Lenovo Flex 10 SSD upgrade

I was asked for advise for a cheap new Windows laptop for a friend. I went for the Lenovo Flex 10, for the following reasons:

      1. Lenovo build quality & support
      2. Portability
      3. 4GB of RAM

This machine is currently £229.99 in PC World (http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptops-netbooks/laptops/laptops/lenovo-flex-10-10-1-convertible-touchscreen-laptop-black-10016057-pdt.html) , which is where the friend happened to be when I was called. So a quick bit of research, this is what I went for, the main reason being that it is relatively easy to install an SSD. These small laptops are all very well, but would really be about as fast as an ageing Windows XP netbook. Put an SSD in however, and everything comes to life – the CPU can keep up, there is enough RAM to have a few apps running, and with a decent SSD in, the system seems positively spritely. At the end of the upgrade, you have a small, lightweight machine with a fast SSD a shade over £300, not bad. So I also recommended the Crucial MX100 256GB SSD drive for £73.79: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-CT256MX100SSD1-256GB-Includes-Spacer/dp/B00KFAGCWK/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=highbird-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCWK.

So the machine came along with a disk. A bit of Googling didn’t quite give me enough detail, so I will share how I did this here.

SSD Installation in the Lenovo Flex 10

You can install an SSD as follows:

      1. Prise open the 2 rubber feet. Lever open the side near the edge of the laptop, there is a hinge at the other side. I used a pen knife blade, be careful not to damage the foot.
      2. Remove the paper seal under one of the feet (goodbye warranty) and remove the screws underneath
      3. Remove all the other screws on the bottom of the unit. Keep the safe.
      4. Prise open the case, I used a credit card (a store one you don’t want as it may get damaged) to go all around the edge until it popped open. At the back near the hinge I had to use a penknife bottle opener to pop that off, it was quite tough. Then the whole back came off nicely, revealing the standard 2.5″ 7.5mm HDD. There are no wires or cables attached to the base, so it is a relatively safe operation if you are careful.
      5. Unscrew 3 screws holding in the HDD caddy. Note that in the picture below I mistakenly screwed one back in the wrong place, the top one, don’t add that one.
      6. You will then be able to slightly life up the caddy, and remove it. It is quite tricky as the one I had had some sticky tape on the bottom of they drive. Take it slow wiggling from side to side.
      7. Remove the old HDD from the caddy and install the new one. It just takes standard 2.5″ 76mm drives.
      8. Clip the laptop back together and screw all the screws in.
      9. Reboot, press Fn+F2 to enter the BIOS.
      10. Go to the Boot option and enable legacy boot.
      11. Reboot, press FN+F12 this time to enter the boot menu.
      12. Choose your USB device to install Windows.

Windows installation

What I generally do, is stick in an SSD if I can, and then do a clean installation of Windows, without all the crapware. In this case, I was not able to preserve to the OEM activation due to the version of Windows on this machine (Windows 8.1 with Bing), so I used on one of my own Windows keys.

The machine came with ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’. The SKU for this is CoreConnected. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to do a clean install of Windows with this version (yet) – see http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/40897-Guide-to-preserve-Windows-8-x-OEM-Activation

Here are some images which may help.

Posted in Windows 8

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  1. rudi

    i am just researching the exact same setup for my girlfriend. are you sure that this version really has 4 gb of ram though? i am only finding the flex 10 celeron n2806 with 2gb on sale everywhere so i am thinking of getting the version with the pentium n3530 and 4gb. more expensive but 4 cores and 4 gigs. should work for a while.

    • Bob

      Hi tata – no you can upgrade and clone the drive over using an SSD upgrade kit, which often include an enclosure and cloning software. That way you just clone the drive over onto the new one.

  2. Lloyd

    There is lots of free software out there if yu have a desktop PC you can put both the old and new drive into. Or maybe if you get a USB style caddy ad put in the new drive into that you maybe able to boot off a USB boot drive and do it that way – try Hirens boot CD as they have disk clone tools i believe.
    Thinking of doing this for my GFs Flex 10 as it’s a little slow to boot. I have just updated my PC to an EVO 850 256GB and have an older EVO 840 120GB that would be fine for her. Laptop was a great value – we got hers for ~£190 when they were doing the cash-back last year (or was it 2 years ago).

  3. Kofi

    I was lucky enough to get a cheap 250GB Samsung EVO 850 (£65 form pc world after a hard haggle), which came with a utility cd to make migration from the mechanical to the SSD so easy. I had the 2806 chipset with the 320GB mechanical drive. Before you do a swap, it maybe worth considering runtime, as the slow old Seagate uses about 28% of the power the SSD does and runtime dropped from 4 hours 16 watching films back to back, to a lesser 3 hours 12 minutes before the critical battery level forced a hibernated state. True I was running the HDMI port to my TV, but as the test was on the same 2 movies, it was a good comparison! With custom power profiles that are specific to your needs, you can trim the overall power usage and still get to within the original runtimes I was used to the 9 months before I took the plunge.

    The performance difference between the mechanical and solid state though….Well worth the changeover in my books. I went from 7.5 seconds for Word 2010 to open down to less then 1.5 seconds, it boots from power on password entry to login in under 2 seconds now and most of my apps are so snappy now, I could forget I was running a Celeron in the first place! The only cons are the drop in storage space, which I got around by stripping out any unnecessary folders and running them of the NAS when indoors and through the web when out and about. The overall view though is get it done guys and gals!

    A few warnings though, skip any unnecessary bios updates unless the dead keyboard syndrome is not a problem before booting, make damn sure that you have a recovery pen already created and whatever you do, make sure that you take your time changing the hardware over and keep a finger on the metalwork to reduce your static damage risks. Oh and the piece of sticky rubber that Lenovo used to anchor the drive in place between the drive and the metalwork on the opposite side can be a bugger, so no excessive force when sliding the drive out from the SATA connections. You will need a slim drive to ensure you can close it all up afterwards.

    I stuck the mechanical in the box the SSD came in for the failsafe option. It is so worth swapping to a solid state not just for huge performance increase on the write and read, but to remove the risk of a small drop of the netbook when running can kill the mechanical so easily, on top of that, if you go from the Windows encryption, you will be shocked at how quick it got it done (31 minutes, compared to 10+ hours on the mechanical)

    In all a £180 netbook that behaves like a tablet, is more flexible than a laptop and is silent when it is on…..I love that fact I can still boot to android on a pen, as well as Linux, but still have Windows machine that is swift enough to stop me falling asleep between task starts. I have not yet seen something that has benefited from a drive swap as much as this Ideapad did. From Intel core 2’s to a i3, nothing has had such a boost in performance for £60 as this puppy did.

    If you wanted to wait for the warranty to expire, that’s fine…a half terabyte will be cheaper by then… I was getting fed up waiting 5 minutes for the AV to finish updating before I could do something else without it behaving like it had hung or crashed. Since the swap, I can do several things simultaneously and it still gets on with it…

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