In this post I will show you how you can modify the BIOS of a Dell OptiPlex 3010, 7010 or 9010 so that it can support an NVMe SSD drive as a boot device. This is a follow up to a post I did on how boot a Dell OptiPlex 7020 with an NVMe drive.
I also wrote an upgrade guide for the Dell OptiPlex 7010 which showed how to use Boot Disk Utility to boot from an NVMe drive by using a USB Stick. The method described in this post will allow the machine to boot natively without the need for any additional hardware.
Although these machines have a UEFI BIOS, they do not contain the NVMe driver. By adding the driver into the BIOS you can boot from a PCIe NVMe SSD. I managed to achieve these speeds with a Samsung 970 EVO Plus from Amazon:
This is the same drive that I put into an OptiPlex 7020, but for reasons that I do not understand, the same drive is even faster in the 7010.
Here is the PCI adapter and the Samsung NVMe SSD installed in an OptiPlex 7010 Small Form Factor:
This blog post contains instructions on how to modify your BIOS.
You could easily break your machine. Proceed at your own risk!
Table of contents
In order to carry out this upgrade, you will need a few things:
- An NVMe SSD. I used a 512Gb Samsung 970 EVOPlus
- An NVMe to PCIe Adapter, I used this one from Amazon.
- A Dell OptiPlex 3010, 7010 or 9010 to upgrade.
The procedure is slightly different depending on the model and form factor, but mostly the same.
This process involves the following steps:
- Upgrade to the most recent BIOS from Dell:
- Installing Required Software and drivers.
- Backing up your current BIOS.
- Adding NVMe driver support into the BIOS backup.
- Writing the modified BIOS back to the system.
- Optimising BIOS settings.
Install the Required Drivers and Software
Before being able to read from or write to the BIOS, you need to install the Intel Management Engine Components from Dell.
Download the Intel Management Engine System Tools v8 r3, which contains the tools required to flash the new bios.
Also download the NVME Driver which will be injected into the BIOS Image.
Put the machine into Service Mode
Now that you have the machine prepared, you need to put the machine into service mode before you can proceed:
- Shut the machine down.
- Remove the mains power supply.
- Locate the two pin service connector and put a jumper on it.
If you are upgrading a Small Form Factor machine, the service jumper is in an awkward position which will require you to remove the Optical Drive and Hard Drive cage to access it. Once those are out of the way, you can find it just above, and to the right of the RAM slots. Here is an image from a 7010 SFF:
If, like me, you do not have a spare jumper, you can borrow the one from the Password reset jumper.
On a Mini Tower – the jumper is in a different position and easier to access:
You can now boot the machine again in service mode, but you will receive a couple of warning messages:
You will then receive a message informing you that the machine is in Service Mode:
If you do not put the machine into service mode you will not be able to backup or update the BIOS properly.
Modify and Upgrade the BIOS
Now that you are in service mode, you can continue with the modification. I’ve also made a video that shows how to insert the NVMe driver into the BIOS:
Backup the existing BIOS
Open a command prompt as an administrator and change to the directory where you extracted the Intel ME System Tools. Then navigate to the subdirectory \Flash Programming Tool\Windows64 (or Windows if you are on 32-Bit installation).
Within that directly use the command:
fptw64.exe -d backup.bin
Modify the BIOS and Inject the NVMe Driver
Next, open UEFI Tool and open the backup.bin file. Expand the sections as per the following screenshot:
Scroll to the bottom of this section and you should see an area that looks like this:
Next, right click on item with the name D95D6B4F-92FA-4E78-9C48-C68C0813688E and choose Insert After.
Choose the file NvmExpressDxe_Small.ffs that you just downloaded earlier and you will see it appear right after the OemLinkDELLPwdLib section:
Now go to File -> Save Image File and save the file in the same location as the flash tool as NVME.bin. Go back to your command prompt and run the command:
fptw64.exe -bios -f nvme.bin
Shut down the machine and remove the jumper from the service pins and move it back to the password reset pins if you took it from there.
The BIOS modification is complete!
Install the PCI NVMe SSD
If you have not yet installed your SSD into the machine, you can do it now. If possible use the Blue X16 PCI slot, it is much faster than smaller black one.
Optimise BIOS Settings
Now that you have written the new BIOS, restart the machine. If you do not have any SATA drives connected you will receive a warning on start-up that says:
Alert! Hard Drive not found
You can fix this by going into the BIOS Setup and then System Configuration -> Drives. Untick all the SATA ports which do not have drives connected.
Finally, if you want the maximum possible speed from your new drive, consider disabling C-States in the BIOS. This makes it marginally faster, but I doubt you would notice much difference.
Now you can install an operating system of your choice or clone one of your existing drives to your new NVMe drive and enjoy a decent performance increase.
Upgrading the Dell Optiplex 7010 with PCI NVMe Solid State drive is a brilliant value upgrade, and completely transforms the machine. Especially if you are upgrading from a hard drive.
Again, here is the PCI adapter that I used:
If you try it, I would love to know how you got on and what your results were.