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IBM thinkpad R51 won't recognize any hard drives except a 30GB Toshibad

Hi experts, hope you can shed some light on why this laptop is being so difficult.
The hard drive that was installed and working fine on this laptop is no longer recognized by it, even in the BIOS...
I have a few spare good hard drives laying around that i've tried to install in it and the only one it will recognize is a 30GB Toshiba.  The hard drive that was installed and working prior to a week ago was a 40gb Hitachi.
I've tried an 80GB WD, 160GB WD and a 250GB WD, also an 80GB Fugitsu.
I've tried updating the bios, which worked but didn't change the issue.
I've tried resetting bios to defaults.
Still the only hard drive that shows up in bios is the 30GB.
There aren't any settings in bios that i can see that would limit the size of hard drive the system recognizes.
Any thoughts on this?
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☠ MASQ ☠

Some Thinkpads have a hardware restriction which limit the HDDs that can be used to "Approved" drives (where the drive firmware is recognized at BIOS level) - however the R51 shouldn't be affected by this but the R52 is so I guess I'm going to ask the dumb question - are you sure this is an R51?
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Thanks for the comment Masqueraid.
That is very interesting to hear about thinkpads, so you mean, there are only a certain number of hard drives that are recognized by R52's?  and that is based on the harddrive's firmware controller?

Yes it is an R51, unless we have a wolf in sheeps clothing....it's a type 1836-Q4U if that helps at all.
Also weird that it was recognizing the 40gb a week ago and now isnt at all...all these hard drives test good and are recognized fine by other laptops...

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No, we don't get any error with other hard drives in...i'm leaning toward a defective motherboard but it's still really weird that it detects this 30gb drive we have...it's even more weird that we have this drive laying around and that i happen to try that one first...
Also, i just noticed, when i push the Access IBM button it doesn't take me to the IBM options screen.
Not sure if that is of importance in this situation.  Maybe utilizing that is dependent on the original hard drive that came preloaded with that IBM software?
thanks for the input
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thank you both for the comments

rindi - none of the drives i'm trying have any jumpers on them

thinkpads_user - the drive that the thinkpad R52 detects is a toshiba 30gb - the original (that it was detecting a week ago is a 40GB Hitachi) - wish i had a spare hitachi to test with

See if you can manage to get a Hitachi to test. They have worked for me for eons. That will at least tell you if you have a motherboard / faulty BIOS issue. ... Thinkpads_User
The Hitachi drive would at least partly make sense, as the IBM drives were either made by hitachi from the beginning, or then the brand taken over by hitachi later, and thinkpads were originally IBM's and not Lenovo's, so it would seem likely they would stay on the same brands.
My (somewhat) new Lenovo Thinkpad T61p use a Hitachi drive just fine, and also a Seagate drive.

@thecomputerpl… - For what it is worth, I just call my vendor (IBM/Lenovo Authorized) and say I need a drive of this size and speed for this model of IBM/Lenovo machine. The drives they ship always work. ... Thinkpads_User