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Any known issues when running both M.2 and SATA SSDs in a NUC10?

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,362 Views

I just received a new NUC10I5FNH4 to replace our aging D34010WYKH as HTPC.

The old one had been running a Samsung EVO 850 SATA SSD without fault for ages and I wanted to bring it over to the new NUC as additional overflow drive. The new main drive in the NUC10 is a Samsung EVO 860 M.2 stick.

The M.2 runs flawlessly and fast with benchmarks in the expect 500-600MB range for sequential and 60K+ IOPS for random reads and writes.

The old SATA SSD achieved similar though somewhat slower numbers in its old unit, but in the new NUC10 the numbers are atrocious! Reads are still acceptable, but writes are below belief: I've seen 3MB/sec (!) and maybe up to 23MB/sec! Running a TRIM optimisation will take several minutes in the NUC10, when it normally is a matter of seconds. It's pretty much impossible to format the drive - it will simply hang or run for so long it makes no difference.

Thinking the old SSD was dying, I did a secure erase and put it back into the old NUC. Reinstalled Windows on it from scratch only to quickly run TRIM tests and benchmarks. Result: it performed as you would expect a fresh SSD with number up to where they should be.

Took the drive out and added it back into the new NUC10. TRIM slow, "hanging" several times then slowly proceeding. Samsung Magician refused to benchmark it, saying it couldn't find volumes. Which was clearly wrong as I could browse the files on that SSD just fine (albeit slow). Using the free version of PartitionWizard, I was able to run a benchmark which came in at 23MB/sec sequential writes.

So, it's not the drive! But what could it be?

  • a bad SATA cable in the new NUC?
  • a bad connector?
  • a BIOS issue?
  • a driver issue (I tried both with and without installing the latest Intel NUC drivers for the model)
  • and incompatibility when both ports are in use?

I'm already preparing an RMA with the vendor, but thought I'd better ask here to see if this isn't some other issue. I've attached a photo of the SATA cable as I found it when I first opened up the case. That sharp bend looks a bit worrisome - or is that normal and should not be a concern?

1 Solution
BrownToast
Novice
1,054 Views

Reseating the cable multiple times didn't work. I was about to give up when I decided to try one last thing. I tried inserting the cable only partially. So that there was a bit of blue between the white clasp and the black line on the cable. Testing in ESXi so far looks positive. If I push the cable in all the way I can't see any blue between the white clasp and black line. I checked unboxing videos again and seeing the blue under the black line appears to be normal (see attached photo). I've even been able to pull it out further than as shown in the photo.

@Marakai can you see blue under the black line on your cable? Reckon you could reseat your cable as shown in the photo and rerun tests in Samsung Magician?

Thanks

View solution in original post

23 Replies
n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
1,204 Views
You are using an adapter of some sort to interface the mSATA drive to the SATA drive bay. This device could play a role in the issue. Have you an adapter for connecting a SATA drive via USB? While not an optimal solution, this would at least allow you to verify its operation and performance in the new unit.
It looks like, at one point, you pinched the cable when putting the drive bay and bottom back onto the unit. This could explain the problem as well.
Hope this helps,
...S
Marakai
New Contributor I
1,189 Views

Thanks for your fast reply!

Some clarification:

- the pinched cable was a concern when I first opened up the unit, so it may/must have been assembled that way. But it's good to know that this is NOT normal and may be the cause right there!

- I'm not using an adapter. It was late and I was tired when I posted, so I should have clarified that the old SSD is a "standard" 2.5inch EVO 850 (1TB) slid into the tray and connected to SATA.

(The new EVO 860 2TB works flawlessly on the m.2 connector)

n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
1,183 Views

Ah, ok; that simplifies things.

Well, you will need to contact Intel Customer Support to talk about an RMA.

After verifying that your warranty is active (here: Determine if Your Product Is Still Under Warranty), you need to directly contact Intel Customer Support to initiate the RMA process (you cannot do this through the forums). Here are pages where you can lookup contact information, including local/country phone numbers, by geography:

You can use the online forms service or email, but I actually recommend calling them directly. The above links provide local or toll-free numbers in most countries and support most local languages. You could also use the chat service (start here: Intel Customer Support Chat), but understand that this service is offered in English only and is subject to the normal (9:00-5:00 M-F) office hours in the Pacific (UTC-8) time zone.

