Adding a 2nd HDD to Dell Studio XPS 1647/1645/1640 laptop

Our house was burglarized in early January, and we lost a whole bunch of portable electronics stuff. Our old fully loaded Inspiron 1420 too was a victim of this theft.

After that I was looking for a good laptop to replace it …. and finally ordered a Dell Studio XPS 1647. It took over a month and a half for Dell to ship the laptop and I finally received it last week. Its a pretty good laptop. However, Dell officially supports only one HDD on it. I wanted to use a SSD (solid state drive) as my primary drive for the OS, and then have a second HDD as secondary drive for bulk data storage. So, I bought a 60GB SSD drive and used it as the primary drive. SSD makes a HUGE difference in the performance. No more waits. The entire windows 7 installation was complete in less than 15 mins…  Its a major improvement in performance.

However, the problem is.. the SSD is way to expensive for now. For e.g: 60 GB SSD costs around $170 to $200… and larger capacities cost a fortune. I am pretty sure prices would come down eventually in a year or so.. But for now, I wanted a second HDD to store bulk data – like movies, HD videos that I capture, tons of photos from my dSLR ..etc.. and 60GB won’t suffice. Offcourse, I can connect an external HDD.. but its a hassle with the laptop. So, the search began to see if I could put a second HDD into this laptop. I had heard of people who had replaced their Optical Disk Drives (CD/DVD) with a HDD Caddy and have a second HDD.

So, I did some research on the net and across this specific thread on the notebook review forums, which I visit frequently. Thanks to the author of the thread, I could confirm that this could be done. But since Dell XPS 1647 is a new model (just released), .. no one had really done this, and I believe I am one of the first few to try this out. Not a big deals as such since 1647 is almost similar to 1645/1640 series (except for the processors) and some have reported success on those systems.

So, here is how I did it….. for all the hopefuls :

Pre-Requisites:

  1. Confidence to open your laptop :)
  2. HDD Caddy to replace the Optical Disk Drive – I got one from New Mode Electronics, which sells such caddys. This specific machine uses 12.7mm (height) slot-loading model with SATA external interface. You can buy it on ebay too for a cheaper price, but most of them ship from China and takes a long time to arrive.. and if there is a problem..its  a nightmare to return or re-order.
  3. A second HDD
  4. Dell Service Manual for Studio XPS 16 series – Specially how to replace the Optical Drive

Here is the Pictorial :
Click on each of the image below to see a larger image (in a new window)

Step 01 – Ready to Dismantle the Laptop
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 02 – Remove the Back cover (10 screws to remove)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 03 – Remove the Rear caps (slide, and pull out as described in the dell service manual). Don’t apply force.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 04 – Remove 14 screws (this is needed to remove the palm rest). On my system 10 screws were marked “P”, 2 were marked “K” and 2 were flat screws.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 05 – Turn over, and remove the two screws to remove the palm rest. (Point to remember – once you are done, and when you tighten this later, don’t tighten it too much, else the plastic under it would crack). Once the two screws are removed, use the two tabs to pull out the palm rest (as described in the service manual)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 06 – Disconnect the cables connected (by lifting the tab – again – its described very well in the service manual).
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 07 – Remove the cables connected (two of them). Now the palm rest is free & the motherboard and the ODD is visible
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 08 – View of the mother board and ODD
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 09 – View of the mother board and the 3 screws that need to be removed to free the OOD
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 10 – One screw at the back to remove the ODD. Point to note – the HDD caddy did not have this screw hole – but the HDD Caddy fits in place securely with other 3 screws.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 11 – the ODD is now free – You can see the inter-poser (SATA to the motherboard pins) – simply pull it out from the ODD to set it free.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 11a – View of ODD out of the system
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 12 – The ODD and the HDD Caddy that I got from New Mode Electronics. There is a component that is used on the ODD to secure it to the motherboard – This needs to be removed (2 screws) and put on the new HDD caddy as shown in this image.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 13 – View of ODD, Securing Component, Interposer, and the HDD Caddy – all side by side.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 14 – The new HDD caddy with the 500 GB Seagate HDD (that came with my system), interposer and the securing component
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 15 – Plug in the HDD caddy in the system and fasten the screws. From this point, its just a reverse process of putting things back in place (palm rest, screws, rear caps and the back cover)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 16 – BIOS – now shows the second HDD !
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 17 – Window Shows the second HDD!
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Total time taken from start to finish (including taking photos..etc) -  60 mins!
So, there you go.. you now have a second HDD in your laptop.. hope this pictorial helps!

