/>
X

Join or Sign In

Register for your free ZDNet membership or if you are already a member, sign in using your preferred method below.

Use your email Use Linkedin Use Facebook

Cracking Open the ASUS Eee 901 20G ultra-portable

The ASUS Eee 901 20G is one of the new ultra-portable PC-like devices hitting the market. It is trying to fill a niche where consumers want power and long-battery life in an ultra-small and extremely portable package. We just had to crack open our ASUS 901 take a look inside and check out its design and engineering.

|
zd-defaultauthor-mark-kaelin.jpg
|
Topic: Hardware
212513.jpg
1 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The ""="" href="http://www.techrepublic.com/contents/2346-10877_11-211254.html?tag=gald" rel="follow">ASUS Eee 901 20G is one of the new ultra-portable PC-like devices hitting the market. It is trying to fill a niche where consumers want power and long-battery life in an ultra-small and extremely portable package. We just had to ""="" href="http://www.techrepublic.com/search/search/cracking" open.html="" rel="follow">crack open our ASUS 901 take a look inside and check out its design and engineering.

212472.jpg
2 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Often the best plan for Cracking Open a piece of electronic equipment is through its soft underbelly.

212473.jpg
3 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

So it is going to be like that is it. The yellow circle marks the first hidden screw. I guess it is going to be obvious we opened our ASUS 901 up. There goes the warranty.

212474.jpg
4 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

If the warranty was still in effect, this information would be important. Alas.

212475.jpg
5 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The ASUS case is held together by six Phillips Head screws -- at least that is how it appears.

212476.jpg
6 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The ASUS 901 has a double cell Lithium-Ion battery pack. That helps to explain the device's longer battery life.

212477.jpg
7 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Two screws later (one partially hidden under a piece of tape) and the back door pops off to reveal the RAM board and the 20GB solid state hard drive.

212478.jpg
8 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The back door is covered in aluminum foil -- I am not sure why. Do you have a guess?

212479.jpg
9 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The RAM and solid state drive are connection to the ASUS 901 via seemingly standard connections. That should mean that the device is fairly easy to upgrade - assuming the internal components can handle increased capacities.

212480.jpg
10 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The RAM board appears to be fairly standard notebook RAM. I simply opened the clips that held the board in place and removed it.

212481.jpg
11 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

""="" href="http://www.elpida.com/en/index.html" rel="nofollow">Elpida Memory, Inc. is a large Japanese company specializing in the manufacture of DRAM memory chips.

212482.jpg
12 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The solid state drive is next -- it looks to be a simple removal.

212483.jpg
13 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

To remove the solid-state drive we need to remove the two highlight screws.

212484.jpg
14 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Samsung made the 20GB solid state drive.

212485.jpg
15 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The flip side of the solid state drive contains more Samsung made chips. This is probably one of the more expensive parts in our ASUS 901.

212486.jpg
16 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

At this point I have removed all of the visible screws, but the case will not separate. There must be some hidden screws somewhere - but where?

212487.jpg
17 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

That's right - there are eight screws under the keyboard. And one has a warning piece of tape over it - I guess the warranty is really out the window now.

212488.jpg
18 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The ASUS 901 keyboard is not the best keyboard I have ever seen. It is very thin and flimsy. I'd better not bang on it like I do most keyboards.

212489.jpg
19 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The keyboard and the touch pad connect to the motherboard via ribbon cable -- I hate ribbon cables like this because they are difficult to get back in their respective slots.

212490.jpg
20 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Our first clear look at the ASUS 901 motherboard. There are lots of chips on this motherboard, but the layout is surprisingly roomy.

212491.jpg
21 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The star of the motherboard of course is the Intel 945 Express chipset for mobile computing. The three main components, the Atom CPU, the Graphics chip, and the controller are highlighted.

212492.jpg
22 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The three main chips dominate the motherboard. The yellow highlights where the thermal paper stuck to the controller chip.

212493.jpg
23 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The Atom CPU is small and designed to be used in small mobile devices.

212494.jpg
24 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The ""="" href="http://www.intel.com/products/processor/atom/techdocs.htm" rel="nofollow">Atom CPU from Intel is one of many CPUs produced by that large conglomerate operation. The data sheet can fill you in on where the Atom falls into the Intel product line.

