Laptops, as they say, are the easier alternative to the “mano-a-mano” DIY PC. But the added mobility compromises the ability to upgrade to newer components and faster hardware. It is not without truth, however. Current circumstances have paved way for laptop users to utilize powerful hardware such as desktop graphics cards and the likes. This time, we’ll deal with upgrading our laptop’s storage.
Reasons may range from having an already decrepit drive or a need for faster loading of applications. The usual reason is the requirement of larger capacity. All of these concerns can be solved by getting a new aftermarket drive, aside from the fact that a great number of laptops come with OEM drives that suck.
This guide will be a comprehensive one, but as laptop bodies and orientations differ per brand, the process might be a bit different. Also, this guide aims to help frustrated thrifty individuals that need some guidance in cracking open their beloved laptops. We all know that certain person that went to the store just to have his laptop drive installed, only to be left angry at how easy the process is and how he just paid P500 for it. So, if you’re into saving money for eight pieces of Chicken Joy or roughly four Big Macs, then this guide is for you!
IMPORTANT: Before you jump in like a raging gorilla. Do note that this process can VOID YOUR WARRANTY. If you’re still hot on upgrading the laptop’s drive regardless, you’ll have to ask assistance from the store where you brought it or an official partner of the brand. This process can incur some charges and fees. Sometimes, the part/s to be installed should be brought from the store itself.
Choosing a Drive
SSDs are the go to drives when it comes to speed. If you’re looking at wishing that your boot-ups can take only a blink of an eye, then these drives are for you. But speed comes at a price, mostly tremendous as the capacity of the drive rises. Do take note that most laptops can only take one drive. One can circumvent this disadvantage through the use of external drives, but only for files that are not necessarily required to load faster.
Should money be a concern, we can still go back to the traditional HDD. These drives have been around and have changed little in the past years. But their capacities are usually found from 500GB to a gargantuan 3TB.
We won’t be using an SSD here as we will make use of an SSHD in the form of the WD Blue 1TB SSHD. It’s a hybrid drive that has characteristics of the much faster SSD while retaining the capacity of a traditional HDD. The price per capacity also stands at a good level.
Oh, and please make sure that what you’re buying is a 2.5” drive. The size is already conventional so every drive is compatible to an upgradeable laptop. Never buy a 3.5” for a laptop. Never.
Destroying Opening Your Laptop
Remember to remove the battery while you’re at it. We want this to be clean and fast. Opening the laptop can be a sequence of removing screws before you can slide down the cover. Removing the ASUS ROG G551JW’s was a very simple task as it only meted out two screws.
Things don’t get in without an opening. Getting a new drive installed into your laptop is relative to the one the laptop model that you’ve bought. There may be different orientations or processes but most of the time, it just takes a screw driver and some muscle power.
The ASUS ROG G551JW’s drive bay has a bracket which needs to be unscrewed first. The bay then holds four mounting screws for the drive itself. A very tedious removal and reinstallation. Never rush in! Make sure that every screw is removed and NEVER FORCE things to go your way. Most of the time, the installation/replacement is a simple unscrew/slide scenario. The OEM drive beside the WD Blue 1TB SSHD. It’s not that the performance of the drive built-in drive is bad. It’s just that I want the laptop to be a bit faster and less noisier. Don’t get excited. Look for the SATA slots of the laptop before you screw in the drive. Remember to properly orientate the drive to save time and effort.
Since we’re dealing with electronic components here, ensure that you’re grounded. Also take note of sweat given that the Philippines is an incredibly cool country.
For this process, I used an ASUS ROG G551JW. Again, do take note of the orientation of the drive. Different laptops might sport different bays and some might just be a plug and play endeavor. Consult your manual should you have problems with getting it in (the drive, I mean).
Tidying Things Up and Installing the OS
Now, we just have to install the OS. You can make use of a disc or an external drive for this. I used a normal thumb drive with a Windows 10 in it.
Closing the laptop is as simple as doing the process in reverse. Take good care of your old drive and store it someplace safe should your laptop get murdered and a warranty is still possible. On the otherhand, that old drive can still be used as a backup or breathe new life into it as an external drive.
I first had to disable th ASUS ROG G551JW’s Secure Boot Control in order for me to be able to boot via USB ports. Here we go!
Installing the OS might require you to tinker a bit into the system’s BIOS as my laptop proved to be resilient against a USB installation. A simple switch in the BIOS settings and I got the ASUS ROG G551JW booting up from a USB thumb drive.
Fresh, clean, and faster!
How well does this device perform? Well, a tad better than what it was before. See, the WD Blue 1TB SSHD has a NAND flash feature, similar to that of an SSD, albeit at a smaller capacity. This enables it to “learn” commonly used files and load them at a faster rate. I really just need my OS to boot faster but consequently, other applications such as Battlefield 4’s multiplayer loaded faster than my desktop’s old HDD. This serious speed advantage comes without compromising on the capacity of the drive. WD really did a good number with this drive and you can check out our review of it, here.
Hopefully, this little guide has helped you get your mojo on in tweaking your laptop. It’s actually easy to do once you know what to do beforehand. And remember to keep things organized and tidy. Happy upgrading!