May 252020
 
Picture of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe x16 to Quad M.2 NVMe

Looking to add quad (4) NVMe SSDs to your system and don’t have the M.2 slots or a motherboard that supports bifurcation? The IOCREST IO-PEX40152 QUAD NVMe PCIe card, is the card for you!

The IO-PEX40152 PCIe card allows you to add 4 NVMe SSDs to a computer, workstation, or server that has an available PCIe x16 slot. This card has a built in PEX PCIe switch chip, so your motherboard does not need to support bifurcation. This card can essentially be installed and used in any system with a free x16 slot.

This card is also available under the PART# SI-PEX40152.

In this post I’ll be reviewing the IOCREST IO-PEX40152, providing information on how to buy, benchmarks, installation, configuration and more! I’ve also posted tons of pics for your viewing pleasure. I installed this card in an HPE DL360p Gen8 server to add NVME capabilities to create an NVMe based Storage Server.

We’ll be using and reviewing this card populated with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 PCIe NVMe SSD, you can see the review on those SSD’s individually here.

Picture of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe Card loaded with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 2TB NVMe SSD
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe Card loaded with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 2TB NVMe SSD

Why and How I purchased the card

Originally I purchased this card for a couple of special and interesting projects I’m working on for the blog and my homelab. I needed a card that provided high density NVME flash storage, but didn’t require bifurcation as I planned on using it on a motherboard that didn’t support 4/4/4/4 bifurcation.

By choosing this specific card, I could also use it in any other system that had an available x16 PCIe slot.

I considered many other cards (such as some from SuperMicro and Intel), but in the end chose this one as it seemed most likely to work for my application. The choices from SuperMicro and Intel looked like they are designed to be use on their own systems.

I purchased the IO-PEX40152 from the IOCREST AliExpress store (after verifying it was their genuine online store) and they had the most cost-effective price out of the 4 sources.

They shipped the card with FedEx International Priority, so I received it within a week. Super fast shipping and it was packed perfectly!

Picture of the IOCREST IO-PEX40152 box
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 Box

Where to buy the IO-PEX40152

I found 3 different sources to purchase the IO-PEX40152 from:

  1. IOCREST AliExpress Store – https://www.aliexpress.com/i/4000359673743.html
  2. Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/IO-CREST-Non-RAID-Bifurcation-Controller/dp/B083GLR3WL/
  3. Syba USA – Through their network of resellers or distributors at https://www.sybausa.com/index.php?route=information/wheretobuy

Note that Syba USA is selling the IO-PEX40152 as the SI-PEX40152. The card I actually received has branding that identifies it both as an IO-PEX40152 and an SI-PEX40152.

As I mentioned above, I purchased it from the IOCREST AliExpress Online Store for around $299.00USD. From Amazon, the card was around $317.65USD.

IO-PEX40152 Specifications

Now let’s talk about the technical specifications of the card.

Picture of the IOCREST IO-PEX40152 Side Shot with cover on
IO-PEX40152 Side Shot

According to the packaging, the IO-PEX40152 features the following:

  • Installation in a PCIe x16 slot
  • Supports PCIe 3.1, 3.0, 2.0
  • Compliant with PCI Express M.2 specification 1.0, 1.2
  • Supports data transfer up to 2.5Gb (250MB/sec), 5Gb (500MB/sec), 8Gb (1GB/sec)
  • Supports 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 size NGFF SSD
  • Supports four (4) NGFF M.2 M Key sockets
  • 4 screw holes 2230/2242/2260/2280 available to fix NGFF SSD card
  • 4 screw holes available to fix PCB board to heatsink
  • Supports Windows 10 (and 7, 8, 8.1)
  • Supports Windows Server 2019 (and 2008, 2012, 2016)
  • Supports Linux (Kernel version 4.6.4 or above)

While this list of features and specs are listed on the website and packaging, I’m not sure how accurate some of these statements are (in a good way), I’ll cover that more later in the post.

What’s included in the packaging?

