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How to open chase and upgrade SSD in switch alpha 12?

SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member
edited April 2018 in Switch Series

Hi, I am planning to upgrade the 256GB SSD in switch alpha 12 to 512GB. But I don't know how to open up the chase. I saw two screws, one at left and one at right side. Is that all I have to take off? Any service manual or instruction available to open it up? Thanks.

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FAQ & Answers

  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Nobody know hwo to open the chase?

  • padgettpadgett Posts: 3,948ACE Pathfinder

    Have a Sw12 not a SWA12 but notes talk about rotating the U-frame (stand) up and remove both the two case screws and four hinge screws. Remove the U-frame then gently pry the case apart at the LCD seam.

     

    This will probably void any warrenty.

  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Oh, you mean take apart from the LCD seam, not the cover on the back? I never thought about that. Let me check it. Thanks anyway~

  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Checked. The LCD black frame is able to separate from the metal back cover. However it is so tight. Without manual I really don't know how to open it up. Could you please upload or post the instruction you mentioned above? Thanks again

  • GiZerodGiZerod Posts: 7Member

    Tinkerer

    I too have wanted to upgrade my SA12's SSD to something both faster and bigger.  After following this and other threads for a few months and seeing that no one had done a tear-down, I decided to commit and started figuring out how to take it apart myself. I was able to do it, and about 2 hours later, i was looking at the guts of my dissassembled SA12.  My unit does indeed have an m.2 SSD and an NGFF WiFi/BT card - both of which are retained using hte normal single-screw mechanism - making them fully replacable.

     

    Seeing hte Acer video about the liquid-loop cooling system, i was already confident that i would find this, so i had already purchased a new 500GB Samsung 960 EVO m.2 drive, and was frothing at the mouth to get it installed and see how blazing fast my SA12 would be with one of the fastest consumer SSDs currently on the market.  I was not to eat the cake which i had just obtained (bad joke)... 

     

    It turns out that the m.2 SSD installed in my SA12 is a Kingston SATA model with the B & M keying, making it compatible with either B or M type m.2 slots (as are MOST Sata-crippled m.2 SSDs).  When i did the same upgrade on my Dell E7470 ultrabook, which also came with a Sata-based m.2 SSD, i had no problem installing my 960 EVO's bigger 1TB brother.  Unfortunately, our Switch Alpha 12's m.2 SSD slot is keyed for type B - meaning that the Switch Alpha 12 does NOT support the latest and greatest NVMe-based, blazingly fast, PCIe x4 SSDs.  The Switch Alpha 12 only supports SATA-based m.2 SSDs - or at least m.2 SSDs that are keyed for Type B (or B+M) - buy NOT type M-only slots.

     

    I documented the whole process, taking pictures at the major steps with the hopes of posting a dissassembly guide once i had finished, but my utter defeat in my NVMe upgrade has really dampened my ensusiasm for doing so.  I'll probably get around to it eventually, but the most important picture for the rest of you hoping to upgrade your SA12's SSD is this:

    SA12-SSD-Upgrade-NOT.jpg

     

  • CanadaloonCanadaloon Posts: 38Member Enthusiast
    Hi GiZerod , Thanks so much for working out how to open the SA12. So sad that your 500GB Samsung 960 EVO m.2 drive didn't work out. I have a 256GB Kingston in mine as well and I was planning to upgrade to the same SSD as you by pure coincidence! I guess we'll have to make do with a 500GB Samsung 850 EVO :-( It seems to have the B & M keying, If you could please post your disassembly shots when your tears dry I would really appreciate it. I am sure the battery will eventually need replacing and I am hoping to be able to do that myself as well. Thanks again for your posting and detailed information on this topic. I guess the plain 500GB upgrade will have to do. Cheers, Canadaloon

    Love my Switch Alpha 12!





