How to upgrade the SSD in your Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q Tiny

Lenovo's ThinkCentre M720q PC manages to pack a lot of hardware and ports into its compact chassis, including dual SODIMM RAM slots, a 2.5-inch hard drive bay, and an M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) slot. Depending on the configuration you go with at checkout, your model may or may not include an M.2 SSD. In this guide, we'll show you how to add or upgrade an M.2 PCIe SSD for better performance or more space.

Hardware and software to get the job done

How to upgrade the SSD in your Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q

Note: Before beginning any upgrades on a PC, it's a good idea to back up your data in the unlikely event something should go wrong. You'll also want to ensure you're not working in a static-filled environment, as it can cause damage to a PC's internal hardware. Consider investing in an anti-static wristband to avoid unnecessary damage.

There are quite a few configuration options available for the ThinkCentre M720q, including those with only 2.5-inch SATA storage, only an M.2 PCIe SSD, or both. If your model has the slower 2.5-inch SATA storage or a small M.2 SSD, an upgrade to something like Samsung's 970 EVO Plus will bring far better speed and more storage space.

If your M720q shipped with an M.2 PCIe SSD like our review model, you'll likely want to clone any existing data (including Windows 10) on the old M.2 drive over to the new M.2 drive before swapping them out. This can be accomplished with an external SSD enclosure and Macrium Reflect 7 cloning software. We've written a complete guide on how to clone hard drives to help you through the process.

If your M720q has only a 2.5-inch SATA drive, you have a few options. Because Windows 10 is installed on the SATA drive, you can add an M.2 PCIe SSD and use it for storage only with no need for cloning. On the other hand, you can clone Windows 10 and any existing data from the SATA drive to the M.2 PCIe SSD after installation and reap the benefits of faster read and write speeds. Finally, you can do a fresh install of Windows 10 on the M.2 SSD after it's been added to the PC, move any important files over from the SATA drive, and format it to use as bulk storage.

Once you've completed any necessary cloning and have backed up any important data, clear out a well-lit workspace, power down your ThinkCentre M720q Tiny, and proceed with the steps below.

  1. Unscrew the large black fastener on the back of the ThinkCentre M720q.

  1. Slide the top and front portions of the chassis cover away from the rear. It should separate with relative ease.

  1. Turn the M720q over to reveal another removable panel.

  1. Slide the bottom panel away from the rear of the device. It should come away with relative ease.

  1. Pull up the blue clip that holds the M.2 PCIe SSD in place. This is used in lieu of a single screw. The M.2 SSD should pop up and remain at about a 45-degree angle.

  1. Pull the old M.2 SSD out of its slot.

  1. Insert the new M.2 SSD into the slot at about a 45-degree angle. Notice it is keyed and will only fit one way.

  1. Push in the blue clip at the end of the M.2 SSD to secure it in place.

  1. Slide the bottom panel back onto the M720q main chassis.

  1. Slide the top and front panels of the M720q back on the main chassis.

  1. Screw in the single black fastener on the back of the M720q.

You can now boot up your ThinkCentre M720q and see if the upgrade went according to plan. If your PC has trouble recognizing a fresh drive that hasn't been cloned, you might need to format it for Windows 10. If there's any post-upgrade cloning from a SATA drive, now is the time to do so.

Our top hardware and software picks

Our pick for an upgrade M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD is Samsung's 970 EVO Plus. It's incredibly fast, it's long-lasting, and it's relatively cheap for the performance you're getting.

If you're looking for a desktop PC that can stay connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse at all times yet doesn't take up much space in your office, Lenovo's ThinkCentre M720q Tiny is an excellent option.

Additional Equipment

To make the upgrade process easier and less risky, consider investing in some of these affordable PC tools, and don't forget about Macrium Reflect and an external enclosure for those who want to clone drives.

ElecGear M.2 PCIe enclosure ($50 at Amazon)

If you're cloning the original SSD to the new SSD, an external enclosure is needed. This option from ElecGear fits M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs and can connect back to your ThinkCentre M720q with USB-C or USB-A.

Macrium Reflect 7 (Free at Macrium)

We've had success cloning drives with Macrium Reflect 7, and have even written a complete guide on how to use it properly. A free edition is available, but you can purchase a full edition with a bunch more features for those who truly take backups seriously.

ORIA PC toolkit ($33 at Amazon)

Having the proper gear to work on your PC will always make the job much easier. Here you get a plethora of tools contained in a portable case.

Rosewill anti-static wristband ($7 at Amazon)

Static electricity can damage sensitive PC parts, so remove the risk with an anti-static wristband. Fasten it around your wrist and clip it onto your PC for peace of mind.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.