Install A Solid State Drive In Your Notebook

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.

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  • 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?
  • nukemaster
    Good article.
  • FHDelux
    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.
  • nukemaster
    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
  • palach
    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.
  • TeaCup
    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.
  • laxmidd50
    I think most people who know what a SSD is are capable of installing one themselves.
  • boogman
    What's with all this "ATA drives not compatible"???

    SATA is ATA.

    PATA is also ATA.

  • bobloadmire
    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
  • bobloadmire
    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
  • nukemaster
    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.
  • cisco
    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...
  • Pei-chen
    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.
  • robojocks
    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.
  • nukemaster
    thats kind of sounds like DMA is off, go check.
  • st430
    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 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.
  • ilovehomes
  • skypecakes
    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.
  • wankten
    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.
  • swankenstein
    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.
  • I've used windows since Win 3.1 days, developing apps on them. I started using macbooks since it came along. Never had a virus issue for years. Recently an AVG update screwed up my Windows to the point it can't boot and it sucked up a good portion of my valuable time. That was the last straw and it forced me to move some mission critical operations to mac and linux.

    My take is this - for those of you who spend enough time on your PC as part of your life, then life is too short for mucking around windows and dealing with its flood of issues. You'll live a healthier and happier life doing real stuff on mac or linux. More expensive? Nah... u probably dun value your own time enough.

    Good article - just what I need to know. Some comments here are silly. I'm looking into SSD, and no, I've yet to learn how to fix it in. But this article is just what I need to know for now.
  • bchanman11
    Those are some good graphs on comparing SSD's and HDD's on a macbook, but SSD's also out-perform HDD's on PC's running Linux and Windows too. For a direct comparison of SSD vs HDD you can check out the following link:
    SSD vs HDD comparison
  • Well i will start off by saying I have done tech support for both windows and mac professionally(I had jobs for both major pc sellers and apple aswell as working with a third party that does support for your average domestic pc) And let me tell you that the biggest difference between the users is that most apple users are content with the system they have and stray away from pushing the limits.

    Meaning they buy what they need(Usually higher price then pc And that based purely on the fact that pcs are sold under many prices, Where as apple is in complete control you have practically no third party sales as they will have to eat losses to sell mac equipment for a lower price thus supply and demand doesn't work for your average apple system hence you are always paying more for the same) for the time. Then alot of apple users will leave their old systems running while buying a new one, And they will run both as they are.(This is also how alot of companys operate their systems. And MAcs my never catch up as a lot of the company use windows and because of that when they upgrade they want their systems and some times even their old software to be compatible

    (This is not easy with a apple and so apple may never get to the sales of windows they might however over take it when they both start getting replaced be linux systems as they neither suffer the OS issues that windows has and none of the cost restrictions that Mac has. Linux is also not constructed in proprietary junk. Making linux a very important OS. All I can say is if your not a linux person then just read about unbuntu it is by far one of the easiest OS to install and it is free. Only the ill informed and slow people have trouble with unbuntu as every thing you need just needs to be read)

    Where as pc users are usually more willing to install or upgrade even if their not sure how. Which is why windows is more widely known about. where as alot of mac users simply take their systems to some apple genus guy who will take it out of your hands. Hey if your going to just use they system then you don't need to know about it, But when you see people who acually know what their talking about. Then just read on or move on don't post because you need to justify the high cost of your computer. No one is making fun of your system, The fact is both windows and apple are filled with proprietary crap that just wastes cpu cycles and huge amount of money and lack of freely shared ideas. Which is what linux is all about if you really need someone to hold you hand in linux you can pay for the same help you would get with mac or windows. In linux ideas and progress is shared and product are still sold and money is still made its just that you pay for what you get not for a deal that windows has with another company for your product or the DRM that they had to pay for so you Would ???

    (Have endless problems, So you don't share because we all know how bad that is lol. I mean really if you think that drm is okay. I want you to think that if you borrowed you neighbor's lawn mower you and you neighbor are benefiting from a single purchase of which you are not involved. Meaning that you are breaking the most important tennant of DRM)

    The point is everyone shares and has shared in some sense since humans have walked the earth. What has changed ? Do you remember recording the super bowl before DVDs, Right when VHS recorders where coming out it was in the networks opinion that viewers where stealing their content by recording and sharing these recordings, We as views had to stand for our right to watch things we have paid for at some point in the checks for the cable companies. Though some people are just greedy, and tried to sell these VHS which is wrong and has nothing to do with owning a a copy of some thing you have watched on your TV. Hence my point is people will always cheat, But that always happened and companys have and are still making huge profits on things that can be shared.

    Example starcraft one of the most best selling and most played of its time. But it had no DRM and was setup so that one person could play multiplayer with as many friends as they wanted for free without more copies. This is understandable if all you have is multiplayer. But with a story to play though, multiplayer should always free to share. Really who wants to play their new game online all by them selfs no one. But if your goal is to get sales over and over you want people to get bored, So they will buy the new verison. That is why if you read online you will find the majority of large game companies are trying to kill mods now. This has one main use. Buy our game and our content packs for it or get bored and buy our new game. That is a flawed view and is the reason indie games are getting more popular.
    If you want to draw your own conclusions its okay. I wrote this to spark thought and based this on experience and my own opinions. If you know better then please continue and post.

    P.S. You can point out my flaws and spelling errors, But I will not correct them. I admit I am flawed. can you contemplate your own flaws in the light of my confession.