Triple Your Laptop’s Speed Without Sacrificing Space By Adding An MSATA SSD

Triple Your Laptop’s Speed Without Sacrificing Space By Adding An MSATA SSD

Switching to a solid state drive, as we’ve mentioned repeatedly, is one of the best upgrades you can make. Because of the cost, however, upgrading to an SSD usually means reducing your storage capacity. For the best of both worlds (speed and large storage), install an mSATA SSD as the boot drive to your laptop.

In essence, you’re creating your own hybrid drive, with the mSATA SSD significantly improving your PC’s startup time, application launching and file transfer speeds, and your current HDD offering all the space you need for your files.

Not all laptops support mSATA, but Laptop Magazine says that several models from 2011 and on do, including most Dell and Lenovo laptops. (Check your service manual or this compatibility list on My Digital Discount.)

Adding an mSATA involves a number of steps beyond just inserting it into the laptop’s empty PCIe slot, so head over to Laptop Magazine below for the full step-by-step instructions for cloning your current drive, changing the boot drive, editing the registry and so on. As always, make sure you fully back up your system first. Enjoy the great speed bump without sacrificing space!

(If your laptop doesn’t support mSATA, don’t worry. There are ways you can survive on a small SSD.)

Triple Your Speed: How to Install an mSATA SSD Boot Drive in Your Laptop [Laptop Magazine]


  • +1 on the Intel RST. It works surprisingly well when used to cache/accelerate a mechanical drive. Maximum SSD space it will use is 64GB, but if your SSD is larger it will make the remaining space available for other use.

    Something else you can also do on a laptop is change the drive caching policy in the device manager. In the device manager expand “Disk Drives”, right click your mechanical drive and properties, then choose the “Policies” tab and there are two tick boxes. Enable them both; enable write caching and disable write-cache buffer flushing.

    You’ll probably get a warning that you could suffer from data loss during a power outage, which is fine as this option is typically used on RAID controllers with battery backup on the write cache. However, we’re talking about laptops so the whole thing has a battery backup when connected to mains. You should already have power policies set to cleanly shut down your laptop when the battery tanks to 5% or lower.

  • I personally wouldn’t bother with Intel RST (and didn’t on my own Lenovo IdeaPad). You will get far better performance by buying a larger mSATA (128GB+) and installing your OS and apps on there as a separate drive over using it as a cache with the mechanical HDD. This article got it spot on.

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