The Raspberry Pi 5 features an updated processor that’s twice as fast as the chip in the Raspberry Pi 4. But that’s just one of many changes in the newest single-board computer from the Raspberry Pi Team.
Another is that the new board has a single-lane PCIe 2.0 connector, allowing you to add a PCIe NVMe SSD, among other things. But since the Raspberry Pi 5 itself doesn’t actually have an M.2 connector, you’ll need some additional hardware to do that. And there are a growing number of options available.
Raspberry Pi says it plans to launch its own daughter boards next year that will allow users to add M.2 SSDs.
But third-party companies have already started beating the Raspberry Pi team to the punch. A few weeks ago the folks at Pineberry Pi introduced the HatDrive! Top and Bottom line of Raspberry Pi 5 add-on boards that give the little computer support for PCIe NVMe SSDs. The top board supports M.2 2232/2242 cards and sells for €20 ($22), while the bottom board is a €26 ($28) model with support for up to an M.2 2280 SSD.
Now Pimoroni has unveiled an NVMe Base that’s a cheaper option, at just over $14. It’s not available yet, but Pimoroni says the base is “coming soon,” and customers can sign up to be notified when it’s available.
This board is designed to be mounted to the bottom of a Raspberry Pi 5 and connects to the computer via a flex cable. It supports M.2 2232, 2242, and 2280 SSDs with speeds up to 800MB/s thanks to support for PCIe 3.0… even though the Raspberry Pi 5 only officially supports PCIe 2.0, which Pimoroni notes delivers about half the speed.
Either way, adding an NVMe SSD should bring read/write speeds that are much higher than you’d get from a microSD card, as well as support for drives up to 4TB.
As Tom’s Hardware points out though, you won’t get PCIe 3.0 speeds out of the box, but it can be enabled by making changes to the /boot/config.txt file on the computer.