HP 15-f004wm Laptop Replace Hard Drive with SSD Upgrade Guide
Posted on Sunday, January 4, 2015 @ 01:33:26 AM CST by David Yee [profile] [read 17610 times]
There was a special deal during Black Friday on the HP 15 budget laptop on Walmart.com, specifically the model HP 15-f004wm, so I jumped on it as we were looking for an extra, budget notebook computer. The specs were kind of basic, but it was overall a terrific deal considering the $160 price without coupon. It is powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron N2830 CPU which sips only a measly 7.5 watts maximum, 4GB of RAM (nice since many budget laptops recently sport only 2GB), and a 500GB hard drive. The screen is 15.6" though the resolution is only 1366x768. It certainly is not an IPS display since the viewing angle is quite poor. It came with a DVD optical drive which is a nice bonus. The OS is Windows 8.1 with Bing.
When I bought this notebook, I had every intention of swapping out the built-in 500GB mechanical hard drive with a spare 120GB Samsung SSD I had laying around. I figured that since it was using a regular laptop hard drive, the 2.5" SSD should go in no problem, and I was right. The problem, however, was that it was very difficult to get to the built-in HDD to do the replacement.
There was an easily-accessible panel directly underneath the machine. You remove it by loosening the 2 screws, the slide the panel upwards and then you can pull it off. Unfortunately, the door only allowed quick access to swap out memory or the Mini PCI Wifi-Card. You can seen from the tear-down photo that the memory is a single PC3L-12800S SO-DIMM module. Note that the Realtek Wi-fi Module only has 1 antenna connected (single stream)- it is no wonder the wireless speed of this PC is not very fast.
Disappointed, I was forced to look for the service manual for the laptop in order to replace the hard drive. I was able to find it here:
It was a general one that covers all the HP 15 models, and following the instructions there worked for me. I must say, however, that the process was a real pain in the butt. I will list the steps I took and some key points of note to help those of you who are looking to do the similar upgrade to a SSD, and look to spend at least three hours to perform this procedure.
Note that for drive-copying purposes, my instructions below makes use of another computer, as well as a pair of 2.5" USB SATA adapters. I cannot recommend simply putting in the SSD and then doing a re-install using the recovery media, because that DID NOT work for me. After over 2 hours of "recovery", I was faced with some sort of recovery failed message, and the SSD would not boot, which was very frustrating, forcing me to re-start the process. I ended up connecting both the SSD and the removed original hard drive to my main desktop computer, and then used Macrium Reflect Free to copy over the OS, which worked beautifully. From the laptop, you could also do a hot-copy to image the drive over to the SSD (connected via USB), but that would likely involve the usage of a non-free software. Anyway, here are steps I took:
Create the recovery media DVDs/USB just in case, and then backup the data from the hard drive if necessary. BTW I kept getting an error creating the 5th and final DVD, but it seemed to burn just fine.
Turn off the PC, disconnect the AC adapter if connected, and remove the battery.
Remove the DVD drive. This part is pretty easy- you take off the single screw with a "C" icon on the bottom of the notebook. Then you can simply pull out the drive. If need be, you can release the tray of the drive with a paper clip and yank on that. Note in the photo below that it is a Hitachi HL-DT-ST GU90N SuperMulti CD DVD Drive/Burner/Rewriter.
Take off the keyboard. This step was a bit challenging. You do this by unscrewing a single screw at the bottom of the laptop, and then I used a pair of paper clip tips to push it out. You have to push pretty hard to get the keyboard to come out a bit. Then what I did was use a credit card to wedge around the edges of the keyboard to release the tabs that secure the rest of it in place. Then you have to GENTLY lift up the ZIF connector to release the flat-cable that the keyboard interfaces with the computer.
Now for the most difficult part. The "top cover" of the laptop, which is a metal shield surrounded by plastic frame, and includes the touchpad, is now exposed. It needs to be removed. Like the keyboard connector, you now have to GENTLY lift up the ZIF tab to release the power button connector (upper left) and then the touchpad cable (right below the left round indentation of the metal shield, 6 O'Clock).
Turn the laptop over, and remove EVERY screw on the bottom. Contrary to what the manual says, I did not need to take off the memory compartment/service door. REMEMBER to remove the 3 stainless steel screws at the edge of the Optical Drive Bay (see the picture below). I forgot about them and could not pry off the top cover. But once I realized the mistake, the top cover came off much easier.
Now push down on the top right corner plastic of the top cover, right under the hinge. This should pop the tab out of the left corner plastic on the other side. Wedge a credit card into the crevice and work you way all around to release the tabs. The service manual makes it sound so easy, but it took time and patience to pry the sucker off. You can see below what the top cover looks like from the bottom.
After the top cover is off, you can see the 500GB Hitachi hard drive HGST HTS545050A7E680 that has the part number of 0J37165, located on the bottom right corner. You have to first undo the small screw at the right-most corner that secures the USB & headphone ports near the hard drive in place. Remove that, then gently lift the ZIF connector to remove the flat cable (which runs across the top of the hard drive) that connects to the USB/headphone module. See the opening photo of this guide where you can see the removed module and its cable placed above the installed SSD (of course at this point the SSD is not yet ready to be put in to the laptop yet).
You can now lift out the hard drive, which sits inside a rubberized tray with a thin, transparent plastic bottom, from the front. You would then disconnect the SATA cable, and remove the drive.
Connect the original drive to a 2.5" SATA to USB adapter, and do the same with the SSD. If you have USB3 version of the adapters, that would greatly speed up the process.
Connect both to another PC running Macrium Reflect Free, and copy everything over. Your SSD will most likely be smaller than 500GB- mine was just 120GB for instance. It will tell you first that not all partitions will fit. That is OK- in the software you can adjust the main Windows partition size to accommodate. I did not want to mess around and risk having boot problems, so I even copied the recovery partition over, just to make it is an exact copy of the original drive. I highly recommend that you do the same. You can always remove the recovery partition later using the built-in HP software, and then merge that partition using software to gain additional space on your main Windows drive.
When the disk copying is done, disconnect the USB adapters, remove the SSD and connect it to the SATA cable inside the laptop. For me, there was some space leftover on the sides, so I used tape to secure the drive to the chassis.
Now reverse the steps to put the laptop back together. Take your time and make sure especially that all the flat cables are firmly back into place of the ZIF connectors.
Power the laptop backup, and enjoy the much-improved responsiveness of the machine!
I hope my adventure in tearing down this laptop in the quest to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD helps those of you with the same PC (or a similar one, like the HP 15-f039wm, 15-f010wm, 15-023wm, 15-f07nr, or the 15-f100dx, etc.) and are looking to do the same. Even though Samsung Magician, the software for that brand of SSDs, tells me that the interface is only SATA2 (compared to the much faster SATA3), the performance is still night and day compared to the original state with the mechanical drive.
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