB, I think?
 
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heromode

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What did you think of the Asrock U.2 kit? At least Asrock couldn't tell me it's not compatible. With 3 of those, or equivalent, I could in theory have 4 U.2 ports on this MB. Someone at Asrock seems to be looking ahead.

Yes they all work, you just want pcie3 x 4 for each nvme drive generally. Altough they will work with any amount of lanes, some M.2 slots might be pcie3 x 2 for ex.

The thought occurred to me, if M.2 drives get hot & throttle, what happens to U.2 SSDs, which are enclosed?

It's probably still best to leave 10-20% unused for manual over provisioning in most SSDs, in addition to anything the manufacturer has built in? Especially on a SSD that is going to be used for writes frequently, i.e., virtual memory or disk cache?
Generally not needed for enterprise drives, as they have built in over provisioning. This was a thing with the earliest SSD's
I was mostly joking about Aliexpress, but I have feeling it would take awhile for anything to arrive, & returns/disputes are supposed to be a nightmare.
Amazon has some Delock stuff, but not what we are discussing, as best as I can tell.
You can buy all this stuff on Ebay or Amazon as well, some suppliers will be chinese, but if bought from ebay with buyer protection for ex, should be no issue. Depends on how much you are willing to pay.. you get chinese stuff cheaper but might take longer to arrive etc..
 
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StanLee

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Actually if you are dead set on buying U.2s, the reason why these enterprise drives have such weird capacities (960GB, 1.92TB so on) is that they have a little (or a lot more, for "write intensive" models) overprovisioning. Even the consumer drives do, but not as much, maybe a couple dozen GB, I think?
You're right, & I did figure the lower size was for OP on Enterprise. I'm straddling both consumer & Enterprise so I wasn't being clear which I was talking about at the time, my fault: writing in the early AM doesn't help. I saw something in a review that generated my question, I'm not sure if now I remember the comment & context correctly, so I should probably drop it. Its very frustrating for me to not be able to reference sources when needed. I'm never copying enough as I am in a hurry, & don't have the tools I normally use. It feels like I'm reading an encyclopedia while wearing boxing gloves. The simplest tasks are so hard, the programmers must never use their own products.

I'm not set on M.2. I don't want to overlook options out of ignorance & I've been considering dragging the M.2 SSDs away from the PCIe slots using extension cables & would have to put the in some sort if bracket elsewhere. Which sounds a lot like using U.2 drives, except I could just use 2.5" bays instead of brackets & could use a standard cable not some sketchy off-brand extension.
 
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StanLee

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You can buy all this stuff on Ebay or Amazon as well, some suppliers will be chinese, but if bought from ebay with buyer protection for ex, should be no issue. Depends on how much you are willing to pay.. you get chinese stuff cheaper but might take longer to arrive etc..
I appreciate the advice. I'm using eBay when possible in hopes it is going to cover my... assets... if needed. Time is of the essence, for want of a nail the kingdom may be lost! o_O
 
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StanLee

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I am not buying any cables off of Amazon anymore. For power anything but those https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/sata-power-plug-fire-hazards.16962/ If your PSU brand has replacement cables then that. For generics I'd probably look what Supermicro has or Corsair.
Stephan, I think I may owe you a bit of an apology. It may have seemed like I ignored this part of your post when I again asked for input on extensions. When I read the above mentioning Supermicro it did't compute, as I didnt think they made non-proprietary power supplies.

I eventually figured out that Supermicro does make some extension cables, but I'm still a bit concerned I might order a cable, get something wired differently, and blow something up out of ignorance. I know it shouldn't happen with *extension* cables but I don't have in-depth knowledge of SM wiring.

The bigger problem was I couldn't cobble together a complete list of cables, as I couldn't find an ATX to ATX extension cable on their site. I wasted a bunch of time, & finally gave up, as its one I would more likely need. Later I found exactly that on Newegg & elsewhere. It looks like SM no longer stocks it. I Was about to buy it and noticed it was 18AWG, not 16, which even some of the cheap kits offer, checked 8-pin CPU extension on SM site & found the same. So I'm not sure if its a deal breaker.

People are buying what they think are Corsair sleeved extensions, get them and find complete cables, hook them up to whatever brand they have -- and -- if they are lucky they don't have fried HW when they are done. Not labeled clearly enough seemed to be an understatement on Newegg's reviews. I couldn't find that they actually make extensions. I scroll from horror story to horror story with anything cable related.

I'm not sure if I need extensions, & don't want to use them if I don't, but if I don't have them it will take a week or so to get them, assuming I know what is reliable enough to order, which I kind of don't, unless SM qualifies.

Thanks to all of you for your help.
 
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Stephan

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No worries. Just ain't got time on some days to reply. If you buy "new", you will have a tough time to decide if what you are sold is solid or trash. On Amazon, mostly trash. That's why I said Supermicro because the OEM stuff is vetted by OEM itself so chances are higher to get quality cabling. Which is what I recommend. E.g. for QSFP or SAS cables I like used OEM like from IBM, Fujitsu etc. Good prices and high quality.
 
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StanLee

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No worries. Just ain't got time on some days to reply. If you buy "new", you will have a tough time to decide if what you are sold is solid or trash. On Amazon, mostly trash. That's why I said Supermicro because the OEM stuff is vetted by OEM itself so chances are higher to get quality cabling. Which is what I recommend. E.g. for QSFP or SAS cables I like used OEM like from IBM, Fujitsu etc. Good prices and high quality.
You answered my questions to the best of your ability, I can't ask for more. I just didn't want it to seem like I discounted your answer out of hand.

I would be interested in the 16 vs 18awg issue from anyone who cares to comment. This build probably doesn't need it (on the ATX+8+4-pin EPS), and I have no plans for LN2, etc., but at some point 64+ cores might be on the table & something beefier needed.

Well, my case finally arrived so I can start assembly and see if I wasted most of a week researching extensions when I didn't need them! Well, I'm sure at some point I will need some, unless I don't get very far, one or more PCIe risers will be needed, and they will be escorted by power extensions. At least I figured out there are decent risers. I think.

It's scary, the average user doesn't think of SM for extensions (and wouldn't buy them as they aren't pretty enough), but all the ones on the market sold off-the-shelf seem to be a crapshoot in design, materials, and/or assembly. One that could cause a fire or destroy HW at any time. I could only find one custom cable maker company that had seemed to have a genuine good reputation (at least one that I couldn't disprove).


Worse, the most popular companies had a "good" reputation, one they didn't deserve if you looked at the reviews or their business practices. I just need something reliable off the shelf, not one custom designed for ~10 variables at a bespoke price. Hopefully SM doesn't discontinue the rest of its extensions.

I even had a bit of trouble ordering thermal paste, my first choice had one seller, who was holding it for ransom. The next was commonly counterfeited & had a serious recall the company didn't want to be open about. So, on to the 3rd option, MasterGel Pro v2:


I appreciate all the help, thanks guys.
 

Sean Ho

seanho.com
Nov 19, 2019
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seanho.com
Haven't read through all of your questions, but a quick note on the SATA power extensions: the famously fiery cables are due to molded plastic connectors that hide poor wire terminations which develop high resistance. The SATA power connector design itself is just fine, as are the 18awg wires over the distances in usual tower cases

What we've recommended is splitters using IDC, which are both secure (you can visually verify the tap) and easy to redo by hand. Pop off the cap, then remove the 3.3v line (you don't need it; that's why PWDIS chose to re-use the pin -- spinners use 12v for the servos, and all drives use 5v for the electronics). While you're at it, you can even reposition the connectors to match the spacing in your drive cages.

 
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