Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
Hello, the local e-recycler has a number of "parts" laptops for sale,  
some of which are actually functional, but missing the hard drive.

Having never had a laptop, I'd like to pick one up to play with.

Is it safe to assume that an IDE hard drive for a P4/Celeron-based  
(older) laptop is going to be a 2.5" unit?

So far I've looked at a Pavilion or a Thinkpad, if that helps.



Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

Jon Danniken wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

A 3.5" drive would make a laptop pretty thick. It would
end up as more of a desktop replacement style laptop if
that was the case (a laptop you don't really
want to carry around with you, that stays at your desk).

So yes, some kind of 2.5" drive is likely. 2.5" drives come
in a few different heights, and you want something that
will fit in the drive tray.

    "Drives 9.5 mm high became an unofficial standard for all
     except the largest-capacity laptop drives (usually having
     two platters inside); 12.5 mm-high drives, typically with
     three platters, are used for maximum capacity, but will
     not fit most laptop computers. Enterprise-class drives
     can have a height up to 15 mm. Seagate released a 7mm
     drive aimed at entry level laptops and high end netbooks
     in December 2009."

Be wary of any laptops that have special requirements of
the drive. Like, drives that need to be tattooed. Drives
that have the "free fall sensor". That sort of thing.
A business laptop is more likely to have features like
that, than a cheesy consumer laptop.

Interface types on the hard drives, include IDE (44 pin, 2mm spacing),
and SATA (connector is the same as a 3.5" SATA drive). So that's
another variable to check.

Some storage devices in laptops, include an "adapter". A plug
that fits on the drive. As near as I can determine, these
may exist to make the mechanical connection between
drive and laptop, more flexible, so if the machine
receives a shock, the connector won't snap off.

So there are just a few variables...


Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

On 04/27/2013 06:04 PM, Paul wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Thanks Paul, I appreciate it.  I'll make sure to keep the drive height  
and other extras in mind when I pick one up.


Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

I can't speak for Lenovo (having never owned one), but Dell has great  
documentation on their notebooks. I've done a RAM upgrade and HD to SSD  
conversion on a Dell refurb. I would try to find a brand where you can  
get the service manuals.

If the notebook uses a drive caddy, so much the better. I suspect Lenovo  
and I know Dell uses very modular designs, at least in the Dell business  
notebooks (Latitude). In enterprise, they buy mostly Dell, Lenovo, with  
maybe Panasonic and Fujitsu in certain situations. HP has a commercial  
line of notebooks, but I suspect the vast majority of what you find will  
be kind of low grade consumer gear.

If you get in the mood to buy something new and don't mind hacking,  
these Dell refurbs can be a real bargain. Most seem to be returned by  
the customer due to really dumb configurations, like very small drives  
or the bare minimum ram. Dell just puts them on the refurb list, but  
they really are new.

If you are very picky about keyboards, some say Lenovo has an edge over  
the rest of the market.

Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

On 04/27/2013 09:05 PM, miso wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Thanks Miso.  They do have some Latitudes on the shelf; I'll see if any  
of them have the kind of specs I'm looking for.


Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

The business models are generally smart card equipped, not that you need  
it for personal use. Mine has both the RFID type (your badge is the  
smartcard) and a slot for the older style physical smartcard. These  
units are generally bought on large corporate buys, and Dell doesn't  
skimp on them since it means they might lose the next buy to Lenovo.  
Anyway, looking for the full business set of goodies may get you a  
better machine, so look for the smartcard slot.

Mine is the ruggedized version of the Lattitude such as you find in  
police squad cars. It really isn't as rugged as a Toughbook, but more  
rugged than the stock Dell, though probably not significantly. [Just a  
different case and some gaskets, though it has a daylight readable LCD  
with a mat finish.] I haven't had the chance to use it in freezing  
environments, but I have run it in the desert at well over 100 deg F.  
The fan runs constantly, but it keeps on chugging. Having a SSD helps.

If you troll the internet for Dell wandering trackpad, you can find  
which models are prone to this problem. Mine has it a little bit. I have  
tracked down the problem to stress in the metal frame squeezing the pad.  
It seems to go away if you stress the metal frame back occasionally. The  
only reason I mention this is there are posts after post on how to fix  
this, and nobody has figured out that it is stress on the frame  
effecting the trackpad. Some people are going through the extremes of  
cutting wires on the gum drop mouse.

I managed to discover this by noticing that as I moved the LCD, which on  
the ruggedized version is mighty stiff, the "mouse' moved a bit. Then I  
tried grabbing the case by the edges and flexing it, which could move  
the mouse as well. But once you "set" it, the problem goes away.

The Dell metal cases are not like the Apple cases which are CNC milled.  
Still they are better than the plastic cases you get on most notebooks,  
plus Apple notebooks can't take heat. [Nothing Apple makes can take heat  
since they make everything thin.]

While I'm at it, some of the Dells have optional backlit keys. On mine,  
the backlight control is on the "arrows" in the right lower corner.  
Obviously if they have a pile of old notebooks, you would want to get  
one with the backlit keys. There are no other indications other than the  
icon, which is a rectangle to represent the keyboard, and then an arch  
over the rectangle to represent the sun.

If it has a high capacity battery pack, it will be sticking out the back  
of the notebook rather than flush.

Re: Physical size of IDE drives for laptop

On 04/28/2013 03:49 PM, miso wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Great info, thanks again miso!


Site Timeline