I’m a big fan of the lightweight Panasonic ultraportable laptops. The R-series is small but still usable. The Y-series offers a full 1400×1050 screen, built-in DVD-RW drive, and long battery life in a 3 pound package. As a FreeBSD developer, I also find the BIOS in the Panasonic and Lenovo/IBM laptops are mostly compliant, meaning suspend/resume and power management work fine.
Recently, I upgraded the hard drive on my CF-Y4. I found that these disassembly instructions (another good source) for the CF-Y2 are mostly accurate. However, there are a few caveats I wanted to note for others with the R/W/T/Y series laptops.
First, all the notes about 3.3 volt logic versus 5 volt logic for the hard drive no longer apply. The Toshiba hard drive that came in my Y4 uses 5 volt logic, along with 5 volt motor supply. In fact, the pins are tied together internally. It was straightforward to swap in a WD 250 GB drive with no clipping pins necessary. This may apply to the newer R-series as well, though I haven’t verified it. If in doubt, use an ohmmeter to verify no resistance between pins 41 and 42 on the stock hard drive.
Next, heed the warnings about stripping the top two large hinge screws. They screw directly into plastic, while the other two hinge screws have a steel sleeve. Use a good jeweler’s screwdriver for the small screws. You don’t need to remove the two screws that hold the VGA connector to the case.
When removing the keyboard, pry smoothly in multiple places but don’t be afraid to put a little effort into it. The glue used to hold it down is surprisingly strong. Be sure you removed all the small screws from the bottom, of course, otherwise it won’t pop out.
Be sure to clean the CPU’s heat sink connection carefully and use some good thermal paste when reassembling. These laptops have no fan (awesome!) but that means it’s critical to make a good connection between the CPU and the keyboard heat sink area. Also, don’t forget the GPU, which sinks heat through the bottom of the motherboard. I cut a small piece of plastic to use as a spreader to eliminate any bubbles. I also put a thin amount of paste along other parts of the internal skeleton where it touches the keyboard. Once you reassemble the case, monitor the system temperature for a while to be sure you didn’t make a mistake. I found my temperature actually dropped compared to the factory thermal paste.