Install a Second M.2 SSD in an MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

• Updated June 2, 2019


In a previous post, I described how to do a clean install of Windows 10, drivers, and utilities on an MSI GS65 Stealth Thin. Despite the clean install reclaiming storage space by removing the data and recovery partitions setup by the manufacturer, depending on the type of SSD ordered, the available storage capacity can be consumed rather quickly. Luckily, the MSI GS65 has a second SSD slot, and in this post, I will describe the process I took to install a second M.2 SSD.

Disclaimer

Open your laptop at your own risk. I am not, nor is anyone else, responsible for any potential damage caused to your laptop when you open it.

The Second M.2 SSD

I purchased a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 SSD to install into the second M.2 SSD slot. The M.2 SSD included with the laptop - a Samsung MZ-VLB2560 in my case - remained in the first M.2 SSD slot.

Tools

During my first disassembly, I did not have the best tools. I of course had a screw driver with a phillips driver bit, but it was just a normal screw driver I have owned for years. Having a set of tools that are designed for disassembling and reassembling electronics will make the process a lot easier and less error prone.

Since adding a second M.2 SSD, I have modified other electronics and needed proper tools for those modifications, so I purchased the iFixit Mako Driver Kit and iFixit Precision Tweezers.

Disassembly

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin comes with two M.2 SSD slots. The first slot supports SATA and NVMe M.2 SSDs, and the second slot only supports NVMe M.2 SSDs. To have this kind of expandability in a laptop is great, but it comes with one caveat: the motherboard is flipped. This means you cannot simply remove the bottom cover and install the second M.2 SSD. To gain access to the M.2 SSD slots, you have to do the following:

  • Remove 15 screws to remove the bottom cover
  • Remove 3 screws to remove the battery
  • Detach 5 ribbon cables
  • Disconnect the speaker wire from the motherboard
  • Remove 1 screw to remove the wireless card from the motherboard
  • Disconnect the LCD connector from the motherboard
  • Remove 2 screws to finally be able to remove the motherboard from the chassis

The process is very cumbersome, but installing an additional M.2 SSD is usually something done once or twice during the lifetime of the laptop. It took me about 30 minutes from start-to-finish. Others have reported doing it in a shorter amount of time, but I took my time and made sure to check my work when putting everything back together.

I followed this MSI GS65 teardown video to take apart the laptop. I recommend watching it a couple of times before actually opening the laptop. Once you are ready to take apart the laptop, be sure to do so on a large, well lit surface where you won't have any distractions. And, be sure to take your time and check your work.

In the teardown video, a suction cup is used to easily remove the bottom cover. I did not have a suction cup, but I was still able to remove the bottom cover. I did so by very carefully lifting the bottom cover up near the ethernet port and running a flat, plastic spatula-like tool across the seam to raise the bottom cover off the chassis. Be very careful doing this, because the bottom cover is made of aluminum and can easily bend.

Reassembly

Putting the laptop back together is doing everything in reverse. I suggest stepping through the teardown video backwards.

After I put the laptop back together, the laptop would not turn on. This was because I did not connect the power cable first. It seems that if you disconnect the battery from the motherboard, you are required to plug the power cable back in before the laptop will turn on. After doing this once, the laptop turned on and off with or without the power cable plugged in.

I did not need to make any changes in the BIOS. Upon booting into Windows 10, Disk Management recognized the new SSD, and I was able to format it.

References