The Samsung 980 Pro NVMe is a pretty popular SSD model that is used by many within the VMware Homelab Community. However, in recent months, there have been an alarming amount of reports from owners that their 980 Pro NVMe devices have been failing prematurely due to firmware issues.
— Tom's Hardware (@tomshardware) January 31, 2023
Samsung has finally acknowledge the problem with a firmware fix and it looks like a simliar fix is also planned for the Samsung 990 Pro NVMe.
While I can not comment on the specific issues with the Samsung 980/990 Pro NVMe devices, I have had my own failures with cheaper Samsung M.2 NVMe devices where I lost my vSAN setup since I only had a single vSAN diskgroup comprised of single cache and capacity SSD for my homelab. While not ideal, this is to be expected since I had no redundancy and consumer hardware can and will fail over time. I ended upgrading both of my SSDs to a Samsung 970 Plus, which luckily is not affected by the firmware issues.
I typically recommend Samsung, Intel and Western Digital NVMe devices as they typically just work with ESXi, especially for homelab purposes where cost is one of the factors. From some of the online posts that I have read about the current Samsung 980/990 Pro issues, it seems that many have lost faith in Samsung and some have even stated that they will no longer consider Samsung for storage purchases.
This was also a simliar sentiment when I recently spoke with a fellow VMware colleague who was also impacted by the firmware issues. As part of our discussion, he had shared a couple of alternative vendors that he has is now using and recommending for his VMware Homelab setup which also includes vSAN. I thought this was good information that could also benefit folks in the community looking for other storage options.
- SK Hynix is not a brand that I have personally used, but have been hearing good things about them and the Gold P31 NVMe is one that my colleague is currently using which is also automatically recognized by ESXi
- Sabrent is another brand that I have not personally used before but I know some folks in the community have also had success with ESXi. The Rocket NVMe is one option that is automatically recognized by ESXi and is used within my colleagues setup. There is also a Rocket Plus NVMe, which is a newer version from Sabrent which is also compatible with ESXi and thanks to Matt Mancini who recently shared it also works great with vSAN.
Are there other non-common NVMe devices that you have found success with ESXi? If so, do leave a comment so that others can also benefit.
As with any VMware Homelab, there are plenty of options and I always recommend folks do their research and check out my VMware Community Homelab project which contains build-of-materials (BOM) from various users within the community, which is a good place to start and see what others have used in their homelab setup.