Laptops with mSATA capability?

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Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:30 pm

Hello everyone. Being the "computer guy" my friend charged me with finding him a laptop to do his graphic designing on. (ie photoshop, lightroom) After some research I've found that perhaps the most important thing to have in a photoshop computer is good hard drive performance. (given that the rest of the system isn't total garbage of course) It seems as though a SSD boot drive, a small SSD "scratch disk" and a mechanical hard drive for storing files is the optimal route. Obviously a 3 drive setup too much to ask from a laptop so I'm thinking that I can probably get away with an mSATA SSD and a mechanical hard drive. Possibly even put two partitions on the SSD to accompany the photoshop scratch disk. (do i really need to do that?)

Here's my question: What laptops have mSATA capability in the 14 - 15.6" screen size range. I just need general models, I can take care of the hardware configuration as long as I know where to start. Once you've identified an mSATA capable laptop, feel free to comment on its pros and cons, both general and for graphic design tasks. In particular, I haven't found anything for ASUS, Acer, or Samsung yet.
I've already found that the HP Envy 14 and the Lenovo Y570 have mSATA capabilities. Any comments on either of those?

Also, macs are out of the question. Thats what he originally wanted but realized that he didnt have the funds to be paying twice as much when the only feasible difference was the OS, so PC's only please. His budget is $1000, preferably less.

I appreciate everyones help.
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Re: Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:15 am

I don't think you'll do much better than the Y series Ideapad for your budget. The discrete graphics is a decent GT 550m 1GB. My buddy just bought a Y470 and it seems pretty solid for a $650-$850 laptop (depending on config). Even better is that you can remove the DVD drive replace it with an HDD caddy, effectively allowing you to have 3 HDDs in a 14" computer (including the mSATA). For $849 you can currently get a fully loaded Y470 with a quad core core i7 and 750GB HDD on the Lenovo website, which seems pretty reasonable.

The one huge caveat for graphic design is the 1366x768 TN panel (both on the Y470 and Y570). But good luck finding something better for < $1000. If he does most of his work in one place, a Dell IPS monitor may be a worthwhile addon.

Oh, and a Macbook Pro also gets you a way nicer IPS screen.

Edit: There is the Dell XPS 15 that is configurable with a 1080p RGLED display that should be much better for graphics design, and can be had for about $1000, depending on config, but you loose the mSATA...
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Re: Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:00 am

I believe most ThinkPads have this option, though I can only vouch for the W520 from experience.
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Re: Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:31 am

cynan wrote:Oh, and a Macbook Pro also gets you a way nicer IPS screen.

Yes, I am aware of that, however he plans on adding an IPS display in the near future. Even adding a larger IPS monitor at ~$400 he's still coming out quite a bit ahead as opposed to getting a macbook pro.

Interesting comment about removing the disk drive and swapping in a regular 2.5" SSD (correct?)....Can that be done on most every laptop? The only dvd drive I've removed from a laptop was when a couple friends and I destroyed a dinosaur one in attempts to see how many pieces we could turn a laptop into. Obviously that laptop was quite a bit worse for wear after our "project"
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Re: Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:33 pm

DPete27 wrote:Interesting comment about removing the disk drive and swapping in a regular 2.5" SSD (correct?)....Can that be done on most every laptop? The only dvd drive I've removed from a laptop was when a couple friends and I destroyed a dinosaur one in attempts to see how many pieces we could turn a laptop into. Obviously that laptop was quite a bit worse for wear after our "project"


I don't think it can be done on most consumer level laptops, though most business laptops (Thinkpads, Latitudes, etc) offer this type of flexibility. The Ideapads are one of a few consumer level laptop that I know of with which this can be easily accomplished.I think the Dell XPS line and HP Envy offer this as well, though you may have to hunt around for the compatible caddy/mounting brackets. For the Lenovo Y470 you'll need one these.

On the Lenovos anyway, I think the procedure is quite easy, but I've not done it myself. From the pictures on Amazon from the above link, however, it looks like you just slide out the optical drive (might have to remove a screw or two), install a 2.5" HDD into the caddy, and slide the caddy into the optical bay. It looks like the caddy uses the same SATA connection as the optical drive, so no need to mess with cables or do anything else.
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Re: Laptops with mSATA capability?

Postposted on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:53 am

I've decided on going the hard drive caddy route. I've created a new discussion to possibly attract some more opinions. It seems to me that most tray load dvd drives should have universal compatability. If that were true I should be able to use any "modern" hard drive caddy in any laptop that has a tray load dvd drive. (I'm making these conclusions based on looking through multiple hard drive caddies online and noticing they all look mostly the same)
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