I have been using an Acer Iconia Tab W500 tablet for about 4 months now. Initially it was running the Windows 8 Developer Preview and then at the end of February I installed the Consumer Preview.
So far the transition to a touch environment has been interesting with both ups and downs in functionality, ease of use and the tablet hardware itself has been solid. The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is not the most powerful tablet available that will run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview but it was at a price point that let me get into the touch world so I could gain some experience with it.
However, as the days have gone by and I have noticed some sluggishness on the tablet I have been looking around for possible upgrade options. Now I understand that Windows 8 CP is pre-release code and it will typically run slower than the final version will on the same hardware but being the geek I am there is always room to tweak!
Ultimately the single upgrade you can really do to the Acer Iconia Tab W500 is to replace the 32Gb mSATA SSD that comes in the system. Any other upgrades would require serious motherboard level surgery.
So I went in search of what others might have done in this area and found a few sites that became my guides to this upgrade.
SSD upgrade for your Acer Iconia Tab W500 – this site gives a link to a 128GB mSATA SSD that the writer successfully upgraded to and he gives a step by step to cloning the installed drive, opening the case, installing the larger SSD and closing things up. I bought the same pry tools he discussed in this post and used up 4 of them in my upgrade process.
How To Open Back Cover Acer W500 – I used this YouTube video as a guide to removing the back from the tablet. Helped to see things visually although the back was already removed and they were just going through the motions to show how they did it.
Kingston SSDNow mS100 SMS100S2/64G mSATA 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – This was the 64GB mSATA SSD drive I upgraded to. Of course with NewEgg service was great and it arrived quickly.
Probably the most daunting part of the upgrade process was removing the back of the tablet and it is a methodical process for sure. Patience is a must but once you get the hang of it it moves along quite nicely.
I did experience an issue with the tablet after installing the new SSD and starting the system up. The symptom was that the screen was super small and unreadable. I went back and forth with it and the original drive a few times and ultimately determined a BIOS update was available to go from 1.0 to 1.14. That did the trick and let me see the screen to move along.
Also, a tip to remember as you want to enter the BIOS of the W500. First plug the device into the keyboard dock it comes with so you have access to the F2 key for entering the BIOS. Second you must press the tablets Window Key and then the power button to start up and then hold down F2 when the solid cursor appears in the upper left hand corner to access the BIOS. If you try to just tap it briefly the system will just boot to whatever is on the drive.
It is also handy to turn on the F12 Boot Menu option in the BIOS to make it easier to select the bootable USB drive the OS is on for installation. That also means you do not have to change anything after the new OS is up and running.
So after the hiccups with the BIOS I got the Windows 8 Consumer Preview installed and running without further issues. A quick check of the systems Windows Experience Index (WEI) showed the hard drive score had increased from a 5.9 to a 7.2 so the new SSD definitely made a measurable difference there and I have also noticed the system is more responsive as well.
In another post I will talk about Windows 8 Sync PC Settings options and some improvements I think can be made to that after my experience with a clean install of Windows 8.