The Asus Eee PC X101CH is probably one of the best new netbooks you can buy for $270 thanks to a Cedar Trail processor, fanless design, decent build quality and instant-on software. But the netbook has a few drawbacks for power users. For instance, it’s nearly impossible to upgrade the RAM.

Asus Eee PC X101CH teardown

The Intel Atom N2600 processor used in the Eee PC X101CH supports up to 2GB of memory, but Asus only ships the netbook with 1GB of RAM… and it’s soldered to the motherboard.

You can’t simply add another stick of RAM to double the memory for two reasons:

  • There’s no RAM access panel on the bottom of the laptop.
  • Even if there was, there’s no SODIMM slot.

Just to confirm the facts, I decided to open up the Eee PC X101CH and take a peek under the hood before shipping my review unit back to Asus.

In order to open the case you need to remove 11 screws and carefully pry apart the plastic keyboard area from the plastic on the base of the computer.

There are a number of plastic pieces designed to fit these two parts of the computer snugly together and if you’re not careful you could easily break something. In other words, don’t attempt this unless you’re cool with the possibility of destroying your $270 computer. In fact, you probably shouldn’t do this at all, because there’s not really much you can do once you open the case.

As promised, the 1GB of memory is affixed to the motherboard. You can’t upgrade it.

Theoretically you might be able to replace the hard drive, but a standard laptop hard drive probably won’t fit in the tiny Eee PC X101CH case.

I’d heard that the laptop used a hard drive that’s just 7mm thick rather than the standard 9.5mm hard drives found in most notebooks. I didn’t want to further risk damaging my review unit by taking out the hard drive and measuring it, but it certainly looks a bit thinner than most laptop hard drives I’ve seen.

It’s a standard SATA 3.0Gb/S hard 5400 rpm 320GB hard drive though, so if you can find another hard drive or solid state disk that will fit in the case, I suppose you may be able to upgrade the storage.

That would also probably make the netbook run more quietly. Since there are no fans making whirring noises, the only noise I heard from the Eee PC X101CH came from the moving parts in the hard drive. A solid state disk has no moving parts, so not only would you probably get a performance boost by switching to an SSD, but you’d also eliminate the sole source of noise.



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22 replies on “Asus Eee PC X101CH netbook teardown”

  1. Hi. I have an Asus Eee PC r11cx and it is having some problems to start. I wide opened and cleaned all parts carefully but I think it could be a problem with the bios battery or the processor. The first one I found it, the second one no idea. Could you please give some advice

  2. I right click on computer go to properties and increase the virtual memory, using a portion of the HDD as virtual memory i set it at 1024 mb going up to 4,096 this gives an additional 1 gig on boot up and will let you use upto 4 gig if needed.fter i did this it runs sweet as a nut

  3. For the non upgradable memory someone from ASUS should be impaled. I’m happy I have the old good Eee PC 1000H, the last one without the dreadful chiclet keyboard and upgradable to 2 GB. When it will die it will be difficult to replace as what everybody makes now is truly dreadful junk with fancy design. Shame on ASUS.

  4. Hi, can you tell me the model number of the motherboard or where I might get a replacement one? According to Asus the power management unit has gone and they want £45 just to look at it and tell us that before telling us how much it will be to fix.
    Thanks, KBL

  5. I have installed a Crucial 64gb SSD (7mm) and the netbook is running at least 5 times quicker now.

  6. is there any way to upgrade the memory anyway? soldering some other chips in. 1 Gb is really really low

      1. I don’t suppose you’ll get to see this as so much time has elapsed since your post, but that’s the best advice I’ve ever read on a public forum! Cheers and many thanks!

        1. That’s the best advice I’ve read too about RAM issues on EeePCs !!
          It solved the problem !! No need to open or change anything.
          Had an eeePC with 1GB which was very slow.
          Tested with a USB key of 1GB as a first test: awesome !

          Many thanks too !

  7. Nope- 25 years in the industry (thinkpad etc.) tells me one thing- The sockets ALWAYS line up with the soldered devices (consider PCB tracks). The grey pad looks to me like it’s there to stop something from the top case shorting on the components, and from the pictures (and knowing what an SODIMM socket looks like- the shape is all wrong. There MAY be a socket on the underside of the PCB (it’s a rare mobile that isn’t populated both sides), but without pictures of that, impossible to tell. Would DEFINITELY be up for de-soldering the RAM chips and replacing them with the 2048 versions,when the warranty runs out… Mine is sitting maxed out at 915Mb+ used with just TWO apps running! It’s seriously thrashing the HD!

