Faster, cheaper storage is heading to the Raspberry Pi 5 with Pimoroni's NVMe Base

Pimoroni NVMe Base
(Image credit: Pimoroni)

Pimoroni has officially announced its latest Raspberry Pi 5 peripheral. The NVMe Base is an NVMe SSD board that promises to bring large capacity, fast and cheap storage to our favorite single-board computer.

Pimoroni's NVMe Base for the Raspberry Pi 5 is not a HAT, so it probably won't make it onto the best Raspberry Pi HATs list. But it is a candidate for our best Raspberry Pi accessories list. The board mounts to the underside of the Raspberry Pi 5, using standoffs to distance the SSD from the Raspberry Pi 5. A flat flex cable connects the PCIe of the Pi 5 to the board, providing power and data. Additional power, for more power-hungry boards, can be fed via a supplementary power connector. 

The NVMe Base is a monochrome PCB, with just a splash of color from the onboard components. The PCIe extension board is designed for M-key NVMe SSDs between 2230 and 2280. Officially operating at around 300 to 400 MB/s (PCIe Gen 2 speeds), you can push the board to provide 600-800MB/s (PCIe Gen 3) with just a few tweaks to the /boot/config.txt file (something we are currently testing with Pineberry Pi boards). Previously, adding NVMe storage required a USB 3-to-NVMe adapter, a bottleneck for some of the best SSDs. The PCIe x1 connection won't afford us the entire bandwidth available for NVMe, but it will deliver a faster solid-state boot drive than even the best microSD card for Raspberry Pi.

Unless you have been living under a rock (if so welcome back to the world) the Raspberry Pi 5 was announced in late September 2023. This was to much surprise as Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton claimed that we wouldn't see a new Pi until 2024. The Raspberry Pi 5 brought a new PCIe connector to the form factor, something which the community has already hacked to connect GPUs, and Pineberry Pi has made two SSD HATs. 

Pimoroni's NVMe Base is coming soon for £13.50, or about $13 when you remove the UK's VAT. We will have a full review for you as soon as we get one and test it.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".