This document presents instructions on how to upgrade the hard drive in the Panasonic CF-R3, CF-R4 and CF-R5 laptops. The instructions are based on the upgrade of a CF-R4. As these laptops share a common case design the instructions should apply the the R3 and R5.
The Hard Drive
Many sources state that the Panasonic Let''s Note series use 3.3v drives instead of standard 5v models. The R4 I opened had a stock 5v Toshiba M6034GAX inside without any modification, jumpering or cutting of pins. Whilst any normal 2.5 inch IDE drive should work, the Toshiba is particularly quiet, low power drive, so a careful choice of replacement drive should be made. I chose the only 250gb IDE drive on the market, Western Digital 2500BEVE. It''s a little noisier and consumes about 0.3w more power than the stock drive, but it''s drastically bigger and a fair bit quicker. If you are going to do this, you may as well get the biggest drive you can find.
It''s actually easier that it looks to remove the top cover of the laptop and install the new drive. It''s a delicate rather than tricky operation and as such you need to allow plenty of time, and ideally station yourself somewhere with a lot of space so you can lay the parts out in order of removal. If you''re reading this you probably care not one jot about the laptop''s warranty. That''s good because by doing this you will certainly invalidate any warranty on the unit. If you value the warranty stop now, and come back once it's expired.
Tools and Equipment Required
1 x small Phillips screwdriver. Ideally with a fair size handle as most screws are pretty tight.
1 x jewellers size flat bladed screwdriver
1 x tube thermal paste. I used Arctic Silver, but any quality paste should be fine.
Step 1 – Remove the battery and slip off the keyboard clasps
There are two clasps as highlighted in green that hold the top of the keyboard to the chassis. Slide them off with gentle finger pressure. The two clasps are identical.
Step 2 – Remove the two keyboard securing screws
There are two silver screws as highlighted that secure the keyboard to the chassis. These are quite tight, so some limited force may be required to release them. Be careful the screw-heads seem quite soft and may round, make sure your screwdriver is a good fit. During re-assembly care is required. You are screwing into a plastic mount, so over-tightening may at best strip the thread from the mounts, at worst split them. A happy medium is needed, tight enough to make good contact with the heatsink, but not too tight.
Step 3 – Remove the corner chassis screws
There are two silver screws one at each corner of the laptop. These are under rubber pads. These can be removed by either working them loose with fingers, or gently prizing them out with a tiny jewellers screwdriver. Take care not to scratch the plastic. Remove the screws.
Step 4 – Lift off the keyboard
The keyboard is now free and can be lifted off. There is a sticky pad towards the top right of the keyboard. The keyboard should be separated with the greatest of care. A gentle, persistent force will separate the sticky pad. The keyboard has tabs at the bottom so the action should be to slide up from the bottom of the keyboard, to bring the keyboard into the position shown in the photo. Be careful the cable connector is quite delicate and should not be subjected to force. Note how the keyboard cable is neatly folded and slotted into the chassis. The cable is released from the connector by prizing the white bar away from the back housing. Do this gently. Breaking the connector will write off your laptop. There is a slot provided to open the connector. Apply steady, even pressure until it is open as shown. Withdraw the cable. Remove the keyboard from the work area.
Step 5- Lift and remove the heatsink
The heatsink is the silver pad, highlighted in blue in the left hand picture. It should lift without force. If force is required it''s likely the thermal paste on the cpu or the thermal pad on the i915 chipset is acting as glue. This will require some care to separate as the heatsink is fragile, and will bend. Wipe away the old thermal paste from both the CPU and the heatsink. The heatsink above lifted off without damage to the thermal pad on the chipset allowing it''s re-use. If the pad is damaged or has deteriorated you should replace the pad. These can be obtained from electronics retailers. For re-assembly spread an even amount of thermal paste onto the CPU. I used slightly more than I would normally as the contact pressure is minimal in the laptop compared to a desktop CPU heatsink. This is not ideal, but I can confirm no ill effects. In fact with the use of Arctic Silver, my keyboard now gets far warmer than before which is a good sign.
Step 6 – Remove the black screws
There are a number of black screws securing the top case to the bottom plate. Some are highlighted above, but some are out of shot. Must take better pictures next time. It's obvious which ones need to come out.
Step 7 – Remove the screws from the back
On the base of the laptop at the front there are six silver screws. Remove the carefully from the areas shaded in blue above. Carefully turn the laptop over once done.
Step 8 – Lift the top cover
Carefully lift the top cover away from the base. Watch out for the flap on the PCMCIA slot as this is fairly flimsy. Note how the touchpad cable is folded in readiness for re-assembly.
Finally we can see the hard drive! The irritation is it could, judging by it's location have been placed in a removable tray, just as you'd find on an HP laptop. Ah well.
Step 9 – Change the drive
The drive is not screwed in. It floats on rubber pads inside the black plastic flaps that surround the drive. The ribbon cable connecting to the drive is quite robust, but the connector on the board is not, if this breaks you're stuffed, up shit creek seeking a paddle, or if you prefer just shit out of luck, so be careful. Prize the white connector away from the drive, put the old dive to one side. Take the new drive, connect it to the cable and carefully seat it within the plastic shielding.
Step 10 – Re-assemble
Reverse the instructions for re-assembly. Be careful to ensure that cables are properly located, and nothing prevents the shell from filling cleanly together. Job Done. Have cup of tea to celebrate.