The Dell Chromebook 13 has finally started to receive discounts, and has periodically been available as a refurbished model through Dell’s online outlet store. This is great news, as the Dell 13 is arguably the best Chromebook release of 2015: click here to read my full review.
I was fortunate enough to grab one of the refurbished $279 Dell Chromebook 13’s with the Intel Core i3 5005U and 4 GB of RAM, which are also on sale new for $429.00 as of this writing. This version has even better performance than the already impressive 3205U Celeron version, while retaining the 1080p IPS display and fantastic build quality.
The Intel Core i3 processor is arguably overkill for a Chromebook, but is an excellent performer in various Linux distributions. Utilizing Crouton – which you can read about here – you can expand the capability of your Chromebook, provided you have sufficient local storage. While this version of the Dell Chromebook 13 only has 16 GB of local storage, the included M.2 42mm SSD can be easily upgraded in a few easy steps!
- MyDigitalSSD Super Boot Drive 42mm SATA III (6G) M.2 2242 NGFF SSD (128GB (120GB))
Step 1: Create Chrome OS Restore Drive
To start, go to the Chrome Web Store and add the Chromebook Recovery Utility:
You will need a USB Flash Drive or SD Card to complete this step, and be aware that the contents of that drive will be completely wiped when the recovery media is created.
Using the Recovery Utility, create your OS Recovery. Set this aside for later.
Step 2: Remove Bottom Screws
Turn off your Chromebook, flip it over, and grab a magnetic screw driver. To open up the case, there are 11 screws that need to be removed:
These screws are small, so be careful not to lose them, and be careful not to strip any of them during this process.
Step 3: Remove the Bottom Lid
With the screws out of the way, it is time to pop off the bottom lid. In addition to being secured by screws, the lid is also snapped into place, and needs to be gently pried off. I found easy to do from the top rear under the hinge:
You’ll need to apply some pressure here, but don’t force anything – you don’t want to crack or bend the lid.
Step 4: Locate and Remove the SSD
With the bottom lid removed, you’ll have access to the guts of the Chromebook 13. At the top right of the device you’ll find the WiFi and M.2 SSD.
There’s some wiring lightly taped to the right side of the SSD. Gently lift off that tape – which is holding unrelated wiring in place – and then unscrew the single screw holding the SSD in place. That retention screw is tiny, so make sure you’re using a magnetic screwdriver.
Slide in the new SSD into its slot, hold it down in place, and then reinsert the screw and tighten slowly. Be cautious of over-tightening this screw; you just need it to hold in place. Lightly smooth the tape back in place to the rear of the SSD, and you’ve successfully installed the new SSD.
Snap the cover back into place, then replace all the screws, and the case is put back together, good as new.
Step 5: Reinstall Chrome OS
Plug in your Chromebook’s power cable, then power up the device. You’ll get a notice that Chrome OS is missing or damaged:
Insert your USB flash drive or SD Card that you created using the Chromebook Recovery Utility, and your Chromebook will install Chrome OS on the SSD. This process takes about 5-10 minutes; once completed, you can boot into Chrome OS just like you would with a new Chromebook!
NOTE: If you’re looking to use Crouton to install a Linux distro on your Chromebook, click here for my installation guide.
For more Chromebook reviews, see below:
- Acer R11 Chromebook Review
- Dell Chromebook 13 Review (3205U Celeron)
- Toshiba Chromebook 2 2015 Review (3215U Celeron)
- Asus C100 Chromebook Flip Review
- Asus C201 Chromebook Review