  • 1 x IO-PEX40152 PCIe x 16 to 4 x M.2(M-Key) card
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x M.2 Mounting material
  • 1 x Screwdriver
  • 5 x self-adhesive thermal pad

They also note that contents may vary depending on country and market.

Unboxing, Installation, and Configuration

As menitoned above, our build includes:

  • 1 x IOCREST IO-PEX40152
  • 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe PCIe NVMe SSD
Picture of IO-PEX40152 Unboxing with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD
IO-PEX40152 Unboxing with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD
Picture of IO-PEX40152 with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD
Picture of IO-PEX40152 with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD

You’ll notice it’s a very sleek looking card. The heatsink is beefy, heavy, and very metal (duh)! The card is printed on a nice black PCB.

Removing the 4 screws to release the heatsink, we see the card and thermal paste pads. You’ll notice the PCIe switch chip.

Picture of the front side of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 Frontside of card

And the backside of the card.

Picture of the back side of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 Backside of card

NVMe Installation

I start to install the Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD.

Picture of a IO-PEX40152 with 2 SSD populated
IO-PEX40152 with 2 SSD populated
Picture of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe Card loaded with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 2TB NVMe SSD
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe Card loaded with 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 2TB NVMe SSD

That’s a good looking 8TB of NVMe SSD!

Note that the cards will wiggle side to side and have play until screw is tightened. Do not over-tighten the screw!

Make sure before installing the heatsink cover that you remove the blue plastic film on the heat transfer material between NVME and heatsink, and the PEX chip and heatsink.

After that, I installed it in the server and was ready to go!

Heatsink and cooling

A quick note on the heatsink and cooling…

While the heatsink and cooling solution it comes with works amazing, you have flexibility if need be to run and operate the card without the heatsink and fan (the fan doesn’t cause any warnings if disconnected). This works out great if you want to use your own cooling solution, or need to use this card in a system where there isn’t much space. The fan can be removed by removing the screws and disconnecting the power connector.

Note, after installing the NVME SSD, and you affix the heatsink, in the future you will notice that the heatsink get’s stuck to the cards if you try to remove it at a later date. If you do need to remove the heatsink, be very patient and careful, and slowly remove the heatsink to avoid damaging or cracking the NVME SSD and the PCIe card itself.

Speedtest and benchmark

Let’s get to one of the best parts of this review, using the card!

Unfortunately due to circumstances I won’t get in to, I only had access to a rack server to test the card. The server was running VMware vSphere and ESXi 6.5 U3.

After shutting down the server, installing the card, and powering on, you could see the NVMe SSD appearing as available to PCI Passthrough to the VMs. I enabled passthrough and restarted again. I then added the individual 4 NVME drives as PCI passthrough devices to the VM.

Picture of IOCREST IO-PEX40152 passthrough with NVMe to VMware guest VM
IO-PEX40152 PCI Passthrough on VMware vSphere and ESXi

Turning on the system, we are presented with the NVMe drives inside of the “Device Manager” on Windows Server 2016.

A screenshot of an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 presenting 4 Sabrent NVME to Windows Server 2016
IOCREST IO-PEX40152 presenting 4 Sabrent NVME to Windows Server 2016

Now that was easy! Everything’s working perfectly…

Now we need to go in to disk manager and create some volumes for some quick speed tests and benchmarks.

A screenshot of Windows Server 2016 Disk Manager with IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD
Windows Server 2016 Disk Manager with IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD

Again, no problems and very quick!

Let’s load up CrystalDiskMark and test the speed and IOPS!

Screenshot of CrystalDiskMark testing an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD for speed
CrystalDiskMark testing an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD
Screenshot of CrystalDiskMark testing IOPS on an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD
CrystalDiskMark testing IOPS on an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 and Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD

What’s interesting is that I was able to achieve much higher speeds using this card in an older system, than directly installing one of the SSDs in a new HP Z240 workstation. However, unfortunately due to CPU limitations (maxing the CPU out) of this server used above, I could not fully test, max out, or benchmark the IOPS on an individual SSD.

