mSATA USB Sticks
Since the M.2 NVME form factor has won the high performance solid state drive war many of you may be stuck with older micro SATA (mSATA) drives. These still have a very awesome use that will only cost you a few bucks to take advantage of. A blistering USB flash drive can be created out of them instead of throwing them away!
These are full blown SSDs and their performance blows a regular USB flash drive out of the water. They support the trim command and show up as “fixed disks” instead or removable storage. This means they support premium features such as very large and fast caches built into the drive that normal removable drives don’t have (that type of cache is expensive!).
This allows you to do all sorts of awesome things on them. Some examples: Windows to Go, Fast Portable Linux, Virtual Machine storage, etc. You can also just use it as a really fast drive to transfer files back and forth with your friends while looking like a total techie badass.
Exhibit A – USB 3.0 SSD mSATA “Flash” Drive
Any mSATA SSD (Transcend 128GB mSATA III SSD* used in this build)
Build with pictures:
Exhibit B – Enclosed USB 3.0 SSD mSATA “Flash” Drive
If you want more protection for your drive or want a more finished look to it you can use a enclosure. These are only slightly more but will add little bit of bulk. In exchange you get a much more finished look and far better protection:
The VL716 mSATA enclosure lets you connect micro SATA drives to the Pi. These drives are an older type of SSD (usually seen in laptops) predating the M.2 slot but are still widely available and perform extremely well!
Links: AliExpress.com*, Amazon.ae*, Amazon.ca*, Amazon.com*, Amazon.com.au*, Amazon.com.mx*, Amazon.co.jp*, Amazon.co.uk*, Amazon.de*, Amazon.es*, Amazon.fr*, Amazon.in*, Amazon.it*, Amazon.nl*, Amazon.pl*, Amazon.sa*, Amazon.se*, Amazon.sg*
How To Get
These are widely available for dirt cheap on eBay if you use the right search terms like this*. You can get really big sizes for far cheaper than you could buy in any other type of SSD because these are largely obsolete. They’re no longer used in newer PCs which makes them perfect for this use!
Verifying Performance (Optional)
Once you have built your drive run my Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmark and compare your drive with other similar drives in the mSATA section to make sure you are getting the correct performance. They can be extremely fast!
USB Booting with Raspberry Pi 4 (Optional)
These are a great compact option for a fast operating system drive for the Raspberry Pi 4. If you’re looking for a guide on how to do this check out my Raspberry Pi 4 USB Mass Storage Device Boot Guide.
Despite mSATA falling out of favor these drives still far outperform any USB flash drive you will come across. They absolutely destroy my SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Solid State “Stick-Like” drive*.
The advantages of these drives being classified as “fixed disks” enable many performance enhancements that are not applied to traditional “removable storage”. These include write-caching, trim, dedicated memory buffers, and many more! Build your own supercharged portable SSD today with yesterdays technology!
Check out my 2020 roundup of the fastest storage devices on the planet here to learn more about potential storage and drive options!