Home > Guides and How To's > How Does a Laptop Hard Drive Work on a PC? (Explained)

How Does a Laptop Hard Drive Work on a PC? (Explained)

| Updated:

Yes, your 2.5″ Laptop hard drive will work just fine on your PC if set up properly. All SATA hard drives are modular, so you only need to buy a conversion kit for your 2.5-inch drive so that they can work on your desktop, which is set up for 3.5-inch hard drives. 

Whether you’re planning to use them as a secondary storage device or as the main driver for your computer, a 2.5 hard drive is no different from a desktop hard drive in theory, asides from slight physical and performance differences. You can boot up different operating systems on it, store data, play games, or do whatever your heart desires. 

Transferring an older hard drive to a new computer can be a tempting proposition, especially if you’re on a tight budget or don’t want to deal with the hassle of transferring all of your files over. Before you migrate over to your desktop, though, there are a few important factors you should consider.

Your Laptop Hard drive will not be as fast

The difference in size is the most notable difference between a laptop hard drive and a desktop hard drive, and speed is a close second.

Hard drives are essentially spinning platters capable of storing data. The faster they spin, the quicker they can access, transfer and store data, and a larger drive (3.5-inch drive) is noticeably faster than a laptop’s smaller one.

The best Hard drive can reach a rotation speed of about 7200 rpm, while laptop drives only reach up to 5900 rpm. If you switch to a laptop hard drive, you’ll be working with a noticeably slower storage device, which can mean a world of difference if your work requires you to store and transfer data constantly.

Laptop Hard drives have a smaller maximum capacity

Because of the aforementioned size difference, you’ll also have limited storage. Laptop hard drives only go as far as 18 TB of storage, while computer hard drives can hold up to 8TB of storage.

Of course, you could always upgrade in the future. For now, you’ll be limited to the maximum capacity of your hard drive. Going forward, you might have to purchase a desktop hard drive for more space.

Laptop Hard drives make your setup more fragile

While Laptop hard drives are made to be more durable than their desktop alternatives, you stand a higher risk of losing your data because of the SATA extension. It is one more break in the chain, and it’s more likely to break down in the event of an accident. 

Perks to Using a Laptop Hard drive

While there are many downsides to trading up, a laptop hard drive also provides unique advantages you won’t find on any typical 3.5-inch hard drive.

1) Uses very little power

Laptop hard drives use less power compared to their desktop counterpart. While there is barely a difference in power draw, it means you’ll save lots of power in the long term.  

2) Laptop hard drives last longer

Thanks to some basic physics, we know that laptop hard drives, barring any accidents, should have more spin cycles than desktop hard drives. They have a smaller mass and thus generate less inertia and friction. That means less wear and tear.

3) Laptop Hard drives are cheaper

While it’s true that laptop hard drives have less capacity, they’re also cheaper than their desktop counterpart. The price of a high-end desktop hard drive equals the price of multiple laptop hard drives. So, getting a full laptop hard drive might be cheaper if you can afford it. 

How to connect a Laptop Hard drive to your Desktop 

How to connect a Laptop Hard drive to your Desktop #1

Laptop and desktop hard drive operate using the same technology and connectors—SATA cable and data.

So, it’s entirely possible to load a new operating system, store files, or turn an old hard drive into a storage device.

Here’s how to do that.

How to turn your Laptop Hard drive into an external storage

There are a handful of ways you can go about this, all of which are fairly straightforward.

1) Connect using an external storage case

Buy an external drive case recommended for your hard disk size and pop in your hard drive to turn it into a portable storage device. The external case features high-speed SATA to USB connections, a cushion for your hard drive for impact resistance, as well as indicator LEDs.

2) Connect your laptop hard drive using a docking station

You can also connect via a docking station if you have one at hand. They can connect to multiple HDDs and allow you to keep a semi-permanent, detachable storage device you can repurpose later.

3) Connect your laptop hard drive using a docking station

Hard drive adapters are one of the oldest ways to transfer data between hard drives and computers quickly. They are cheap, are available in various port sizes and connections, and do not require purchasing an entire external disk case to share data.

4) Connect your Laptop Hard Drive to your Desktop’s Motherboard

Connect your Laptop Hard Drive to your Desktop’s Motherboard

If you’re looking to save space, reuse old storage, or save yourself the hassle of transferring large chunks of data, you can mount the hard drive on your motherboard.

It’s relatively straightforward. All you need is:

A 2.5-inch mounting bracket, a screwdriver, and some patience.

How to Install your laptop hard drive on your desktop motherboard

Step 1: Shutdown your computer

Step 2: Unplug it from a power supply

Step 3: Undo the back cover

Step 4: Mount the 2.5-inch driver bracket/ adapter, and screw the hard drive on to secure it in place

Step 5: Start your computer

Step 6: Load into your BIOS to see if your computer recognizes the hard drive.


A Laptop Hard drive can be just as versatile and reliable as its desktop sibling, provided you set it upright. Since they operate using the same technology, you’re guaranteed a smooth transition if you’re carrying over an operating system or files. If you have the budget, we recommend setting up multiple hard drives so that you have even more storage.

Pigtou.com is supported by its audience. When you buy through the links on our website, we may earn a small commission.
Photo of author

Pigtou Editorial Team

A group of tech enthusiasts who find pleasure in troubleshooting and resolving various issues. When we're not engaged in writing, we typically enjoy playing table football or spending time with our office dog.
NEED HELP? Drop a comment below!

You can also post your problem to the PIGTOU FORUM.

Leave a Comment