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done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

X2/X3/X4x series specific matters only
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ZAGNUT
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done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#1 Post by ZAGNUT » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:38 am

for a while now i've been fighting the urge to get an X41 but when i first saw the thread on modding it to accept a SATA drive i finally gave in. no more dismissing it because of its lame HDD or wondering if all the PATA SSD's from no-name vendors were really worth the trouble and money.

the one thing i didn't like about all the mods i saw pics of was the way people were hacking away at the drive bay to get the current crop of 1.8" SSD's to fit, a good part of the machine's stiffness comes from the way the drive bay cage, system board and case bottom are all clamped together with screws. i knew there had to be an SSD out there were the PCB inside was much smaller than the standardized case and after some digging i found it: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2968/inte ... 125-ssds/3 while 30GB ain't a lot it's way more than enough for me, my XP and various program installs don't usually go over 1GB and the data/crap i store on the machine rarely gets to 10GB. i do remeber looking up pics of the 64GB version of the kingston SSD and it had a full size PCB inside. for those who do need more storage in this same form factor i have recently started seeing similar SSD's from sandisk that go up to 128GB. pretty sure they are made for OEM's but due to upgrades they should come up for sale here and there....at least on ebay i have seen a 64GB for sale.

now after i already had the kingston in hand and was just about ready to start hacking away i found this: http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... safe%3Doff so i guess i'm not the only one to visit anandtech and it's reassuring that someone else had success with the same disk. two things of interest in his short write up are that he doesn't mention the dreaded "2010 error" and he's feeding the SSD 3.3 volts while the label states 5 volts. tried to contact him regarding the voltage but no reply....so probing the little board i find that 5 volts goes straight to a switching regulator and nowhere else. not being able to find a data sheet for the regulator i just assumed it would be happy with no dropout like most switching regulators. to test it i rearranged the power connector on my desktop to feed it 3.3 volts and it worked just fine. this is great because instead of stealing 5 volts from somewhere on the system board i can just hook up to the old PATA connector.

another thing i don't like with all the mods i've seen is the way the disk is crammed in the bay with wires going everywhere, i wanted it to be easily unplugged just like the original disk. so i made up a little adapter with a SATA connector on one side and a PATA connector on the other. this would plug in just like the old drive to provide power and ground but also extend past the connector and be held down by the same screws that hold the drive cage and board to the base. here is the adapter board being test fitted before etching:

Image

here's the board after etching and with SSD installed:

Image

i figured i'd save some time and just draw out the artwork with a sharpie...big mistake, would have been much faster to do a toner transfer and it wouldn't have turned out so ugly either. my DIY HASL finish with a heatgun doesn't look so hot either...

and a comparison of the old drive to the kingston:

Image

and the boot list in BIOS:

Image

and i don't know why but i'm not getting the "2010 error" when booting the machine :D
Last edited by ZAGNUT on Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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j-dawg
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#2 Post by j-dawg » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:47 am

Wow, a very ballsy modification. Gettin' comfy with a soldering iron on a hard drive must take nerves of steel. How is performance? Have you run any benchmarks?
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#3 Post by sjthinkpader » Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:09 pm

I don't like those no name SSDs either. But Sandisk, Lenovo and Samsung PATA versions are available.
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.ph ... 1&start=60
(Mar 3rd post)

You work is truly nicely done. Thank you for posting it.
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ZAGNUT
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#4 Post by ZAGNUT » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:10 pm

j-dawg wrote:Wow, a very ballsy modification. Gettin' comfy with a soldering iron on a hard drive must take nerves of steel. How is performance? Have you run any benchmarks?
no soldering done on the drive itself, just on the adapter and the four small wires to the system board...and removing the pata-sata bridge chip with a heat gun.

with a slim XP the machine is super responsive and from the splash screen to full desktop is around 12 seconds...will be a bit quicker if i cancel the "ctrl-alt-dlt" and password steps :D i was perfectly happy with the speed of the original disk and win7 but now i'm seeing how slow it really was. wanted to run crystaldiskmark but it has IE dependencies and i have no IE. so if anyone knows of something slim and optimized for SSD's i'll give it a try. either way it's gonna be much, much quicker than any PATA SSD as the conversion bridge is a real bottleneck.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#5 Post by ZAGNUT » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:16 pm

sjthinkpader wrote:I don't like those no name SSDs either. But Sandisk, Lenovo and Samsung PATA versions are available.
true but just plugging the thing in is no fun at all. plus, the price of the kingston is probably half that of those you listed...

any ideas on why i'm not getting the 2010 error?
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#6 Post by sjthinkpader » Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:12 pm

