How to upgrade the SSD on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is one of the company’s most powerful business laptops and also one of the most configurable. Most ThinkPads are known for being highly configurable, but the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a very powerful machine and offers plenty of room for upgrades. Because of this, it can also become very expensive to get these upgrades all at once. Luckily, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme also gives you some room to upgrade the SSD or RAM after the fact, so you can save some money and check out and upgrade later.

With that in mind, if you need help upgrading the SSD in your Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to walk you through the process of replacing or adding an SSD to your laptop. Depending on your configuration, you might have two SSD slots available – however, models with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU or higher only have one SSD slot.

what you will need

If you are planning to upgrade the SSD of your Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, you will need a few things including:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • pry tool
  • Antistatic wrist strap
  • thermal pad (can be optional)
  • SSD
  • External or cloud storage (to back up your data)
  • A USB drive (for reinstalling Windows)

A great way to get the screwdriver and pry tool is with the iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit. You should also wear an anti-static wrist strap to avoid electrical discharge while working inside the laptop.

If you’re replacing the primary SSD that supports PCIe 4.0 speeds, you’ll need a high-speed PCIe 4.0 SSD like the Samsung 980 Pro. The secondary SSD slot only supports PCIe 3.0 speeds, so you can get a cheaper PCIe 3.0 SSD if you want to save some cash. The standard Samsung 980 SSD is a good choice if you want one of those.

    Samsung 980 Pro SSD

    The Samsung 980 Pro SSD has fast PCIe 4.0 speeds and is one of the most popular options out there.

You may also want to buy a thermal pad for the SSD if it’s a different layout than what’s already installed, or if yours is defective. If the SSD you buy is double-sided (typically 4TB models only), Lenovo recommends a 1.25mm thick thermal pad like this one from Kritical, and for single-sided SSDs you’ll need a thicker one (2.5mm), like this one by Thermalright.

Finally, if you remove the pre-installed SSD, you should note that the new SSD will not contain any of your data. You may want to back up your personal data to an external USB drive or cloud storage and follow our Windows 11 installation guide to create a USB drive that can install Windows 11. Alternatively, you can request recovery media from Lenovo to restore your PC with all original Lenovo software installed.

Prepare to upgrade

Once you have all your equipment ready and have your data backed up, you should also make sure you don’t risk any electrical discharges that can damage the laptop. First you need to disable the built-in battery in the laptop. Keep the laptop plugged into a power outlet during this process. That’s how it’s done:

  • Go to the control panel and change the view from categories either Large icons or Small icons. Find an option called power options.
  • Click on this page Choose what the power buttons do in the side menu on the left.
  • click Change settings that are currently unavailable at the top of the page (you need administrator rights for this). Then uncheck the box that says Enable fast startup (recommended). click save Changes.
    Screenshot of Power Options in Control Panel
  • Restart your PC and press F1 when the Lenovo logo appears to enter the ThinkPad setup menu.
  • Navigate to config > power. Make your selection from this submenu Disable the built-in battery.
  • Confirm your choice and the computer will turn off.

Once this is done, unplug the AC adapter and any other accessories from the laptop and wait 5 minutes before beginning.

Upgrading the SSD in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

With all this done, you can finally start upgrading SSD in Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Lay the laptop face down with the hinge pointing away from you, and then follow these steps:

  • Use the Phillips screwdriver to remove the seven screws that secure the base bottom cover. Starting at the hinge, lift the base cover (you may need a prying tool) and then remove it completely.
    Image shows how to remove the base cover of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

    Photo credit: Lenovo

  • Depending on your configuration, you may have one or two SSD slots. If your model has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU or higher, there is only one SSD slot on the right side (a), just below the fan.
    Image shows SSD slot placement on Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

    Photo credit: Lenovo

    However, with two SSD slots, the primary slot (with PCIe 4.0) is on the left (b), the right is the secondary slot with PCIe 3.0. Some models may also have a bracket covering the SSD on the left side of the laptop.

  • With the SSD on the left, start by unscrewing the two screws that secure the bracket (if present). Then remove the screw holding the SSD itself and gently slide the SSD away from the M.2 slot at an angle.
    Image shows how to remove the SSD on the left side in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

    Photo credit: Lenovo

    • For the SSD on the right, you can simply remove the screw that secures the SSD and then gently slide it out of the M.2 slot. This SSD is in a case and you want the new one to fit in the same case.
      Image shows how to remove the SSD on the right side in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

      Photo credit: Lenovo

  • If your new SSD is double-sided (typically they should only be 4TB SSDs), you may need to replace the thermal pad underneath the SSD with a thinner one. Remove the existing thermal pad and place the new one in its place.
  • To install the new SSD, simply slide it into the same position as the one you just removed and align the notch on the SSD with the M.2 slot. Then reattach the screw holding the SSD. Be careful not to overtighten the screws – overtightening the screws can damage the components inside the laptop. For the SSD slot on the left, also reattach the SSD bracket (if present) with the two screws.
  • Place the laptop base cover back in its original position and tighten the seven screws to secure it.

You should now be ready to boot up your PC. Once you’ve removed the primary SSD containing your operating system, plug in your USB recovery media so you can boot from it and reinstall Windows 11 as we explain in our guide linked above. If you just added a new SSD to your system, just press the power button and you should boot into Windows as usual.

Since you disabled the built-in battery, you must be connected to AC power. You can follow the steps in Prepare to upgrade Section above to re-enable battery and fast startup in Windows.

And that’s about it if you want to upgrade the SSD in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5. This can be a bit of a tedious process, especially if you’re replacing your laptop’s primary SSD, but if you want more storage, this is the way to get it. Of course, if you don’t want to do this later, you can always get a higher memory configuration out of the box.

Lenovo allows you to configure the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 with many options, be it for storage, RAM, CPU and more. You can get started using the link below. If you’re looking for something different, check out the best Lenovo laptops to see what the company has to offer in other market segments. We also have a list of the best laptops in general if you want to broaden your search.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

    The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is a powerful business laptop with Intel H-series processors and NVIDIA RTX graphics for the most demanding workloads.

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