The best thing you can ever have on a laptop, apart from it sporting a high end CP and GPU with ram to the brim, is having an SSD instead of an HDD. If you can cram both in your laptop that just brings the best of both storage worlds. The SSD is assigned as your OS boot media while the HDD is allocated as your backup, media and game library drive. This tutorial will show you how to install both an SSD and an HDD on your Lenovo laptop.
1. If you don’t own the service manual for your laptop, go to Lenovo’s support site with respect to your laptop’s SKU and download the manual. If you’re unsure where to find your SKU number, flip it over to its underside and take note of your Lenovo laptop’s SKU.
2. While at the support site, make sure you don’t have any BIOS updates pending for your laptop. If you do have BIOS updates pending update your BIOS to the latest, working your way up from your current version to the latest, in a gradual manner.
3. With your laptop powered down disconnect the AC power adapter, all USB devices and peripherals from your laptop.
4. If your model has an internal optical drive, you can use an SDD/HDD caddy to either install an SSD in it or relocate the HDD, from its original position, to it. For the sake of this tutorial we will be assuming you are working with a Lenovo laptop which has a slim optical drive and the only option for an internal storage device is a single location for a 2.5” drive which is currently populated by an HDD.
5. Flip it over.
6. Depending on your laptop you will either need to undo 1 screw or remove a service plate cover or the entire underside of your laptop in order to gain access and unlatch the optical drive.
7. Slide the optical drive out and inspect its thickness. Optical drives, for a laptop, come in two different thicknesses. One is 9.5mm tall while the other is 12.7mm tall.
8. Armed with the dimension of your laptop’s optical drive, place an order for it via these locations:
9.5mm by Vantec.
12.7mm by Vantec.
9. If you haven’t, it’d also be a good time to purchase an SSD for your laptop. You can look into Adata’s SU800, SK Hynix’s SL308 or Samsung’s 850 Evo as possible suggestions for an SSD purchase. For this tutorial we will be working with a 2.5” SSD.
Please note, you should try and purchase a 250GB/256GB class SSD since tests have shown that a 120GB/128GB class often are slower than their higher capacity brethren and if you did the math, you’re paying less per GB as you scale upwards in capacity on an SSD.
10. With your order placed and en route. You will need to verify the SATA ports on your laptop and their revision/speed. Replace the optical drive and power up your laptop.
11. Download HWiNFO64 and SiSoftware Sandra onto your laptop.
12. Install HWiNFO64 and open it in an elevated command.
13. Click on the Motherboard choice on the left pane.
14. In the right pane you should see PCH features.
15. Further down you should see if both SATA Ports 1 6Gb/s and SATA port 0 6Gb/s are supported. If they come out to be supported, you can have the SSD populating the previously found optical drive’s slot.
16. You will also need to cross reference the information with SiSoftware Sandra. Install it and open with an elevated command i.e. right click app>Run as Administrator.
17. In the options for Mainboard, you should scroll down to Disk Controller and note down the Maximum SATA mode. If it’s SATA600, that’s denoting SATA 3 speeds.
The reason we’re suggesting you verify if your ports are 6Gbps supported, is so that you can extract the most out of your SSD. Often times, people simply drop in the SSD into a caddy and pop it back into the optical drive slot when they should actually be using the slot the 2.5” HDD is residing. In essence a 2.5” mechanical HDD will not be able to saturate 3Gbps so it being on a 6Gbps port is moot.
On the other hand if you do re-allocate the HDD to the optical drive slots location in favor of the SSD or simply adding another HDD to the laptop, please keep in mind that an SSD will not heat up when compared to a mechanical drive. If you do want to move for an HDD in the optical drive slot, we recommend you pick out 5400rpm drives in the 2.5” form factor.
We’re continuing with the pretense that the port the optical drive was on is SATA 6Gbps thus leaving the HDD’s location as is.
18. Armed with both the SSD caddy and the SSD, place the SSD into the caddy.
19. There are small screws to the side of the caddy. Using the small Phillips screwdriver (included) screw them to mount the SSD securely to the caddy.
20. Remove the hold down bracket at the rear of the optical drive and secure it to the rear of the SSD caddy.
21. Use a straightened paper clip to release the optical drive’s tray and remove the face plate from your optical drive using a small flathead screwdriver. Re-attach t to the SSD caddy.
22. Slide the caddy in place of the optical drive.
23. Secure the SSD caddy with the screw previously removed.
24. Replace the service plate cover and/or the laptop underside and secure them with screws. For a laptop all screws should be finger tight. Adding additional torque will only strip the threading of the screws or worse, tear the screw anchors out of their sheath in the laptop’s bottom shell.
25. You can then proceed to install your OS via a bootable USB or CD installer and install your OS onto the SSD.
26. Set the SSD as your primary boot device (if you’re dealing with Windows 7) or Windows Boot Manager (if you’re dealing with Windows 10).
If you’re on a tight budget but have access to the caddy mentioned above, while also looking to add an HDD, simply replace the SSD with an HDD of your choice (namely a 5400rpm drive) in the steps mentioned above.
Another option, depending on your laptop’s SKU, is to see if your Lenovo motherboard has support for an M.2 drive. You can either look at SATA 3 based M.2 SSD’s or M.2 NVMe SSD’s. Please keep in mind though, if your M.2 slot on the motherboard is SATA 3 then NVMe drives will work but will be operating at SATA 3 speeds which is significantly slower than NVMe protocol.
You have now successfully installed an SSD into your laptop with your HDD in its original location.