  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Wow, Thanks so much GiZerod. I am eagerly waiting for your instruction on how to disect this lovely 2-in-1 device. There are many things we can/might do other than upgrade SSD, wlike changing NGFF wlan/BT adapter or battery later. 

  • CanadaloonCanadaloon Posts: 38Member Enthusiast

    Hi, I did some checking up on the SSDs for the Switch Alpha 12. So I compared the installed Kingston one with the 2 Samsung models at < https://www.notebookcheck.net/Laptop-harddisks-HDD-SSD-benchmarks.22089.0.html >. I knew that the Samsung 960 EVO m.2 drive was fast but WOW! The 850 Evo 500GB is faster than the Kingston but the 960 would REALLY speed up the computer!

    Oh well, we'll have to make do with double the capacity and a modest speed increase.

     

    Happy Spring, Canadaloon

     

    SSD Benchmarks.JPG

    Love my Switch Alpha 12!





  • GiZerodGiZerod Posts: 7Member

    Tinkerer

    Yeah, the 960 EVO or better yet, the 960 Pro series blow SATA-based SSD's right out of the water - hence my desire to run an NVMe SSD.  What i haven't figured out yet is if the SA12 will support a PCIe x2 link on the B-keyed slot.  Technically, B-Keyed m.2 cards can support a PCIe-x2 link - which would still be MUCH faster than good-old SATA - but i haven't been able to find a B-Keyed SSD on NewEgg that supports a PCIe-x2 connection.  All the B-keyed SSDs i saw were SATA only... Smiley Sad 

     

    Having an M-Keyed slot would really make the difference between a Nice tablet device, and an AMAZING Surface-killer.  And then we'd be able to use the 2TB 960 Pro for a ridiculous amount of both capacity AND speed... :*(

  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Any adapter card available to allow us using 960 pro?

  • TK421TK421 Posts: 4Member New User

    GiZerod - I would appriciate if you could share a couple quick bullet points/steps/overview on how you opened your SA12.  I am trying to due some due dillegence on this device before purchasing for several staffers, and I want to make sure it is a device I can support/service/upgrade? (unlike a MSP3 or MSP4).

     

    Thank you in advance...

  • GiZerodGiZerod Posts: 7Member

    Tinkerer

    Sorry about my lack of response on this thread.  I've been beyond neck-deep in work craziness for the past few weeks, and its all coming to a head in the next few days (enormous project going live, AWS migrations, bla bla bla).

     

    There aren't any ways to adapt a SATA-based, B-keyed m.2 slot to an NVMe-based M-Keyed m.2 slot - at least not that i know of.  SATA and PCIe are two completely different electrical signalling schemes, and while there are full-size PCIe Add-in cards to give you more SATA ports, i've never seen (nor can I see a reason for) a device that goes from SATA back to PCIe.  That said, even if such a device existed, the biggest issue you'd have is the available space in which to install it.  standard m.2 SSDs are 80mm long (hence the "2280" form factor - 22mm wide, 80mm long).  Any adapter card would put you outside of that space, making it difficult or even impossible to reassemble the device.  Just stick with a SATA-based, B-Keyed m.2 SSD, like the Samsung 850 EVO-m.2.  I still haven't seen any PCIe x2 capable SSDs with the B-keying - if you find one, please share it with everyone here.

     

    As to the disassembly process - I still don't have the pictures trimmed and formatted to present in a polished write-up, so i'll try to break it down into a few quick bullet points for the brave amung us all:

