Overcoming the M.2 2230 size limitation

The announcement of the Framework Laptop 16 having just one instead of two M.2 2280 connectors has been bugging me, because my SSD of choice is only avaible in the 2280 form factor. Those of you interested in my choice can read about it in the backstory provided here as a detail:

Backstory of my choice of SSD

I’ve had my bad experiences with WD drives in the past, so I’m avoiding them ever since. Thus, I had to search for a replacement. As I value energy efficiency and don’t need bleeding edge read/write performance, these tests convinced me of purchasing SK Hynix Gold P31 2TB NVMe SSDs:

Gladly I managed to acquire a bunch of them at a sale last month (for ~100€ each).

So, I had to find a way to be able to use that 2280 drive in that 2230 slot. The idea of using a riser card to achieve that came to my mind immediately, but unfortunately a quick research revealed that there are only two types of NVMe riser cards available:

  1. 2230 to 2280 M.2 WiFi A.E Key To M.2 for NVME M Key SSD Riser Cards, e.g.:
    ADT-link R54SF M.2 WiFi A.E Key To M.2 for NVME M Key SSD Riser Card PCIE 4.0x1 | eBay

  2. 2280 to 2280 M.2 NVMe SSD Extension Cable Solid Drive Riser Cards, e.g.:
    M.2 NVMe SSD SSD Extension Cable M2 Supports PCI-E 3.0 x4 Full Speed 32G\bps | eBay

The first type would fit size-wise but not key-wise, the second vice versa. But looking closer at the latter, there didn’t seem to be any electronics left on the connector card behind the cable, hence it should be possible to just shorten it to make it fit the 2230 form factor.
So I ordered one from ebay to give it a try. I also ordered a safety adapter for security reasons and to be able to fasten shorter formats than a 2280, e.g.: NGFF NVME AHCI Male To Female Extension Board Adapter Card Test Protection Card | eBay
I have to apologize to the taiwanese people. To my dismay, I wasn’t able to find any offerings for any of the parts involved, that were not ‘Made in China’.

First things first, I benchmarked the drive as-is, inside the safety adapter and with the unmodified extender inside the safety adapter. The test system is an ASRock DeskMini X300 featuring a Ryzen 5 5600G processor:

Benchmark results: SK Hynix Gold P31 2TB - directly connected

Benchmark results: SK Hynix Gold P31 2TB - with safety/size-adapter

Benchmark results: SK Hynix Gold P31 2TB - safety + unmodified extender

Gladly, everything went smoothly and the benchmark results stayed within error margin. I did have to remove the hardware protection of the extender cable though, but expected having to do so anyway, due to the height limitations mentioned in this knowledgebase article: Height limitations when using double-sided SSD for Primary Storage

With all the preps done, I could finally start to shorten the extender plug to the 2230 format. Before being able to do so, I had to reposition the adhesive tape covering the 2230 mounting hole though.

I secured the soldering joints with clamps and the extender cable with a sellotape. At last, I shortened the extender connector by using pincers and a jigsaw.

You can assure yourself via the evidence photos of the cut-out part, that no electrical circuits have been harmed during this operation.

Following this, some finishing touch with a file was necessary, before the reassembling of the SSD and the final test. The position of the fastening screw in the photo below reveals, that the connector of the extender is now in the 2230 format.

The final result:

The final benchmark:

Now all that’s left for me to do is to find a cozy place for my 2280 SSD inside the Framework Laptop 16, once it has been shipped to me. If there really is no other place inside available, I’ll just place it inside the Expansion Bay Shell until further notice.

I am no hardware professional and did not consult with one, 
before attempting this project, either. 
This has been my first project of this kind, so I am sure, 
there are better ways to come to a similar or even better result. 
I call out to all knowledgeable people reading this message, 
to provide tips in their replies for those, 
who would like to attempt to replicate this project.

Most tests, including those, focus too much on power states 1 and 3 while ignoring the others.

Power states 1 and 2 are high performance power states. Power state 3 is the lowest power while still keeping the drive active. Power states 4 & 5 are even lower power, but require the drive to switch to a different power state to start retrieving data (power state 5 is the lowest power, but takes longer to exit that power state).

Desktops typically favor power state 4 while laptops typically favor power state 5 when not doing much, although the OS takes into consideration the performance of those power states when deciding what to use (so a drive with really terrible power state 5 performance will end up rarely using power state 5).

People praise the P31 for it’s great efficiency in power state 3, however in power states 4 and 5 plenty of drives are competitive with it.

Here are some graphs from Anandtech’s review of the SK Hynix P31 Gold (they refer to power state 4 as desktop and power state 5 as laptop):



The last graph shows how long it takes a drive in power state 4/5 to wake up to a higher performance power state, which matters a lot because the system takes that into consideration when deciding what power state to use.


Thanks for the insights. Even considering those, I don’t think that I’ve made a bad choice.
Nevertheless, you haven’t mentioned which one your drive of choice is…

The P31 Gold is absolutely a good choice for efficiency. I’ve seen a lot of people call it the best, however in reality it’s hard to pick which drive is the most efficient because no drive is the best across all power states.

I plan on getting an SK Hynix P41 Platinum (also sold by an SK Hynix subsidiary under the name Solidigim P44 Pro, often at a lower price) for my Framework 16.

In power state 1 the P41 Platinum seems to be the most efficient drive there is.

IDK how good the P41 Platinum is in power state 2.

In power state 3 the P41 Platinum seems to be decent for a PCIe 4.0 drive, but is about half as efficient as the P31 Gold.

In power state 4 the P41 Platinum is rated at the same power as the P31 Gold, but with slightly worse performance.

In power state 5 the P41 Platinum is rated at the same performance as the P31 Gold, but with slightly higher power consumption (which calculates to about 0.1% additional battery drain per hour that the laptop spends in power state 5).

I decided on the P41 Platinum because of its steller performance, the best efficiency in power state 1, and really good (albeit not the best) efficiency in power states 4 and 5.

The power state 3 efficiency isn’t the best, however thanks to the other power states being pretty good I expect the battery life penalty to be pretty small, which I find worth it for the amazing performance.

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You’re still hopeful that the final design can be used in a 2280 SSD.

I have used both the P31 and P41 in the Framework 13. The P31 was more of a testing situation since I had it on hand and was using it in my Thinkpad T480s, however I surmised the P41 would take advantage of the pcie4.0 in the 12th gen boards and that the power situation would be a wash. I can say that based on my experience and usage it is a wash. The P41 gets things done much quicker and drops back to idle states sooner than the P31, so my estimated times and extended battery test times while using it were easily within a small margin of error, usually favoring the P41. This could be entirely based on what I use my laptop for while on battery.

On AC the P41 smokes the P31 in everyway. This was ultimately the deciding factor for me, did I want; based on my pre purchase estimation an extra 15m of battery life at the price of crippling my performance while plugged in…the answer was for me a resounding no.

Regardless the P31 is a fantastic nvme drive and should serve the OP well.

Yep, which is why performance is important for power efficiency.

In power state 1 the P41 does consume more power than the P31 Gold, however it’s so much faster that overall it needs less power to do the same work.

Based on the rated efficiency the P31 should require 68% more energy to transfer the same amount of data, although in testing by Tom’s Hardware the difference was much smaller (but the P31 still needed more power to do the same work).

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I did consider buying the P41, but many tests mentioned that it runs hot, which might lead to trouble inside a laptop in the summertime. Furthermore, its current price for the 2TB version is almost double of the P31 sale.

Tests mentioning that the P41 runs hot, e.g.:

Looks like there’s already been quite some discussion about those drives in the community:

Anyway, I’m rather interested if you consider using a riser card like the one I modded, or do you have other plans for the M.2 2230 connector?

