Can You Use a Laptop Hard Drive in a Desktop PC?

Yes, in most cases you will be able to use a laptop hard drive in a desktop computer, as both are likely SATA compatible. However, there are some issues to watch out for to ensure the swap goes smoothly.

Whether you have important data on your laptop that you want to preserve in your PC build, or you don’t want to spend money on a new desktop hard drive when you have a perfectly good laptop hard drive, it is generally possible to make the swap simply and easily.

This article is going to take a closer look at not only adding a laptop hard drive into your desktop, but also some things you should watch out for to make sure everything goes correctly.

Key Takeaways

  • In most cases, you should be able to use a laptop hard drive in a desktop without any problem.
  • You will need an open bay and ensure that the hard drive and the desktop are compatible.
  • There are some issues you may run into such as hard drive size, speed, and performance, so do your research.

Can I Use a Laptop Hard Drive in a Desktop?

As mentioned in the intro, yes, you will generally be able to use a laptop hard drive in your desktop computer. Because many laptops and desktops are SATA-compatible, it means that they use the same connection and thus can be interchangeable in most cases.

SATA is the standard for how many of the storage-related components of your computer connect to the motherboard. As long as both your laptop hard drive and desktop support SATA you should be good to go. If they both support a standard like PCIe or NVMe, that’s fine too.

Of course, you need to make sure you have an open bay in your desktop for the hard drive to be slotted in. Be careful when opening your PC and when connecting/disconnecting hard drives, as it is possible to cause damage if you do things recklessly or without precision.

Issues to Watch Out For

While this type of swap can be quite simple at times, there are also some issues to watch out for, whether you are using an HDD or an SSD. The first is making sure you have the ability to support the size of the laptop hard drive in your desktop.

The size of a laptop hard drive is generally 2.5 inches, whereas desktop hard drives will be 3.5. As a result, there are no guarantees that your laptop hard drive will inherently fit into your desktop. But don’t worry, there is an easy solution for this problem.

While your desktop might have slots or bays for both 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives, there are also adapter plates or brackets that allow for a 2.5 inch drive to fit in a 3.5 inch slot without any issues, if need be.

It is important to be aware that some laptops and desktops today are getting away from the SATA standard, too. Some newer laptops may use the NVMe or PCIe, so compatibility issues could arise. However, many SATA drives will fit and work with NVMe and other slots.

Also, just because you can use your laptop hard drive in a desktop doesn’t always mean that you should. A laptop hard drive may not have the speed, performance, or storage capacity that a larger desktop hard drive will.

This isn’t always the case, however, so be sure to check the drive speeds to get an idea of whether or not there will be a performance-related issue.


Here are a few common questions and answers about laptop hard drives and swapping them with desktops.

Can I use a desktop hard drive in my laptop?

While using a laptop hard drive in a desktop is possible and generally quite easy, the same can’t be said for the opposite. This is generally because the 3.5 inch size of the desktop hard drive will not be supported and not fit within most laptops.

Can I use a laptop hard drive as an external hard drive on my desktop PC?

If you don’t feel like taking apart a desktop to add your laptop hard drive, there is an easier way. There are hard drive to USB adapters that will allow you to utilize many existing laptop hard drives as an external on your desktop PC.

Final Thoughts

While there is the potential for some issues, it is generally quite easy to use your laptop hard drive in your desktop. As long as they support the same standard, and the drive can be connected to your desktop, you’re in the clear.

Have you ever added a laptop hard drive to your desktop or are considering a swap in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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