I had a Samsung PM951 128GB SSD. I now have a Samsung PM981 NVMe 256gb SSD.
Both have had issues when booting. It is intermittent, but happening enough to be noticeable. It seemed to become an issue when upgrading to the 0056 BIOS, but when downgrading via recovery mode to 0048 (I also had video issues with 0056 pertaining to the IGP aperture settings), the problem has not gone away.
I fresh-loaded the PM981 (no cloning). Still an issue at this point. I used the PM951 for over a year in an MSI B250M Mortar mainboard with an i5-7600T Kaby Lake CPU, with zero issues prior to putting it in the NUC. I only swapped because I wanted a bit larger SSD and I wanted NVMe, but the problem has persisted across both.
The NUC will randomly time out without having found a bootable operating system, and ask if I wish to go back to the previous configuration that successfully booted. Note, I'm also not seeing the "Pres F#" section on the boot screen (even though these options are checked in BIOS) making it harder to test at startup, as it seems that without putting the system to the Recovery menu, I may not be able to get to the BIOS. It was showing these options originally when I got my NUC several weeks ago. I have set to default settings, and am still having issues.
As far as not seeing the "Press F#" on the POST screen, that is because you have Secure Boot turned on. That may also be the reason you're having other types of boot problems.
That's odd. You mean in the BIOS? When I turned off Secure Boot in BIOS, I was able to see the F2, F7, F10 on the POST screen. Perhaps it has to do with changing the aperture settings. You know those settings apply only to the Visual BIOS and have no effect at all within Windows. As for the drive, I can't comment because the model numbers you're listing are not familiar to me. I've always used Samsung SSDs, (840 EVO, 860 EVO, 970 EVO, etc.) both SATA and NVMe and have never had any problems like you're describing (unless I had Secure Boot enable in BIOS). Even if you don't see the F# displayed the keys should still work like F2 to enter BIOS.
Another issue is how the drives are partitioned. Are they GPT or MBR? Booting with UEFI or Legacy? You may have to re-partition the drives and re-install windows. These days, with newer equipment and Windows 10, it's best to go GPT and UEFI for fast and reliable booting. Using DiskPart in an administrative command line window you can "clean" the drives and convert them to GPT before installing Windows. You can do this from the Windows installer. From the initial setup boot screen press Shift-F10 and you'll get an administrative command prompt. That way you can clean and change partition structure before the installation starts.
I have even reloaded the PM981 from scratch, GPT, but it doesn’t matter. Removed the drive, gently cleaned the (still new) M.2 slot with canned air, cleaned the SSD fingers with rubbing alcohol (shouldn’t have to, it’s new too) and reseated it. Set a 5sec boot delay in BIOS, and turned off the SAYA port in BIOS too. The system boots about half the time. It’s stable when it boots, and now the F keys are back on the NUC POST screen, but booting is still very unpredictable.
Eventually the system reboots and I get the screen below:
I'm going to hazard a guess that the problem is compatibility. The PM981 is not a consumer SSD, it's an OEM drive. Those drives are normally sold in bulk to manufacturers of laptops and other devices. Some of those OEM drives that you can buy from Amazon are actually designed for a certain brand/model of laptop and the BIOS that that computer has. Some BIOSes will whitelist acceptable components and all others will not work.
Intel provides a list of compatible drives at the link below:
That list is most certainly incomplete and out of date. They don't list any of the Samsung 970 series at all and it's the most popular SSD on the market right now. I suppose that's because they want to sell you an Intel SSD.
I'm using a Samsung 970 EVO (NVMe) drive and it works fine and is very fast with the Samsung NVMe driver installed.
Not only that, but if M.2 and NVMe aren't standards, how are drives even interchangeable?
I've used hard drives since MFM, RLL, and ESDI days, then IDE, then SATA, and now M.2. It seems silly to me that there should be a compatibility list; I've never used a SATA SSD only to find "that model isn't on the compatibility list" or a Western Digital IDE drive only to find "We only support Seagate".
Further, Samsung is considered the leading manufacturer of SSDs on the market. For them not to support a standard would be ridiculous. And my previous PM851 M.2 (non-NVMe) SSD, which worked fine in an MSI mainboard for a year, is having the same issue, which makes no sense either.
This is something I already tried; I used each memory module (one is a Hynix, one is Crucial) separately, with only one bank populated, to ensure it was not one of either of the two modules. It did not resolve the issue. Both are rated for the same speeds.
I used the previous Samsung PM851 (I listed it incorrectly in my first post) non-NVMe SATA M.2 drive in my NUC and also had the same issue. Here is the part number:
Firmware is EXT25D0Q
As mentioned previously in the thread, I do not have Fast Boot enabled; it's actually the first thing I turn off, as I prefer a thorough POST and the ease of getting into setup.
I have tested with BIOS defaults. This did not resolve the problem; it might cause the system to boot properly the first time on defaults (though it isn't consistent), but a subsequent restart can bring the issue back. I tried adding time to the Hard Disk Pre-Delay as well (knowing that would be an unlikely fix as this is usually for platter HDDs, but figuring it was worth the try. This also did not resolve the problem, and I turned it off.
I have attached pictures of both SSDs which show the makes/models/firmwares/etc. listed on them.
Here are my concerns about your compatibility list:
I purchased a shiny new Samsung 970 EVO 250GB NVMe M.2 SSD. Confirmed it had the latest firmware.
Backed up the old SSD (which had a clean Windows 10 install, but custom-ed to my home theater duties, loaded early this January).
Installed the new SSD.
Booted from external USB media and restored the backup to the new SSD.
First time boot to Windows 10 - Successful.
Rebooted the NUC8i5BEH - Same problem as when I started this discussion.
The 970 EVO is a retail Samsung SSD that has been on the market since end-of-first quarter, 2018. It is likely the best-selling M.2 SSD on the market at this time. If my system still has a problem with this, either there's a problem with my NUC, or there's an issue with the NUC's BIOS or its design. And I've spent enough of my own money troubleshooting the issue.
I'm frustrated; I want to love the NUC, I do when it is running, but the inconsistent booting behavior is certainly disappointing. Here's pictures, and a new SSU report.