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Can Laptop Hard Drive Be Used In Desktop ?

Laptops have surely improved the modern lifestyle since you can carry a powerful computer anywhere. Due to a long list of customizations, the performance of laptops can be improved drastically. You might have thought about swapping components between your desktop and laptop as a user. Exchanging components of a laptop and computer is difficult but not impossible. Components like storage drives support this statement to an extent

Storage drives are used for a similar function on a laptop and computer: permanently storing important files (even after the system is turned off). Both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) are popularly used for desktops and laptops. To understand if we can swap a laptop’s hard drive into a desktop, this article will walk you through some important information.

Using Laptop Hard Drives With Desktops

hard driveA simple answer to using a laptop hard drive with a desktop will be yes, you can do it. However, the process depends on several factors since the laptops’ and desktop drives have different sizes, specifications, etc. You can connect the laptop’s hard drive to the desktop with the help of a connector adapter. The adapter helps connect the drive when a laptop and desktop use different interfaces.

When the interfaces are similar, the connecting process becomes easy. Users can simply opt for the SATA or IDE connectors. Users can also hardwire the laptop’s drive on the desktop’s motherboard. This process, however, limits the process of upgrading the drive in the future. Even if the drive connects with the desktop, the form factor might obstruct the process.

2.5-Inch and 3.5-Inch Form Factor In Hard Drives

The form factors refer to the overall size of the storage drive. The hard drives are available in several form factors since space consideration varies for a laptop and desktop. Amongst several form factors, the 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors are popular in drives. We shall discuss each in detail.

1. Drives With 2.5-Inch Form Factor

The 2.5-inch form factor is more compact compared to the other form factors. It was developed for laptops and other devices where space is limited. With a smaller size, this drive offers a decent amount of storage space. The drive is named 2.5 inches due to the actual size of the rotating disk. These drives are mostly used for laptops, notebooks, and smart tabs.

2. Drives With 3.5-Inch Form Factor

The 3.5-inch is the most popular and older form factor hard drives use. Compared to the 2.5-inch units, these drives offer better storage capacity. The higher storage capacity comes with a larger body, making it incompatible with compact devices. Since desktops do not have limitations on space, 3.5-inch drives are popularly used. Similarly to the 2.5-inch drive, the 3.5-inch drive is named after the actual size of the spinning disk.

Now that we know the hard drive’s different form factors, we must understand some critical differences between laptop and desktop drives.

Differences Between Laptop And Desktop Hard Drives

Even if both laptop and desktop hard drives serve the same function, they also have a lot of differences between each other. These differences act as the selling point of both laptop and desktop drives. We have explained some important differences between the drives to help you understand their impact on the exchange process.

1. Size

As discussed earlier, we know how desktop and laptop drives feature different form factors. The different size of both drives makes them an ideal choice for different devices. The actual dimension of a desktop hard drive is 4×5.8×0.8 inches whereas the laptop hard drive measures only 2.8x4x0.4 inches. The desktop drives might fit a laptop but it will compromise its “compact” feature. The desktops’ hard drive is also heavier than the laptops’ hard drive.

2. Speed

Besides the size, speed is considered another important difference between both hard drives. The desktop’s hard drive is faster when compared to the laptop’s unit. The reason behind this is a higher rotation of the drive which is 7,200 rpm compared to the laptop’s 5,400 rpm. Besides this, the desktop hard drive consists of a larger disk sector. As a result, data from a desktop drive transfers quickly compared to the laptop’s drive.

3. Storage Capacity

The most important feature of a hard drive is its storage capacity. This difference is the most crucial since a large chunk of data must be stored on laptops and desktops. As explained earlier, the larger disk sector of desktop drives helps store more data. Even with half the storage capacity of the desktop’s hard drive, the laptop’s hard drive can hold GBs and TBs of data. The laptop drives are available in 2TB capacity while the desktop units exceed the 10TB limit.

4. Performance

Apart from storing huge chunks of data, the desktop’s hard drive also outperforms the laptop’s hard drive. These units are ideal for intensive applications, including gaming and video editing. They have a larger cache memory, reducing the reloading time of frequently accessed files. However, the laptop’s hard drives also offer good performance while web browsing, streaming, etc.

Connecting Laptop Hard Drive With Desktop

We know that laptop hard drives can be connected to the desktop. As simple as it may sound, the connection is achieved by considering several factors. To assure successful connectivity, users can use two methods: USB cable or motherboard. The USB cable establishes the connection without disassembling the desktop components.

Users can keep the laptop’s hard drive in a case to connect it externally to the desktop. A compatible HDD case includes all the necessary plugins to connect to the desktop successfully. Apart from this, users can also connect to the hard drive via a docking station. It works as a universal junction for different types of ports. An adapter is a useful component to connect dissimilar ports like USB-A to USB-C.

Similarly, the user can safely connect if the hard drive is compatible with the desktop’s motherboard. Users may proceed with the connection process by checking the space limitations and other factors. Using compatible cables, the hard drive is connected to the motherboard. With the help of BIOS settings, users can read the hard drive for use.

Laptop Hard Drive – FAQs

1. How many types of connections does a laptop hard drive feature?

Ans: Since SATA is one of the standard interfaces for hard drives, most laptop hard drives feature SATA connections. It is known for higher data transfer speed along with lossless data transmission. Hence, Sata connections are also used for desktop hard drives.

2. Can you connect laptop hard drives with desktop motherboards?

Ans: Connecting laptops’ hard drives with a desktop motherboard is possible. The drive must use a similar interface to connect a motherboard. You can use a SATA cable to connect the hard drive to the motherboard’s SATA ports.

3. Do you need additional cables or adapters while using a laptop hard drive with a desktop?

Ans: Depending on the interface, form factor, and other factors, you might need additional components while using the laptop drive with a desktop. If the form factor is not the same, you can use other sizes of brackets. To connect dissimilar interfaces, an adapter or docking station is ideal. A laptop hard drive and desktop with similar interfaces can be connected via data and power cable.

4. Can you use laptops’ hard drives from a different operating system on a PC?

Ans: You can use laptops’ hard drives with several operating systems on a desktop. Formatting can remove the errors even if any problems arise after connecting the drive. Formatting the drive also makes it compatible with the PC’s operating system.


The hard drive is one of the rare components which can be exchanged between a laptop and a desktop. This component serves as a storage for important files while allowing quicker data handling. With the help of several processes, users can connect a laptop’s hard drive to a desktop. This article helps you understand the connectivity and difference between laptop and desktop hard drives. With this information, you can easily swap a hard drive from a laptop with a desktop.

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