General Question

robdamel's avatar

Building a super-powered netbook?

Asked by robdamel (786points) August 30th, 2011

I like netbooks, my ideal size being the borderline 11–12 inch screens. I am interested in building a super powered netbook, something like that of alienware:

Now I am interested in this netbook:,2817,2368387,00.asp

So, is there anyway to make this asus a powerhouse like that of Alienware’s M11x? Switching the memory is simple, but I’m not sure how i would go about the rest. (CPU and video) Is there any way to upgrade it on that asus netbook?

If not, is there any way to build a superior netbook like that alienware?

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13 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Most of the other stuff is soldered on the motherboard. Very few laptops have upgradable parts other than the RAM and hard drives.

majorrich's avatar

processors are getting so fast that the best performance upgrade is a solid state hard drive. the good ol’ spinning plate just cant keep up any more.

jrpowell's avatar

Totally agree about the SSD. I put one in my Hackintosh. Photoshop took around 30 seconds to open on a platter based drive. Now it is under two seconds. Browsers (even firefox) are almost instant to open. I keep the OS and apps on the SSD. My user folder is on a spinning 1.5TB HD.

robdamel's avatar

So upgrading my hard drive to an SSD will increase performance big time?

Lightlyseared's avatar

It will make the computer feel much more responsive as loading times will be reduced. It will not improve any other aspect of perforamce.

robdamel's avatar

Okay, so basically upgrading laptops are nearly impossible due to components being part of the motherboard. Does that sum it up?

Lightlyseared's avatar

pretty much particulalry small form factor notebooks (some 17inch laptops did have upgradeable graphics cards but I haven’t seen one for a while). You need to decide what you want before you buy. (although I’d fit the SSD myself as a lot of companies are still charging a massive premium on those).

koanhead's avatar

Once Upon A Time there were a few companies (notably Kiwi Computer) which sold laptops which were meant to be taken apart and upgraded. Having disassembled a Kiwi I can state that it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as working inside a PC, although I was able to get the thing put back together again and functioning.
I’ve been told that most laptop manufacturers use a few different cases, power supplies, etc. from a few large manufacturers. In my limited laptop experience this is not the actual case- though I’ve not looked into many laptops lately.
Here’s some more information about DIY laptoppery:

Building from scratch may be further than you want to go- unfortunately it appears that the laptop world is not very modular.

jerv's avatar

Netbooks are even less modular than laptops. We’ll set aside the fact that a chipset that supports an Atom CPU generally won’t support a non-Atom CPU and go with the fact that very few laptops and NO netbooks have upgradable graphics. Some of them are a major pain just to add RAM (and the chipset for a netbook generally supports less RAM than a full-on laptop chipset) or swap out a drive. Basically, unless you are either highly skilled or extremely masochistic, modifying a laptop (beyond RAM and hard drives) is a bad idea, and often an exercise in futility.

@Lightlyseared Apple charges an extra $300 to upgrade the 13” Macbook Air’s SSD from 128GB to 256GB with no other changes. And to replace the 13” Macbook Pro’s 500GB hard drive with an Apple 512GB SSD is an additional $1200. The DIY option really isn’t an option unless you have more dollars than sense; it’s practically mandatory!

XOIIO's avatar

A good laptop, sure. A good netbook, that’s an oxymoron

jerv's avatar

@XOIIO I think that the OP may be a little confused about the difference between a small laptop and a netbook. For instance, they refer to the M11x as a netbook despite having an actual Core i-series CPU instead of an Atom, or a discrete GPU with dedicated video memory as opposed to integrated graphics with UMA.

Aside from the M11x, you are stuck with either a 13” laptop, or something too anemic for gaming… until the Razer Switchblade hits the shelves.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@jerv its not just Apple. Dell charges over £500 for a 256Gb SSD in an M11X. You can pick up Vertex 3 240GB (which is very nice) for around £350. This what happens when people stop taking maths at school ;).

I don’t think the Switchblade is going to make it the shelves. Razer seem to have taken the keyboard concept and stuck it on the side of a 17inch laptop. Still would’t mind one though.

jerv's avatar

@Lightlyseared I know. I just picked Apple as an example. As for the Switchblade, I am not holding my breath, but I can see something like that coming out in the next couple of years; we can’t let the Nintendo DS be the only one, and the Acer Iconia is already out.

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