I read this thread and scratch my head a little.

You know the 2230 socket is under the 2280 one?
Have you considered it might be a tad tricky to get your cable out from under it and then routed to somewhere else with space? The layout of the laptop does look a tad cramped.

I mean, I am assuming your goal is to use 2 2280 SSDs of course.

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Welcome to the Framework community, JP3692!

Of course the ultimate goal is to use two 2280 SSDs at the same time.
For now, the only picture of the general mainboard layout we have is this one:

There’s no way for me, or anyone else outside Framework, who doesn’t have access to a prototype, to tell at this time, if this mod will have enough space to actually work. All I can promise is that I’ll give it a try.

Honestly, I don’t think the biggest problem will be to get the cable out though, but to bend it to stay inside the case, as it is pretty sturdy.
As I am not one of the early batches, I won’t be able to try before next year, unless it gets delivered ahead of time. I’ll report back here, once I gave it a try.

I too am a liiiiiittle skeptical, but I am always in support of trying. If no one gets you more pics and measurements before batch 3 arrives, send me a message and I’ll happily measure whatever and get you close-ups so you can keep working on it while you wait. For science!

Thanks for the offer, I really appreciate it, but sadly it wouldn’t change anything, because at this point there’s nothing I can do to it anymore to make it fit better, even if I had the measurements.
I’d just be grateful, if some hardware expert could tell me, how to bend that sturdy cable without breaking it.

You are of course welcome to replicate this project and test it by yourself, though. :wink:

See that hole towards the bottom left, now look at the first picture in this article Memory and Storage

That hole is the space for the 2230 SSD, 2280 on top, it’s why there are height restrictions if you use a 2230 sized drive.

Doesn’t mean your idea won’t work, just might be very tricky and need paper thin cables.

The cable might not be paper thin, but with less than 1.1mm it is thin enough imho.
If you take a look at this picture, you’ll see the cable is hardly thicker than the silicone of the adapter it’s been soldered to:

Furthermore, the SSD I’m going to use is one-sided, so I’ll have even more space than mentioned in the Framework knowledgebase article. Its back looks like this:

It’s definitely an interesting, if insane sounding, solution, i’ll give you that.


Yeah. I’d just wait for the likely M.2 expansion bay myself.

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I did communicate my interest in buying one of those among other things like differently colored bezels, differently designed windows-keys, and the numpad-sized display module shown in linus’ video to the Framework support, when I wrote to them about another matter. Their answer:

While we cannot promise or speculate on the possibility of including those you mentioned in future iterations of our product, we appreciate your suggestion and will pass these along to the appropriate department.

In other words: It can still take ages until those become available… :face_exhaling:

Another drawback: You can’t use the dedicated Graphics Module and the Expansion Bay Shell at the same time… at least not yet… and who knows if you ever will… unless someone comes up with an Expansion Bay Hub! :crazy_face:

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In case you need it, there seems to be ones using a thinner cable, a FFC cable wrapped in EMI tape. I would think the one you got would have more reliable signal quality, but reviews say this FFC one works too.
amazon.com/Sintech-M-Key-Extention-Cable-20CMS/dp/B07DZCCGJN, amazon.co.uk
You could buy different length cables to fit your needs. FFC cables are pretty standard, available cheaply on aliexpress.

Thanks for the input. I did search the german amazon, but couldn’t find it there. I’ll consider the UK one, if necessary.
I’m concerned about the size of the cable connector though, as the space available underneath the main 2280 drive is quite limited…

The only similar adapter I could find on german amazon was this one, and that one has many negative reviews:

If that picture is actually what buyers receive, then it’s not surprising that the reviews aren’t good. The FFC cable shown lacks any EMI shielding tape. You could add EMI tape if that’s the only source you can find with reasonable shipping.

The connector looks like a 0.5mm pitch 36pin FFC. The height could be 2mm, that’s what ones I’ve used are.

Similar connector measurements

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