Zup wrote on 2022-02-09, 06:31:
(Waiting for a Raspberry with SATA connector)
You might want to go for a Raspberry Compute Module 4 and stick it on a third-party board that has the interfaces you want.
Jeff Geerling has reviewed quite a few of those third-party boards on his YouTube channel.
Some of those boards even provide an NVMe slot, wired up to the Compute Module 4's PCI Express bus. That's the fastest I/O you can achieve on a Raspberry Pi. And newer firmware versions of the Compute Module 4 even support booting directly from NVMe now. (Unless the PCI Express bus is shared with other devices as well, through a multiplexer chip, which is needed to hook up the USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet controller along with an NVMe interface. But even then you can just put the boot partition on the onboard MMC drive or an SD card, and have the rest of your OS on the NVMe drive.)
If you can get your hands on the 8GB RAM version of the Compute Module 4 (which is admittedly hard to come by at the moment), and pair it with NVMe, you should have a pretty capable and relatively affordable ARM64-based desktop system. In the case of 8GB RAM, I would definitely go with the 64-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS (or another compatible 64-bit Linux distro), though.
By the way, I don't currently own a Compute Module 4 and so I haven't tried such a setup yet. But I would like to try something like that as a daily driver. I've gotten bored with x86, and Apple's ecosystem feels too constrained in terms of tinkering and is way more expensive, as tempting as their M1-based Macs and Macbooks are.
By the way, a Raspberry Pi 4 with a Thunderbolt port would be really sweet. Right now, with the exception of the CM4, the Raspberry Pi 4 family of devices has a PCI Express bus that you can't tap into without some very finicky and risky SMD soldering work. Such a shame!