Friday 13 July 2012

Replacing Lenovo optical drive with second hard drive: The Lenovo adapter is disappointing

I recently ordered a Lenovo Serial ATA Hard Drive Bay Adapter III for my Lenovo T510 laptop. This can hold a hard drive, and replaces the DVD/CD-ROM drive in your laptop. This enables your laptop to run a second hard drive.

I've used my optical drive two, maybe three times since getting the laptop, so swapping it for another hard drive seems like a good trade for me.

The Lenovo drive bay itself works fine, but I'm still disappointed in Lenovo's product.

When installed, the drive bay looks like this:
Lenovo Serial ATA Hard Drive Bay Adapter installed in a Lenovo T510
The problem here is that there's a gap of approximately 3mm (~0.12 inches) between the top of the drive bay and the ceiling of the optical disk cavity. This means the drive bay can wobble vertically, so much so that I feel the need to tape it in place to stop it flopping around. This looks ridiculous.

Secondly, in order to install your hard drive inside the Lenovo drive bay, you need a hard drive cover. This is the metal cover that encases the hard drives shipping in Lenovo laptops. The covers normally have rubber bumpers/rails to stop the drive moving around. You need to take the bumpers off to install your drive into the hard drive bay.

The hard drive covers looks like this:

Lenovo hard drive cover

And with a hard drive in it, the hard drive cover looks like this:

Lenovo hard drive cover encasing a hard drive.

Note the screws. The drive bay has notches which the screws snap into, holding the drive securely inside the drive bay. Possibly the screws are the only important bit here; you probably don't actually need the drive cover to install the drive into the bay, just the screws since they're what hold the drive in place inside the drive bay.

The frustrating thing is that nothing on the Lenovo web site tells you that you need a drive cover to install a drive into the drive bay. My drive bay arrived and I had to loot my old laptop's drive cover in order to install a new drive into my current laptop.

And I also couldn't find the drive covers listed on Lenovo's web site. Presumably if you buy a laptop hard drive from Lenovo they come with this cover, and presumably Lenovo use this as a way to force you to buy all your laptop hard drives directly from Lenovo.

That's the sort of behaviour I'd expect from Apple, not Lenovo.

Thankfully Ann at IT was able to figure out how to order the drive covers separately. Thanks Ann!

Overall, the product was easy to install (once I had a drive cover) and works fine (apart from the wobble) but I'm still disappointed. Next time, I'll try one of newmodeus' Lenovo drive caddies:

Update 22 March 2015: This blog post now has a Russian translation;
Пост доступен на сайте Замена оптического дисковода вторым жестким диском на Lenovo.


Guilherme Salgado said...

I have the same bay adapter as you, but it fits perfectly on my T420s. Maybe there's a different model for the T510, or maybe one of the previous models would fit properly.

Also, I'm not using the drive cover for the SSD I have in the bay, simply because it felt reasonably secure in there without it. After reading your post I went to check and it could certainly do with some padding for a better fit, and there's even some drawings on the adapter to suggest that, but they show the rubber paddings (the ones that go on the side) and not the metal cover. I wonder if the rubber paddings come with the metal cover?

Adrianer said...

My story of installing a second HDD (SSD) to a W520 is exactly the same... Lenovo did a really bad job in this case :/

Eddy said...

There are two types of optical bays:
12.7 mm thick ones and 9.5 mm ones.
Maybe you got the 9.5 mm instead of the 12.7mm.

Eddy said...

There are two types of optical bays:
12.7 mm thick ones and 9.5 mm ones.
Maybe you got the 9.5 mm instead of the 12.7mm.