Review: ASUS VivoBook S400CA (Internal & Upgrades)

In my earlier post, I have discussed the design and specifications of the new ASUS VivoBook S400. Now, we will be looking at a slightly more technical aspect of the S400.  The base of the ASUS VivoBook S400 is secured by 10 screws and plastic clips around the border of the chassis.

Upon removal of the screws and unlocking the plastic clips, you will be able to have a full view of the components of the ASUS VivoBook S400.

The bottom portion is the internal polymer battery that can be easily replaced should the lifespan of the battery be over. The capacity of the battery is 44 Whrs. On my first full charge, I am able to use the S400 for approximately 4 hours, with screen brightness set at 50% and WIFI turned on and working on Microsoft Word. It is considered pretty close to the advertised battery use of up to 5 hours. I guess you should be able to squeeze more juice out of the battery if you were to decrease the brightness of the screen.

Let us now zoom in to the more common upgrades that you may wish to do. As you can see from the image below, the additional memory slot is empty. I suspect that the onboard 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM ram is below the keyboard. However, I did not pry open as I still need the warranty for  this unit. You can simply pop in a 8GB DDR3 SO-DIMM 1600MHz ram to boost the total memory to 12GB. The black cover above the ram slot is the mSATA slot that is used by the SanDisk 24GB mSATA SSD.

The ASUS VivoBook S400 is using the conventional disk-spinning HDD which you may want to consider replacing with a solid-state drive (SSD). You just need to replace the 4 black screws at the side, and the HDD can be slide out easily without much effort. As SSD does not have any rotating parts, it is more durable for use on the move. It also draws lesser power and has a much higher read/write speed. However, do take note that the HDD used in the S400 is 7mm. Thus, you have to get an SSD that is 7mm. These are some of the 7mm SSD that I have found: Crucial M4 D1 Model, Plextor M5 Pro and Silicon Power V70.

In case you are interested to replace the HDD with a higher capacity or RPM, the S400 is using the Seagate Momentus Thin.

That’s the end of my review of the ASUS VivoBook S400!

27 Comments  to  Review: ASUS VivoBook S400CA (Internal & Upgrades)

  1. Himesh R says:

    Hi, I have an Asus S400CA with an intel core i3 1.4 Ghz processor. Can I change it? Which ones would you recommend if so?

  2. Lute says:

    I have bought the model S400CA-CA099 wich doesn’t come with the msata SSD. Could somebody confirm to me the exact position of this SSD?

    I opened the back base and there is no msata slot under the black cover at all.

    If it is really there, maybe asus have just ripped the slot in this model I have got there in Brazil. I wish I could make the upgrade.

    Thanks

    • Leonardo says:

      Amigo, tambem comprei esse asus e estou querendo colocar o SSD nele, você descobriu algo? conseguiu colocar? se puder mande umas dicas, obrigado.

      • colin says:

        Oi Leonardo, você está pronto para substituir o HDD 2.5 “com o SSD. No entanto, não há nenhuma maneira para substituir a 24GB mSATA SSD que é usado para o cache.

  3. Chris Young says:

    Back in December of last year, I bought the little brother of this machine, the X202E. That little laptop impressed me so much, I began comptemplating a replacement of my main machine. I love the ASUS design — it is similar to the MacBook Airs, but uses standard components that are relatively easy to upgrade. If the MBA had a touchscreen, I might have been tempted to get it instead, but I couldn’t see paying $1,200+ for a non-touchscreen when I could get the S400CA and upgrade it for under $1K. Granted the Air is much sleeker & lighter, but the tradeoffs didn’t warrant the extra purchase.

    After careful review, I bought the s400ca from Amazon Warehouse deals. The reason I am posting is because I did several upgrades that everyone has alluded to here, but it took me a lot of research and trail-and-error to figure out the nuances. Here goes:

    1) I had a 500GB Samsung EVO in one of my other machines and the performance, both power consumption and speed, were great. The EVO series, like the 840 before it, are 7mm thick drives. That’s what you need here.

    2) Regarding Windows 8 install — most SSD have a clone feature — I didn’t use it as I did a clean install on this machine, but I did use the clone on one of my other PC’s and it retained all my programs. Office did ask me to “re-register”, so there was something about the hardware hash that MSFT recognized, but the registration went off without a hitch. I have to assume that MSFT deals with this scenario all the time. Regarding Windows 8, the key is already tagged on your hard drive, so you can usually clone and then reinstall cleanly without being prompted for a new key.

    3) The machine has a Atheros 2.4 ghz wireless card with 2 antennas and no Bluetooth. I wanted the Bluetooth and dual band, so I chose the Intel 6235AN for about $22 on Amazon. This gives you embedded Bluetooth plus you get the added Intel advantage of using Widi since the processor is an Intel 5. The 6235 also uses 2 antennas, so it is a perfect fit.

    4) Some people have mentioned the onboard 24gb mSata drive. It is a Sandisk 24GB module that is used in conjunction with Intel Rapidstore technology to create a 24GB cache for the 500GB spinning Hard drive. To use Rapid Store, you simply load the driver from Intel (downloadable from the ASUS site) and configure it as a cache for the primary drive. So you would install Windows on the HDD and the secondary SSD would cache your most utilized data and create what ASUS marketing calls a “hybrid” drive. For me, I replace the HDD with a very fast Samsung SSD. I have no idea on the performance of the Sandisk, so I didn’t set it up as a cache since it might actually hinder performance. I might install Ubuntu or openSUSE on the unused cache drive.

    I did pop in a 4GB RAM chip. It would be VERY handy to have the 8GB. Could someone confirm the actual model you used and the BIOS version your machine has? I am using bios 208.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Red says:

      Chris, does the S400CA support the full-disk encryption feature of the EVO (i.e., can you give it a password in the bios for encryption)?