Additional Notes on the IO-PEX40152

Some additional notes I have on the IO-PEX40152:

The card works perfectly with VMware ESXi PCI passthrough when passing it through to a virtualized VM.

The card according to the specifications states a data transfer up to 1GB/sec, however I achieved over 3GB/sec using the Sabrent Rocket 4 NVME SSD.

While the specifications and features state it supports NVME spec 1.0 and 1.1, I don’t see why it wouldn’t support the newer specifications as it’s simply a PCIe switch which NVMe slots.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic card that you can use reliably if you have a system with a free x16 slot. Because of the fact it has a built in PCIe switch and doesn’t require PCIe bifurcation, you can confidently use it knowing it will work.

I’m looking forward to buying a couple more of these for some special applications and projects I have lined up, stay tuned for those!

  26 Responses to “IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe x16 to Quad M.2 NVMe PEX Switch PCIe Card Review”

  1. […] After around a month of research I finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase a quantity of 4 x Sabrent Rocket 4 NVMe 2TB SSD. For future projects I’ll be using these in an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 NVME PCIe card. […]

  2. […] after all that research I mentioned above, I installed an IOCREST IO-PEX40152 inside of an HPE Proliant DL360p Gen8 to add NVMe capabilities to the […]

  3. […] 1 x IOCREST IO-PEX40152 PCIe to Quad NVMe […]

  4. Few weeks ago I messaged you about this adapter.
    Your assistance helped me order. I’m very happy with my purchase!

    I installed it and it’s working like a charm.
    I have 1 x 1TB Samsung Evo NVMe and 1 x ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB. Speed is rock solid!

    I was able to boot from Samsung 950 Pro NVMe 512GB on my P9X79-E WS Motherboard.
    Eventually moved the boot SSD on my older PCI-E adapter – AngelBird WINGS PX1 and now I have all 4 M.2 slots available just for storage devices!

    I’m happy with my purchase.
    Great choice!

  5. I just wanted to say Thank You, Stephen!
    I appreciate your help and advice. I’m a happy camper now with the 4 PCI-E to M.2 adapter.

  6. Hi Georgi,

    I’m glad to hear it’s working out for you! It’s an awesome little card…

    Enjoy!
    Stephen

  7. “Supports data transfer up to 2.5Gb (250MB/sec), 5Gb (500MB/sec), 8Gb (1GB/sec)” is this the difference between PCIe 2.0, 3.0, 3.1?

  8. Hey, any issues with this card?

    Im getting PSOD on ESXi and kernel panics on Proxmox. Seems to be once 3 drives are installed, can’t get the system to detect all 4.

    I’ve tried mixture of Kingston and WD drives but no success.

  9. Hey Steve,

    I’m actually not. I’ve achieved uptimes of over 30 days on the server it’s inside but haven’t had it up continuously longer. How often does it PSOD? What’s the error?

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  10. Steve:

    When VMware upgraded ESXi to 7.x some of the NVMe adapters were no longer assessable. Do you know if the SI-PEX40152 / IO-PEX40152 adapter is still compatible with ESXi 7.x ?

    I would like to use this card in an ASUS Z10PA-D8 motherboard. One feature of this motherboard is the pairing of PCIe slots. The x16 slot will become an X8 slot if both paired slots are populated. In this situation I am concerned that the IOCREST adapter will quit functioning.

    Have a nice day
    Stanley E Williams

  11. Hi Stanley,

    The IO-PEX40152 should work with any OS that supports NVMe as it doesn’t require a driver (it’s just a PCIe card with a PCIe switch that outputs to 4 x NVMe m.2 card slots).

    Right now, I have the IO-PEX40152 installed in a 16x slot that only supports 8x and it’s working great! All PCIe cards are backwards compatible to smaller bus sizes and older versions, they will just operate at a slower speed (8x instead of 16x).

