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Turbocharge Raspberry Pi 400 with an M.2 SATA SSD drive

Learn how to use a super-fast M.2 SSD to increase storage speeds and how to change the boot order in Raspberry Pi OS.

The outcome was a tenfold boost in Storage speed, resulting in overall speedier performance. Apps load faster, and internet browsing is dramatically improved. Working with huge, demanding items like video, enormous photo photos, and big data files is also a breeze with M.2 SATA.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is the company's most recent offering and our favorite all-in-one computer.

Turbocharge Raspberry Pi 400 with an M.2 SATA SSD drive

"The microSD card is ejected from the Raspberry Pi 400 here so that the boot from the USB 3.0 disc is not overridden. You can boot from the M.2 disc with the microSD card installed by changing the default boot order."

"The M.2 drive is housed inside this enclosure and is linked directly to the Raspberry Pi 400's blue USB 3.0 connector."

As a result, we set out to find a Raspberry Pi 400 compatible solution. It turns out that upgrading a Raspberry Pi 400, in the same way, is simply because of the USB 3.0 ports on the back and recent default support for USB boot.

All you need is an M.2 SATA disc and an M.2 SATA to USB 3.0 enclosure that is compatible. Connect the two and connect the device to the Raspberry Pi 400, then copy the operating system across and you're ready to start.

 01 put together the drive

We begin by putting together the M.2 drive enclosure. The TSCM42S M.2 SATA to USB 3.1 SSD Enclosure Kit includes a SATA III to USB board on which the M.2 SSD is attached. Insert the SATA III interface and carefully put the M.2 SSD into the socket. The M.2 SSD is then secured in place with a single screw. We utilize the enclosure to confine the M.2 SSD drive once it is attached to the board. Depending on whatever M.2 drive and enclosure you pick, the assembly method will vary, but most will follow a similar pattern.

02 Configure the drive

If you wish to install a fresh copy of the Raspberry Pi OS on the M.2 SSD drive, utilize Raspberry Pi Imager (magpi.cc/imager) to do so. This may be done on any computer, even a Raspberry Pi that is powered by a microSD card. After installing your fresh installation, see the 'Using Imager' box (overleaf) and proceed to Step 4.

Another alternative is to boot from the microSD card and clone the current operating system to the M.2 SSD disc. Make sure your MicroSD card is running the most recent version of Raspberry Pi OS before booting Raspberry Pi 400 from the microSD card.

sudo apt update

sudo apt full-upgrade

03 Make a copy of the drive

Connect one of the two blue USB 3.0 ports to the M.2 drive. Select Accessories and SD Card Copier from the Raspberry Pi menu. In Copy from Device, choose the microSD card; ours is labeled 'SC16G (/dev/mmcblk0)'. Select the M.2 drive in Copy to Device. It should be mounted on /dev/sda because that is the only other choice.

Make sure that New Partition UUIDs are checked (this will enable you to mount and access both devices at the same time). To begin the copying operation, choose Start and Yes from the 'delete all content' warning box.

04 Switch to M.2 mode

You may use the M.2 drive to boot and run your Raspberry Pi 400 after SD Card Copier has completed replicating the contents of the microSD card to it. Shut down your Raspberry Pi (from the Raspberry Pi apps menu, choose Shutdown> Shutdown). Remove the microSD card from the Raspberry Pi since it takes precedence over the external M.2 disc when it comes to booting. To restart Raspberry Pi 400, press the FN and Power (F10) keys together. The M.2 drive will be used to boot and run the program.

When you use the M.2 drive instead of the microSD card, you should notice a performance boost.

05 GNOME Disks Installation

When you use the M.2 drive instead of the microSD card, you should notice a performance boost. It will be significantly faster to open apps and browse the internet. GNOME Disks may be used to test the M.2 drive and obtain extensive information about its performance. Install it with the help of a Terminal window.
sudo apt update
sudo apt install gnome-disk-utility
To access GNOME Disks, go to the Raspberry Pi apps menu and select Accessories > Disks

Using Rpi-Imager

If you'd rather start from scratch with the Raspberry Pi OS, you may use Raspberry Pi Imager instead of an SD Card Copier. This software will download the most recent version of Raspberry Pi OS, format your hard disc, and install the operating system on your Raspberry Pi (all at the click of a button). Install Raspberry Pi Imager with Terminal after booting up Raspberry Pi OS with the microSD card. 
sudo apt update
sudo apt install rpi-imager
To run the software, go to the Raspberry Pi apps menu > Accessories > Imager.

Select 'Raspberry Pi OS (32-bit)' from the 'Choose OS' menu.

Next, pick your external M.2 drive from the SD Card menu by clicking on 'Choose SD Card'.

To download the operating system and write a fresh installation to the M.2 disc, select 'Write'.

06 Drive a speedometer

Select the rootfs partition and choose Benchmark Partition from the 'Additional partition options' icon (shaped like two cogs). 

To test the drive, click Start Benchmark and Start Benchmarking. The average read rate is 382.4 megabytes per second (much faster than our microSD card). To do a comparison test, insert the microSD card and choose it in GNOME Disks. In comparison, we only receive 44.9MB/s.

Swap boot orders in 07

The Raspberry Pi 400 may now be used with the M.2 drive connected and the microSD card removed (as it will boot from the M.2 drive). When you insert a microSD card, the Raspberry Pi 400's EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) prioritizes the microSD card above USB. The option to prioritize USB boot over microSD boot is now just a few clicks away, thanks to a recent update to raspi-config. Enter the following commands in Terminal. 
sudo raspi-config
Select Advanced Options and Boot Order using the arrow keys, then 'B2 USB Boot'. 'USB is the default boot device,' says the screen. Choose Finish and then Yes to 'Would you prefer to reboot now?' by pressing ENTER.

When the Raspberry Pi reboots, it will boot from the M.2 SDD that is attached to the USB port (even if the microSD card is inserted). The M.2 SSD drive may now be used as the default on your Raspberry Pi 400.

Swap boot orders in 07

In raspi-config, you may now choose to prioritise USB over microSD. You'll want to alter the EEPROM settings if you want to examine what's going on beneath the hood (or customise your own boot mode).

The current EEPROM setup may be viewed here:
This works in the same way as the config.txt file. The final choice will be


The command '0xf41' indicates to attempt the SD card first, then USB mass storage, and finally restart. After '0x,' the values are read from right to left.

A new pair of boots has been ordered.

The BOOT ORDER variable should be changed to '0xf14'. If neither is identified, this will boot from the USB device '4', then the microSD card '1', followed by a restart 'f'. Enter the following in Terminal to open the boot.conf file in your text editor (the default is Nano, which we're using here) and change it to apply the adjustments to the newest EEPROM release.
sudo -E rpi-eeprom-config --edit 
Change ‘BOOT_ORDER=0xf41’ to:


To write the file and exit Nano, use CTRL+O and then CTRL+X. (or save and quit in your preferred text editor). 'EEPROM update waiting' will be shown on the terminal. To apply the update, please restart your computer.' To apply the update, restart your Raspberry Pi.
sudo reboot

The BOOT ORDER attribute specifies the order in which the various boot modes are activated. It is read from right to left and can have up to eight digits. '0xf41' is the default setting. This setting is SD CARD, USB-MSD, then RESTART, read from right to left.

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