PowerBook 5300 FAQ

AlkSoft / Contents / Hardware / Hard Disks

2.3) Hard Disks

2.3.1) What size hard disk did my computer ship with?

The 5300 originally shipped with one of three different hard drive configurations. They were 500MB, 750MB, and 1.1GB. The defining factor in determining which capacity hard drive your PowerBook shipped with is the amount of RAM the computer shipped with. If the 5300 shipped with 8MB of RAM, it would also have had the 500MB hard drive. A PowerBook with 16MB of RAM had a 750MB hard drive. 32MB had 1.1GB.

2.3.2) What is the speed of my original hard disk?

All of the original hard disks were exceedingly slow, even by contemporary standards. The disks had a mere rotational velocity of 4000rpm. The hard disks, manufactured by IBM, had a 13ms access time and as little as 32kB of cache. Even with a slow drive, however, the maximum throughput on the 5300 is still mostly limited by other components. The 5300 will rarely exceed 3-5MB/s of sustained throughput on the internal hard drive.

2.3.3) What type of hard disk does this computer use?

The 5300 uses a standard 2.5" laptop IDE hard drive. Just about any hard drive manufactured in the last 10 years that is also 2.5" wide and has an IDE interface will work with this computer. However, the hard drives manufactured at the same time as the 5300 have a different setup for their mounting screws. Consequently, most modern hard drives will not properly fit the 5300's hard drive mounting bracket. Do not despair: this problem can be overcome.

2.3.4) Is there a maximum size hard disk I can use?

Not really. There are some cases you may wish to consider before investing in a large hard drive, however.

The 5300 has a flaw in it's ROM which may cause hard drive data corruption if a hard drive greater than 4GB is installed and HD Target Mode. The problem arises from an assumption the ROM makes about how the hard drive should be addressed, so when data is written to segments outside of what the ROM expects, data can be corrupted. This limitation cannot be overcome. If you intend to use your PowerBook in HD Target Mode, you should avoid disks larger than 4GB.

The 5300 has another limitation that may or may not affect you. The 5300 may have trouble using a disk larger than 8.2GB. However, this limitation can be overcome with an OS upgrade. Mac OS 8.6 and higher supposedly work around this problem. If you have observed an issue surrounding large disk sizes, please drop me a line and let me know. You can email me at "alk at mac dot com".

2.3.5) This is an older PowerBook. Are there problems with using newer disks?

Yes. In addition to the issues discussed in 2.3.4) above, there is also the problem of the mounting bracket. The 5300 mounting bracket is designed to hold hard drives that were manufactured nearly a decade ago. Since then, the locations of the mounting screws on laptop hard drives have migrated. Consequently, newer hard drives cannot be secured to the older bracket without either modification of the bracket or modification of the drive. Of those choices, the former is by far the most safe. It has been noted in other circles that the careful use of a Dremel tool can "fix" the mounting bracket and allow it to accept new hard drives. I have not experimented with this modification. However, some velcro tape, electrical tape, hot glue, or other adhesives and shims will almost certainly have an equal probability of success without the risk of destroying your mounting bracket. I have chosen this route and used some electrical tape to secure a newer Toshiba hard drive to my 5300's mounting bracket without any problems.

2.3.6) Can I use more than 1 internal hard disk?

No. Even if you could find a way to fit more than one disk inside the extremely tight 5300, the IDE controller will only support one hard disk. However, you may be able to jury rig a hard drive into the expansion bay slot and hook it into the expansion bay's IDE/ATA connector. If you are going through all that much trouble, however, you might as well just pick up an expansion bay hard drive from the likes of VST.

2.3.7) How do I install a new hard disk?

This procedure is very delicate. If you aren't comfortable working on the interior of your PowerBook, you should find a friend who is. Better yet, take the PowerBook to a service professional.

