M.2 slots and itx/matx?

InCase

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Feb 11, 2017
6
1
I have a dilemma or just need more ideas to help me decide (what to do) when I am able to build.

I would like to run two 'drives' and prefer to run two (NVMe?) PCI-Express 3.04 x4 MLC SSDs at some point. So, I'd need TWO M.2 slots on the motherboard, correct? I would like to go with itx but I think only the ASUS Strix itx board has two M.2 slots.

I want to run Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) on one and Windows 10 on the other. I guess they can be 250/256GB - probably enough for either, right? I will use the large capacity HDDs for data. I already have 2.

What are my options? 1) Forego the 2nd M.2 slot and get only one of those SSDs and get a normal SSD for the other drive? I think the NVMe drives are faster, and more future proof - or at least, better performance albeit at a higher price point? They're also smaller/more compact and there might be a benefit for itx and matx boards?

2) go with mATX/matx - the Strix is again an option but my research also showed a few more options (not many though). I want wireless though and I think only the ASUS had that. I might want a sound card, too as most of the chipsets were pretty weak - ALC892 being the best among the few choices.

I guess if I go with ATX - I'm not SFF any more? I don't think there's any real small ATX cases either - right?

So, what are my options? Any advice/recommendations?
 

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
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Are you trying to use a graphics card? If not, there are always PCI-E slot SSDs.

You can also look at getting one larger NVME SSD and then partitioning it. Way easier than getting two separate m.2 drives.

What are you intending to use each system for and how important is size/MB form factor?
 
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GuilleAcoustic

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Jun 29, 2015
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As an example, my Archlinux install is worth 15GB. That includes system, KDE plasma, development tools (GCC, librairies, debugger), Productivity tools (libreoffice, Krita, Blender, Scribus, Inkscape, Freecad, Kicad, Darktable), media tools (VLC, Calibre, Spotify), games (Steam, Libretro + EmulationStation).

As I only use windows once every now and then, for dev purpose especially, I made a Windows 7 Virtual Machine using Oracle VirtualBox.
 
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TheDreamingMonk

Average Stuffer
Sep 17, 2016
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As an example, my Archlinux install is worth 15GB. That includes system, KDE plasma, development tools (GCC, librairies, debugger), Productivity tools (libreoffice, Krita, Blender, Scribus, Inkscape, Freecad, Kicad, Darktable), media tools (VLC, Calibre, Spotify), games (Steam, Libretro + EmulationStation).

As I only use windows once every now and then, for dev purpose especially, I made a Windows 7 Virtual Machine using Oracle VirtualBox.


This is pretty much the way to go if you don't plan to use Windows often or at all. I myself haven't let Windows touch a personal machine in over a decade. I have no use for it.

Otherwise, I'd go with @Ceros_X suggestion and just partition.

My main Linux installs are about 6GB total ( on the lighter side as I don't use big desktop environments, and opt for my own window manager ). Though I use external storage for documents, you could simply piggyback off your Windows documents in the Linux install and keep most of the drive space in the NTFS format which Linux has no issues with.

You could partition somewhere around 25GB for Linux and the rest for Windows. Even in a heavier install this leaves you with more than enough space left over.

These options allow for you to have a single drive for your system + a secondary drive for storage in the same system without wasting too much space. Multiple drives all being used as storage almost always waste space between multiple operating systems, whereas a shared storage drive doesn't. This is my typical setup in my system. One drive for my linux install, one drive for my games.

Keeping your storage separate is also nice if you plan to reformat in the future. Don't have to worry about transferring files or anything. Just format the system drive and reinstall your system.
 
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InCase

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Feb 11, 2017
6
1
This is why I ask in forms and this one is a huge help! Thanks! :)

I'll try to answer the questions and elaborate on what I am looking for or what I hope to do.

I am inclined to agree with the one drive - and go with ITX as it was always my preference - to be compact, small and portable. I can do it with a laptop but I'd like any desktop to be the same versatility.

