Are Slimline DVD Laptop Drives Interchangeable / Swappable? How To Instructions!

Are Slimline DVD laptop drives interchangeable / swappable? It depends, but some are! I’ve provided ‘how to instructions’, that detail the steps I took to swap CD / DVD drives.

Interchangeable Slimline DVD drives

Warning: You follow these instructions at your own risk, whether the risk is health and safety, financial or anything else. Not all drives are interchangeable and there are different interface types. Also I’m not aware of any power issues, but I don’t know enough on the topic and please check that there are no power requirement differences before proceeding.

Introduction

Many DVD drives are easily ejected from their drive bays, but often have bespoke connections on the back, different enclosure types and a unique bezel on the front. These ‘enclosures’ appear to be unique to laptop companies and even if both for example are using the ‘same’ interface type i.e. PATA or SATA, they are not instantly swappable. However all is not lost, as you might easily be able to remove and replace these outer layers, as long as they both use the same interface type and are not bespoke.

I’ve not run into this problem yet, but as mentioned there are different interface types such as PATA or SATA. This blog post isn’t looking at using a SATA interface drive with a PATA drive, vice versa or using in a desktop or micro PC.

If this is all a bit confusing, take a look at any writing on the drive itself, a product page for the laptop, a manual etc to find the interface type you have or require.

I will give you an example.

I had an old Toshiba Tecra 8200 (great keyboard!) laptop, that I decided to dispose of. However I had a great DVD drive in the bay that I wanted to keep!

Toshiba Tecra 8200 Slimline DVD Drive

Notice the big chunky connector Toshiba use on the back of the unit!

Now it gets a bit complicated… I also have a broken Dell Latitude D630 and a working D620. The D620 and D630 drive enclosures are swappable. Now the back of the Dell Latitude D620 / D630 unit looks like this:

Slimline DVD Drive Interface Connector

Both the Tecra 8200 and the Dell laptop DVD drives I own use the same interface technology, but as you can see the manufacturers ‘package’ the drive differently. However once everything is removed, both of the drives had the same interface connection as seen below:

Slimline DVD Drive Interface

The voltage of both units was 5v, but the amps were slightly different, but I decided to proceed anyway. So I replaced the enclosure of the DVD drive I had used with the Toshiba Tecra 8200, with a Dell Latitude D620 / D630 enclosure. Told you it was complicated!

So I did the following, to end up with a great DVD drive for my D620:

  1. I took the external parts off the D630 and Tecra’s DVD drives.
  2. I then placed the D630’s DVD drive outer parts on the Tecra unit.
  3. I then plugged the Tecra drive, but with the D630’s fixtures into my D620, and it worked fine!

So to round-up, I discovered that it is possible to reuse an old slimline DVD drive in a different laptop, as long as both units are standard and use the same interface technology.

Here are the steps in detail with photos!

Remove the outer plastic fixtures of both drives.

This involves unscrewing the plastic fixtures that enable the unit to easily fit into a drive bay.

Slimline DVD Drive

There was an external interface connector that was removed as well.

Remove the DVD drive bezels.

Now it’s time to remove the unit bezels, which are the bespoke plastic parts at the front of the drive.
Eject the drive (open), which I did using an unfolded paper clip.

Ejecting a DVD Drive with a Paper Clip

Then gently unclip the bezel units, which whilst looking different, also appear to have standard / universal connection points.

Slimline DVD Drive Bezel

Rebuild the outer layer!

Now it is time to attach the interface connection, screw the plastic connections onto the drive and attach the bezel.

Conclusion

It’s likely many people probably don’t realise that a slimline DVD writer in an old laptop ‘might’ work with another laptop. This means there is potential to save money, for what is minimal effort and takes approximately ten minutes of time.

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