Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Install A Solid State Drive In Your Notebook

Install A Solid State Drive In Your Notebook
By

Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are becoming more and more popular, especially for storing operating systems and programs, but they have two big drawbacks. The first is the price. But an even bigger one is their capacity. A lot of people are willing to shell out a lot of money for a faster machine, but not many are willing to settle for just 16 or 32 GB more storage space, even in a notebook.

mtron ssd

In this article we’ll explain how to install an SSD in your notebook computer, while retaining a hard disk for storing data.

There are several methods for installing a hard disk in a notebook, some simpler than others. Let’s look at the various possibilities.

Notebooks With Multiple HDD Slots: The Easiest

The simplest solution is to buy a notebook that has space for two (or three) hard disks. Most models with 17" or larger displays fall into this category. With a computer like this, installing both an SSD and a hard disk is no problem. All you do is install each one in a different slot. Be careful, because certain computers (like the 17" MacBook Pro) have only a single slot.

notebook two hdds

Notebooks With Drive Bays: A Good Choice

The second solution is fairly common with certain manufacturers and involves using a bay to hold a second hard disk. The bay concept is fairly simple: The optical drive is removable and can be replaced with accessories such as a second battery, an empty module for weight, or a hard disk. Lenovo, Dell, and Toshiba, for example, fit some of their machines with this type of accessory. It’s an easy system to use – you just remove the case containing the optical drive and insert one that contains a hard disk.

notebook drive bay

There are two possible problems. Optical drives are often in ATA format – which requires that you use an ATA hard disk – and cases are not always easy to find. Prices are usually moderate – between $47 and $94 for a model that can take a hard disk. Be careful, because some subnotebooks, such as the Lenovo X300, have a bay but won’t take a hard disk because they’re too thin.

Lenovo X300 DVD

Our Solution: Do It Yourself

Our solution is less elegant, but just as effective: We replaced the optical drive with a hard disk. Read on to see how we solved the problems associated with this approach.

Display all 23 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 18, 2008 2:09 PM
    Is there something about that lenovo adapter that's special to lenovo laptops? Is it not a standard ata adapter with a standard form factor?
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 18, 2008 2:54 PM
    Good article.
  • -4 Hide
    FHDelux , April 18, 2008 3:10 PM
    I dont usually leave comments, but this article has no point. Anyone interested in an SSD, knows how fast it is and how to put one in a laptop. Also, why all of the sudden is this site being mucked up with rediculous MAC stuff. I could care less how fast a MAC boots up, its useless anyway. I come here to read about real computers, not, ooooo its pretty i wanna buy it cause it has a catchy theme song on the commercial computers.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 18, 2008 3:37 PM
    What ever boost they got on there mac. You would get on your pc as well..

    Hell my photo shop still opens faster(within a second of the SSD times). But Quad + Raid will do that.

    What machine they use does not matter much. I do agree they may as well of just slapped it into one of there windows notebooks first since its not too hard to do and then they could get some benches for that, but the speed boosts should be about the same on either OS.

    Any day they gut hardware for upgrades(Even if its a mac) is fine with me
  • 0 Hide
    palach , April 18, 2008 8:07 PM
    I think it's more interesting to show what is the battery time gain by installing the SSD compared to the normal HDD in this or other laptops, since most people will take the laptop to a certified technical support if they want to install a new HDD or SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    TeaCup , April 19, 2008 12:21 AM
    In response to FHDelux, I used to be annoyed by everything Apple/Macintosh, until I actually got to use one. Strangely enough; my Macbook Pro is literally the most stable and capable WINDOWS system I've ever owned. I run Windows XP only, and everything works flawlessly. It's practically silent, and has better battery life than any other laptop I've owned. So you're a bit behind the times bashing the apple system they used. Great article btw.
  • 1 Hide
    laxmidd50 , April 19, 2008 6:13 PM
    I think most people who know what a SSD is are capable of installing one themselves.
  • 1 Hide
    boogman , April 21, 2008 4:14 AM
    What's with all this "ATA drives not compatible"???


    SATA is ATA.


    PATA is also ATA.

    Sigh...
  • -1 Hide
    bobloadmire , April 21, 2008 7:27 AM
    i find it funny that my Vista desktop launches word and photoshop froma cold bott in about half the time the SSD mac pro does.But yeah ssd's FTW
  • 0 Hide
    bobloadmire , April 21, 2008 7:32 AM
    i find it funny that my Vista desktop launches word and photoshop from a cold boot in about half the time the SSD mac pro does. But yeah ssd's FTW
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 21, 2008 5:01 PM
    Readyboost on?

