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I recently took off the bottom covers to my laptop, an Aspire 6930, and one of the covers was hiding an empty space large enough for a second hard drive. The bit of motherboard that was showing had the solder joints for a SATA port, but no port.

What I'm wondering is; If I get a spare SATA port and solder it in would it mess up my motherboard and kill my laptop? I'm not concerned about a clean solder job, I can do that. But if the port is soldered in cleanly if there would be any danger to doing it.

It'd be pretty darn awesome to get a second hard drive in my laptop.

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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I disagree with the naysayers above. While SATA connectors themselves are extremely cheap, many laptop manufacturers contract out the assembly of their motherboards, and they are charged by the component or by the solder joint. In those terms the cost of the connector is less trivial, and it makes a bit more sense to not include it. Motherboard layout is expensive enough that computer companies will use the same layout for multiple versions of a board, just without adding all the components to all of them, so those motherboard traces almost certainly lead to the SATA chip.

There's no reason in principle this wouldn't work. However, you are talking about very tight soldering tolerances and something like 20 solder points. It's going to be a difficult job and one that I wouldn't attempt (which is the only reason my laptop in the same situation still has only one SATA port!). You would also have to contend with the problems of increased heat inside the case and decreased battery life, but those are minor problems. If you can find the port and somebody who can do the job, then I think it would work.

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Please make a nice blog post somewhere and tell us about it if you do this! We want pictures too! –  Eroen Sep 23 '12 at 21:15
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It's likely that there would be a SATA port already in that spot if your motherboard had a SATA controller that could support it; connectors are cheap, chips are much less so. So, if you were to solder on a connector yourself, it probably wouldn't really do anything.

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You can download the free hwinfo32 app and run it.

Look under motherboard, and the SATA ports that are live and supported will be listed.

If there is a label next to the solder ports (like "SATA 1, SATA 2, etc.), then you can see if that port is active. If it is, you are good to go (as long as you are as good at soldering as you think you are).

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If the laptop or motherboard was meant to be used this way, there would be instructions in the manual for how to do it properly. Looking at the Quick Guide, it seems there is space for a second hard drive. More than likely, Acer sells a drive caddy for that space.

Soldering could work if you know what you're doing. Or it could fry your motherboard.

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You can't just solder in a SATA port and expect it to work. The blank is left there if you get the higher spec motherboard and it will then be added in. . . along with the rest of the components required for a SATA port there will be more blanks and more components to solder in you will need new firmware as well.

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I am not knowledgeable enough to say that it wouldn't work, but I doubt it would. A slower, but definitely workable solution would be to put a USB multiplier inside the computer—porting the one you used to do it back out so that all the ports are still functional—and then buy a usb-sata interface and have a internal "external" drive.

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