Hope this helps,

...S

 

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,181 Views

Thanks again.

As so often I will go through the vendor first. It's a  brand spanking new unit, so you certainly would hope it's under support/warranty!

The vendor has them in stock - always important right now with depleted levels and shipment delays.

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,148 Views

It seems the cable should definitely NOT look like that. As I found it like this when opening the case, I didn't immediately recognise the problem. I now have an RMA and will be sending the unit back through the vendor. I will simply order another and get a refund for the original one - the vendor has to take that up with Intel, but I trust that shouldn't be a problem as it's a pretty open and shut case (pun not intended).

 

Thanks!

BrownToast
Novice
1,080 Views

I have the exact same issue with a 1TB Samsung 860 EVO and two separate NUC10s; an i5NUC10 and an i7NUC10.

Both of the NUCs came with bent SATA cables. I watched some unboxing videos on YouTube to see if it was normal and the bent cable problem seems widespread, yet no one seems to be reporting issues. It was nearly impossible to find this thread. Hopefully Intel are aware enough of the issue that they'll just send out new cables without having to send back the NUCs first.

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,069 Views

That's very interesting - and worrisome. I have an RMA but haven't acted with the vendor yet, as we just had another Covid lockdown that came and went.

Also, not much point then, if it's nearly endemic!

n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
1,055 Views

So, after checking with the team, this fold in the cable is on purpose. I took a couple of different NUC models apart (which I hadn't look at closely before because I wasn't adding a SATA drive) and verified that they all have this fold.

Sorry for raising a false flag,

...S

 

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,044 Views

In that case I'm not sure it's better: why does a SATA SSD that works fine in any other device (it used to run in an older NUC until I moved it and I tested it in my PC while going through the stage of hair-pulling diagnostics). not work in this one?

It's up to the latest BIOS and it's not like it doesn't work at all, due to me forgetting to activate the port in the BIOS or anything. It behaves exactly as you would expect if there were some hardware connectivity issue.

Back to the drawing board...

n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
1,039 Views

Have you verified that the cable is properly aligned and attached to the board? I have to say that I *hate* the connector that they have used as it is so easy to get it wrong -- or break off the locking tab (been there, done that, have the souvenir).

That said, I still believe that there is a compatibility issue with that drive. This is not the only conversation where this drive has been brought up. Not saying it's the drive's fault. It could just as easily be a BIOS issue.

...S

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,026 Views

Checking the cable seating was the first thing I did: in fact I agree with  you and find the attachments not to be the greatest. The older models were much easier in that regard and arguably more sturdy, and also more easy to be replaced.

In this case, I only verified that they were properly seating by pressing them in: I'm concerned enough with their flimsiness that I didn't want to risk damaging them by pulling them out!

BrownToast
Novice
1,033 Views

I feel your pain. I've spent hours troubleshooting to determine a root cause and I was somewhat relieved to hear someone else had the exact same issue. I feel it's worth mentioning that I'm not your average computer user either, I have many years of experience in computer repair and IT. I had originally suspected the cable due to the bend and the fact that the first time it was used was in the NUC10. But I dismissed the cable as a cause because the bend seemed semi-normal because both of mine were bent and there was no talk about it being an issue on the net.

@n_scott_pearson A compatibility issue is certainly possible, but it just seems so unlikely given the popularity of the Samsung 860 EVO. Again, I would have expected to see multiple threads regarding the issue if that were the case. I don't suppose you have any Intel contacts that have specifically used the 850 or 860 EVO or are able to test it?

There are a few ways to reproduce the problem and return an error reliably for me:

  • Attempt to create a VMFS via ESXi
  • Attempt to run a SMART test using Samsung Magician (Short, Extended or Extended SMART v2) - Check the logs in the GUI for the failure messages
  • Open HDD Sentinel and it will start reporting "Problems occurred between the communication of the disk and the host xxx times" and the drive health will be less than 100%. Writing data to the drive will increase xxx and reduce health.
  • Copy a large amount of data to the drive and then attempt to read it (e.g. copy the Windows directory and then try and explore the contents)

Everything seems to point to either a SATA controller, SATA cable or SSD controller issue...or a combination of them (hardware compatibility).

edit: I did try reseating the SATA connector, some light massaging and straightening of the cable with no luck.

