What is NVMe?
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a high speed communication interface optimized for solid state drives (SSDs) that connects over the PCI Express (PCIe) bus. It was developed as an upgrade from older SATA and SAS interfaces to remove bottleneck and maximize SSD performance (source 1).
The key differences between NVMe and SATA are:
- NVMe delivers higher I/O performance, lower latency, and higher parallelism compared to SATA SSDs (source 2). NVMe SSDs can achieve speeds over 3500 MB/s, while SATA is limited to 600 MB/s.
- NVMe uses the PCIe bus, while SATA uses the legacy AHCI protocol and requires SATA ports on the motherboard (source 3). NVMe connects directly to the PCIe lanes to reduce overhead.
- NVMe allows for multiple I/O queues and support up to 64K commands at once, while SATA has a single queue (source 1). This allows NVMe to handle multiple simultaneous requests better.
- NVMe is optimized for non-volatile memory like SSDs, while SATA was designed for mechanical hard drives. NVMe has features like power saving modes specifically for SSDs.
Overall, NVMe offers substantially higher performance and lower latency compared to SATA SSDs by connecting via PCIe and using a streamlined protocol.
Common Reasons for NVMe Not Showing Up
There are a few common reasons why an NVMe drive may not show up in File Explorer or Disk Management:
Not Enabled in BIOS – The NVMe drive needs to be enabled in the BIOS before Windows will recognize it. Go into the BIOS and make sure the M.2 slot is set to enabled. Sometimes this setting may be under advanced options. One user on Reddit had this issue and enabling the slot in BIOS fixed it.
Drive Not Initialized – If the NVMe drive shows up in the BIOS but not in Windows, the drive may just need to be initialized. Go into Disk Management, right-click the unallocated drive, and choose Initialize Disk. This will allow Windows to detect, format, and assign a drive letter to the NVMe SSD.
No NVMe Driver Installed – Windows may not have the necessary NVMe drivers to interface with the drive. Try installing the latest NVMe drivers from your motherboard or SSD manufacturer’s website. Updating the storage controller drivers can also help Windows detect the NVMe drive properly.
Enable NVMe in BIOS
One of the most common reasons an NVMe drive may not show up in Windows Explorer is because it is disabled or not properly configured in the motherboard BIOS. To enable NVMe support:
1. Restart your computer and enter the BIOS setup utility by pressing the correct key during bootup (F2, Delete, F10, etc. depending on motherboard). Refer to your motherboard manual for the proper key.
2. Navigate to the “Advanced” tab in the BIOS and look for options related to NVMe, M.2, storage, or PCIe. The setting may be called “NVMe Support”, “M.2/NVMe Configuration”, or something similar.
3. Make sure the NVMe drive’s corresponding M.2 slot is enabled. Some motherboards have multiple M.2 slots so verify you are enabling the correct one.
4. If available, set the NVMe mode to “Enabled” rather than “Auto”.
5. Save changes and exit the BIOS. Restart your computer.
Now your NVMe drive should be detected properly. If not, ensure it is seated correctly in the M.2 slot and that the BIOS is up-to-date. You may need to consult your motherboard manual or contact the manufacturer if further issues persist.
Initialize the NVMe Drive
One common reason an NVMe drive may not show up in File Explorer is because it needs to be initialized and partitioned first. This can be done using Disk Management in Windows.
To initialize a new NVMe drive in Disk Management:
- Open Disk Management by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting “Disk Management”.
- Locate the new NVMe drive, which will likely show up as an “Unknown” drive with unallocated space.
- Right-click the disk and select “Initialize Disk”.
- Select either MBR or GPT partitioning and click OK.
Once the disk is initialized, right-click it again and select “New Simple Volume” to create a formatted partition so Windows can assign a drive letter. Make sure to format the volume using NTFS for best compatibility.
After following these steps to initialize and format the NVMe drive in Disk Management, it should now show up with a drive letter in File Explorer for use as a regular storage volume. If the drive still does not appear, further troubleshooting may be needed.
For a detailed walkthrough, refer to this guide on initializing an SSD in Windows.
Install NVMe Drivers
One of the most common reasons an NVMe drive may not show up in File Explorer is because you need to install the proper NVMe drivers. NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a high-performance interface for solid state drives that operates over the PCI Express bus. Unlike traditional SATA SSDs, NVMe requires specialized drivers for maximum compatibility and performance.
To install NVMe drivers, first identify the make and model of your NVMe drive. You can find this information printed on the drive itself or by looking up the model number of your laptop or motherboard where the NVMe drive is installed. Once you know the exact drive, visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest NVMe drivers available for your version of Windows.
For example, if you have a Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe drive, you would go to Samsung’s SSD downloads page and get the NVMe driver for your drive model and OS. Other NVMe brands like WD, Kingston, and Crucial have similar driver download pages on their sites.
