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back to article How to upgrade an Acer Aspire One netbook's memory

Acer's Aspire One A110/A150 may have been knocked off the top of the totem pole by Samsung's NC10, and it may be on the verge of being superseded by its new big brother, the 10in version, but it's proved a hugely popular netbook. Lots of folk own one, lots of folk use one and lots of folk reckon the base model doesn't have …

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Anonymous Coward

don't forget....

Sure for men. I always need a good spray of antiperspirant before undertaking any warranty invalidating work.

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The photographer's been sent to the Moderatrix for discipline...

Lucky bastard.

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IT Angle

Inconsistent... much?

Guess this makes the ten screws needed to access the RAM/HDD on a 17" MacBook Pro (something theReg seemed to imply was terribly difficult) look like heavenly delight.

Aside from that, I've done RAM upgrades for a few Acer Aspire ONE owners and it is easy to do once you've done it once. It actually worked out to the benefit of one owner when I discovered a stripped screw and unconnected speaker cable when I upgraded their machine.

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Couple of hints

1) The keyboard clips can be pernicky - have patience, and a cup of tea [and a ciggy, if you are that way inclined] when for the eleventh time, you can't quite get the clip off. Once you get it though, you realise the knack and it's a piece of piss.

2) You don't *actually* have to remove the mobo to install the RAM ; you can tip the mobo out at an angle and reach the slot without too much difficulty, but removing the mobo is probably the 'best' way of doing it to avoid static etc. [mind you I installed mine while pissed as a fart about 3am one friday night - still works!]

3) Increasing the RAM is one thing, but it's the SSD that is truly useless [crappy on-disk controller wetting itself all the time] - can we have a HDD upgrade article please? Special note as to what drives work, some appear to be very selective about the type of cable you have to use etc.

The issue with the SSD is that it seems to lock up regularly - presumably a caching issue - which no amount of using FAT32 [no jounalling], killing indexing [less work being done on the drive] and removing extraneous services can fix. Even netbook editions of Ubuntu lock up like this; it's incredibly frustrating.

The HDD equipped AA1 is noticeably faster responding [or at least gives that impression, which is as important IMHO] than the SSD equipped AA1 for this reason alone. I've used the SSD [with a stripped and tuned XP install] back to back with an HDD edition, and it *is* a major difference when the machine isn't just 'stopping' for ten seconds at a time every time you try to do something new, such as right click, open a program that hasn't been opened that session, etc etc. Feels a lot more usable, so a HDD install is high on the list of things to do once I get some time.

Oh, and anyone who suggests installing a 2.5" drive in the SSD equipped model, yeah, careful on that one, the HDD equipped model has a physically different case to take a 2.5" drive, you have to cut the SSD equipped AA1s case up a bit to make a 2.5" drive fit in. 1.8" drives are a bit better [you still need to remove a couple of small tabs from the case], but there appear to be some, er, issues with the different types of PATA-ZIF-thingy cables they use, which I still haven't got proper answers about. Hence why I haven't picked up a 1.8" drive yet. Want to get clear info on it, rather than 'I installed Drive X and it seemed to work but I can't be arsed taking it apart again to see what it's connected wth' etc.

Mind you, I don't spend a lot of time on the AA1 modding forums, perhaps I should?

Nice to see a fairly clean write up though - HDD install next, ta.

Steven R

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oh lol

That is pathetic work from acer !!!

puts the new mac to shame though !!

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Go

Three things!

I've now had both of my A110's apart, and read/watched several of these guides both before and after my disassembly experience. There are three points to make about this article.

1) Removing the keyboard is, as usual in these guides, given a very short description. In fact it seems to be the item that gives most people problems. The trick is to use a flat blade to push back one tab, while simultaneously slipping a credit-card (or similar plastic item) between the edge of the case and keyboard. This makes the keyboard assembly pop past the first catch as it is depressed, and it will continue to push up on the assembly so it just pops out as you depress the next two catches.

2) I've never risked using a screwdriver between the case edges. My fingernails, slid into the join and gently run around it until the pieces pop apart, have always done the job without breaking or scratching anything.

3) You forgot to mention that the SSD has to be disconnected! (It's a similar connector to the keyboard/trackpad, so no great mystery)

Adding a gig of ram to these machines is a great way to spice them up. And if you have the skillz it brings another advantage... As standard the machine has 1/2 a gig of ram, and 1Gig of SSD used as swap (Oh, the humanity! swap on a SSD is not at all clever).

So once you have upgraded the ram, if you know how, boot from a USB stick with gparted on it and remove the swap partition (backup first!). Then expand the main partition and filesystem to fill that space. Bingo! your system still has the same total amount of memory as before (and it's all ram now) plus you have another gig of SSD available. On a 8G model this is really handy.

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Bronze badge

Nuns knickers

A nice guide with useful tips. Often the connectors for keyboard, display, speakers can be very difficult to disconnect, as stated never pull the wires. Often with these connectors the plug has an overhang at each end of the connector, by using a jewelers screw driver one can remove stiff plugs by alternately pushing each end of the plug connector at this over hang point out by about 1mm each push, be careful. I have split finger and thumbnails trying to unplug these connectors, sometimes the pressure needed can be great.

I used to do laptop repair, all sorts of kit from Acer to Zenith, The Acer 8900 series was by far the worse laptop to get into. Believe me when I tell you that laptops are not meant to be user repairable devices. It is easier getting into a nuns knickers.

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Eep!

As someone who repairs laptops, including these exact models in some cases, I've got to say 0/10 marks, especially for even suggesting using a screwdriver to separate casing. A sure fire way to damage your casing. Poor form. I would never dream of doing such a thing on any of the laptops I repair all week long. I'm glad I don't have to follow your guides to do my own repair

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Another good reason

to buy a Samsung NC10 -> NC20.

The above procedure is really only for masochists, or laptop repair persons.

Or people excited by the reference to the Moderatrix, Ms Bee...

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Ben
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If I can do it..

Most people can.

I remember being sat there in front of me, the day I'd bought it, with it completely gutted, and wondering if I'd manage to put it back together. I did - however I encountered a few problems during my upgrade - mostly my fault.

1. The whole taking the keyboard off thing. It's a fine line between too little and too much pushing - I managed to push them too far, and they had to be 'reset' through a lot of poking about on the underside. Unfortunately one of them can't be accessed, so a corner of my acer keyboard is slightly higher...

2. I managed to thread a screw on the mobo, meaning I almost couldn't lift it out. In frustration I was rather tough with it and it came out.

3. Tip - Make sure you follow ALL the steps on the way out - I forgot to relink the track pad or something and had to open it back up. Doh!

4. It's possible to add bluetooth - which'd be useful for 'net off my mobile.

I love my Acer. I got it for travelling and even then batteries haven't really been an issue. It's currently being used by a reporter friend in Kenya.

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Linux

Guitar picks

Great for prising casings apart.

Screwdrivers and casings rarely mix in a pleasing manner.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Neil Brown

Bloody good idea, sir!

Case-opening medal with oak clusters to you.

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Paris Hilton

Would you Credit it!

When I read" You need a Credit Card" I foolishly thought that that was to buy the memory -Dhoo!

Paris, cos' she could be that clever.

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Alert

Would most users need to do this process.

This looks like a nightmare process, but would the majority of users ever need to perform it?

The version of Linux that comes with the AA1 is nice and quick and is more then capable of most web and communications functions - which is why most Acer users would buy one.

However I would agree that if Acer put a spare Memory slot in there then it should be a lot easier then this to access.

Only one for the experienced user I think,

http://netbook-experience.blogspot.com/

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Jobs Horns

Macboys

Are at it again, as soon as someone mentions a similarity (without mentioning it!) then they're up in arms with an I Told You So. Inconsistency? No, nitpicking.

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SSD to HDD upgrade

I upgraded the memory to 1.5Gb at the same time as putting in a Seagate Lyrion 30GB 1.8" HDD. The memory was fine - the hard drive was a bit more tricky, as I had to file down the plastic edge on the ZIF connector ribbon and at first connected it upside down - at least in comparison to the few photos I'd managed to find of similar upgrades. +1 for a follow up article on the HDD upgrade.

