How to create a ultra hackbook cheap – Asus X202E Vivabook 11.6″ – SSD install hack

I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so my parents always taught me to be resourceful with what I have. This post is all about that … being resourceful. My goal was to buy a Macbook Air because my old 17″ laptop was just too heavy but after looking at the prices ($999 for a 64GB 11.6″ laptop?!), I felt like I needed to build my own that is better and cheaper…
I started with a Asus X202E Vivabook 11.6″, it weighs 2.9 lbs (weighs even less with a SSD!) and is made out of aluminum and plastic and has a very 10 finger responsive touch screen… the problem was .. it has a slim spinning 500GB harddrive which is considerably slower than a SSD. The bigger problem is that standard 2.5″ SSD’s DO NOT fit in this laptop since the hard drive space is so slim. I decided to be resourceful and take matters into my own hands…

I first took apart the bottom and found that the old laptop harddrive easily came out after 4 screws. Then I researched online and realized I could take the casing off of the 2.5″ standard 256 GB crucial SSD. After taking it out of the case (4 screws on top of the harddrive casing), it fit perfectly snug and did not move even without screws holding it down! I put everything else back in place after and installed Windows 8 Enterprise and boom … amazing speed!

Over all I am very happy with this … for roughly $450 (discounted on amazon) for the laptop and $160 for the 256GB crucial SSD, I have 4 times the space of any macbook air under $1000 and about the same speed , weight and even a touch screen!

As always, I take no responsibility for voiding warranties, damage, liability etc.. this post is provided as is, you do everything at your own risk! And yes doing all this will definitely void all your warranties!
Below are links for the items mentioned in this article, buy them and create your own ultra hackbook today!

Update: 2/17/2013 : Also regarding the touchpad, it looks like the software drivers from Asus is the main problem. After researching the Samsung 7 Series uses the same touchpads and have a better driver but Samsung removed it from their webpage. I found a mirror from notebookreview.com – credit goes to user John Ratsey for uploading and sharing this link!

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5592029/TouchPad_11.7.2.1.ZIP

 

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39 Comments
  1. Thanks for the information. Your site contains amazing information and you have an impressive background! I am having trouble with my SSD install
    How do you take off the back plate after you unscrew? The one I have is stuck on and does not slide off

  2. Hello Vlad,
    The back plate does not slide off. The easiest way I found to take off the back plate was to use a credit card/ gift card you don’t need (it will ruin the edges), and stick it between the back plate and the frame of the laptop. Then gently pry the back plate and frame of the laptop apart till you unlatch the locks that hold down the back plate.

    Thanks,
    Nathan Wan

  3. Nice write up here. I had the same thoughts as you regarding the price of the Macbook Air and just could not justify the cost. My X202E will arrive this afternoon along with a 7mm 128gb SSD. Since this will not be my primary computer 128gb is enough space for my needs and the 7mm form factor, I believe, will allow me to install the SDD without any modification. I’ll post an update when I’m done. P.S. Thank you for the touchpad driver link!

      • I don’t know what I’m doing, but I tried norto ghost and there recovery 2013 and when I boot from the new ssd, it brings me to the bios menu and I can’t get out…

          • Hey there Justin,
            I am not too sure why it wouldn’t boot, can you try a free demo of acronis and copy it over instead of norton ghost? I havn’t used norton ghost in years, but I think Norton ghost maybe doing something different than Acronis but I would do a google search and see what you could find on norton ghost and the process for cloning a drive

  4. I just installed a Samsung 840 250GB in my Asus 11.6″ Vivobook. 7mm, so no modifications were required. I already did a hackintosh once – this one’s just going to stay Windows 8 – which I actually really like with touch.

  5. Hey Nathan , I was wondering if you could help me… I want to do a fresh install of windows 8 instead of cloning. Can you please help me with this? Do I need the windows 8 CD because I don’t have one.

    • You can download a trial of windows 8 from the Microsoft website and then use Microsoft USB tool to put it on a USB stick and then install it that way. At some point (I believe in 90 days), you will need to buy a CD key or Windows 8 will stop fully functioning since it is a trial.

  6. Hi Nathan,

    Nice article. I have a quick question:- How much speed difference will be there if I upgrade my X202E machine from regular HDD to SSD ? Is it really significant and worth $150-$180 ?

