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Solid State Drive Compatibility with 3.3 Volt only laptop.

Posted on 2010-11-17
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I have an older Panasonic Toughbook with a bad drive, I want to know if I can install a Solid State Drive. The laptop only provides 3.3 volts. I have called Panasonic support and they state that there are no IDE drives anywhere in production that they can recommend. I have found a Japenese website page that discusses clipping a pin off an IDE drive or modifying the cable to prevent 5V from being used, however mine is a slightly different model. The original drive is missing pin #43, which seems to confirm the need. I tried a new Samsug drive (still has all pins and I have NOT modified the drive cable) whose specs suggested it should run off 3.3 or 5V but it does not show in the bios. (It did on the first boot but when I rebooted w/ windows install disk ready it has not shown since.) I can still put the old drive back in and boot but the old drive scratches and clicks. This is a Panasonic Toughbook CF-W4, sometimes referred to 'Let's Note' although this unit is only labeled as TOUGHBOOK.
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Question by:TruTekTom
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by:dbrunton
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Well there are drives which are 3.3 volts still being made.

See here http://sdd.toshiba.com/main.aspx?Path=StorageSolutions/1.8-inchHardDiskDrives/MKxx31GAxSeries/MKxx31GAxSpecs

Toshiba 1.8 inch drives as used in iPods.

Look at these converters http://www.addonics.com/products/io/aaedt18ide25.asp and they should hook up to a standard IDE interface.  There is one flaw.  Part of the converter is powered by 5 volts.  Not sure if that can be bypassed or not.
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by:BigSchmuh
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You do know that your late 2005 - 5 years old - $3500 laptop suffers from :
-a battery which is almost dead (but it's only $125 for a new one),
-1GB max memory limit,
-a 3V (not 3.3V) rare hard drive which is almost dying.
...and you want to replace only the drive by a 3V compatible SSD ?

A refurbished Toughbook CF-W4 (MK1) can officially be bought for $498
...or you can try to make a pin mods (using that kind of electronic comp) allowing to power an Intel X25-M G2 with its expected 5V 150mW (30mA) need
...or you can buy a new ulv laptop
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Davis McCarn earned 250 total points
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Apparently, if you cover three pins on the Toughbook's drive cable, you can use numerous 5 volt drives without alteration: http://toughbookcentral.com/replacing-hard-drive-in-panasonic-toughbook/

I'ld suggest against an SSD; though, as numerous other issues will reduce it's life in an XP system.
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by:TruTekTom
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hmmm.... "While all answers are replies, not all replies are answers"  (that's a Babylon-5 quote, yeah I'm THAT kind of geek)
I have installed an SSD for a desktop, (OCZ Vertex 2 wow I love it), and I have read a lot of reviews both good and bad when adding a SSD to an older laptop, many state 'makes it like new only better'. I was hoping for a solution going that route. I am a techie, I like solving problems, often times I need help knowing when to give up.
I just hate tossing this in the trash, I'll check out these suggestions, meanwhile can anyone tell me I'm wasting my time worrying about voltage, when this is a 2005 very proprietary piece of technology, that has a 1.2 Pentium4 driving it will never be happy with an SSD?
DavisMcCarn; I got WinXP sp3 on the Vertex SSD and that PC is on 12 hours a day and working great for 6 weeks what issues are you referring to?
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by:BigSchmuh
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I think he is referring to the fact that pre-Windows 7 releases (XP, Vista, ...) does not allow to send a TRIM command to the SSD...which you don't care with current SSD good controllers but was a real problem with some controllers (like the JMicron JMF602 one where the garbage collector process was not good enough to support sustained writes...allowing for a some cases where 1 full second elapsed time happened at write time)

If you optimize your XP for SSD, you'll be fine with any good SSD.

Anyway, you have very few choices to buy a PATA SSD...most are SATA based.
64GB are about $350, 128GB are about $600
==> Buying one with an inexpensive return-if-you-don't-like option and moding your IDE cable according to DavisMcCarn post looks like a good hack
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by:TruTekTom
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I understand the SSD tech has grown up a lot in just the last year, I read a lot before buying the OCZ Vertex paying attention to driver chips and some alarming benchmark comparisons Tom's Hardware did comparing new VS used drives, displaying a 2/3 drop in speed with MANY of the drives regardless (I believe) of OS and applications used.
I realize that I'm looking for a big "IF MAYBE"  ....and wondering if I should just be real and let this one go.   Meanwhile I'm afraid the cable mod shown is a different cable than I have, I have found a service manual I have downloaded, which may tell me more about the special needs of the hard drive circuitry. It WONT tell me anything about SSD though, still hoping for that voltage question's answer even if the answer is NO. Is there a PATA SSD running on 3 or 3.3 Volts that will be happy inthis laptop? someone just shout NO if you can.
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by:Davis McCarn
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What is the make and model of the failing hard disk drive?  (this will help me a lot)

