October 29th, 2018 by Lyle Smith
In The Lab: Netstor NP631N M.2 NVMe to PCIe Host Adapter
The Netstor NP631N is a PCIe 3.0 m.2 adapter that brings m.2 SSD compatibility to just about every desktop and server, and does so while delivering up to 32Gbps in performance via any PCIe x4, x8, and x16 slot. M.2 adapter cards are a great way for users to get the speedy NVMe performance if they don`t have a modern motherboard with a built-in M.2 slot. They're also handy for those looking to install more than one M.2 drive, as most new consumer-grade motherboards only have one or two slots available. In the enterprise space, M.2 adapters bring cost-effective boot-drive alternatives to servers without taking a front-mount slot and offer higher performance than other alternatives.
The NP631N works with a wide range of m.2 SSD sizes, featuring a movable M.2 stand-off as well as a range of different plated-holes to support virtually any type of M.2 SSD form factor, including 2230 (30 mm), 2242, 2260, 2280, and full-length 22110 (110 mm), making this a very versatile card.
For the StorageReview Lab, Netstor shipped us two NP631N cards to facilitate m.2 NVMe reviews inside our standard Dell PowerEdge R740xd servers. This allows us to test m.2 SSDs in our stable enterprise and prosumer oriented test platforms and quickly swap between different length m.2 SSDs depending on the review.
Netstor NP631N Specifications
|Host Interface||PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface
(Compatible with PCI Express x8, and x16 slots)
|Data Transfer Rate||32Gbps|
|NVMe Interface||1 x M.2 x4 M key (M.2 NGFF)|
|NVMe Type||Supports 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 PCIE SSD|
|Power Supply||3.3V@ 3A for M.2 NVMe SSD|
White – Power On Indicator
160(L) x 50(W) mm
Native driver support PCIe-NVMe & PCIe-AHCI:
Requires Microsoft update:
|Operating Temperature||-10 to 50°C (14 to 122°F)|
|Relative Humidity||0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F)|
|Storage Temperature||20 to 80% (non-condensing)|
The Netstor NP631N is equipped with power and activity LED indicators located on the bracket-side. This gives users a clear view of the M.2 adapter's (and its populated PCIe NVMe SSD) status without much hassle.
We use the Netstor NP631N for our synthetic benchmarks and SideFX Houdini test, where it allows native performance levels from each SSD, without introducing any overhead. As a pass-through device, the SSD will perform exactly as intended.
The adapter card is also used in our VMware ESXi 6.7 test platform where we stress m.2 SSDs in our test/dev SQL Server benchmark.
Devices such as the Netstor NP631N are carefully selected for use in the StorageReview Lab. This particular card does exactly what it's intended to, passing along the full performance of M.2 SSDs. While this is good news for those considering the card to expand storage in a desktop, from an enterprise testbed perspective, this gives us a reliable way to consistently test M.2 drives in a server so results of all form factors can be compared to each other. While our use case is a bit out of the ordinary, we've used the Netstor card dozens of times and always find it to be a reliable testbed component.