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How to install a Samsung 960 Evo in a ThinkPad T470

First published on October 15, 2017

I recently installed a Samsung 960 Evo SSD hard drive in ThinkPad T470 laptop (after having already purchased and received the laptop with a standard hard drive in it), and it was much more difficult than expected.

What worked was to do the following:

  • Buy the 01AX994 (hard drive adapter bracket) and 00UR496 (M.2 SSD cable) from Encompass, an OEM Lenovo parts seller
  • Put the Samsung 960 Evo drive in the bracket above, attached to the motherboard via the cable above in the main hard drive slot in the machine
  • Put the existing hard drive (that came with the ThinkPad T470) in a standard SATA USB enclosure, but don’t boot from it
  • Put Clonezilla on a bootable USB stick, and boot from Clonezilla, so that I could copy the old hard drive to the new SSD

Even though this was technically still cheaper than just buying the ThinkPad T470 from Lenovo with an SSD in the laptop in the first place, it took weeks to get the correct parts, and I certainly wish I’d paid the extra money up front.

To help provide context for the above, this is what didn’t work:

  • Putting the Samsung 960 Evo SSD directly in the ThinkPad T470 without having to purchase additional parts. There is an M.2 slot in the machine, but the physical space available to put something in that slot is way too small to put the 960 Evo. Had I purchased the ThinkPad with an SSD already in it, the necessary slot would have been available in the standard hard drive area.
  • Putting the Samsung 960 Evo SSD in a third-party internal hard drive bracket. I thought the StarTech.com M.2 to 2.5 inch SATA converter (7mm height) looked and sounded perfect, until I discovered firsthand that the 960 Evo does not fit in it. This is because the 960 Evo is an “M key”, as opposed to a “B key” or “B+M key”. I was never able to find a generic, internal hard drive bracket / M.2 to SATA adapter that supports the “M key” connection.
  • Putting the Samsung 960 Evo SSD in a third-party external hard drive USB enclosure. As per the point above, the “M key” connection on the 960 Evo makes it unsuitable for a standard SATA USB enclosure. There might be such an external enclosure that supports the “M key” connection out there, and hopefully this becomes more common over time.
  • Booting Windows from the existing hard drive (that came with the ThinkPad T470) from a USB enclosure. The goal was to use Samsung’s Data Migration software to copy the existing drive and operating system to the new SSD.

Clearly I had and still have a lot to learn about SSDs!

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