    My XP is about the same as the SSD(and like a second or 2 on a second open). but i can see vistas Ready boost pushing those hard.
  • 0 Hide
    cisco , April 21, 2008 5:28 PM
    I agree, Mac makes up less than 5% of the market, who cares. Until they allow me to build my own system and run the Mac OS on it (legitimately), I don't care. I refuse to pay their adsorbent prices for what is essentially a mid range PC.
    However, I can't wait for SSD technology to get more affordable. I think this type of hard drive will make laptop seem considerably faster and use less power, lower heat, etc...
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , April 22, 2008 7:26 PM
    TeaCup, have you ever tries to compare an equally new/spec. ThinkPad with your Mac? If you are comparing a new Mac with a three years old notebook, that's not much of a comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    robojocks , April 23, 2008 1:04 AM
    i installed TRANSCEND 2.5" IDE 32GB SSD SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE in my tc4200 laptop and its useless. it took 2 days for it to write all the stuff on it. I'll say computer opens the windows explorer ( To view the drives) very fast, But thats it. Its so slow that the computer stops what is is doing . I can move the mouse pointer around but thats it. I cant do anything else while the computer is writing to the swap file or what it is doing. My 5400rpm laptop drive was faster writing then it.

    I have 1gb of ram
    Pentium M 1.7 ghz processor on it
    And SSD from hell.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 23, 2008 2:08 AM
    thats kind of sounds like DMA is off, go check.
  • -1 Hide
    st430 , April 24, 2008 6:31 PM
    why do you need a tray and take out CD rom drive?
    unless you need 2 drives.
    all you have to do is to connect a USD drive, run a harddrive clone software and dump the disc image to the USD drive...
    then just open up 2 screws in your laptop (like those in dell)
    and take our your old harddrive and swap in a SSD drive.
    Boot up the computer with a DVD boot disk make by the clone disk software, then connect the USb drive and run the disc re-covery to load the image back to the new SSD drive...
    done...everything is there just like before...no need to re-install any software or O/S...
    of course now that your 160G/200G harddrive is gone... you have to live with a 32G drive that is 10 times more expensive just to save a few minutes of run time over the 3 hrs that your battery can run...and may be your battery can run just a few minutes longer because of the SSD...
    worth it? not really.

  • 1 Hide
    ilovehomes , April 27, 2008 7:08 AM
    good
  • 0 Hide
    skypecakes , April 29, 2008 6:30 PM
    st430, you missed the whole point of the article! Extra battery life is a minor perk of putting an SSD in your laptop. The main benefits are shock tolerance and READ PERFORMANCE. That's what you're paying for if you're in the market to buy an SSD.

    SSDs are faster at reading data than HDDs. Thus they make booting and starting apps lightning quick. They are slower at writing data, which is why the 2nd drive is needed to avoid a performance hit when writing. Surprisingly, according to the test in this article, write performance with the faster SSD was better than the laptop's HDD!

    Note that not all SSDs are equal. There are slow SSDs and fast ones. Keep that in mind if you read one of the articles out there that says "SSDs are supposed to be fast, but I tested X brand SSD and it was slower than my hard drive." If you want performance from an SSD, you have to buy it, preferably from a company that sells both "general" SSDs and performance SSDs. BitMicro, the company that made the SSD(s?, only one is mentioned) for this article is one such company; another is Super Talent.
  • 0 Hide
    wankten , May 4, 2008 5:55 AM
    to fhDuhLux...the person with the comments about the mac...
    I use windows 99% of the time. I make a living on windows because people need more help with windows than mac users need with their macs. Macs are far superior from an engineering level, software level, and all around human ergo design.
    Besides, nukemaster commented correctly... the same ideas can apply to your windows machine.
    It is extraordinarily easy to tell the novices from the experts just by hearing them speak (or write, in your case)...
    what does "F...H..." stand for anyway? Nevermind, I already guessed.
    geez!
  • 0 Hide
    swankenstein , January 19, 2009 1:01 AM
    wankten. I wouldn't be criticizing other posters names for a start.

    Secondly, you make a living on windows because everybody and their dog uses it. It is extraordinarily easy to spot morons that think they can gauge the sophistication of a brand by how many people are using it.
Display more comments