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GUIDE: Make your T4x *FAST* by replacing the HDD with a SSD!

T4x series specific matters only
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GUIDE: Make your T4x *FAST* by replacing the HDD with a SSD!

#1 Post by Johan » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:21 pm

GUIDE: Make your T4x *FAST* by replacing the HDD with a SSD!!

The purpose of this sticky is to help make more T4x-owners aware of a hardware upgrade/modification which will greatly speed up your ThinkPad: To replace the relatively slow mechanical rotating harddrive (HDD) with an all-electronic, super-fast Solid State Disk (SSD). The result: Super speed, and great joy! :D

People tend to visit this forum for two major reasons:

1) Because of having HW or SW problems with their ThinkPad's of some kind, and hence seeking help and advice, or

2) Not having actual problems, but being interested in ThinkPad's, wanting to learn more and often also wanting to maintain, optimize/upgrade, speed up and/or "max. out" their laptops. The sticky here is mostly related to this second group.

For T4x-owners (me being a very enthusiastic one!) who are fond of and still satisfied with their T4x/p's and who therefore wants to retain them, the most significant upgrade - with respect to increasing the speed of the ThinkPad - is obtained by replacing the relatively slow mechanical HDD with a fast SSD. Doing this will make T4x’s feel as fast as new 2012-laptops for most daily-day tasks, such as writing, browsing the internet etc. Two additional benefits of doing this upgrade is that the SSD is completely dead-silent (as opposed to a HDD, having a certain amount of "hum" or "hiss" and also some slight vibration sensed on the palmrest, all owing to its rotating platters), and that the SSD also consume less power compared to the HDD, which in turn will give a SSD-ThinkPad a longer battery-time compared to a HDD-ThinkPad. Bottom line? Don't hesitate to carry out this wonderful upgrade... if you want eternal happiness! 8)

Since T4x's are using 2.5" HDD's of the PATA/IDE type (although T43/p’s are being a bit special at this point), and since high-quality, fast 2.5" PATA SSD's are very expensive (the only high-quality, fast 2.5" PATA SSD that I'm aware of is the OWC Mercury Legacy Pro SSD), it has been discovered that a relatively cheaper 1.8” SATA SSD may instead be used in the main HDD drive bay of e.g. T42’s, if fitting this 1.8" SSD with a 1.8”-SATA-to-2.5”-PATA-adapter. Much effort has been put into testing various 1.8" SATA SSD’s with this 2.5" adapter in T4x’s, and users who have taken this path have reported great joy with their ”newborn” and very speedy T4x’s. Based on this, readers are therefore invited to review the following two threads, which contains the information needed to do the upgrade; see 1.8" SATA to 2.5" IDE converter? and T42 SSD Conversion Success (1.8" SATA drive + bridge board). This upgrade is fast, super-easy, and can therefore be done by everybody, since no technical experience at all is necessary.

The above two threads mainly focus on using the 1.8”-SATA-to-2.5”-PATA-adapter with a 1.8" SATA SSD. In T43/p's another option exist; to modify the motherboard to work directly with a 2.5" SATA drive (this drive being either a 2.5" SATA HDD or a 2.5" SATA SSD), see the thread T43p SATA Guide (Beware pictures, 56k-ers). This modification is however very delicate, and require quite some technical experience.

As mentioned, 2.5" PATA SSD's also exist, and have been used in e.g. T42/p's; see the threads: 2.5" PATA OWC Mercury Legacy Pro SSD: Performance in T42? and T43 Installed Transcend SSD observations **PICTURE LINKS*** and Help: T43 doesn't recognize Kingspec PATA 64GB SSD and T43 SSD FAT32 or NTFS Windows XP

Alternatively, the idea of getting a (relatively cheap) 2.5" SATA SSD to work in the UltraBay of a T4x/p has been discussed e.g. in the threads How to use 2.5" SATA SSD in Ultrabay caddy and SATA hard drive caddy in UltraBay and Slow boot when using only UltraBay SATA HD in T42 and Empty primary bay causes boot timeout from SATA ultrabay (and in a related thread [R51]How to avoid boot delay if no main HDD is installed?) but in my case I'd rather like to get the 1.8" SATA SSD to work in the main HDD-bay for two reasons: 1) I would like to retain the internal CV/DVD, and 2) There is a significant boot delay (approx. about 30 secs) if booting from a HDD or a SDD in the Ultrabay. As far as I know, no-one has been able to completely circumvent/avoid this delay.

