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And then I saw the Geekworm X1004 Dual 2280 NVMe SSD shield. Available from AliExpress for $43, this little board is one of the more expensive options to date. But it offers a few things that most competitors lack: support for M.2 2280 SSDs (and not just M.2 2242 or smaller), and support for using up to two SSDs at once. It still might not be a great choice for everyone who wants to use an SSD with a Raspberry Pi 5 though.
The biggest drawback is that while you can use the X1004 to add high-speed storage to a Raspberry Pi 5, it’s designed for use as extra storage, not primary storage. You can’t currently boot from an NVMe SSD when using this add-on board.
Geekworm does make a point of saying that you can’t boot “with the existing firmware,” which suggests that it’s possible a future firmware update could theoretically allow you to install an bootable operating system to a solid state drive. But for now that appears to be a no go.
Another thing to note is that you’ll need to pay attention to power consumption when selecting SSDs. The board can supply up to 3.5A per SSDs, but no more than that. Since the board is designed to sit on top of a Raspberry Pi and draw power from the little computer’s 40-pin GPIO connector.
The X1004 board is only compatible with NVMe SSDs and will not work with SATA SSDs.
But once you get past those limitations, the board has a few things going for it including support for up to two 4TB SSDs (for a total of 8TB of storage), support for 5 Gbps speeds when using PCIe 2.0 drives or 8 Gbps when using PCIe 3.0, LED indicator lights to show drive status, and support for Raspberry Pi’s HAT + Standby power states, which means the board will automatically shut down when a Raspberry Pi 5 is powered off.
Geekworm also offers a few optional accessories including a Raspberry Pi heat sink + fan that can fit under the X1004 and a 27W power supply. A bundle with both accessories sells for $60.