Single SATA 3.5" HDD, How To Power?

Hiya, this is my first post, but in short I’d like to power a single 3.5" HDD drive from the 4c.

To delve slightly deeper, I’m looking to build a very simple 4c based system to replace my rPi4 which is currently hosting OpenHab, Blu-Ray rips, and I’d like it to run piHole, plus a tvheadend server.

I don’t need to run 4 or 5 hard drives, but I do need to run one, reliably, for the rips. The problem is that these are currently on a WD 6TB external USB 3, and I would prefer that storage to be internal, all on the one power supply. Just to assert … I’m not going to be running any NAS things … it’s just too much continual maintenance for me, and I’m not skilled enough.

I believe that an Akasa m.2 PCI to SATA converter will probably do the trick with regards to the SATA connection, however I’d like to know if there’s a way to power a single 3.5" drive from anywhere on the 4c reliably enough to not cause any problems with the disk. Obviously I’d like it to spin down when not in use, hopefully that’s something controlled by the HDD’s own controller, but my knowledge on such things had waned over the years.

I just wondered if anyone here has done something similar to this, and if so, what they managed to do.

Oh, and please go easy on me! :wink:

No, this can´t work. It is only a SATA M.2 Adapter, but the PockPi4 only provide NVME SSD drives.
The only realy good working solution I know, is a USB2SATA adapter.They are real cheap and if it is a USB3 adaper, faster than very HDD.

Cheers, Ron.

Is there a chance I could just use the power out from the USB adaptor?

As far as I know. all 3.5 " HDD drives also need 12V and you don’t get this through the USB port. The easiest I really think, is a USB to SATA adapter including power supply


Cheers, I just don’t wish to run the drive on USB.

Turns out that Akasa one is not in stock anyway, but I’ve found these three noname brands that also supply power:

That would appear to do the trick, right?

The RockPi only support NVME.
The NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) is a replacement specification for the mSATA standard and this is not supported by the RockPi.

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Ah, perfect, thanks for your replies, Ron. :slight_smile:

Although, I went poking around … as I’d seen SATA stuff on the Allnet site … and now I’m a bit confused … so perhaps you could just help correct my silly brain.

On the Wiki it says that the RockPi4 has a “PCIE M.2 NGFF M-KEY SOCKET Interface”. Plus they also sell the M.2 PCIe to 4x SATA3.0 module … which I would assume works on a similar method to the above, no? Also the new 4 slot SATA module (which requires external power) surely uses something similar, no?

So it does accept NGFF according to the quoted wiki link, but you’re saying it doesn’t and only supports NVME. I mean, I’ll honestly take your word for it, but you can see how that might be confusing.

Also, Radxa themselves sell this:

So I would assume that I could use something like that, and the

So (whilst I realise it’s a long way around) I’d still need to power the drive.

All these options, it would appear, require the M.2 Extension board (v1.6), but that’s easily slipped into the equation.

Sorry that was due to the English, my mother tongue is German. NGFF is the form factor of the connector. The RockPi only supports the NVME (PCI E) protocol not the SATA protocol that your previously found adapter cards support.
The NGFF to PCI E 4x adapter that you have now found should work with the card if it is supported by your OS. But I don’t know anything about that and can only advise this.
As for the power supply, you can use a normal old PC power supply.
For me that would be too much of a hassle, but you seem to have your reasons not to just go via USB.


  1. You can use m.2 to 2x SATA controller, so that project occupies less physical space. It’s not much more expensive, and doesn’t require any adapters besides the m.2 extension board you need anyway. If you insist on using a full-size PCIE SATA controller, skip suggestion #2 and jump right to #3.

  2. Separate PSU for your HDD with molex to SATA adapter (notice that SATA connector is not molded - molded ones sometimes go out in flames) is cheaper than hooking up Rock Pi 4 & the HDD to a single PSU.

  3. You can power the whole thing via a 12V brick and a PicoPSU. You don’t explicitly need 160W model, but 160W are typically the cheapest, and there are no drawbacks using a PicoPSU rated for higher power. To power Rock Pi 4 from it, I’d suggest using its type C port rather than (5V) GPIO pins, because it’s much safer and doesn’t put much stress on the PicoPSU. For this, you need a DC 5.5 2.1 female to USB Type C male adapter (I prefer angled) and either dc 5.5 2.1 1 to 2 splitter (cheaper) or Molex to DC 5.5 12V adapter. PicoPSU also has a port to power m.2 to full-size PCIE adapter, should you use it for full-size PCIE SATA controller. As for power brick, you need a 12V, and I’d recommend at least a 60W because HDD alone can consume as much as 20W during spin-up. You can get a fancy PicoPSU that allows a wide voltage input instead of the basic one, then you can use PSUs operating at different voltage - but that will be much more expensive.

  4. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use some DC-DC step-down for 5V rail. Note that these things are typically advertised by peak current they’re able to sustain, so divide it in half to get a realistic estimate. It will be cheaper, but with PicoPSU that already has most of the wiring and costs mere $12.5, doesn’t make much sense unless you’re aiming for an ultra-compact application.

Good luck!

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