  4. ronvin says:

    I upgraded memory to 8 gb but now I am stuck with 1333 Mhz will not go up to 1600 Mhz grrr. 2.6 Ghz for the processor is only achieved on single core thread otherwise max 2.4 Ghz. You can do a full Win 7 style back-up if you dig deep in the system menu control panel – system and security – file history – left menu down Windows 7 recovery

    • colin says:

      Hi Ronvin,

      Could you advise on the memory that you have used for the upgrade? The backup that I was referring was a factory restore, rather than a Windows backup.

  5. Johan says:

    Hi,

    Saw your blog-post and I’m about to order a SSD disc to replace current slow one. But I was wondering about the mSata disc/memory is it standard mSata, the idea would have been to instead increse the size of that disc to 128 or 256Gb and use it for OS leaving the spinning disc for “large” storage? Wonder if this would be doable?

    Noticed as well that the current “integrated” 24gb disc is never used by the OS at any time…

    • colin says:

      Hi Johan,

      Yes, you should be able to replace the mSata SSD to a larger size. In BIOS, you are able to see the mSata SSD as one of the SATA drive that can be chosen to be the boot drive. The current 24GB is used for disk caching to increase performance.

    • mircofranzago says:

      Hi,
      did have someone try to put a greater ssd and install on it the bootable OS?

      • Chad says:

        I tried to replace the SSD with a 128GB half-height mSATA. The result was not good. The BIOS sees the drive, but not the size or serial number. I booted to a USB drive containing gparted. Gparted sees the drive, but only recognizes it as a 2MB drive.

        Contacted Asus… worthless. The admonished me for even trying it and said to replace the stock SSD immediately. Not impressed.

        This is really disappointing as I was able to install Windows 8 on the cache drive and it is REALLY fast, but too small.

        • Derek says:

          half height? They don’t use a standard mSata card? Did you try changing bios options? With my Lenovo laptop, there’s an option to enable Legacy support, otherwise it looks only for the specific cache drive.

          • Chad says:

            Yes. It is a half-height mSATA, which made finding a drive to try really difficult. I just tried to play with the BIOS settings with no luck. Guess is going back and I will look at getting an SDD to replace the mechanical drive.

          • Derek says:

            Any chance a regular msata could be put in and just held down with tape? I’ve seen other threads with RoG laptops having to do that.

          • Chad says:

            Even if a full sized one would fit, it is a “no go”. Asus support replied back to my last question. It is a BIOS limitation. The BIOS will only recognize the original 24GB cache drive.

        • Kenny says:

          @Chad, did you abandon the install on the mSATA drive? Is it worth trying to tidy up Windows 8 to fit on it? I wondered why all those extra drives were showing up in disk manager.

  6. oscar says:

    I thought win 8 OS allows user to use usb memory stick to make recovery disk/drive. I also saw it on youtube but I havent tried it. I am going back and forth about buying this computer. It is very sleek but it has a very weak processor. Is it for simple tasks such as web browsing, ms office, videos, etc. OR can I use it for computation (say run matlab)? What is “turbo boost” technology? Intel is getting better at confusing people 🙁 This computer has i5 processor with clock speed of 1.7GHz – which is very slow … But then it says with turbo boost tech it can go up to 2.7GHz – which is acceptable … BUT how can it go up that much? How long can it run at that speed before getting toasted?

    • colin says:

      Hi Oscar,

      I believe the recovery that you are referring to is to make the image backup of the current environment. I was previously referring to creating the factory default image. The processor speed is scalable and can run at the maximum speed of 2.7GhZ without getting burnt. In events whereby such performance is not required, it will be scaled down to conserve battery life. i5 processor is able to handle most daily applications. However, if you require intensive CPU usage application, you can always look for models that is operating on an i7 processor.

  7. eric says:

    attempted to replace HDD with a 240GB SSD from OCZ. shows in bios, but when i attempt to install windows 7 from a CD, it gets stuck at the starting windows screen, before install. not sure if this has to do with the drive or not. anyone noticed anything similar?

    • colin says:

      Hi Eric,

      Are you able to capture any screen on where did you actually get stuck at? Are you referring to the Windows 7 logo screen? Did you get into the Welcome screen for installation?

    • Shayne says:

      I have the same problem with either installing windows 7 or 8 core on the SSD. I downloaded many drivers from Asus and tried to add them in with “load driver” on the hard drive partition screen of the installer. No luck. It starts installing and then says a file is missing or corrupt (same for win8 or win7). Somehow attempting to do so messed up the original drive as well. When I put it back it says its recovering and then stops. I tried booting windows 8 installer and doing repair and then it says the “drive is locked.” I contacted ASUS support and they have no recovery media and say you have to RMA it. Not happy. Please advise if anyone has good ideas.

  8. Kyle DeFreitas says:

    I can confirm that the 8GB works giving a total of 12 GB. I eventually would like to upgrade the HD to an SSD, but I not sure how the re-installation of windows 8 will work.

    I see no options at boot. I know it uses the UEFI with windows 8. I considered the tutorial found at eightforums. But with no option to select boot device I’m not sure how to proceed.

    This is coupled with uncertainty how to get back the arrangement of using the sandisk ssd as a buffer as done in the stock confirguation.

    So I’ll wait until the current arrangements become inadequate and the budget is replenished.

    • colin says:

      Hi Kyle DeFreitas,

      I just called ASUS support centre as I am facing the same issue as you. I was told that the technical dept was still working out with Microsoft to allow us to create the recovery disc. As of now, we are only able to install a fresh Windows and not able to use the OEM/recovery disc.

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