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I'm getting a System76 laptop, and they have an option to replace the optical drive with an HDD/SSD + caddy case. That would be nice, because I don't use DVDs nowadays, and need a lot of storage.

Will there be a noticeable difference in battery life and heat between having an SSD and an (rarely used) optical drive and having 2 SSDs?

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Part of your question is easy to answer: Neither an unused optical drive nor an SSD produce much heat. Therefore there will not be a noticeable difference on that part.

As for the battery life comparison: SSDs do not draw much power, but neither do unused drives. Since I do not know precisely how much power your optical drive uses I can not give a safe answer, but you can test this yourself. Just test how long the laptop lasts under a set of conditions, then recharge, remove the drive and try again.

I strongly suspect that the difference is negligible.

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Whether the difference would be slight or not, replacing an optical drive you would not use with an SSD that would see regular use would most definitely affect battery life. Zero drain compared to some drain is still more than zero. You may be asking about how much exactly, but that all depends on drive usage.

As far as total heat generation, no. There would be no appreciable difference.

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