Category: OTHER PROJECTS

MydigitalSSD 256GB M.2 SSD

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THINKPAD W540 OPTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL INTERNAL STORAGE

MydigitalSSD 256GB M.2 SSD used as the main OS drive (blue PCB). Next to a standard SD card for size comparison.

Fresh OS Install is highly recommended. Cloned, benchmarks show slower than advertised speeds. Fresh install shows benchmarks improved to, and hits, standard advertised speeds. Which means FAST.

Lenovo explicitly wrote on the W540 manual that using the M.2 slot for OS use is not recommended. So kids, don’t try this at home.

Now I have the HDD space for more Internal SSD storage!

Thinking of removing the DVD-RW drive, for added high-capacity SSD drive bay. I already have an external USB3.0 DVD-RW drive.

Then there’s the built-in SD slot, a potential for another high-capacity(ish) storage drive (talking 128GB-356GB SDXC Sandisk cards). I use an external USB3.0 SD card reader.

Looking into the Expresscard 34 slot, there may be some use for it.

Souping Up A Lenovo Thinkpad W540

One of my nerdy past times is modding and upgrading and hotrodding computers. Yep, i can’t leave anything well enough alone. I always want to see how a machine works, break it down, tear it apart, put it back together, make it even better if i can. It served me well when i used to build PCs for my small business on the side. I’ve since moved on, but i still tinker with my own computers.

I stopped fiddling with PCs when i got my Core 2 Duo Dell laptop back in 2009, when it became my only computer. At the time it was sufficient for my needs – mostly website building, and a bit of post-processing of photos i’ve shot. Ive started with my black and white instant film shoots then, and simply scanning them and playing with contrasts didn’t need much horsepower.

Fast forward to 2015, and my needs have since outgrown the old laptop. I’ve gone back to shooting digital again, and the programs im using for post-processing have grown more robust, but also needed more horsepower. It was time to get into the new decade, and with a lot of research in the latest CPUs, i’ve resolved to get an i7 notebook. This time though, my work needs a beefy workstation, with a lot of RAM, or at least with a lot of room for RAM expansion. I already maxed out to 8GB of RAM on the old C2D Dell, i needed more on the new one. 16GB was my target, until i learned of desktop replacement workstations that can max out to 32GB of RAM.
I also needed a better graphics processor. I missed having a dedicated GPU, and in this case i NEEDED a dedicated GPU. Laptops have become much more powerful that there are several that offer discreet graphics, either for gaming or for professional use.
One other main requirement for me was for the laptop to be able to push a 4K monitor, which goes in line with getting a dedicated GPU for it.

I narrowed it down to 2 laptops: an HP ZBook 15, and a Lenovo Thinkpad W540. Both can be configured to have an i7 processor, with a dedicated Nvidia Quadro graphics card, with RAM expandable to 32GB. I initially got the ZBook 15, but i had buyer’s remorse, only because after about a week, i found a better deal on a W540, with much better specs for a lot lower price. So i shuttled the ZBook back to HP, and got the W540.

Now i did read ahead, and in my research, although it was praised and reviewed highly by computer sites, the W540 was panned by users. It was said to be the worst Thinkpad ever, with the gripe solely on the new touchpad that deviated from the traditional one that Thinkpads always had. That was it. No mention of how bad the components were, if the computer was slow compared to other similarly spec’d workstations.
Now i did own an older Thinkpad that was still made by IBM, but since ive never truly used it, and with my use of a dedicated mouse instead of the touchpad that laptops have, i don’t see why it would be annoying to me.

The first thing i did? swapped out the hard drive with a Samsung 840 Pro Solid State Drive, the same one i used on the old Dell laptop. SSDs are much faster than HDDs, it made the old dell much more responsive.

Plus i will NEVER trust a magnetic HDD anymore, after losing tens of thousands of pictures and documents when my main HDD AND my backup HDD both died in the same week, before i can make another back up. No more of that nonsense, i’m betting everything on solid state now, even using larger capacity SD cards. Not only do they NOT have a magnetic spinning disc that can crash and get corrupted beyond repair, SSDs require very low power, which for a laptop is always a good thing.
Some argue that SSDs have a finite life, and HDDs can last a long time, to which i say bullshit, just looking at the number of hard drives that died on me, losing my data. That SSDs have a finite life means you KNOW when it will die or when it will need replacing. No more wondering of the hard drive will crash now or later, because eventually it WILL crash. Not saying SSDs do not crash, but you have an idea when, and you can be ready for it. There are even programs and diagnostic apps that can check on the number of writes the SSDs already had, and how many  more it can take.

Next thing i did was install a tiny solid state drive in the form of an NGCC M.2 drive.