SSD's are organized into blocks and the default partitions created by anything older than Windows 7 are not aligned to match.  This results in every write access being a read-modify-write operation as the O/S is only changing part of the native SSD block.  Since SSD's wear out after x number of writes, it will have a much shorter life and those write operations are also much slower.  If you boot a Win7 DVD, use it to create the partition, and then install 98/2K/XP/2K3/Vista, you'll avoid the problem.
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by:TruTekTom
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DavisMcCarn: What a GREAT answer regarding the SSD blocks & Windows 7 partitions.
I'll have to re-read that Tom's Hardware article to see if they took these facts into consideration when showing that alarming drop in speed in used drives.

Meanwhile, the original drive is a Toshiba MK6025GAS, I can find used pulls but don't want them.
it also has a sticker on it that says replace with HP Spare 381397-001 7F0544
AND it also has a Compaq p/n : 360461-001, I'll check with HP Parts now to see if they have a new drive like this.
although this drive is externally labelled DC+5V 0.7A  it is my understanding that it was spec'd to run 3.3V or 5V. BigSchmuh's note that this was a 3V drive rings a bell, I'll have to look into that more later.
The cable mod talks about taping over part of the ribbon connector to use 5V drives however this is written for a different model of Toughbook, and the cable is definately different and I'm worried about adding a layer or electric tape under the pressure-fitting that holds down the ribbon cable, I know these old parts are brittle and afraid I'll crack something and be done. I had a helluva time getting the touchpad ribbon back in it's fitting as it's traces do not appear to be bonded to the plastic ribbon at all.
I'm thinking that since I'm about to throw this out the window that if it comes to modifying the cable I shoule be able to essentially do the same thing from the other end (drill out the female recepticle of the pin #43 if that is indeed the right pin), which I could do without opening this unit up again.

The new drive that was recognized in the bios once and now is not is a Samsung HM160HC
I also tried a 1996 IBM 810Meg drive model DSOA-20810 I was not shy to clip the pin off, it never showed in the bios either. I am calling HP now....

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by:TruTekTom
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yeah this drive was also used in dozens of Presario & Pavilions and is no longer available through HP.
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by:Davis McCarn
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So it was replaced once, already!  I am not surprised that the 810MB drive wouldn't work with no 5 volts.  Does that MK6025GAS have any missing pins? (HMMM, Toshiba claims it is 5v only so you may be able to use almost any low power PATA 2.5 inch drive)
And, does the HM160HC work in a different laptop? (meaning, maybe it just went bad?)
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by:TruTekTom
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Well, as much as I'd like to have a resolution to this puzzle, as much as I was hoping my question would add to the common wealth, this project is headed for the boneyard. I have helped the owner pick out a nice new ASUS core i7 laptop, for about half the price of a replacement Toughbook model.  I'm taking one last stab at this before shelving it for a later project day, maybe I'll test it's frame by driving over it with my minivan.

dbrunton: this may be the best solution, the Toshiba 1.8 3.3v drive with adapter seems a logical bet.
BigSchmuh: always good to remind about other laptop AGE-outs (tech limits and old battery) and suggest refurb if an exact unit replacement is desired, your other comments appreciated as well.
DavisMcCarn: thanks for sticking with me for a while, unfortunately the Samsung drive's health is questionable, I have two universal drive-USB adapters and this drive fails with bad blocks with one adapter and just looses connection, or gives up with the other. I was confused earlier about the model of the original drive which is a MK4025GASL and it is labeled for BOTH 5V and 3.3V. the MK6025GAS actually came from a different Compaq/HP laptop I own. it is only labeled 5v use, but if I could have ghosted-off it's image to the samsung I would sacrifice this drive for tests. I've hooked the samsung up with an old-fashioned IDE cable adapter and I'll try one last time to get it to format and scandisk, I'll try RMA as it may just be DOA bad luck, but afraid I toasted it with first insertion.

My original question "can one use a solid State Drive in a 2005 W4 Toughbook" I would have to say the answer is no for the average user.
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