Expansion Card as boot drive and M.2 as storage?

I’m thinking of eventually running the Framework mainboard as a sudo-server. Obviously there is no way to utilize other large form SSDs outside of the single M.2 slot, let alone configure anything in RAID. That being said, would utilizing a 250GB expansion card as the boot drive leave my M.2 slot open for higher capacity storage that lends itself better for bulk storage? I’m not terribly worried about performance, as this is just me looking for a way to reuse my mainboard later down the line and attempting to save money on a server.


I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

There’s also this:


which gives you 5 SATA ports off the M.2 slot. I see they also have a 2-port SATA M.2 2242 adapter now, you’d have to use this with an adapter: m.2 NGFF NVMe SSD 2242 2260 2280 Length Extension Adapters 3 Pack - modDIY.com

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Hi @mungussh,

Yes, you can use a 250GB expansion card as a boot drive – I do that instead of dual-booting. I run Windows on my SSD and have Ubuntu installed on my 250GB expansion card. When I want to boot into Ubuntu, I plug in the card and then choose it from the boot menu. From within Ubuntu I can see the main M.2 SSD and interact with it if desired.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the performance was very good running from the card. It doesn’t feel noticeably slower than the SSD except when working with large files.

I use LUKS encryption on the expansion card (just in case I should lose it). It was a little tricky to set up, but seems to be working well so far.

I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I do have it working, so if you have more questions I’m happy to try to help. :slight_smile:



@Fraoch I’ve looked at adapters like those but I’m not 100% sure that’ll work just because there are no SATA controllers on the mainboard. Plus there’d be no way to utilize RAID unless there’s a software (not sure that’d work either).

The controller chip is a JMicron JMB585.

This is a PCIe 3.0 x2 to SATA III bridge controller. It speaks PCIe on one side and SATA III on the other, literally converting the signals but also acting as a port multiplier. It’s a PCIe drive controller and would behave the same as a PCIe card you’d plug into a PCIe slot on a motherboard where you want extra ports.

It shouldn’t matter that the motherboard doesn’t support SATA, the drive controller creates the ports for the system.

I have not personally tried it out, but this sort of usage is exactly what it’s designed for.

The only downside is that the PCB is thin and flimsy - the cable tension is enough to bend it. The 2-port card would be better because it’s not as long.

Anyway, just an option to consider.

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You could do that or use the m.2 as the boot drive and just stuff the mainboard in an enclosure and hookup an enclosure to the TB ports, they have more than enough bandwidth for a media server and multiple drives

Link to Newegg search results


Thunderbolt enclosures will be speedy but will just as quickly drain your wallet. USB enclosures (especially the 20Gbps ones) will be much cheaper but will be nearly as fast, certainly you won’t notice the difference for many tasks as the bandwidth of USB is much grater than SATA III (6Gbps/20Gbps)

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