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Booting from an M.2 NVMe Samsung 960 EVO SSD without UEFI (a.k.a. “legacy”/BIOS mode)

January 3rd, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

I lately upgraded my gaming rig from the pretty old (5+ years) i7-2700k to a i7-8700k and I thought: Hey, why not also get one of those nice and shiny M.2 NVMe SSDs.

But there, the problems starts. Since I use DiskCryptor (DC) for Full-Disk-Encryption (FDE) I figured, that these little beasts need to run in UEFI mode and DC only supports MBR/Legacy Boot. So had to walk the hard way and find a new encryption software which works in UEFI mode. I finally came to the conclusion, that VeraCrypt (VC) might be the best way to go. So I installed VC and it looked pretty promising. The good points about VC are

  • Open source
  • Actively developed
  • UEFI/NVMe support
  • Security audits on the implementation

while DiskCryptor lacks all the points except for the first one. So migrating to VeraCrypt might be the right decision, right?

So I installed VC but now the problems for my planned system configuration started. In UEFI mode, Windows creates 3 additional partitions (“System”/UEFI, Recovery, MSR) among the real windows partition, where all three can’t be encrypted. That wasn’t much of a big issue to me (they anyway just handle the boot process) until I found out that any further encrypted partition will not be mounted pre-boot but rather when Windows is already up and running via a method called System favourite volume. This was totally unacceptable for me because upon installation, I generally move the whole user-folder via audit-mode to a secondary partition, which now does not work anymore (same is true for swap-file). But then I fortunately found a YouTube video by the user Yven B where he claims, that booting in legacy mode from an Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD works. I knew about the fact, that the 950 Pro series works that way but all further info I found claimed, that almost all NVMe SSDs on the market (including the 960) indeed do not support legacy boot. So I can only imagine that Samsung either flashed a new ROM to their 960 EVO which allows legacy boot or my motherboard (Asrock Z370 Fatal1ty K6 Gaming) somehow has a trick to make this work. Eitherway, I’m happy Smile

Long story short: One can boot a Samsung 960 EVO NVMe M.2 SSDs on an Asrock Z370 Fatal1ty K6 Gaming motherboard in “legacy”/BIOS mode.

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