Booting From USB SSD

A project log for Raspberry Pi 400 Daily Driver

Learning to use a Raspberry Pi 400 laptop as an everyday computer and sharing the results.

DustinDustin 12/02/2021 at 03:270 Comments

Today my Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA adapter came in and I finally got to boot my Pi 400 from an SSD for the first time. First time I've ever booted a Pi from anything other than a flash drive or SD card. I got sick of the flash drive being so slow that it nearly made the OS unusable. I chose the adapter based on a brand I recognize and the fact that it's the smallest I could find. I was able to cram it, a case-free SSD board, and most of it's extra cable neatly inside the Pidock 400 case. The Pi sits up just a little bit higher than it used to, but I should be able to correct that. It doesn't interfere with typing, so I don't mind.

The speed difference was immediately apparent when I started using the OS to do some bench marking of the various drives I have. I will post the results in the next log. The old 256GB Samsung SSD I'm currently running from beat out my old boot flash drive by quite a lot. It's about 4.8 times faster on the read, which makes an incredible difference. I will eventually get a larger capacity and faster drive, but I suspect I will eventually reach the limits of the Pi at some point.

Initial impressions tell me that this was well worth the $12 or so I spent on the adapter. I love Pop!_OS on the Pi 400, but it was incredibly slow. Even running from my fastest USB 3.0 flash drive. I have to give credit to Raspberry Pi OS for running far faster from an even slower micro SD card. Pop is just a far slower OS on this machine. However, booting from an SSD has made it plenty fast enough for daily use. The SSD and adapter are inside the dock, and out of the way. It almost looks like it's meant to be there. The blower fan I bought won't fit into the dock, but the SSD and adapter do, which is more important to me anyway. I used to dread having to open new programs on here, but no longer.I highly recommend this upgrade for anyone looking to use a Pi 40 or Pi 400 as a daily driver. USB flash drives just can't compete, overheat faster, and end up being far more expensive. Even the oldest, slowest SSD is likely to be faster than the fastest flash drive.

I have benchmark results from all of the drives I have boot from since starting this project and will try to post a detailed report of my findings tomorrow. This Pi 400 laptop I'm building has quickly become my favorite PC of all time, and I doubt I'll ever get rid of it. I'd love to buy a second one, but can't justify that, and things are out of stock for the most part. I will continue my quest to make the best Pi 400 daily driver I can with renewed haste and vigor.