Marakai
New Contributor I
1,023 Views

Now that is interesting info. It screams BIOS issue to me now.

 

Though it could still conceivably be a cable issue: it may be intended to be bent like that, but maybe somebody went a bit overboard? Are we talking humans or machines bending and inserting them?

BrownToast
Novice
1,004 Views

I've created a poll on reddit asking people with NUC10s if they use a Samsung SSD. Early results look like it might be safe to rule out compatibility and SSD issues.

https://www.reddit.com/r/intelnuc/comments/m12ytr/do_you_use_a_10th_gen_nuc_with_a_25_samsung_ssd/

One user who experienced similar issues said they had to reseat the SATA cable multiple times before they finally got their drive operating normally. I'm going to try reseating the SATA cable again later today.

BrownToast
Novice
1,055 Views

Reseating the cable multiple times didn't work. I was about to give up when I decided to try one last thing. I tried inserting the cable only partially. So that there was a bit of blue between the white clasp and the black line on the cable. Testing in ESXi so far looks positive. If I push the cable in all the way I can't see any blue between the white clasp and black line. I checked unboxing videos again and seeing the blue under the black line appears to be normal (see attached photo). I've even been able to pull it out further than as shown in the photo.

@Marakai can you see blue under the black line on your cable? Reckon you could reseat your cable as shown in the photo and rerun tests in Samsung Magician?

Thanks

Marakai
New Contributor I
974 Views

Wow! Thanks so much for your deep diving into this!

I was going to give this a try over the weekend: the NUC is our HTPC and my wife lays claim to it during the week! (OK, not during daytime, but that's when I have to work too )

Never would have thought to *not* connect the cable all the way.

Just so we're absolutely clear: are we talking the cradle side or the motherboard side of the connection? As I haven't seen which side has blue vs black, it wasn't clear and I'd rather ask one stupid question too many.

BrownToast
Novice
954 Views

No worries. I've got a vested in interest in avoiding RMAing my NUCs, it'd mean taking production environments offline. Plus I don't want to have the NUCs swapped out and experience the exact same issue or worse, send them for assessment by Intel and they can't find a fault.

To answer your question, the connector I'm referring to is on the motherboard side of the connection. Where the ribbon cable connects to the motherboard. To remove the cable you need to pull the white plastic tab straight up. You can see the guy in this video https://youtu.be/4oE7VV5BlNM?t=393 grabbing the two bits that jut out on either side of the tab for grip. The cable will probably just come out by itself at that point as there won't be anything holding it in.

Good luck!

Marakai
New Contributor I
936 Views

We have a winner here, Mr @BrownToast 

I hope @n_scott_pearson will forgive me for shifting the Accepted Solution, but your approach absolutely and fully solved the issue!

I'm currently filling the other SATA SSD at full speed (a good benchmark) and all is well.

It's fiddly business between having the cable stick out enough, but the flimsy clasp still holding it in place. I hope it holds, thankfully we don't have earthquakes here, but I hope I don't sneeze while putting it back into its normal place.

My suspicion is that when pushing the cable all the way down, the extra pressure from that clamp/clasp jams it such that it no longer makes proper contact. Leaving it out a bit and then having the clasp lock it in place ensures that contact is still made. Pure speculation on my part, but whatever works!

Not the best design by Intel!

I owe you so many beers if you ever make it to Melbourne (Australia, not Florida)!

BrownToast
Novice
925 Views

That is great to hear!

I'm in Perth so swinging by for some beers isn't out of the question!

Sadly, my SSD testing started to fail yesterday. Performance is still much better than it was and I can at least repartition the drive reliably in ESXi however I still experienced some failures when transferring large amounts of data. 

The user on reddit that had a similar problem to us and fixed it be reseating the cable multiple times has said they also tried my suggestion today with success. Given you and them have both had success, I might try additional reseating before giving up again. At the very least, we've been able to narrow down the root cause considerably.

Marakai
New Contributor I
684 Views

Heh, yeah, if your Premier ever lets people cross the state borders again!  (j/k, I generally approve of the approach and I am *not* going to drag politics in here).

I shifted about 800GB without issues, but I'm scared to pick up and carry it back to the usual cabinet, lest something comes loose again.

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