SSD for new T420

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by dilberty, Sep 15, 2011.

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  1. dilberty

    dilberty Newbie

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    Hi,

    I just ordered a new T420! :)
    I'd like to purchase an SSD for it to run the OS and apps and make the drive it ships with my secondary drive. Something between 64-120GB will probably be sufficient. My question is what SSD drive should I buy so that:
    a. It's compatible with my T420 (duh)
    b. It doesn't void my Thinkpad warranty (I upgraded to 3 years)
    c. It's reliable
    d. It's easy to install

    Also, do I need to purchase any other adapters to install it? I don't need the DVD drive so I don't mind replacing it with a hard drive.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    I would highly suggest you take a look at the Intel 320 series or Samsung's 470 series SSDs or Crucial's M4 for the best price. No the SSD should go in where the HDD goes. You can get an ultra-bay adapter and put in a secondary mechanical drive. If you install in AHCI (no reason you shouldn't) you can then hotswap the HDD caddy for your ODD if you everso need it.
     
  3. PatchySan

    PatchySan Om Noms Kit Kat

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    Congrats on the purchase. With the T420 you have a choice of going for either the standard 7/9.5mm SSD's or the mSATA SSD.

    mSATA SSD Drive

    Why For?

    + It's compact and small profile design enables to save additional weight when compared to an additional standard sized SSD drive.

    + Reliability wise they're very robust. I haven't heard major horror stories for the mSATA drives and people are generally very happy with them.

    + As it uses a different slot (mini PCI-e) it doesn't need to sacrifice either the hard drive bay or the Ultrabay DVD drive slot...

    + ...which in turn means no need for additional expense on an Ultrabay HDD Caddy to have 2 drives on one system.

    + Also it means you don't need to sacrifice functionality such as losing the DVD drive for instance!

    Why Against?

    - mSATA SSD's are a bit behind in terms of capacity against standard sized SSD's.

    - You lose WWAN functionality as they share the same slot, it's only one or the other.

    - They're a bit slow compared to some standard sized SSD's. (But only a bit)

    - Some popular mSATA drives can be hard to find due to high demand. Choices are also not that vast compared to the standard sized SSD's.

    Standard Sized SSD (in Ultrabay Caddy)

    Why For?

    + The fastest SSD drives available at the moment are normally in standard size form such as the OCZ Vertex 3 and Crucial M4 for example. If you want absolute speed and take advantage of the SATA III capability on offer then this is the way to go.

    + Have a vast choice of SSD's available compared to mSATA to suit all kinds of budget.

    + You can have the option of a large capacity SSD (256GB+) if you really need it compared to the mSATA drives where capacity is limited.

    + It is far more easier to "Hot Swap" drives in a Ultrabay Caddy than one from a mSATA slot where you will need some screwdrivers handy to remove which on travels is not that practical...

    Why Against?

    - Additional cost, you will have to buy the Ultrabay HDD separately. Plus the best SSD drives tend to be very expensive.

    - Finding the right Ultrabay caddy for the T420 can be a bit of a minefield, some third party caddies work fine while some others don't (no SATA 3 mode, fail to power on etc.). Lenovo have release an official caddy though it did took them more than a year after the introduction of the T420 before finally releasing it.

    - You will lose the DVD drive, which on some occasions can be annoying (such as updating the Intel firmware which come in ISOs).

    It all depends on preference, for the mSATA route the Intel 310 is proving to be popular choice amongst Thinkpadders. For standard sized SSD's well Intel have slipped a bit with their Intel 320 (8MB Bug) and the Intel 510 is not that great in speed (not to mention the warm reboot freeze). Lately Crucial have been ramping up the speed on their M4 drives, the OCZ Vertex 3 is another possible candidate too but the Sandforce controller can be a bit sketchy in reliabilty. So I probably nod for the Crucial M4 this time round for the standard sized SSD's.
     
  4. dilberty

    dilberty Newbie

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    Thanks guys for the quick response! Why is there no official Ultrabay caddy? So basically installing a drive in the Ultrabay is not "officially supported" by Lenovo? That makes me think the mSATA is the way to go.
    Also one thing I'm not sure I understand: if I do go the standard size route, do I have to put the SSD in the Ultrabay or install it internally? (assuming I want to run the OS from the SDD).
    And last question: how do I transfer the pre-installed Win7 from the HDD to the SDD? Or do I need to re-install? (and if so where to get the installation disc because I know Lenovo doesn't ship those with the machines anymore).

    Thanks again!
     
  5. PatchySan

    PatchySan Om Noms Kit Kat

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    There are some official ones but they're too thin. There isn't an official caddy that fits flush with the T420 bezel at the time of writing so you need to look at third party vendors on eBay for instance. I'm using one at the moment I have no troubles using 2 drives on one system.

    Thats fine, it will work vice-versa. Personally I have my SSD internally while my HDD is in the Ultrabay.

    You need to create a set of recovery discs on your system first, you need at least 1x blank CD and maybe 3x blank DVD to create your set. Once done you can install your new SSD in, set that as the primary drive and run the recovery discs and it will copy the original factory installation on to your new SSD.
     
  6. ThinkRob

    ThinkRob Notebook Deity

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    Even a third party UltraBay caddy will *not* void your warranty, so there's no reason not to use one.

    The T420 uses a SATA UltraBay, so there's no need for an active caddy -- the caddy just passes the SATA port through to the computer. There's literally no electronics required, making the caddies pretty easy to make (and thus pretty easy to make relaible.)

    As far as SSDs go, get an Intel X25-M, an Intel 320, or a Samsung 470. There are faster drives. There are bigger drives. But these three use well-established from some of the most reliable, most-experienced players in the SSD business. If you don't want to spend hours researching and benchmarking your options, and if you're not the overclocking, gotta-get-every-last-bit-of-performance type, they're your best choices.

    Oh, and installing a SATA SSD won't affect your warranty at all, so no worries there.
     
  7. dilberty

    dilberty Newbie

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    Thanks again guys!
    Just got my T420! Very happy so far.
    Quick question - I usually uninstall most Lenovo software shipped with the computer since I trust the OS to do a good enough job (running Win7).
    Specifically about the Thinkpad Power manager - what do you guys think about it?
     
  8. aadadams

    aadadams Notebook Deity

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    After my clean installs, I add several utilities back. If memory serves I leave out Access Connections. Otherwise I think the Lenovo apps are excellent. The Power Manager Utility and Driver are essential IMO. I would use them no matter what.
     
  9. dilberty

    dilberty Newbie

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    Thanks!!!
    Last question :)
    I'd like to add 4GB of RAM. What do you recommend? (again for stability, performance and compatibility).

    Thanks!!
     
  10. ThinkRob

    ThinkRob Notebook Deity

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    Don't worry about the brand. Get the cheapest DDR3-1333 modules you can find.
     
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