  8. i like to change the hard drive to an ssd. it would be very nice, if you can send me some more information about the disassemble? Are there any problems? Are there brackets that are breakable?

    I’m not sure, but it’s may possible that there is a a SODIMM slot under the soltered RAM:
    I mean here:
    http://imageshack.us/f/716/sodimmx101ch.png/
    thanks a lot
    stb123

  9. Thanks for opening it up. From the picture, the hard drive appears to be the Hitachi Travelstar Z5K320 which is a 1-platter 7mm thick hard drive vs a normal 9.5mm laptop hard drive, so it is thinner.

    Too bad about the soldered memory. Was definitely interested in a fanless netbook, but that makes it a deal breaker. Don’t really understand why manufactures make it so hard to access user upgradable parts just to save a few pennies.

    1.  Oh, things like it means people are more likely to buy a new model instead of just upgrading. 

      Many of these products are essentially designed to be disposable.

      While getting to a low price point also makes it more likely to get the impulse buy where people only need want it in order to justify the purchase.

      Like there have been plenty of pretty lousy products that still sold out as long as it got to that low price point, which varies a bit depending on the appeal of the type of device.

      Along with the points I mentioned in my other comment posts…

  10. I hope people start boycotting the removal of the RAM cover which was in the X101H, by returning the X101CH en-mass.

    Either Asus is clueless (like Nokia with the Booklet) or they are trying to cripple users.

    1.  More like survival, Intel isn’t providing proper drivers for the GMA until at least Windows 8 comes out.  Leaving Asus and many other companies with a less than perfectly stable solution.

      Like even though the N2800 can support up to 4GB of RAM, the lack of 64bit Windows 7 drivers means it can’t really be taken advantage of right now and Intel won’t have better drivers until Windows 8 because that’s Intel’s priority right now for getting ready and everything else is on the back burner.

      While also about the time Windows 8 comes out Intel will also be releasing the 32nm Clover Trail ATOM line, which will provide a more power sipping solution that will be more ideal for tablets than Cedar Trail.

      Meanwhile, both the Tablet and Ultrabook markets are dominating interests right now, especially with Intel pushing those two categories, and netbooks are on the decline for the time being.

      So Asus and others are going with the flow and they’re focusing on Tablets and Ultrabooks, while doing only what’s needed to keep the netbook category going until Windows 8 comes out and they can provide a more stable and functional product.

      Mind not coming out with that good a product now also means we’re more likely to buy those Windows 8 systems when they do finally come out.

  11. I think this is the first netbook you can’t upgrade the memory on.  I remember complaining about the low-end Acer netbooks you had to remove the keyboard to upgrade the memory on; we’ve come a long way from the days of just removing a panel from the back to upgrade the memory.

    I hope the 1025CE allows memory to be upgraded, but CyberGusa says it might not be possible on this model either.

    Too bad; Windows 7 starter is a pig with only one gig of memory.  It’s a usable system with 2 gigs.

    1. it is not only the os but also web browsing which needs lot of memory ressources. i am used tu run FF normally with up to 200 tabs open at the time together with graphics and multimedia software on my netbooks.
      this needs the 2 gb. impossible with only 1 gig.

    2.  Actually, there has been non-upgradeable Netbooks since nearly the beginning.

      The Asus 7″ Eee PC 2G Surf for example was completely soldered for both RAM and SSD and had no upgrade options. While Asus tends to do so for their value models, which usually end with the letter “X”.

      While other companies have also done so but it’s a general trend as they push for more mobile devices that like many existing mobile devices the option to upgrade is being phased out.

      Laptops have always been less flexible for end users than desktops but as they push for mobility they’re becoming even more take it as it is and buy a new system to upgrade business model that has long been the norm for the mobile range of devices like phones and tablets.

      On the plus side though, expect more RAM to become the norm later as even ARM devices are going to start to push 2GB soon, with many already considering 512MB rubbish and 1GB the present desirable minimum.  Along with Intel’s and MS intent to compete in the mobile markets creating much needed competition to get them to start offering better deals.

      Mind then that what we see coming out now is not intended to hold us over for long.  Since they want us to still want to upgrade when Windows 8 comes out and again when 22nm Silvermont comes out next year.

      Cedar Trail is still a product of when Intel wasn’t considering any competition and had the Intel ATOM on a long 5 year product cycle.  So it won’t be until 22nm Silvermont that they officially switch to a 2 year product cycle with the then expected tick-tock advancement and Silvermont will be a Tock!  Providing the first real major update to the ATOM since it was first introduced.

      It’s just unfortunate that we’ll have to wait a year for all this to play out.

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