I cannot be held responsible for any (!) damages as a consequence of following this guide!
Shutdown your Acer, Remove the power cord, NEVER use excessive force, work in an ESD safe envirmonment (straps, etc), and ALWAYS make a backup of your disk!
Before even trying to open your Acer Iconia Tab W500 I strongly recommend doing your homework on finding a compatible replacement SSD.
In my case, I didn’t want to go overboard on spending money so I did stick with the well performing and very fair priced 128GB MyDigitalSSD, at the time in the $180 range for 128 Gb. Some resellers: Amazon, My Digital Discount, and My Digital SSD - there are more stores online selling this SSD.
Other brands and models might work just as well – feel free to report succes with other drives in the comment section.
Just keep in mind that it has to be a so called mSATA SSD, where mSATA is the interface.
mSATA, also known as mini-SATA (a good FAQ to start with can be found here), is an interface format typically found in (ultra) portable devices that became popular with the rise of the Intel Atom based netbooks.
mini PCI Express cards are typically used for your WiFi and Bluetooth modules, and yes, some manufacturers (Asus and early Apple Macbook Air models for example) even use a modified mini PCI Express slot for SSD purposes. But again: it’s not compatible!
I always find it a good practice to start with preparing my work area and having the necessary tools handy. In this case, to prevent scratches on the screen, I typically use an old towel to work on.
To pry the casing open properly, I grabbed a few pry tools (typically used for opening iPods, cellphones, etc) from Amazon as well – this set is what I got and for the price (app. $7 for 10 of them) it’s well worth it. Note that most of these tools can be used once maybe twice before they wear down, so a set of 10 is always handy.
The mSATA to USB adapter is needed to clone to original 32Gb SSD to the new 128GB MyDigitalSSD. This appears the only way to make your Acer Iconia W500 recognize the MyDigitalSSD – sad, I know. I’m not sure if it has to do with the very small partition found on the original SSD.
I used Paragon Disk Manager Suite to clone the drives by plugging the 128GB MyDigitalSSD in the mSATA to USB adapter and connecting the USB connector to the Acer Iconia W500. The Paragon Disk Manager Suite boot cd allows me to “migrate” the old disk to the new one.
Like I said before; I used Paragon Disk Manager Suite to clone the drives. The process is straight forward:
Once cloning is completed (took app 25 minutes), close the windows and shutdown the tablet PC.
If you skip this step, your Acer might not recognize the drive and might not even boot normally (some unreadable comments will be displayed – barely visible). If this happens, it has been suggested that a BIOS update might be needed. Unfortunately I cannot confirm this.
Formatting the 128GB MyDigitalSSD instead of making an image (MBR) did not make a difference.
Cloning the original disks DID make a difference – I’m open to ideas; feel free to place them in the comments.
OK, personally I find this the tricky part, and before you begin a reasonable basic understanding on how these cases typically click together will save you headaches later on.
Most of these kind of cases are “clicked” together, meaning; two parts (front and back) are pushed together until little hooks click into little openings, holding both parts firmly together. Now when taking those two parts apart, we want to prevent that we rip those little openings, below you see an enlarged picture of the opening part.
Now what we want to avoid it that they look like this once we are done opening the casing – if one or two break, then this typically doesn’t create any dramatic issues, but we’d like to avoid it none the less.
For the Acer Iconia Tab W500 the hooks work like they work in most scenario’s: the backside has the opening and the frontside (screen) has the pins that go into the hooks;
In the sketch above, side A (backside of your Acer Iconia Tab W500) is being clicked on side B (the screen side). In the red circle you will see that the “pin” of side B clicks into the opening of side A to hold both parts together.
Imagine what would happen if we would simply, with some force, would lift side A away from side B … the openings would break as shown in the image above.
To take this properly apart we basically have to shove side A (in the sketch) to the right, so that the pin of side B no longer has a hold of the opening. This process has to be done all around as show in the images below (don’t even think of simply lifting the back once you have done 3 sides – you will damage some of the openings of that last side).
OK let’s get started. I started by opening the SD-card latch to have easier access, I used the pry tool to gently push between the front and back side as shown below;
Once you have accomplished that, gently slide it to the right (keeping the pry tool between the two sides) – the use of a second pry tool can be practical;
Moving the tool might not always go as smooth as hoped for, in case you run into a “bump“, gently lift the pry tool – it will “unhook” the two sides and you can continue moving.
You will need to “unlock” all 4 sides, so keep moving around the corners (the corners are a little tougher to do).
Once you have done the 2nd side (top of your Acer Iconia Tab W500) the casing will start to open a bit more and you will be able to see some of those hooks I have been talking about.
Once you have done all 4 sides (again: do not even think that you can simply lift the back when you have done only 3 of the 4 sides), remove the back and see the inside works of your beloved Acer Iconia Tab W500.
Compared to opening the casing; this will be easy. However, be warned that you should never touch any of the gold contacts, and that working with a so called ESD strap is strongly recommended! Static charges can cause damage beyond repair.
In the previous image, the inside of an Acer Iconia Tab W500, you will see a red box and an arrow on the left side of the picture – this indicates your current (32Gb) SSD drive.
Now comes the exciting part; does the Acer Iconia Tab W500 recognize the new SSD …?
Time to close the Acer Iconia Tab W500 back up before trying to boot it … (if you’re like me and first want to make sure it all works before closing the casing up – so we don’t have to open it again – make sure you know what you’re doing!). Gently put the back in place and press the sides back together by putting a slight pressure on the edges, moving around, possibly more than once, until there is no clear opening left between the two sides.
Tip: Connect your keyboard and USB DVD drive first! You’ll need it!
During the first boot, we would like to go into the BIOS. On you Acer Iconia W500 this is done as follows;
In the BIOS modify the boot priority so it will boot from your external USB DVD drive first and save the settings.
Your Acer Iconia came with 2 recovery DVDs.
You can use these recovery DVD’s to restore the Windows 7 setup to factory default. Boot from DVD 1 (of 2) and follow the instructions.
During recovery from the DVD I did experience some strange lockups which required a reboot, and I had some instances where the bootmanager appeared “corrupt” – a simple reboot fixed that. At one point I had to go into the Windows boot options (press F8 during boot) and select “Start Windows normally” to get things going. But in the end things went just fine … the full disk is automatically utilized by Windows 7.
I had Windows 8 Preview installed on my old 32Gb SSD which didn’t like booting from the cloned SSD – but at least the BIOS recognized the drive.
Other Windows version will have to be installed the same way.