Could be due to the missing SATA-PATA bridge.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#7 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:15 pm

Wow!
That opens the door for modding the similarly equipped T43 and R52 models, that also have this silly SATA-PATA bridge.
They have a lot more space in the hard disk bay than the X40/X41/X41t.
Who's going to be the first?
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ZAGNUT
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#8 Post by ZAGNUT » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:14 am

plenty of T43's have been done already, probably more than the X41, problem is that all the info seems to be in german, korean or chinese. those guys seem to tinker a lot more than those on this forum do.

sjthinkpader: i don't think it has to do with removing the bridge as everyone else who has still moans about the error.
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ZAGNUT
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#9 Post by ZAGNUT » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:20 pm

got over the IE dependencies and played with crystaldiskmark:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13944288@N ... 882367294/

pretty much inline with the anandtech review of this SSD when you take into account the older chip set in the X41. in real world performance this should wipe the floor with any PATA SSD, even the best. everything about this machine is simply snappy now.

and reading up on all the various XP tweaks to get the most from an SSD i have decided that the one you really don't want to bother with is turning off disk caching :BAAAD!:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13944288@N ... 882367294/

the numbers look bad but actually waiting for the results was even worse...i actually looked for a hand crank on the side of the machine a few times.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#10 Post by dcouzin » Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:11 pm

[quote="ZAGNUT"]plenty of T43's have been done already, probably more than the X41, problem is that all the info seems to be in german, korean or chinese. those guys seem to tinker a lot more than those on this forum do.

ZAGNUT: (Now if you can make Zagnut bars reappear you're a real magician) have you a link to German information on modifying the T43 to SATA? Thanks.

ZAGNUT
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#11 Post by ZAGNUT » Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:33 pm

my searching isn't turning anything up on google right now but there should be at least one big thread on www.thinkpad-forum.de and i'm pretty sure it also references a lot of chinese and korean info. it's basically the same pin for pin mod as i did but you have room for a 2.5" SSD and 5 volts ready to go.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#12 Post by lexicon » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:46 am

any ideas on why i'm not getting the 2010 error?
Can you mention your BIOS version number?
Some older version will not scream for error 2010.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#13 Post by frankiepankie » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:04 am

Is this mod possible without removing the chip from the mainboard?

I am quite handy with a soldering iron, but if it fails, i have no way back because the chip is gone.

Isn't it possible to cut a (few) trace(s) that are going to the chip? Maybe some +5V line that can be cut so the chip isn't working anymore?
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ZAGNUT
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#14 Post by ZAGNUT » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:23 pm

BIOS version 2.01 (74ET56WW), most definitely after the 2010 error was added. plenty of others who have removed the bridge still get the error so i don't know what the deal is. would be nice to get everyone who has done this mod together and see who gets the error and who doesn't but no mails i've sent have ever been answered....


@frankiepankie: i'm sure you could just cut a few traces and this is what i originally planned on doing but could not find a data sheet for the chip and didn't feel like probing the board while under power. if you have access to a good heat gun with digital temp control then removing the chip is really easy and the temps needed to get it off are quite a bit less than what's needed to solder it back on so it won't be harmed in the process. and if the need ever arises to solder it back on then that could be done with a simple soldering iron as well. in fact, removing and replacing it might be easier than patching up a few of those very tight traces you would have to cut.

also, pretty sure that some have done the mod by only cutting the four traces that the SATA data lines are soldered to.
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#15 Post by lukee » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:16 am

Hello, 2010 error is the past... BIOS mod already exists. Go to link in my signature...
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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#16 Post by keithsketchley » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:41 pm

Supposedly there are Kingspec SSDs to at least 128GB with IDE connector that will plug right into x41.

According to KingSpec's web site their PATA SSDs in 1.8 and 2.5" configurations are no longer produced.


As for the 2010 error, isn’t there an option in the BIOS to not display that? (There is at least one BIOS upgrade.)

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Re: done: X41 with SATA SSD mod (pics)

#17 Post by ZAGNUT » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:04 pm

well it's been 4.5 years since i did this mod and the machine still gets used hard every single day....still on the same XP install and still as snappy as it was when i first got it up and running. never bothered figuring out any kind of TRIM or wear leveling scheme other than what may or may not be in the SSD itself. still think this machine is the pinnacle of thinkpad design and for my use there is no reason at all to bother upgrading anytime soon....only wish battery life was a longer. will soon be looking into LED backlighting that might just help in that area.

got a T43 now that's going under the knife for the same mod. much better selection of SSDs these days.

have fun!

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