212495.jpg
25 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Intel also has a long line of inexpensive, low-energy consuming, graphics chips in their product line. This one was spit-cleaned by Bill Detwiler as he passed by the Cracking Open lab table. I quickly moved on to the next chip.

212496.jpg
26 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The thermal tape used to help transfer heat to the metal supporting the top portion of the case stuck to the controller chip. Bill was not satisfied with that and insisted we remove it.

212497.jpg
27 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet
The tape was carefully removed to reveal an Intel stamp on our controller chip (after another spit-cleaning by Bill -- see what I have to contend with)
This chips handles the I/O for the ASUS 901.
212498.jpg
28 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

This is where the thermal tape should be.

212499.jpg
29 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The thermal paste is back in its spot.

212500.jpg
30 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The tape is not perfect, but it should be good enough.

212501.jpg
31 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet
To supplement the storage of the ASUS 901 you can use an SD memory card. That's the silver metal piece in this image. The yellow highlight marks the battery persistent connection.
The controlling chip for the SD card reader is from ""="" href="http://www.ene.com.tw/en/index.asp" rel="nofollow">ENE Technology, Inc.
212502.jpg
32 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Just above the Intel controller chip is the LCD connection. The ASUS 901 has a very bright and vibrant LCD screen.

212503.jpg
33 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet
On the other end of the motherboard we can see the connections for the microphone and for the camera which are both mounted inside the lid with the LCD.
The connection under the tape that I didn't see until I started to remove the motherboard goes to the fan, which we will see later.
212504.jpg
34 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The other side of the motherboard contains several important parts for our ASUS 901 Eee.

212505.jpg
35 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

In this image you can see where that battery connection went and you can see more memory chips. These chips must store persistent information like operating system preferences.

212506.jpg
36 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The silver rectangle in the image houses our wireless chips. Besides the controlling chip provided by ENE Technologies, Inc. we also have a chip made by ""="" href="http://www.phison.com/English/productView.asp?ID=136&SortID=8" rel="nofollow">Phison. The yellow highlights mark the poles for the antennae.

212507.jpg
37 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

In this corner we find several chips involved in the production of sound for the ASUS Eee. The one with the highlight should be familiar to us -- it is a ""="" href="http://www.realtek.com.tw/" rel="nofollow">High-Definition sound chip from RealTek.

212508.jpg
38 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

The yellow highlight marks the speaker connection and the red highlight marks a multimedia controller chip. I would like to know the manufacturer, but I don't see any logos or names. Can anyone help us with that?

212509.jpg
39 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

Here is another shot of the SD card reader.

212510.jpg
40 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

This is an overview of the underside of the case. Note the various connecting wires and the speakers.

212511.jpg
41 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet

There is indeed a fan to help dissipate heat from the ASUS Eee. However, as the arrows show, the fan pulls air across and away from the solid state hard drive and the RAM board. The chips apparently get most of their heat dissipated by the casing which constitutes a large heat sink.

212512.jpg
42 of 42 Mark Kaelin/ZDNet
The ASUS Eee 901 20G is an interesting Cracking Open specimen. As a device, you can admire its construction and engineering. As a PC, you might not particularly like the limitations imposed by its lack of capacity, but you can still admire its design.
And because everyone always asks: I put it back together and it still works just fine. In fact, I'm going to put some different operating systems on it just to see what that looks like.

Related Galleries

Apple Watch Series 7: Unboxing and first impressions
Hello QWERTY keyboard

Related Galleries

Apple Watch Series 7: Unboxing and first impressions

First look at the YubiKey Bio
YubiKey Bio

Related Galleries

First look at the YubiKey Bio

Anker 20W Nano Pro charger (Anker 511 Charger)
Anker Nano Pro

Related Galleries

Anker 20W Nano Pro charger (Anker 511 Charger)

First Look: New Surface PCs include Android-based Duo 2 [in pictures]
thumbnail-72371d1d9eb043bcb3986b87c5b47dc7.jpg

Related Galleries

First Look: New Surface PCs include Android-based Duo 2 [in pictures]

Next-generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite Kids

Related Galleries

Next-generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

First look: iPhone 13 Apple event [in pictures]
california-streaming-2.jpg

Related Galleries

First look: iPhone 13 Apple event [in pictures]

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, HP Elite Folio, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup
hp-elite-dragonfly-g2.jpg

Related Galleries

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, HP Elite Folio, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup