New Laptop... 9/10/2011 1:23:00 PM
After just under three years, my Lenovo X200 (Core2 P8600, 2.4ghz, 2 threads, 4gb DDR2, 12.1" @ 1280x800) is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. It's still pretty fast thanks to the Intel Series 510 SSD, but it lacks USB3.0 (Jane's feature), SATA-III (so the SSD isn't performing at its peak), and it has an annoyingly low resolution. So, I've upgraded to a new Lenovo T420S with a Core i7 (2620M 2.7ghz+Turbo, 4 threads, 4gb DDR3, 14" @ 1600x900). The increased heft isn't the greatest, but I think it's a good tradeoff for the additional pixels.

I got a battery to replace the DVD drive, and added in a 80gig Intel 310 mSATA and 4 more gigs of RAM. The capacity for the physical size is pretty amazing:

    

I'm self-hosting daily Windows 8 builds on the SSD, but wanted a “safe” drive for booting to Windows 7 when I need to get some development done. I got another Intel 510 Series since it was working so well in my old X200. Alas, when I went to pull out the puny 320gig hard disk, I found that the SSD was too tall! It's a 9.5mm enclosure, and the T420s only has a 7mm tall drive bay. I naturally realized that I could take the SSD's cover off, so it's just a bare 2mm thick circuit board, but that seems a bit risky-- rattling about in the bay, it's bound to short out or detach from the SATA connection. Hrm.

One of my reports pointed out that making this work was a "good project" and shamed me into thinking about how I might secure the board. Seven bucks at Home Depot later, I was ready to embark on the task. I'll admit, it's not the usual equipment you need to install a SSD :-) ...

   

So, I was all set to do some crazy mounting to get the drive secure when I realized that I probably should have spent some more time thinking about the problem first...

It turns out that if you take just half of the SSD's case off, and screw the HDD's sliding cage over the other half, the SSD neatly slides into the bay. Fortunately, the cage is shielded electrically so I'm pretty sure there won't be a short, and since the dimensions match the old HDD, it's not going to rattle loose. I'm mildly worried about the thermal implications of losing the 3mm of airgap clearance, but, well, we'll see. 

When I was done, I had the bare 320gig 7mm HDD (I'll throw that in an external enclosure) and half of the SSD case left over:

      

Now, off to install all of the software I need to make using Windows comfortable...



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