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  12. […] IOCREST IO-PEX40152 Quad NVMe m.2 to PCIe 16x Card […]

  13. Stanley,

    For what it’s worth I just bought the exact same card from the same store and installed 2 Samsung 980 pro 1TB(at 160$ a piece I had to buy it).
    And… I am having trouble passing through the NVME’s. I am only able to passthrough one of the NVME.
    I am using ESXI 7.0.
    I can recognize both of the drives in the PCI Devices window, but the problematic NVME is just stuck on Enabled/Needs reboot. I of course rebooted endless times to no avail. Both NVME are updated to latest firmware.
    Next I am going to try putting them on a different PCIE slot. Right now they are sitting in a Gen 3 X16 slot.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  14. Just wanted to update that I was able to fix the issue when moving to a different PCIE slot.
    Tho it is an X8 slot in comparison with the x16 slot that didn’t work with this card.
    I don’t know who is to blame, the card, my motherboard or ESXI. Since it is an old board ill just give it a pass and move on.

  15. Great post, in my locality, a slightly different card was available – SI-PEX40129
    https://www.sybausa.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=992

    Do you see any red flags in using SI-PEX40129 instead of IO-PEX40152

  16. Hi Alex,

    They are the same family of cards, only the one you linked only supports 2 (dual) NVMe, instead of 4 (Quad).

    Cheers
    Stephen

  17. If anyone is still interested in deploying those cards in an ESXI environment, I was able to “fix” the issue with passthrough not working.
    It really bothered me that I can only make it work in the X8 PCIE slot, because that means slower speeds when you utilize 4 nvme’s.
    I tried to switch the positions of those 2 nvme’s on the card itself. I figured, nothing to lose except some down time for my host….. and lo and behold IT WORKS. lol.
    To be more precise I moved them to the bottom 2 slots, those that are closest to the PCIE slot.

    Good luck.

  18. Anyone able to tell me what I’m doing wrong? I installed the SI-PEX40152 loaded with one NVMe drive to test, but Win10 device manager says the Standard NVM Express Controller has “This device cannot start. (Code 10)” Hardware error? NVME driver is standard vanilla & v=10.0.19041.844 … My MB’s single native NVMe slot is working fine, if that helps to know.

  19. Hi Raymond,

    Have you tried using a different slow on the IOCREST card? I saw a post from someone else mentioning changing it worked.

    I’m starting to wonder if the card isn’t fully populated, if the slots have to be populated in a certain order.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  20. Hi Stephen,

    My only other available slots on this machine are X1. I tried one a week or so ago and I don’t recall it perfectly but I don’t think it changed anything for the better. I’ll try populating the single stick to different positions, thanks.

    BR,
    -Raymond

  21. Hi Stephen,

    Well… happy revelation. It was the stick, not the card. I found this out by trying your idea of the slots having “to be populated in a certain order”.

    This one stick failed in every slot.

    Not to give up too easily, I bought more NVME sticks and had all four slots populated… one with the old and three with the new. Voila: three drives asking to be initialized in Disk Management, and one of the four new NVME controller entries in Device Manager had the same old error message. Took out the old stick and left in the 3 new… confirmation! All good.

    Thanks for your ideas, they helped my thoughts explore things more than I might have.

    VBR,
    -Raymond

  22. Hey Raymond,

    Glad to hear it’s working and you’re all sorted out! These cards are awesome, I hope you enjoy yours!

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  23. Does anyone know if the cheaper IO-PCE34M2-01 works on DL380 Gen9 servers? Apparently gen 9 servers support bifurcation.

  24. where can download the software and new firmware for this product.

    Mine came with nothing except the card.

  25. Hi Aadie,

    There is no software or firmware for this card. It’s not needed and works out of the box.

    The card doesn’t have any firmware as it only has a PCIe switch chip.

  26. Thank you so much Stephen. This post and all related posts really helped me decide. Thanks to you I now know that I don’t need a sophisticated PCIe with a switch chip. Even though my DL380p Gen8 does not support bifurcation, I only need a signle m.2 drive right now, and therefore an adapter with a sigle slot will do me great for the time being. These seem to be very cheap, as they don’t have the PCIe switch. But if I ever need several m.2 drives, at least I know what I need and that it’s doable. I hope that whatever card I end up buying don’t ramp up my fans!

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