Recommendations for M.2 2280 SSD for Librem 14?

I’m receiving a Librem 14 soon (for some as yet not determined meaning of the word “soon”).

I’d like to put a 2TB drive in it. If I request an NVMe “Pro” drive from Purism they’ll give me a Samsung 970 PRO with 1TB, not 2TB. If I want 2TB from Purism it will be merely NVMe, not NVMe “Pro”; I’m not sure which Samsung model this will be. In either case Purism will charge me an arm and 2 legs for finding and installing the drive, i.e., the cost will be more than twice what it would cost me to order the same model from elsewhere.

So I have some questions:

  1. Is there any particular reason to favor Samsung? Is Samsung more friendly to libre software? Are their hardware specifications more open? Are they better in any other ways?

  2. In particular, the Samsung 980 PRO comes in the 2TB size. How does this compare with the Samsung 970 PRO? If I understand correctly, each M.2 slot in the L14 will support up to 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes. The 980 PRO can work with PCIe 4.0, but that doesn’t matter for the L14. Does the 980 PRO still perform as well when connected using PCIe 3.0? The 2TB 980 PRO with 1200 TBW should last as long as the 1TB 970 PRO with
    1200 TBW.

  3. Are there any other SSD manufacturers I should consider? Any to avoid?

  4. What are you planning to put in your L14? Assume for the sake of discussion that your L14 will arrive before the end of summer.

Long live free software!

  1. The drives simply perform well. Purism has yet to free the firmware on drives, but that is in their roadmap.

  2. The 980 Pro will perform just as well with PCIe 3.0 as much as PCIe 4.0. The difference is purely interface-based, and as you have already mentioned, capacity-based.

  3. It depends on your priorities. For data security, you would want to stay on SLC or MLC for drive technology. Other manufacturers will have other drive technologies competitively priced for different priorities, such as greater capacity, at the cost of less data security.

Here is an update with information the ever-reliable Mladen emailed. As of today, what the SSD options on the Librem 14 ordering page mean is as follows:

512GB NVMe Pro → Samsung 512 GB NVMe 970 Pro (PCIe 3.0)
1TB NVMe Pro → Samsung 1TB NVMe 980 Pro (PCIe 4.0)
2 TB NVMe → Samsung 2TB 970 EVO PLUS

So it looks like my top options are:

  • 1TB Samsung 980 PRO preinstalled by Purism for $599 (£433.09)
  • 1TB Samsung 980 PRO for £221.57 that I have to order and install myself
  • 2TB Samsung 980 PRO for £386.35 that I have to order and install myself

Would any of you recommend another 2TB SSD?

970 pro should be a little cheaper now that the new model (980) is out. 980 is a little more snappier (lower access times) but on the L14 you probably won’t notice much difference with just one in there … 2 in RAID might be something else but for a laptop it’s usually overkill for 90% or things you might compute … unless the 10% are your 100%

Widely available, widely used, work well out-of-the-box with Linux.

I have two computers that boot off an NVMe drive and both of those are Samsung drives. That’s not to disrespect all alternative brands but the Samsung drives are working well.

Not that I am aware of (for either question).

Reputable brand that will still be around in 5 years time / 10 years time?

If that were an issue, I would order with any 256 GB drive, take the drive out and redeploy it in another computer and organise yourself the actual NVMe drive that you want.

If you are willing to consider different drive technology other than MLC, the Addlink S70 is an option, using TLC instead, and PCIe 3.0. As a result, it should be cheaper than the Samsung Pro drives you have mentioned.

The Samsung 980 PRO data sheet specifies that it uses “Samsung V-NAND 3-bit MLC”. 3-bit MLC is just another way of saying TLC. In other words, MLC does not always mean 2-bit cells.


Yes, correct. As an addendum, here is a Wikipedia entry stating how MLC is used, and how companies use the term to their marketing advantage.

Unlike the 980 Pro, the 970 Pro uses 2-bit MLC instead, but that uses PCIe 3.0, and it has an older drive controller compared to either the EVO Plus or the 980 Pro.

Lastly, an alternative to the Samsung 980 Pro is the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, which uses TLC and PCIe 4.0. The drive controller is the Phison PS5018-E18.