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  1. #1
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    Some ugliness installing an aftermarket SSD




    TOP STORY

    Some ugliness installing an aftermarket SSD


    By Fred Langa

    Ever look inside a solid state drive? Neither had I — until I bought one and had to disassemble it to get it to fit into my notebook.

    This story has a happy ending, ultimately, but unexpected trouble along the way made the process far more difficult than it needed to be.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/some-ugliness-installing-an-aftermarket-SSD/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Kathleen Atkins For This Useful Post:

    Barnbaby (2012-07-10),xpgeek (2012-07-09)

  3. #2
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    Thanks for a really informative article about the possible pitfalls of a DIY installation, let's hope Crucial and Acer take good note of your observations.

    Graham

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    Thanks for this extremely helpful and informative article - useful info and advice that will be valuable for those of us thinking of doing something similar (though hopefully now with fewer bumps along the way)
    rdl

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    The question is had you removed the parts from the drive first would it have fitted in without modifying the laptop drive bay?

  6. #5
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    Thin SSDs for laptops

    You found out the hard way why some manufacturers make 7.5mm thick SSDs as well as the normal 9.5 mm SSDs. I used a thin Samsung 830 in my laptop recently. Had to put a plastic spacer on top to stop it flapping up and down!

    Crucial make thin SSDs, as well as Samsung and others.

    Bob Frost

  7. #6
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    I agree with Arachnoid. I took my time reading about this effort and came away with a different perspective. Voiding warranty was your message. Had you stopped your persistence and used the proper 7.mm thick SSD, if in fact that was proper you may have prevented grinding off the corners to fit the square peg in the round hole. That said, you do raise a very good question. Why doesn't an SSD come without covers so that in such applications you need not pack in all that heat holding material? Do they? You should have continued this fiasco with some informative material rather than sending us all off looking for the possible real secrets publication.

  8. #7
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    I understand why you bought a notebook with 2 drive bays. But for many users 128Gb is enough, really. That way the SSD would have fitted in any notebook with only 1 bay. So you come up with the question anyone should ask: do I really need this? That brings up another remark: is the fit-guarantee for only the main-drive? I'll ask my lawyers when I get a small donation to do so :-(
    Nevertheless, good and informing article. Could have been in the Wacky Web Week if you made a video about your efforts ;-)

  9. #8
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    Im also wondering as you seem to have bought the laptop new why you didnt take it as an optional extra at the time or am I missing something?

  10. #9
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    Cheesy Plastic

    I'm wondering about the stiffness of the drive bay cover with the fins removed. Does it flex and feel like it could crack if you grab the notebook with one hand where the cover is located?

  11. #10
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    I just upgraded my mid-2010 MacBook Pro with a 480 GB SSD from SanDisk that was on sale as their "Daily Deal" at Amazon. My kids threw in $100 as a birthday present, so I couldn't resist! I decided to make it my primary drive and replace the original 7200 RPM 500 GB that came with the MBP. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to make a copy of my drive (7 hours!), tested it so that I knew it would boot, and then installed it. I also needed to download a hack for TRIM support as Apple only supports their own SSDs. I used Trim Enabler (http://www.groths.org/?page_id=322) to automate the process and voilà, my MBP was updated!

    As for fit, the SanDisk was a perfect replacement for the original drive and fit snugly (which is how it should fit) into the primary drive bay. There is also a kit that is sold by OWC (macsales.com) to remove the optical drive and replace it with an SSD, although I have no experience with using it. This configuration would have given me huge amounts of storage and the benefits of an SSD, but I used my optical drive for ripping and didn't want to lose it.

    The speed difference is breathtaking, especially on startup and shutdown. For the first time, I allow all of my apps to be reopened by Lion since it happens in seconds, even if I have Photoshop running. Honestly, it's like having a new machine!

    The only downside I can report is that with each system refresh—say, going from 10.7.3 to 10.7.4—TRIM will need to be re-enabled, which is a bit of a PITA, because it requires a reboot after running Trim Enabler. The developer says he is working on overcoming that problem, and hopefully Apple will emulate Microsoft in providing more extensive TRIM support moving forward.

    If you can afford it, an SSD upgrade is a phenomenal way to breath new life into your computer. I only wish an iMac was physically as easy to upgrade. I'd do it tomorrow!!

  12. #11
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    The problem is not that the bay was designed for a thinner drive but that the cover is not designed for the normal drive. Acer sells a different cover (separately of course for at least $40) for the secondary drive bay that will fit around a normal 2.5 inch drive. I only know this because I ran into the same thing on a different model. My cover didn't have the fins but two large pegs that went through the entire area the drive should be. Those were the first to fall to the dremel. Then it still wouldn't fit. The only place the cover was touching the drive was along the entire length of one corner. I again used the dremel to cut a long groove through the plastic so the corner was technically outside the plastic. When all secured, though the corner of the drive was flush with the plastic cover (there were only a few millimeters of clearance needed). The groove I cut looked like it belonged and it was on the bottom anyway so never seen unless you were looking for it.

    If Acer is including a second drive bay they should make it usable right out of the box. Having to buy a different cover or cut plastic covers or disassemble new drives should never be necessary. I would still be using that Acer if it hadn't died unexplainably at 2.5 years (outside of warranty of course). It had a good charger cable, and a good battery but would not get any power to the system. Tried all the troubleshooting I could find online with no luck. Not a big deal as I salvaged the blu-ray drive from it as well as both hard drives and replaced the computer itself with a new Dell I happened to get for free.

  13. #12
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    Stiffness of the drive bay should not be much of an issue (it wasn't for me). The panel is attached on all sides and still fairly stiff as well as not very big.

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    Heat issues?

    I would be interested to know how truly necessary that "spacer" was for the SSD. Do the chips create any heat? Do you need a small space for heat bleed-off into the air?

    Over time, will your changes cause teh drive to lose some performance or to fail prematurely?

  15. #14
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    Modifying laptop casing.

    Crucial has added their "guaranteed to fit policy" since the last time I bought from them. I ordered a larger hard drive for my mini laptop. Checked the website. Called and talked to a rep who assured me the larger drive would fit. When I tried to install it....it didn't fit. I called Crucial and explained what I was told by their rep. She said I would then have to modify the casing. I have no repairing of computers experience. Only a laptop keyboard and ram. I bought a cheap repair kit. Soldering iron in hand...decided I was not going to be able to do the job. Called Crucial and asked for a refund of the drive and ram since I was informed it would fit. She said they would only do a credit towards other parts. I said I don't need other parts. "Give me the name and number please of the President, CEO, Chairman of The Board, or whatever his or her title is. I will call them directly and explain my situation. She said hold on for a supervisor. I asked him the same thing. I want to speak to the "Big Dog". The "Head Honcho". "Can we call you right back please?" They did. And offered a full refund.

  16. #15
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    Made my foray in SSD with a new Dell XPS15 (L502X). Swapped the original drive for a 256 GB Crucial SSD, and placed the 1 TB in the optical drive. Computer runs fast. The only drawback right now is the screen does not come back after the computer hibernates. Tech at Crucial helped me change some drivers so that it worked correctly, but after some Windows updates it reverted to the old song...Will revisit it again when I have some time. Since I backup on the network regularly I'm not worried about the volatility of the memory (see Susan Bradley's article "The good and the bad of solid-state drives"). I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has encountered and solved the same problem I am having with the video display after hibernation.

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