I've had this GL551JM-DH71 laptop since 2014. Since it wasn't exactly cheap, I'm not thinking of replacing it yet. The GTX860m is still enough to play occasional games as long as you adjust your expectations (currently playing The Witcher 3 on mostly High/1080p/25-30fps) so it's fine. I actually use it more for daily tasks than for gaming.
However, I wanted to see if I can give it a performance bump with a moderate investment. The 4710HQ works just fine and the 16GB RAM are more than enough. Besides replacing the battery that doesn't last 30 minutes anymore, I've always though of replacing the Optical Drive (never used a DVD) with a SSD. My primary drive for the OS would be the SSD and the included 1TB HDD would be a secondary drive for movies and files in general.
My question here is: can this be done? What kind of SSD and caddy would I need to buy? Any kinds of restrictions or limitations I should be aware of? I thought this small upgrade wouldn't cost me much and would make my PC snappier.
Thanks for the help!
Edit: I didn't come up with this title. It was edited by a mod since my original title was too vague.
I'm replying back to this thread just in case any other GL551JM owners (or similar) come across this thread when doing a Google search and have the same questions. I just did the upgrade - it was a success and my laptop is amazingly faster after switching from HDD to SSD.
Here are a few considerations/tips/steps/instructions that might be helpful for anyone attempting the same thing.
The SSD: any SATA 3 2.5" SSD works for this. In my case, I bought a Samsung 860 EVO 500GB. You won't need the version with an adapter. The SSD by itself will do just fine.
The HDD caddy: any 9.5mm HDD caddy from Amazon/eBay/etc will do. Vendors will use keywords such as ASUS, to try and convince you that theirs is more suitable but they're all the same universal, no-brand adapters. You only have to worry about size: 9.5mm is the correct one. It will come with screws, a faceplate (which you probably won't use) and a tiny screwdriver that might just do the job.
The overall procedure is very simple and can be found online: 1 - With the laptop off and unplugged, remove the two screws from the bottom part, which will expose the components. 2 - Remove the 4 screws around the HDD and remove the HDD with its metal adapter. 3 - Remove the screws that hold the HDD onto its metal adapter. 4 - Place the SSD in the HDD metal adapter and put the four screws into place. 5 - Place the metal adapter in it's original place, making sure that the SSD connects to the SATA port and put the other 4 screws that hold it into place.
At this point you already have replaced your HDD with an SSD. It's very important that you replace the HDD with the SSD, instead of adding the SSD in place of the optical drive. The reason is that the HDD is originally connected to a SATA3 port, while the DVD drive is connected to a SATA I port. If you replace the DVD drive with the SSD you will have terrible performance. Now if you want to keep the HDD and get rid of the DVD drive, follow the next steps.
6 - Remove the sole screw that holds the dvd drive into place. The drive should come out easily through the side. 7 - IMPORTANT: Remove the faceplate from your original DVD drive. It will be tough and annoying to do. Look at the provided faceplate (from your new caddy) to understand how it attaches to the DVD drive. It's important to do that as the 'universal' faceplate provided won't fit well in the curved laptop chassis. 8 - Attach the old faceplate into the caddy. 9 - Place the HDD into the caddy, securing it with the screws provided. 10 - Slide the caddy into the DVD drive slot (now empty) until it's firmly plugged into the SATA port. You can't really put the original screw back, but unless you are in the habit of violently shaking your laptop, it should stay in place.
Congratulations, your laptop now has an SSD as its primary drive and HDD as secondary. Now all you have to do is boot from a media USB stick (linux, windows, etc) and reinstall it. If you have Windows 10, upgraded from the original Windows 8.1 installed, the activation should happen automatically.