I probably will use a (discrete) graphics card but I will use - what are they called - 'mini?' I currently use a EVGA GTX 750. If I ever want to use a 4K TV or monitor, I think I have to upgrade it? Or is an upgrade just needed for games? I am not sure I understand the tech. but the main question is what to do with the drive setup.

Do you think 250/256GB is enough to partition Linux and Windows (if I use a 1TB+ HDD for storage, partitioned NTFS?)? The 512GB ones would be ideal - and offer extra space but right now, they're $300 - $400! :) Perhaps, when I'm ready to buy and build, they'll come down some?

I hope to use Windows (for work) - looking for jobs/positions that might/require Windows software. However, I use Linux most of the time. I was going to install Windows 10 and try to become familiar with Office (Word/Excel) and the OS itself.

I use Ubuntu mostly - although, I've tried Debian, Fedora and Mint. I just Linux for everything. I've also used VirtualBox.
The reason I was going to use two M.2 SSD drives is that dual-booting can sometimes be tricky and I thought the new UEFI hardware stuff made the configuration and management of boot managers a bit more complex (but doable, of course)?

The form factor is important to me because I am tired of large tower cases - or large computers - cables, tons of room being taken up by them. ;) Although, my case is a mid tower - I am tired of lugging it around even though I currently don't go anywhere with it. ;) I want the largest device to be the printer - even though they supposedly were getting smaller, too? Or maybe not?

25GB for Linux and the rest for Windows would be around 210 or just over (after formatting, you don't get the entire drive space accessible)?
 

nox

Average Stuffer
Feb 10, 2017
81
52
I want to run Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) on one and Windows 10 on the other. I guess they can be 250/256GB - probably enough for either, right? I will use the large capacity HDDs for data. I already have 2.

2 of which? the large data drives? if so why bother with two m.2 sticks? You'd be better off with one large one and partitioning it. The only time you're better off having two small sticks would be if you wanted to RAID 1 or RAID 0 them, for redundancy or performance respectively.
 

Soul_Est

SFF Guru
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Silver Supporter
Feb 12, 2016
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I have a dilemma or just need more ideas to help me decide (what to do) when I am able to build.

I would like to run two 'drives' and prefer to run two (NVMe?) PCI-Express 3.04 x4 MLC SSDs at some point. So, I'd need TWO M.2 slots on the motherboard, correct? I would like to go with itx but I think only the ASUS Strix itx board has two M.2 slots.
You can go with just one large drive and run Windows in a VM as @GuilleAcoustic and @TheDreamingMonk suggested.

I want to run Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) on one and Windows 10 on the other. I guess they can be 250/256GB - probably enough for either, right? I will use the large capacity HDDs for data. I already have 2.
I usually use one SSD for boot and one or more HDDs for data.

What are my options? 1) Forego the 2nd M.2 slot and get only one of those SSDs and get a normal SSD for the other drive? I think the NVMe drives are faster, and more future proof - or at least, better performance albeit at a higher price point? They're also smaller/more compact and there might be a benefit for itx and matx boards?

2) go with mATX/matx - the Strix is again an option but my research also showed a few more options (not many though). I want wireless though and I think only the ASUS had that. I might want a sound card, too as most of the chipsets were pretty weak - ALC892 being the best among the few choices.
1) NVMe drives are faster and only really come into their own when used in use cases where that speed matters, such as a scratch drive for video editing.
2) You can always use an external DAC and an external amplifier such as the ODAC by JDS Labs or Schiit Audio Modi 2 and the Objective 2 by JDS Labs or Schiit Audio Magni 2 respectively. Linux already has USB Audio Class 2 support so you'll be fine to use the full range of bitrates and sample rates that the DACs can decode without installing extra drivers.

I guess if I go with ATX - I'm not SFF any more? I don't think there's any real small ATX cases either - right?

So, what are my options? Any advice/recommendations?
We do not discriminate on ATX just so long you can fill in the empty spaces. Have a look at SPARTAN for example.
 
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