    1. remove your keyboard cover (set it aside), and place your tablet face-down on a soft, preferably rubberized - and definitely anti-static - surface.
    2. move the kick-stand to 90-degrees (perpendicular to tablet), and locate the two small, roughly square stickers covering two small screws.  the stickers are the same color as the body (grey-silver-ish), and are located between the attachment point for the kick-stand and the micro-SD slot on one side, and the corresponding spot on the opposite side.  carefully remove the stickers with a fine-pointed regular screw driver (ie: jewler's screwdriver) or a razor blade - and put them aside somewhere, sitcky side up.  Remove the two screws (think they were M2 size - funny coincience) behind the sticker and put them somewhere safe - i like ice-cube trays for this kind of work.
    3. optional, but recommended - remove the four screws attaching hte kickstand to the metal hinge, and gently spread the arms of the kickstand apart a few MMs to release them from the metal arms of the hinge.  If you return the metal hinge arms to their 'home' position, it can be difficult to get them back to the 90-degree position, so i just left them standing at attention while i did my disassembly.  besides, they give you another way to grab the back plate of the SA12.
    4. using a hard-ish plastic tool (like these: https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Opening-Repair-iPhone-Non-Marring/dp/B00V58SOTK) or an expired credit/store/id card (what i used), GENTLY-GENTLY-GENTLY start to spread the black plastic trim around the glass of the screen from the silver-grey body of the tablet.  You will likely destroy a credit/id card if you go that route, hence the recommendation to use an expired one.  as you're able to get some space between the screen trim and the body, you will be able to move along the trim, around the enitrety of the perimeter.  Having more than one plastic tool is handy, because you can leave one inserted on one side of the screen and use a second tool to spread further from that point.  Eventually, you will hear a click/pop as the plastic retaining nubs on the black plastic trim piece pop out of the slots with which they mate in the silver base part. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL as you spread the top part of the trim from the base - especially around the speaker slots and the front-facing webcam.  I cracked my trim ring by being a little too agressive... Smiley Sad
      When the last of the retaining nubs lets go, you will be able to separate the silver base from the screen (note, the black plastic trim around the screen stays with the screen).
    5. Lay the tablet face-down on your work mat with the top of the screen (where the webcams are) toward you.  pretend there is a hinge attaching the silver back plate to the screen/trim at the bottom of the tablet (where the keyboard dock points are) and lift the back plate from the 'top' side until it's laying open (like if you are openning a book from the back cover).  There is a small cable attaching the silver back plate to the motherboard (for the keyboard docking points), and i'm trying to describe this in a way that will prevent you from stressing/stretching/breaking that cable (which would REALLY suck).
    6. replace whatever components you want to replace
    7. close your SA12 'book' by hinging the back plate back down onto the face-down screen/trim.   you may have to try alligning the back plate and screen/trim a few times (like openning and closing the 'book') until you get them lined up just right.
    8. gently slide the edge of the SA12 off the front of your work surface so you can apply firm but gentle pressure on the screen/trim to snap the retaining nubs back into their homes. when you get the top side of the screen/trim snapped/latched back into place, you should be safe to gently pick up the SA12 and proceed around the perimeter of the screen with firm yet gentle pressure until the entire trim ring has re-seated on the back plate.  Again, be careful on the top edge of the trim ring so you don't crack it.  when done, the two screw holes in the back plate (the ones that were behind the stickers) should line up with the threads in the screen-side of the SA12.
    9. replace the two screws and corresponding trim stickers.
    10. replace the kickstand with the four screws that attached it.
    11. enjoy your upgrade.
    12. don't even think of calling Acer for warranty coverage... Smiley Wink 

     

    Sorry for the rough and vauge description.  hopefully that will satiate those of you who were as desperate as i was to get inside my SA12 and start tweaking.

     

    Good luck, and remember:

    1. Use a plastic tool to spread the screen/trim from the base plate

    2. GENTLY, GENTLY, GENTLY

    and 3. Firm, but gentle...

