How to free up that internal 2.5" HDD/SSD drive bay in your Dell Precision 5510 laptop

Posted by Paul Braren on Feb 12 2017 (updated on Apr 23 2017) in
  • Laptop
  • Storage
  • If you have a Dell Precision laptop with up to a 1TB Toshiba M.2 NVMe SSD inside, congratulations, you have quite a nice workstation! This "corporate" laptop is blessed with a 4K display, and that envy-inducing thin bezel. A close cousin of the popular and highly rated Dell XPS 15 that a young engineer in my family has enjoyed using heavily for over a year now, see also:

    Plugable USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps USB-C to SATA Adapter Cable for 2016 MacBook Pro, Chromebook Pixel 2015, Thunderbolt 3 Port Compatible

    While I'm not a fan of the keyboard layout's use of dual-function up/down PgUp/PgDn arrow keys, I'm usually docked using an external ThinkPad with TrackPoint keyboard anyway, with a proper new Lenovo ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock on the way. Overall, using this Dell Precision 5510 been a pretty darn good ownership experience so far. Also pretty cool that I could use this SATA to USB 3.1 adapter to boot my Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD externally in a pinch, at full speed!


    No need for USB 3.0 with UASP enclosures. This goes well beyond that speed. Having this external adapter sure made the waiting easier, for the two parts I explain below that would eventually allow me to install those 2TBs of SSD goodness right inside. FYI, Veeam Endpoint Backup wouldn't allow backups when the drive was external, seeing the C: drive as Windows to Go, but all is well now back inside, with normal SATA3 speeds.

    If you take your bottom cover off to see if you can add a 2.5" drive for additional storage, you might be disappointed. You see, the 4K model comes with an extra large battery, to help that GPU push all those pixels around. This 84Wh battery completely spans the width of the laptop, filling that 2.5" drive bay.

    So, given the battery situation, are you out of luck? Not really, not if you're willing to get a little creative, completely at your own risk. I'm not recommending beginners do such a thing. This is more an FYI, in case experienced technicians wish to upgrade what they got. Given what's at stake here, your personal safety, and the the safety of your home, I would strongly recommend only getting an original Dell branded battery. Just think of all those battery recalls.

    Ways to determine whether you have the 56Wh or 84Wh battery

    There are many ways, three of which I outline below.

    Method #1 of 3 - Remove the base cover

    See page 9 of the instruction manual.
    This is a corporate laptop, with a focus on easy serviceability. Simply remove 2 screws under the bottom's flip cover, then the 10 little identical Torx screws, and you're in. No glue, nothing messy, you're just in. No warranty seal broken.

    Method #2 of 3 - Use Dell's site to find battery size in the specifications

    Hunt for your particular system here:

    Method #3 of 3 - Use Windows built-in battery report to determine your battery size

    This is the section you're looking for, notice I have already installed the smaller 56Wh battery.

    What if you'd rather not take the cover off, but are curious about whether your particular Dell Precision has the 84Wh or 56Wh battery? Easy! Just visit this little article for a simple way to use Windows 10's built in ability to get this information:

    The really nice thing about this method is that it's just using a facility that's built right into Windows 10, with no 3rd party downloads to worry about.

    If you have the 84Wh battery, you'll need the following parts to reclaim that 2.5" drive bay:

    I spent a lot of time hunting these parts down, so now you don't have to. I then testing them, as seen in the video below.

    Order Part 1 of 2 - The smaller Dell 56Wh battery




    Order Part 2 of 2 - The 2.5" drive adapter kit of Dell parts


    Tools needed

    I used the following iFixIt parts from an older iFixIt kit:

    • JIS01 (JIS - J1)
    • T-5 (Torx T5)
      which are available as part of their new 64 Bit Driver kit of course, or whatever other kit or driver you may have.

    Install instructions

    Now that you've got the 56Wh battery and the 2.5" drive adapter in hand, here's the basic steps, as detailed in the step-by-step video below.

    1. Do a complete system backup, then power down whatever OS you use

    2. Rest your laptop on a flat surface upside-down, referring to page 9 of the Dell Precision 5510 instruction manual

    3. Remove the 2 Phillips screws under the flap near the center of the bottom cover

    4. Carefully disconnect the battery power ribbon cable before you do anything further

    5. Remove the 10 T5 Torx screws

    6. Remove the 7 Phillips screws that are securing the 84Wh battery, keep those screws handy, since you're about to re-use them all.

    7. Go ahead and safely store that 84Wh battery for possible re-use in the future

    8. Install the new 56Wh battery using 4 of the screws you freed up in the previous step
    1. Slip the two rubber edges onto your 2.5" HDD or SSD

    2. Place the bracket over the 2.5" drive assembly, fasten with the 3 remaining Phillips screws

    3. Attach the battery connector ribbon cable

    4. Reinstall the bottom cover with the 10 T5 Torx screws and 2 Phillips screws under the flap

    5. Power up, and change BIOS and boot order settings as needed

    How To Video

    How to free up that internal 2.5" HDD/SSD drive bay in your Dell Precision 5510 laptop [4K]


    Sorry, can't resist having a look under the hood
    Samsung 850 EVO with EMT2B6Q in Dell Precision 5510 with Windows 10 build 1607 with Bitlocker on.
    Shop at with discount code.

    Apr 23 2017 Update

    It appears that the Lenovo ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock will apparently never ship, see comments below.

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also

    I actually met Brett!

    My ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock - US will be arriving soon!
    Then again, maybe not. It's been delayed.