Al Powerbook G4 15″ Hard Drive Upgrade
Posted on 9 Apr ’06 by Earl Moore
When I originally ordered my Apple Powerbook G4 1.5 gHz laptop computer I ordered it with the default configuration which included an 80gb 4500 rpm hard drive. I love the laptop but have always been a little disappointed with the speed that applications or data seemed to load. When I found a good bargain on a faster hard drive I took advantage of it.
The hard drive I selected was a Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021A 100GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM 2.5in Mobile Hard Drive w/8MB Buffer. I felt that this would give me the speed I was looking for without much of a penalty in terms of lessened battery life or increased heat and noise. The Seagate drive has a five year warranty which is a plus. At the same time that I purchased the drive, I also purchased an external 2.5 inch firewire/USB hard drive enclosure from OWC.After a long search on the Internet the best instructions for replacing a hard drive in a Al Powerbook G4 were located at ifixit.com. These instructions were clear, easy to follow, and over-all very good.
Before beginning with the instructions I installed my new drive into the new enclosure and used SuperDuper to make a complete copy of my current drive onto the new drive and marked it as bootable. When the duplication was completed I removed the new drive from the enclosure and begin following the hard drive replacement instructions. There were twenty screws to remove and as I removed each screw, or each set of screws, I placed them in order on my work bench so that I could easily replace the correct screws in the correct order upon reassembly.
The most difficult point in disassembly was dealing with the catches over the CD/DVD drive. There were no pictures of the catches in the instructions and all they said was that you had to use a small hook to pull them forward as you pry up on the keyboard panel. What it didn’t say was that you need to only hook the front part of the catch and pull it forward away from the rear post which it latches on. If you blindly catch both with your hook you will be frustrated, as I was, by being unable to pull them forward or triggering the release. It was with much trial and error that I finally managed to release them. Once I saw what it was I had been dealing with I believe I could now quickly release them.
The actual replacement of the hard drive was done quickly with the removal of two screws and some tape, unplugging a ribbon cable, and lifting the right side of the drive from the drive mounting slots. Four mounting post were transfered from the old drive to the new drive and then it easily slipped into place. The instructions were followed in reverse to reassemble the laptop.
Once reassembled the Powerbook successfully booted off the new drive. I then placed the old 80 gb drive into the external housing to be used as a back-up drive for the laptop.
Subjectively the Powerbook seems at least 20% faster and I’m very pleased with the results. This Seagate drive doesn’t seem to be any noisier then the default Fujitsu drive and it appears to run about as cool.
Opening a Al Powerbook Laptop is not something for the faint of heart. If you’re careful and follow the instructions it is within the ability of most users. Trust your own judgement.
Revised – 07/27/06 – Added diagram of latches over the CDRom drive.
This diagram is done from memory and may not be 100% accurate.
Revised – 08/28/07 – Added photo of the above keyboard latches, thanks to Marc.