What if you want to use you CD/DVD drive ?
Well, I have ordered  a eSATA/USB to SATA cable. Using this cable, I can use my CD/DVD drive as an external driver (on the rare occasions that I use it!)

12 comments | February 27th, 2010 at 07:35pm


Widescreen LCD Monitor – V7 Series

Well, laptops are good to have, but after using them for over an year now, realized that laptops are bad for my eyes. Not if you use it on a proper desk, but the thing with laptop is, its too easy & convenient to use it when you are on the bed, and some how, in my case, I ended up placing the laptop too close to my eyes.

Well, I have been wearing eye glasses for the past 2.5 yrs now, and recently did a routine eye test. Obviously, my power had slightly increased and I think it can be attributed to the improper use of laptops!

So, this week, bought myself a 22″ widescreen LCD monitor (V7 Series). I have never heard about this name before, but found it via a deal site on staples.com. It had very good reviews, and it was well priced. Got it for around $238 (including taxes+shipping).

V7 Series 22

Its a pretty decent monitor, has regular VGA input, built-in stereo speakers, dvi inputs (no cables though – you need to buy them). Love it so far!…….No problems what so ever. See Updates below…

Logitech Cordless Navigator Duo

Also got Logitech Cordless Navigator Duo. So, now I have a full fledged ergonomic workplace at home.

Hopefully, that should help my eyes and my body! :)

Update 1 (9-Nov, 9 AM CST): After using the monitor for a few days, noticed that there was a low hissing noise, which used to start and stop randomly. Asked staples for an exchange – to which they readily agreed. Waiting for a replacement unit today. Will update how the new unit performs.

Update 2 (9-Nov, 7 PM CST): Staples folks screwed up. They are telling me that they have some logistic issues, and the monitor that I was supposed to get is missing from their warehouse. So, its only possible for them to deliver on Monday (12-Nov). Will update once I get the replacement unit!

Update 3 (14-Nov, 8 PM CST): Staples delivered the monitor on Monday (12-Nov), and also offered a $35 coupon to compensate me for the trouble. Haven’t yet got the coupons, but i think they should be here in a few days. The replacement monitor is OK so far!. No hissing noise for 2 days now. Will have to keep an watch for few days. Will update in a weeks time.

3 comments | November 4th, 2007 at 09:48pm

Dell – Hell – Boing Boing feed on Bloglines…

Here we go….. One more Dell Laptop blows up, and the entire blog-sphere is buzzed about it. But what caught my attention was this post from the Boing Boing’s feed on bloglines!…

The post ends with some dell bashing. But whats interesting is, immediately after the basing, you find a Dell ad!! :D

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Click to Zoom

Well, all I can say is……. its a very realistic demonstration of context sensitive RSS ad!! ;)

2 comments | July 28th, 2006 at 07:59pm

A offline weekend!

While I was working on the laptop on Saturday night, all of a sudden, the laptop stopped responding. A minute later, I got to see the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

For me it was pretty much routine to see the BSOD, and I thought to myself..”yet another Microsoft/driver problem”… but I was wrong. I rebooted the laptop, and found that the system wasn’t booting up. Further investigation showed that the hard-disk wasn’t detected in the BIOS itself :(. Aaahhhhrrrrrr………

What a bad time for the HDD to crash. I didn’t have a boot disk or any alternative media with which I could boot. :( So, the entire Sunday, was without a computer. Somehow spent the day seeing some (stupid) TV channels ….etc.

Monday.. i.e., today took the laptop to the office, and they said that its totally dead, and all the data is gone. .. they could try sending it to some external agencies to recover the data, but its gonna cost quite a bit. Luckily, there wasn’t any major data loss.

So, spent most of the day today setting up the software and environment that I would need for my day to day work…and its not fully over yet.

1 comment | February 28th, 2006 at 09:27am


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