Seeking Knowledge (Dell/NVMe)


@Fernando & anyone else might be able to assist…

As a prerequisite before I start may I ask that I be redirected accordingly if this isn’t the right place for my query, I know how we lesser gifted mortals can appear when approaching a subject that we aren’t all too familiar with.

I joined this forum a while back as a passing interest and completely forgot about it. Now I return as a [very slightly] more clued up individual in search of a little advice. Forgive me if it’s blindingly obvious or the answer is right under my nose and understand that however hard you put the effort in to find your own answers, it’s all too easy to miss when you don’t know where to start.

I’m delving into a little customization regarding my laptop - Dell XPS 13 (9343), mainly as part of a new hobby ranging from OS and themeing, to the more technical hardware side of things. I want to look at replacing my Samsung 850 Pro SSD with one of the quicker NVMe models, which as I understand it are supported but not enabled by Dell’s factory bios. I know the newest models ship with NVMe and I would rather not be limited by the SATA 3 M.2 that I have in mine.

I’ve read through many posts on this forum and over on MDL about various methods, and I’ve been able to break into the bios with the Phoenix tool that I know you don’t endorse but my knowledge doesn’t stretch much further than that and I would like to know what advice you may have and what is possible. I think I’ve established that it’s a Insyde bios, and I’ve found that the bios packages from Dell are far from straightforward when it comes to extracting anything or using tools like the MMTool on here. From what I gather from the Intel NVMe thread on here I beleive the same rules should apply ie. it’s a series 9 chipset with a PCI able M.2 slot and therefore can run a NVMe SSD with a bios Mod. I don’t know however if the fact that my bios is Dell manufactured makes a difference to how able this modification is? I’d like to know what I can or cannot do before I risk breaking the bank for something I might not be able to use. I also know very little of the steps required. I’ve looked through a few tutorials and understand that a Slic or mod would need to be inserted and I’ve looked at various tools capable of doing the job, but as you can gather I am a total n00b at this so any help is invaluable to me.

If anyone is able to steer me in the right direction and offer any guidance I would very much appreciate it. Thanks in advance.


@thanatu55 :
Welcome at Win-RAID Forum!

I am pretty sure, that you will be able to boot off an NVMe supporting SSD in UEFI mode after having successfully flashed a modded BIOS, where the required NVMe module (look >here<) has been added.
The real problems with Dell BIOSes are
a) the modding procedure itself (Dell BIOSes cannot be opened and modified by using the “normal” AMI UEFI BIOS modding tools) and
b) the flashing of a modded BIOS into the BIOS chip of your Dell system.
Since I don’t have any own experience with the modification of a Dell BIOS, I cannot help you myself. Hopefully you may get support by someone else.
Another tip: Use the “Search …” box of this Forum and enter “Dell BIOS modding” (without quotation marks). This way you will get a lot of useful informations.

Good luck!
Dieter (alias Fernando)

Thanks Fernando I feel reassured by your advice, I guess it’s a case of the more research the better. I have spent a good while on Google looking for information and it seems that Dell bios modifications are a lot rarer than other brands. As yet I haven’t found anything that I could use as a possible step by step guide for my requirements but hopefully piece by piece I will be able put something together.

I will search the forum for Dell bios as you suggest. If I manage to get anywhere with it I will report back with what I can find.

That would be much appreciated (especially by other Dell users with a similar problem).

NVMe support is not the problem here - the problem is that the M.2/NGFF slot is SATA only (aka B) - i.e. it is not connected for PCIe (aka M). So you cannot use even AHCI PCIe SSDs like the XP941, SM951/AHCI, etc. (Similar to Lenovo X1 Carbon 2nd gen which has M.2/NGFF but SATA only)

Only the XPS13 9350 has M.2 PCIe slot support and even then you need to modify the ME BIOS to set the OPI link to GT4 as (like the NUC6 from Intel see AnandTech article) it is set to GT2 so you’re limited to about 1.7GB/s transfer rate. (there are 4x PCIE 3.0 links but the link to CPU is bottlecked).

You’re not missing much IMHO, unless you’re running a database/Exchange server on your XPS you’ll not see any NVMe benefit - do you have workloads where I/O queue is 32-deep and use multiple-threads doing heavy I/O?


Was wondering if you guys have found more information on the 9343 2015 Dell XPS 13 supporting NVME drives. I found a lot of conflicting information on the internet. Some reports of success and some reports of the laptop not being able to see the nvme drive and or needing a bios update to do so but not confirmed. Fwiw there must be a diagnostic utility that can tell if the firmware supports nvme?


Edit: Found this guide but I’m willing to bet its not correct:

I actually abandoned my study on the 9343 after some major unrelated damage and replaced it with the 9350. What I can report is that I now have a 9350 running a Samsung 950 Pro NVME 500gb and can barely notice any difference speed-wise to the 9343 i had running a SATA Samsung 850 evo. Also the newer model has some extremely annoying design flaws with coil whine and various small but irritating issues that weren’t apparent in my 9343. If I had the chance to go back, I probably would. It seems Dell tend to go backwards in coming forward and the forums definitely reflect this.

in summary, 850 evo will get everything you need out of the 9343 without the inflated cost of NVME and trying to crowbar it to fit.

Sorry its taken me a long time to get back to this thread!!

@thanatu55 :
Since not all Forum members (inclusive myself) know what you mean with "9343" resp. "9350", it would be a good idea to explain it.
It seems, that you mean different Dell XPS 13 models. If yes, what are the differences?


In my case the 9343 refers to the model number of the Dell XPS 13 ultrabook. I did some research in the differences between that model and the 9350. That is that the 9343 has a Sata M.2 type B-M Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) interface. Such that its limited to like 600 mb/s seq reads I believe and NVME type drives will not work despite rumors stating otherwise. However the 9350 can go NVME but limited to a PCI-E x 2 bus transfer speed and its not recommended I read due to the power consumption of these drives eat up the battery life fast. Because I’m running out of hard drive space on my SM-851 256 gb my best option is just get the SM-851 512gb drive which is on Amazon for $200. Not sure if I would do that just yet. The fan noise on this particular notebook is atrocious and killing me!

Ah yes, I apologise.

As Davidm71 explained, the 9350 is simply a newer model of the Dell XPS 13 range of Laptop/Ultrabooks. I did refer to the 9343 model in my original post.

It definitely isn’t worth trying to force anything into the earlier 9343 model. As for the later model, I’m not so sure about it only supporting two lanes in it’s PCIE slot. If I use the programme HWINFO64 it reads that my machine supports and is set to four lanes, yet I wouldn’t say it’s particularly quick. Anything that takes a long time on the older model will likewise take a while on this one. I guess it’s just another case of Dell deceptively failing to provide relevant information about their products, then refusing to take any responsibility once you’ve handed over your cash.

For what it’s worth there are a lot of things that I do like about this laptop but my view of Dell as a company, having tried to deal with them a few times, has plummeted way down!


Was wondering if you still have your 9350 and if you could take a bios dump? Reason being I might buy a broken one off of ebay that needs to be reflashed,