After downloading the NVMe drivers, run the installer executable file. This will extract and properly install the drivers on your system. Once complete, reboot your computer and check if your NVMe drive now shows up in File Explorer. With the proper NVMe drivers installed, Windows will be able to fully communicate with your high-speed solid state drive.
Update BIOS, Chipset, and Storage Controller Drivers
One of the main reasons an NVMe drive may not be detected is because you need to update the BIOS, chipset drivers, and storage controller drivers on your system. Older versions of these firmware and drivers may not have full support for NVMe drives.
To update these components:
- Go to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and download the latest BIOS version for your specific model. Follow their instructions to flash the BIOS, being very careful not to disrupt power during the update.
- Download the latest chipset drivers for your processor and motherboard from your manufacturer’s site. Install these chipset drivers to get updated support.
- Get updated storage controller drivers. Depending on your system, these may come from the chipset or motherboard manufacturer. Install these drivers as well.
With firmware and drivers updated, reconnect your NVMe drive and see if Windows detects it properly. Updating to the newest revisions can enable NVMe compatibility that may have been lacking before.
According to this source, flashing an updated BIOS is often required to get full NVMe support on systems with AMI BIOS firmware. So be sure to check for a BIOS update as a first step.
Change or Replace NVMe Cabling
Using compatible NVMe cables is critical for the drive to be properly detected. There are different types of NVMe connectors and cabling such as U.2, M.2, and add-in card, which require matched compatibilities between the drive, interface, and cable.
Check that you are using the correct cable for your NVMe drive’s physical connector. For example, if using a U.2 NVMe SSD, ensure you have a compatible U.2 to U.2 cable like the Bewinner PCIe NVMe U.2 to U.2 Cable.
Inspect the NVMe cables for any damage or loose connections. Over time, cables can become worn or connectors can come loose which can cause connectivity issues. Replace any damaged or faulty cables.
If the original NVMe cable is incompatible or defective, replacing it with a known good cable can resolve detection issues. When purchasing a replacement, verify it is compatible with your specific NVMe drive and interface connections.
One potential reason an NVMe drive may not show up in Windows Explorer is because you need to install the latest Windows updates. Windows periodically releases updates that include driver fixes, optimizations, and improved compatibility for NVMe drives.
To update Windows and install the latest NVMe drivers:
- Open Windows Update by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates. Install any available updates.
- Restart your computer after updates finish installing.
- After rebooting, check if your NVMe drive appears in File Explorer. If not, try updating your motherboard BIOS and chipset drivers as well, as noted in the Microsoft documentation.
Keeping Windows fully updated ensures you have the latest NVMe drivers and fixes available from Microsoft. If updating Windows doesn’t resolve the issue, you may need to contact your NVMe drive manufacturer to see if a firmware update is available.
Try a Different M.2 Slot
If you have another M.2 slot available on your motherboard, try installing the NVMe drive into the alternate slot to see if it is detected.
There are different types of M.2 slots, including SATA, PCIe 3.0 x2, and PCIe 3.0 x4 (or higher). NVMe drives require a PCIe M.2 slot to function properly. If you have multiple M.2 slots, make sure to install the NVMe drive into a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot if one is available (also referred to as M key or M+B key slots). Older SATA M.2 slots (M+B key or B key) do not support NVMe drives.
According to Electronicshub, M key slots support PCIe NVMe drives while B key slots are for SATA SSDs. Trying your NVMe drive in a different M.2 slot, preferably an M key slot, may allow the drive to be detected if the original slot is faulty or incompatible.
After moving the NVMe drive to another slot, reboot your system and check if the drive appears in File Explorer or Disk Management. This simple step could confirm if the NVMe drive itself is functional and the M.2 slot is the issue.
Contact Manufacturer Support
If you’ve tried all other troubleshooting steps and the NVMe drive still does not show up or function properly, it’s time to contact the manufacturer support. Most major NVMe drive brands like Samsung, Kingston, and Western Digital have dedicated technical support teams to help diagnose issues.
When contacting the manufacturer, have your NVMe model number, serial number, and proof of purchase ready. Explain the issue in detail – what troubleshooting steps you’ve taken, error messages seen, computer specifications, etc. Their technical staff can walk through advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting to identify any potential hardware faults or compatibility problems.
Some manufacturers like Samsung and Kingston offer live chat, email, and phone support options. If the drive is still under warranty, they may be able to offer a replacement NVMe drive if needed. Be ready to provide computer info like motherboard model, BIOS version, PCIe slot used, etc. to help isolate the issue.
As a last resort, manufacturer support can determine if the NVMe drive itself is defective and needs RMA. But their technical experts often have deep knowledge to diagnose NVMe compatibility issues, drivers, cables, or firmware problems. Contact them before concluding your NVMe drive is beyond repair.