     

    Hope that helps-

    GiZer0d

  • GiZerodGiZerod Posts: 7Member

    Tinkerer

    i completely forgot about the copper heat spreader on the motherboard.  you will need to remove that in order to access the SSD.  It's attached with a bunch of small, silver screws, just remove them all (use a magnetic screw driver to make it easier on yourself) and then gently lift the spreader from one side until the thermal grease and pads let go.  set the copper heat spreader aside, making sure to leave the side to which the CPU attached facing UP (so you don't get junk, dust, etc. in the thermal grease).  If you're careful with the heat spreader, leave the thermal pads in tact, and keep it all clean while disassembled, you shouldn't need to apply any new thermal conductivity enhancers (like arctic-silver or whatever) - i didn't need to augment any of the thermal pads or grease during my procedure, and my SA12 is performing identically now to how it did pre- open-heart surgery.

     

    [inappropriate content removed]

  • TK421TK421 Posts: 4Member New User
    GiZerod- Many Thanks!  So glad to hear a heat gun and suction cup weren't necessary!  Sound pretty typical but I cant wait to see your pictures to cement the process in my mind.  I am curious to see the size of the copper heat spreader?  after having used your tablet, do you see any need of a larger copper piece to help with cooling?  AGAIN, Many Thanks and have a nice weekend.
  • CanadaloonCanadaloon Posts: 38Member Enthusiast

    Thanks for the great description GiZerod ! I could picture it in my mind's eye while I was reading it. I would be interested to hear if you notice any speed differences when you put the 500 GB Samsung 850 in. It's always hard to know if benchmarks translate into real life performance improvements.

    Appreciate all of your time and effort. Have a super weekend.

    Cheers, Canadaloon.

    Love my Switch Alpha 12!





  • SA_seniorSA_senior Posts: 9Member

    Thank you so much for the guide. I actually tried to open it up but stopped at step 4. It is so hard to separate the trim from back cover. Is it possible to recommend us where to start the separation? I am actually trying to replace the wireless card to make it compitable with MacOS sierra. 

  • GiZerodGiZerod Posts: 7Member

    Tinkerer

    I started spreading the trim from the back-plate on the side of the SA12, near the power port, but i think that as long as you start at the middle on either side, you should be ok.  I would avoid starting at the top or bottom, because the trim appears to be more fragile near the webcam and speaker slits, and the bottom was more difficult to separate than either side.  Starting from the middle lets you get some space between the trim and back-plate before you get to the corners, which are also more firmly attached, mostly because of the proximity of retaining nubs (sorry, i can't remember the technical term for those) on both sides.

     

    As to the performance of an 850 EVO m.2 over our OEM Kinston units - if the 850 EVO m.2 performs like the other 850 EVO flavors (i've used both 2.5 and mSATA variants), we should see about a 25-50% boost in speed - from my estimation.  I think the biggest boost will likely be in the write speed, but i don't have any evidence on hand to back that up.

     

    On the subject of how hot it feels - i don't notice any difference in temparature from before the procedure.  That said, i usually use my SA12 in 'laptop' mode on a desk, with only occasional use as a keyboard-less tablet.  Also, i don't do any real heavy-lifting CPU -wise on my SA12.  I use it more as a 'remote' terminal for desktops or servers whenever i have CPU-intensive work to do.  Mostly, i use my SA12 for Chrome, Office and RDP...

  • TK421TK421 Posts: 4Member New User
    Thank you again. Great information and well layed out for easy understanding. Can't wait to see your pictures, even if not cropped. :-)
  • postponderancepostponderance Posts: 1Member

    Thanks for the info, and looking forward to more!

     

    Quick question, how hard would it be to upgrade the RAM in the SA12? Is it soldered to the mainboard or removable? I got the i3/4gb version for work, and while most of the time it does the job admirably, it doesn't like some large spreadsheets or complicated pdfs...

  • flipadellphiaflipadellphia Posts: 1Member

    Hey man, thanks for all the detail! I was wondering if you had pictures (rough ones even)? I found this thread as I'm trying to replace the touch screen on my unit as my dog stepped on it and cracked it (LCD & Backlight are fine, thankfully, it's just the very top layer). In your adventures, did this seem like a reasonable thing to change or am I stuck replacing the whole thing?

     

    Thanks!

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