The AA1 is far better for the upgrade (running Ubuntu 8.10) and gets a lot of use. I also bought a compatible 6600mAh battery which gives it 6+ hours of moderate use - much more useful than the 2 hours of the original.

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@ Owen Carter

The issue with the Zif cable is that for some reason Toshiba use thinner (not narrower) zif cables than the rest of the world. by a couple of fractions of a millimetre. Some drives also have the pins in the connector the opposite way up so the cable needs to be twisted ov er to connect properly.

Try www.aspireoneuser.com/forum, there should be answers to most questions there as well as details of what drives use what connections etc..

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Yuch!

I wonder if Acer learned. It's nice that RAM is built into the system and a slot is available to add more but with the limitation of the chipset on most [all?] netbooks at 2GB, this one can only hit 1.5GB because they don't make 1.5GB sodimms.

As well, taking off the whole bottom just to add memory is sucky. The new ASUS Eee 1000HE doesn't have that problem. Remove 2 screws, slide the small cover off and you can access the memory and the hard disk.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@David Richardson

Thanks for that info. When I added the Ram to the AA1, I actually put in a 1.8in HDD I had kicking around (8mm thick, but it fit, just) but had no luck getting it to show up. You've given a good reason why not.

Time to seek out an alternative ZIF cable, I think.

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Linux

For those considering purchasing an Acer Aspire

While I found the tutorial clear and interesting, my advice for those considering buying an Aspire with half a gig and SDD drive would be: if you are doing it just to try it thinking that you can always add those things later, spend the extra cash and go for the version with HDD and 1GB of RAM. If you can afford the small price difference, of course. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

The main problem with that one is that it only comes with XP. But Ubuntu 8.10 runs nicely provided you do a small tweak in the sound config file and compile the latest madwifi snapshot. Once that is done you'll not need the 1.5GB upgrade and will not be performing any contortions to fit a disk drive. Mainly because it runs wonderfully at those specs, no swap needed for web browsing and mail.

Typing this from my wonderful Aspire One 120GB HDD 1GB RAM running Ubuntu 8.10

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Bronze badge

Motherboard Screws

Note: The motherboard screws on one of the 3 I did appeared to have been GLUED slightly or bonded due o excessive tightening..

After much faffing with various screwdrivers, we TIGHTENED the screw sligtly before undoing it... tightening it loosened the glue/whatever just enough. (It's actually an old engineers/mechanics trick to avoid stripping a stuck screw trying to undo it... wose case you strip it int he wrong direction.)

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Stop

This is why I didn't buy an AA1

This 5-page guide (with a link to the video at the end) is one of the two main reasons I haven't bought an Acer Aspire One. Upgrading the RAM on any machine (netbook, notebook or desktop) should *never* be as painful as this! Most machines either have a hatch exposing the RAM or have the DIMM slots easily accessible once you remove (usually only one side of) the case.

The other reason the AA1 isn't worth buying? The pitiful battery life - just about the worst in the entire class of netbooks out there - and the correspondingly expensive replacement battery you have to get to go beyond the 2 hour mark.

A shame really, because with easily upgradeable RAM and a decent battery, the AA1 might have been a contender. Mind you, don't get me started on the AA1's dog slow SSD either :-)

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Happy

Yup yup

Give us more of the hardware stuff I loves it!

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Happy

Interestring

I think I'll persevere with mine as it is ta! I'm running Ubuntu 8.10 on it at the moment, and after the odd tweak here and there, the machine is perfectly servicable for mine and my girlfriends use.

@ Trolling AC 19th February 2009 18:55 GMT (Can we have a troll icon?)

ODFO.

@Richard Lloyd

Fair and reasonable points, however it's worth remebering that the AAO is/was about a tonne cheaper than most other netbooks.

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stu
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Happy

Asda

Asda do the 160gb HD, 512mb job for 150 squid.

I got one, fitted an extra gb memory and whacked XP/ffdshow on there.

With hyperthreading it plays 720p with only 50% CPU usage. sweet.

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Can't get the keyboard to pop back in!

I unpopped the keyboard successfully and don't appear to have damaged the springs but I cannot get the keyboard to pop back in now. How do I get the clips to reattached to the top of the keyboard?

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