Netbook Upgrading & Housekeeping
I’m a longtime fan of netbooks over other mobile tech gadgets, finding their versatility an important stepchange in the prior arms race for increasingly powerful ‘portables’ that weigh a metric ton and need their own special carrying case, or mobiles with a preposterous array of unusable functions.
May have missed the hackathon at QUB but I’ve still managed to do a bit of hardware related fiddling with this guide on boosting my 4211’s performance & removing a niggle.
As refreshingly contrarian as a netbook can be, depending on one is a double edged sword – the more tasks you want to run on it, the greater the load on it’s relatively tiny engine. One of the few areas you can upgrade a netbook is it’s RAM. When messing around with portable versions of memory-intensive graphics apps, adding in an extra stick of DDR can boost performance significantly.
Similarly the more you depend on a gadget no matter where you go it will soon become encased in a fine layer of dust that destroys fan performance while general wear and tear of budget bits of plastic like the Acer 4211 will start to loosen moving parts and in the case of the fan it’ll be noticed by a pretty irritating clicking noise.
Tools I Used:
Small-head star screwdriver
Leatherman Squirt P4
Removing dust & that fucking clicking noise from the fan
First take out the battery supply via the two slides on the underside of the laptop. Then unfasten the 7 screws dotted around the side edges of the bottom which allows you to unclip the black and silver halves, exposing the guts of the Advent. There were no seals broken in doing this so it’s doubtful as to whether this invalidates any warranty as is normally the case with fiddling with computer innards.
You can now see how big a mess has built up round the netbook fan and clean out accordingly. A toothbrush is recommended around the nooks and crannies while a cloth is fine for the rest of the surface area.
Now for that annoying noise the fan makes when it whirrs up after a few months of near continuous use. Simply spray some WD40 in around the fan mechanism itself, not to much is needed. Hopefully when the fan starts up again the oil will be spread around the fan parts and help prevent whatever friction may have been taking place.
Secondly the 4 fan screws binding the fan to the motherboard should be tightened to ensure this isn’t responsible for the noise as well. It turns out a couple of mine were pretty loose.
Adding more RAM
Upgrading RAM is likely the single biggest performance win on machines that have a free slot. Make sure when you purchase it’s of a similar tech as the existing bus and RAM – for example my Advent 4211 uses DDR2 which is incompatible with DDR and DDR3. Don’t rely on shop assistants to proactively check for you either, because in my experience they don’t. I got a PNY 1GB 533MHz module for about £20 but I seen a better deal on Amazon for a Crucial RAM stick at £15.
On the Advent it’s a simple task to fit it – locate the long black bus in the centre of the motherboard and the original OEM memory will be on one side with an empty space on the other. There’s even a cover sheet to protect the circuitry beneath your memory once you install it. Angle the stick so it lines up with the pins of the bus and fit it in ‘teeth’ first then snap the rest of the stick flat against the board, secured in place with the harness on either side.
Re-clip the base, replace the screws and battery then power back up to confirm the OS is running with the newly available capacity.