► Update of Nov. 16, 2013... about how to use a very cheap, fast and in particular more modern (!) mSATA SSD, in stead of a 1.8" SATA SSD:

In the thread New SSD opt. for T4x: mSATA-to-IDE adapter ST663FD9 *PICS* another very enthusiastic T4x'er :wink: user GACrabill recently posted a very interesting alternative (and perhaps better?) detailled approach to speeding up a T4x/p through adding a fast mSATA SSD - in stead of the 1.8" SATA SSD discussed in the above-mentioned posts. Other users who are also taking this "mSATA-path" are kindly encouraged to post results and experience in Gary's thread - thanks very much in advance! :bow:

Note that it has been discussed what BIOS-version is best suited for this type of mSATA SSD's, as discussed in the thread T42, 1.8" microSATA SSD and adapter board; drive not seen and Trying SATA in 2001-2002 machines? Limited to Ultra ATA/33. Moreover, note that certain older (e.g. pre-T4x/p) ThinkPads will not work af full ATA-100/133-speed with this type of SATA SSD's, as discussed in the thread just mentioned.

► Update of Feb. 19, 2014... yet another successful approach about how to use a mSATA SSD in a ThinkPad T42, using a very cheap adapter:

In the thread Successful upgrade of T42 with Crucial M4 128 GB mSATA SSD an Australian T42-owner, Acheron, has reported how an only USD 15,- mSATA-to-IDE adapter (and a mSATA SSD) has successfully been adopted in a T42.

► Update of Dec. 1, 2012 ... about how to use a very cheap, fast 2.5" SATA SSD (or a 2.5" SATA HDD) as the main boot drive in the T4x/p UltraBay, and WITHOUT the 30 sec. boot-delay:

In this post the following very interesting information is shared by TioFrancotirador:
Johan wrote:Question: Can this approx. 30 sec. boot-delay be completely avoided/circumvented if a (non-bootable) PATA HDD or SSD, or a "PATA SD card"? (any links to the latter??), is mounted in the main HDD drive bay?
TioFrancotirador wrote:Yes. I do not have 30s delay in boot. I have SSD in UltraBay with Win 7 as main boot. In main IDE drive, where previously I had regular PATA HDD drive, now I have small PATA SD Card reader with an old 1GB card inserted into it. Works great.
Note: TioFrancotirador is using a 2.5" Samsung 830 SATA 128 GB SSD in his T42 UltraBay caddy (and is using this as the main boot drive, running Windows 7).

This is great news to all those who wish to greatly speed up their e.g. T42/p's and are willing to "sacrifice" the built-in CD-ROM drive for a 2.5" SATA bootable drive in the UltraBay, since e.g. 120 GB 2.5" SATA SSD's are available for as little USD 60,- (when on sale, watch out for this e.g. on Slickdeals, Fatwallet etc. and you may from time to time be lucky to pick up other good SSD deals, such as this).

Another example of this approach can be seen in the Youtube video IBM ThinkPad T42 SUPERFAST 20 Second Boot! where a 2.5" Sandisk SSD (specific model/type unknown) is used in the UltraBay (by the way, peculiar that the Youtube'r claim to use a 2.26 GHz CPU in a T42...??)

Finally, and in relation to the previous, it is also possible to use a 2.5" SATA drive as the main drive in e.g. T42/p's; this is discussed in the thread T40p and SATA drive w/o swapping with cdrom, more specifically in this post. It however seems that this modification is "easiest" in 15" models, due to the very restricted space in 14.1" models. This modification too is however very delicate, and require quite some technical experience.

Personally (and speaking now in Oct. 2012), I'd absolutely recommend the 1.8" SATA SSD with the eBay SATA-to-PATA adapter and the --> tomatenfisch caddy... as this gives a both stable and easy solution for anyone who wants a FAST SSD in their PATA ThinkPad!

A related thread to the use of a SSD in a T4x/p under Windows XP is Speed optimization/garbage management in PATA SSD’s under XP

This post has been made a sticky after permission from Senior forum Admin (Bill Morrow). This sticky is read-only since it is beneficial to post questions and comments in the abovementioned threads, rather than spreading comments more, by e.g. posting in this sticky.

Best of luck to all of you "out there" who wish to "breathe new life" into your T4x/p ThinkPad's by replacing the old, slow HDD by a fast SSD! :thumbs-UP:


(this sticky initially posted on Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:21 pm, and subsequently updated several times, as indicated above)
IBM T42p's (2373-Q1U & -Q2U): 2.1 GHz, 15" UXGA FlexView, 2 GB RAM, 128 MB FireGL T2, 128 GB 1.8" SATA SSD, IBM a/b/g, BT, Win 7 Ultimate
IBM T42 (2373-N1G): 1.8 GHz, 15" SXGA+ FlexView, 2 GB RAM, 64 MB Radeon 9600, 64 GB 1.8" SATA SSD, IBM a/b/g, BT, Win 7 Ultimate

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