  1. To start off, you'll need a Torx T-8 type screw driver. You can pick one of these up at Sears for less than $3.
  2. Turn off your PowerBook and disconnect all cables connected to it (including the power adapter).
  3. Remove the main battery and whatever you have in the expansion bay.
  4. Close the lid, and turn the computer onto it's back so that the bottom faces up.
  5. Remove the three Torx T-8 screws that for a row across the middle of the computer.
  6. If you already have a card in the PDS slot (you can tell by seeing if there is a connector located on the back of the computer above the reset button), unscrew it from the back of the computer at this time.
  7. Put the screws (each about 1 inch long) in a place where you won't lose them.
  8. Turn the computer back over and open it up to it's maximum angle.
  9. Lift the front edge of the keyboard (the edge with the space bar) up vertically about 1/4".
  10. Now pull the keyboard towards you (towards the trackpad) about 1/4" or 1/2" until the four tabs at the top are loosened from the back of the computer. Be careful not to pull too far as the ribbon cables that attach the keyboard to the motherboard are extremely fragile and easily damaged.
  11. Place a soft cloth or piece of paper over the display to protect it from scratches, then lift the keyboard out of it's assembly and place it (keys up) on the cloth.
  12. Touch the metal interior of the PowerBook right over the expansion bay/floppy drive in order to discharge any built up static electricity you might be carrying.
  13. If you have a card in the RAM expansion slot (located over the PC Card slots), grasp it by the edges and carefully lift it straight out until it comes free.
  14. Now move the keyboard from the display and place it, keys down, over the trackpad.
  15. Remove the "clutch covers" (the rounded pieces of plastic that cover the display hinges). Grasp the clutch cover under the display. With a fingernail, pull up from the seam in the back plastics, gently rocking the cover until it releases. When the clutch cover releases, pull straight up, watching to clear the bottom of the display.
  16. Place the keyboard back on the display and cloth.
  17. Remove the palm rest and trackpad by tilting the far edge up and rotating the whole assembly towards you about 5 degrees. Now slide the palm rest assembly forward/away from the computer about 1/4", disengaging the tabs along it's inside leading edge from the front edge of the computer's bottom. Be careful not to pull it too far as the cable that connects it to the motherboard is extremely fragile.
  18. At this point, you may decide to disconnect the track pad cable. It isn't entirely necessary, however, and if you can keep the palm rest out of the way to do the remaining steps, you might decide to keep it connected. Just be careful not to twist, crease, or tear the cable.
  19. Remove the three screws holding the hard drive bracket down along the inside front edge of the PowerBook.
  20. Lift up the entire bracket (with hard drive inside) about 1/2" and, holding the left end in place, tip it over on it's back (like turning the page of a book) so that it is lying on it's back at the left side of the PowerBook.
  21. Disconnect the hard drive cable from the mother board by lifting straight up on the hardened backing of the cable where it connects to the mother board.
  22. The old hard drive is secured to the mounting bracket with four screws, one near each corner of the disk on the sides of the mounting bracket. Remove these screws to release the hard drive.
  23. Remove the data cable from the hard drive connector. This is rather difficult. Try sinking your fingernail into the seam between the hard drive and the black data cable connector (as opposed to between the black connector and the data cable!). Be extremely careful not to damage the data cable. The cable is very fragile - twisting, creasing, or even bending the cable can introduce flaws that may cause it to fail.
  24. Attach the data cable to your new hard drive - the 48 pin connector will only fit on the hard drive in one direction, so it would be pretty hard to screw this up. However, it IS possible to screw up. If the cable isn't fitting on the hard drive fairly easily, do not force it. Remove the cable, examine it's arraingement with respect to the hard drive's connector, and try again.
  25. Find a way to secure your new hard drive to the mounting bracket. I recommend trying tape first to make sure the drive fits correctly before doing anything more permanent.
  26. Reverse the above steps to reassemble the PowerBook, and you should be golden!
    • A couple of reassembly cautions -
    • Before replacing the hard drive bracket, be sure that the PRAM battery cable is positioned in it's slot correctly.
    • If you disconnected the trackpad cable, before reconnecting it, make sure that the ferrite bead is on the cable and that the cable and bead fit correctly under the palm rest.
    • Be sure not to pinch the display data cable under the left clutch cover when you replace it.