Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup of business laptops generally come with great upgradeability options, and although RAM is soldered to the board in the X390, you can swap M.2 PCIe solid-state drives (SSD) with relative ease. We've put together a complete guide to help you through the process, and we've made some recommendations as to what hardware you can use for an upgrade.
Hardware and software to get the job done
- M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD: Samsung 970 EVO Plus (opens in new tab) (From $70 at Amazon)
- SSD enclosure for cloning: ElecGear M.2 PCIe enclosure (opens in new tab) ($48 at Amazon)
- Cloning tool: Macrium Reflect 7 (Free at Macrium)
- Prevent damage: Rosewill anti-static wristband (opens in new tab) ($7 at Amazon)
- All required tools: ORIA PC toolkit (opens in new tab) ($33 at Amazon)
- 13.3-inch business laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X390 (From $900 at Lenovo)
How to upgrade the SSD in your Lenovo ThinkPad X390
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 (opens in new tab) to avoid unnecessary damage.
Although the ThinkPad X390's RAM is soldered to the board, making it permanent, the M.2 PCIe SSD can still be upgraded. Whether you saved some money at checkout by going with a smaller SSD or you just want to improve performance with something like Samsung's 970 EVO Plus (opens in new tab), the steps remain the same.
If you'd like to keep all data and Windows 10, we recommend picking up an external drive enclosure (opens in new tab) and cloning the old SSD to the new SSD with cloning software before swapping drives. We've been through plenty of cloning operations with Macrium Reflect and have written a complete guide to help you from start to finish. If you indeed pick up a Samsung SSD, you can also take advantage of its own proprietary cloning software (opens in new tab).
Alternatively, if you don't want to clone and don't mind reinstalling Windows 10 along with any apps, a fresh install of the OS is possible.
Once you've backed up your important data and have gone through the optional cloning process, clear a well-lit workspace and power down your ThinkPad X390 before going ahead with the steps below.
- Unscrew the five black fasteners on the bottom panel of the ThinkPad X390 using a Phillips-head screwdriver. Note that the screws will not come completely away from the panel despite being loosened. This is to prevent loss.
- Lift the back panel away from the chassis using a pry tool. Start in one corner and work your way around to avoid damage.
- Unscrew the single silver fastener at the end of the M.2 PCIe SSD. The old SSD should pop up and hold at an angle.
- Remove the M.2 SSD by pulling it away from the slot. It should come away with relative ease.
- Insert the new M.2 SSD into the slot at an angle. Notice it is keyed and will only fit one way.
- Screw in the silver fastener at the end of the M.2 SSD. Be sure you don't overtighten.
- Replace the back panel of the laptop by applying pressure around the edges. Notice the clips along the front edge of the laptop must be lined up first.
- Screw in the five black fasteners on the back panel.
You can now boot up your ThinkPad X390 to check and see if the upgrade went according to plan. If you chose to forego cloning and are starting with a new install of Windows 10, now is the time to complete the process.
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.
Blazing SSD speeds
Unreal performance up to 1TB in size
Samsung's 970 EVO Plus brings blistering read and write speeds, a competitive price, and a 5-year warranty, which altogether is an impressive package. Sizes start at 250GB and go up to 1TB.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X390 is a lightweight laptop with great security features, tons of ports, optional LTE, and plenty of hardware options, including up to a 1TB PCIe SSD. However, you can save some money at checkout by going with a smaller SSD and upgrading later with something larger and faster.
13.3-inch business Ultrabook
Lightweight and mobile with ThinkPad durability
Those who'd like a business-focused laptop that doesn't weigh a ton yet hangs onto ThinkPad durability should give the X390 a look. You get excellent performance from 8th Gen Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs, a colorful FHD touch display, and a great selection of ports.
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 (opens in new tab) ($48 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 ThinkPad P72 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 (opens in new tab) ($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 (opens in new tab) ($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 is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
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