    Thanks,
    PV

  7. Hi Nathan,

    I’m getting my vivobook soon and just had one question. Since the laptop does not come with any media that contains Windows 8, which iso did you use to install it again? I don’t want to buy a new copy of windows 8 since I’ve technically bought this one and I want the new install of windows to use the existing product key.

    You can email me as well if you want.

      • Thanks. But, this evaluation is for Windows 8 Enterprise. The pre-installed Windows that comes with the laptop is Windows 8 Professional, I think.

        Also, I heard that the serial is stored in the bios. If I download and install the Enterprise Evaluation version through a pen-drive, will it automatically pick-up my serial from the bios and be activated fully?

        Or is there some other process I should use to ensure that my new install is registered with the serial that came with the laptop.

        Thanks for your help.

        • I don’t think the serial will work with the enterprise evaluation version. I actually can’t find a ISO online for the non enterprise version, it looks like Microsoft stopped doing free trials. I would either find a friend with a copy of Windows 8 Pro (or whatever version came with the laptop) and your key would most likely work (I believe you won’t need to enter a key if it stored in the bios)

  8. Try to migrate the recovery partition from the original HDD that came with the x202e … the drivers+windows recovery utility are located within.

    I didn’t do that myself, actually … I replaced the HDD in my x202e with a PNY 7MM 240GB SSD and did a clean install of windows. I had a friend make a Windows 8 bootable USB installer from his legally purchased ISO. I did not have to enter in the product key – I believe this is because a lot of OEM manufacturers are binding your product license to the motherboard itself. We have a right to reinstall windows on our PC regardless of what HDD/SDD it’s on … So I would not feel too ashamed if you’re forced to use a torrent site to find a suitable ISO (Make sure it’s Windows 8 64bit, it is NOT PRO).

    For $20-30 I also replaced the horrible 2.4ghz broadcom WiFi/BT combo half/mini PCIe with a 5ghz intel centreno WiFI/BT card and let me tell you what … best money I’ve ever spent.

    This laptop/ultrabook with a shiny new SSD and previously mentioned network card will knock your socks off. I saw someone a while back asked if doing these upgrades would be worth the money – the answer is a resounding YES! It is unfair to even compare the performance before/after the upgrade.

    Hope this helps, thanks for the idea!

  9. Thank you Nathan Wan for this post, you’re awesome! I’m using x202e too and I think I will try to replace my hdd by a ssd like you. I have a few question about this laptop, hope you can support me because I researched but did not find exactly answers.
    1. What is your laptop avarage tem? When I browser web, my tem is about 65 – 75 celsius. When I play game such as dota 1 or play HD movie (720p) my tem is about 85 celsius. Does it hot?
    2. Which sata ssd should I by? I don’t know x202e use sata 2 or 3.
    3. Does your laptop lag when you use many application? For ex I use firefox (~15 tabs), utorrent, skype, words, filezilla, mail at the same time, and some time i see disk usage in task manager is 100% and computer become lag, is it cause by hard disk?
    4. What happen about your win 8 licence when you change to ssd?

    Thank you so much!

    • Thanks Selji!
      1. It gets pretty hot, I don’t have an exact measurement but I am guessing right around 100-150 degrees fahrenheit or hotter playing video or video games.
      2. I would recommend the Samsung SSD’s now, they are slim fit and good priced. (it is a SATA 3 port, but SATA 3 compatible with SATA 2 etc so don’t worry about that)
      3. Nope no lag with the SSD, it looks like the harddrive is the main weakness of this machine. Ram and Processor are barely full when I use it
      4. If you clone the drive the license will automatically go over. I don’t think the OEM license will be transferred if you re-install Windows 8 (not 100% sure), best bet would be to clone the drive with Acronis or similar software

        • I’ve bought Sandisk Ultra plus 128gb, and my performance increase so much. Thank you for this post one more!

          P/s: I try your driver for touchpad, best driver ever. But I want to have some mix with 4 finger. By default, this driver just have 4 finger up function, I want to add more. For example: 4 finger left/right will switch browser tabs left or right. Do you know how to make, or any where has the doucuments for this work?

  10. I have the ASUS X202E which did not come with the WiFI/BlueTooth combo module only WiFI so I recently purchased the Atheros combo module and installed it with updated drivers for Windows 8.1. Device Manager shows BlueTooth is working but can not see it with BlueTooth devices nor does it appear in the list of devices and printers. Perhaps, I need the second antenna as the ASUS only came with one. What else could be the problem? Thanks.

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