No drives found when installing Windows 10 on new NVME drive.

No drives found when installing Windows 10 on new NVME drive.

I have a nice MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard with my shiny new Intel 12th gen i9-12900k processor. Recently, I tried to upgrade my 1TB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 with a 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2; but ran into a hitch. When I booted from the Windows 10 installation USB, the NVME drive would not show up in the list of drives for installation. Running Windows repair tools didn’t help.

The process I used was to first use the Windows installation media creator to make a bootable Windows 10 installation USB. Then, I turned off the PC and replaced my 1TB drive with the blank 2TB drive. When I booted off the USB device and tried to install Windows 10, Windows setup claimed it could not find any drives:

Hmmm. I tried running the installer repair tools – but it would give a unhelpful errors and no drives would appear. Even though I had 1 NVME drive and a standard old SATA drive as well.

I read around a bit and found something helpful from Majekk who also saw his NVME drives disappear.

This is probably because you have Intel Rapid Storage Technology enabled. If yes, I would suggest keep using it, because it will let you get as much performance as possible, from you NVMe drives, on Windows 11. You need to run W11 installer (with VMD enabled) and the load Intel drivers. It will make your M.2 drive appear in the Windows installer. https://download.msi.com/dvr_exe/mb/intel_rst_19.0.zip Remember that the drive will never be visible in BIOS when using VMD. It is normal.

If you rather don’t want to use VMD (not recommended) – disable the Intel Rapid Storage (or Intel RAID – don’t remember how it’s called in BIOS).

When I went into BIOS, I noticed VMD (RAID) was indeed enabled in my BIOS because I had a set of RAID 5 drives on my previous installation. For an experiment, I turned off VMD (RAID), booted from my Win10 USB install key and sure enough I could see my NVME and other drives during Windows installation. If I turned VMD back on, the drives would disappear.

So, the solution came from something I should have realized earlier. The Windows 10 installer (and apparently Windows 11) didn’t know about my fancy Z690 chipset and drivers – I needed to download and unzip the Intel Raid storage controller drivers on my Windows installation USB and then manually load those drivers at the drive selection page.

So, here’s the two solutions (but solution 1 is best)

Solution 1: with RAID support

  1. Create your USB Windows 10 install stick.
  2. Download and unzip the MSI Intel RAID storage controller drivers onto the USB stick you created in step 1. https://download.msi.com/dvr_exe/mb/intel_rst_19.0.zip
  3. Turn the system off and install the NVME M.2 drive
  4. Boot to BIOS, turn VMD (RAID) on
  5. Save BIOS settings and boot off the Win10 install USB stick
  6. When you get to the drive selection, there will be no drives. Click the ‘Load Driver’ button.
    • Browse to the USB stick, select the directory where you unzipped the Intel RST drivers. Be sure to point to the proper sub-directory with the floppy version of the driver files: <unzip root>\VMD\f6vmdflpy-x64\
    • You should see at least two Intel devices listed. You don’t need to select anything, just hit ok and Windows will load the drivers
  7. You’ll be returned to the drive selection page and you should see your NVME, RAID, and other drives listed!
  8. Pick the boot drive you want to install too, and hit OK.
  9. Windows 10 will install and you should boot normally after that. You should see all your drives – including any RAID sets you already had.
  10. Be sure to run Windows Update and download/install the latest Intel RAID drivers.

Solution 2: No RAID without complete reinstall

  1. Create the USB Windows 10 installation stick.
  2. Turn the system off and install the NVME M.2 drive.
  3. Boot into BIOS, and turn VMD (RAID) off
  4. Reboot from the windows installer USB stick.
  5. Install Windows like normal. Turning off VMD will let you see all your attached drives during the installation phase (all but any RAID drives) and install Win10 on any of them.
  6. You will not be able to use hardware RAID of your motherboard unless you completely re-install Windows. If you turn VMD/RAID on later, the system will ‘lose’ the NVME drive and refuse to boot. If you set it up with the RAID controllers, then the Windows bootloader apparently makes sure the drivers for the VMD device are always loaded. This is why it’s recommended to use solution 1, because it lets you use RAID later if you want.

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