How to upgrade the EP121 wireless card and optionally use WIDI

Discussion in 'EP121 Slate' started by Rob_Oppie, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Rob_Oppie

    Rob_Oppie Pen Pal - Newbie

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    This site has lots of good info on upgrading the ASUS EP121 Slate's wireless/Bluetooth card to an Intel® 6230, but I could not find a beginning-to-end step-by-step guide - so I made this one.

    I will break this guide into 3 postings:
    1) this introduction,
    2) the actual step by step guide for the upgrade (down loading drivers, removing old drivers, etc etc), and
    3) another posting for optionally installing WiDi (Intel® Wireless Display).

    I upgraded my wireless card because I was seeing erotic (opps, I mean erratic) wireless performance and I was curious to try WIDI and it was cheap. My slate wireless had some problems - it sees a lot of duplicate acks, jitter and retransmitted blocks on speed and quality tests at myspeed.visualware.com .

    But I have to tell you, in the end I was disappointed with this upgrade. The erratic wireless performance remains a problem and I found that WIDI maxs out the cpus and makes the system sluggish [more on that later]. Still if you need or want to upgrade your wireless/bluetooth card, this thread will tell you how. I did this under Win7.

    The original wireless card in my slate was the Qualcomm Atheros AR9002WB-1NG adapter, which is Single band (2.4 GHz) with a max of 150 Mbps. I replaced it with the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 adapter, which is Dual band (2.4GHz and 5 GHz) with a max of 300 Mbps.
    [Hardware ref: http://www.qca.qualcomm.com/media/product/product_75_file1.pdf and http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/centrino/centrino-advanced-n-6230-brief.html ]

    The very first step in the upgrade is to buy a new wireless/bluetooth card. As of 9/3/2012, you can get an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 wireless/bluetooth adapter on EBAY for $18 delivered.

    The Intel 6230 and 6235 are nearly identical, both are wireless plus Bluetooth adapters. The 6235 adds support for the latest low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 spec. The 6230 is a bit cheaper and currently appears to use more stable drivers (the v14 drivers) while the 6235 requires the v15 drivers and there are some postings suggesting that users are having trouble with the v15 drivers (more on this later). However I think that either card would work. Many users (including myself) upgraded to the 6230 and can verify that it does work. A few have upgraded to the 6235 and report it as working. The rest of this guide assumes you are upgrading to the 6230. If you use the 6235, then you will need to adjust the steps in this guide to use the appropriate drivers.

    The 6300 series is not suitable for the EP121 - while it is capable of 450 Mbps wireless, it does not have Bluetooth - also it uses 3 antennas (the Slate has only 2).

    Note that these Intel wireless adapters are incompatible with some of the early 'pre-N' release routers. If you have such a router, you may need to get a newer certified N level router.

    Be sure to download new drivers before swapping out the card! And be sure to uninstall the old drivers before installing the new card (read my next posting for details on these steps).

    There is a very helpful video by user "Malfunkshen" that shows all the physical steps needed for the upgrade: from opening the EP121 case thru replacing the wireless card and closing the case. It only takes about 8 minutes. It does not show the necessary software steps - but this thread will cover that.
    Watch it: Asus Eee Slate Upgrading Wireless - YouTube

    This thread and the above video should tell you everything you need to know, but if you want to read more, then look at these other threads:
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/ep121-slate/45057-wifi-upgrade-intel-6230-a.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/ep121-slate/38911-wifi-blutooth-upgrade-n-300mbps-dual-band.html
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/ep121-slate/40182-upgrade-network-card-video.html

    See my next posting for the step-by-step guide

    -Rob

    PS I sometimes use the word Slate to mean the ASUS EP121.

    Below is a picture of my old Atheros card and my new Intel 6230 installed in my slate. Note how I had to bend the Main 1 antenna wire to fit.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  2. Rob_Oppie

    Rob_Oppie Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Step-by step instructions to upgrade an EP121 to an Intel wireless card

    1) After you have received your new Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 /35 wireless/Bluetooth adapter then...

    2) It is best to make a clone image backup before an upgrade - just in case disaster hits. This is optional but a good idea. A System Restore point will be made later (belt and suspenders).

    Aside: In the past, I used Windows Imaging software, but I had a terrible time with it this time. It kept giving me a ridiculously vague error message. Finally I gave up and got Macrium's free clone software from "Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download". It worked perfect. It made a much smaller image file (better compression). And it has instructions for making a bootable USB thumb drive for disaster recovery without needing a DVD drive. [The Linux emergency thumb drive is the easiest one to make and it can restore a Macrium clone of Win7].

    Hint - get and run ccleaner before making a clone (Google it). Exit as many programs as possible, esp cloud based backup pgms like SpiderOak. I even turn off real time active virus detection while imaging the system drive but remember to turn it back on after the clone imaging is done.

    3) Download new drivers/software/documentation from
    "Support for the Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6230"
    click on Downloads & Drivers, narrow search to Windows 7 (64-bit).
    If needed search for 6230

    As of Sept 2012, there are 2 downloads of interest:

    #1: Intel® PROSet/...Bluetooth Software... (you do not really need this - the standard Windows BT software will work)

    #2: Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software and Drivers for Windows 7 64-Bit.
    You do need this - It comes in two versions:
    a Drivers Only package (about 8MB), and
    a Drivers plus Software Applications package (about 50MB).

    The only download you really need is the "Drivers Only" package. But you might as well download all 3 (BT software, Drivers Only, and Drivers plus software packages). If you want to use Intel's WIDI, then you probably need the large wireless application software package, otherwise the Drivers Only will do.

    You want the Windows 7 64-Bit versions that are "Recommended for end-customers" and marked as "Latest".

    NOTE: As of 9/3/2012, the "latest" version is 14.3.1 Dated: 03/14/2012. This is the most stable release and is shown as "Latest", but there is also a more recent v15.1.1 dated 5/2/2012 labeled "Previously released". I believe the v15 drivers may have problems with dropping connections (see "Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 connection drops") but perhaps the v15.1.1 fixes it. In any case, get the drivers that Intel shows as "Latest" - as of now, that is Version is 14.3.1.

    You may want to use Intel® PROSet software - but you do not need to. The standard MS Windows software will do. If you want to use Intel's WiDi, you probably need their PROSet software. I read that for WIDI "you don't need the PROset running, but you do need the Intel "My WiFi Technology" utility - basically this is what allows a second virtual WiFi connection to communicate with the WiDi device". The above packages now include the Intel® "My WiFi Technology" application that lets you connect up to eight other wireless devices to your laptop computer. So WIDI users no longer need to install a special version of the Intel® PROSet/Wireless WiFi Connection Utility.

    I did not install the Intel Bluetooth software (I just used the generic Windows BT stack). After you are done, Windows Update will show an optional Intel Bluetooth update.

    You can optionally read the release notes for the ProSet software (says enterprise version which you don't need, but it has some info) here: Release Notes for Intel® PROSet/Wireless WiFi Software

    4) Before upgrading, consider bench marking your slate network performance - test both the Internet Quality (see below) and the transfer speed of a local PC to PC file copy:
    For the Internet Quality test - Go to myspeed.visualware.com and perform a voip quality and speed test. Follow their instructions.
    Once the voip test completes click on the advance tab on the left side of the screen,
    then look down on the lower right hand side and click on the "view text" link where you can copy and paste the test results into a text file for later viewing.

    From Summary screen click on Analysis. to see list of problems.

    Follow the same procedure for the speed test.

    Optionally measure the time it takes to transfer a fairly large file between your Slate and another PC on your local network. Record the result.

    5) Watch the install video again: Asus Eee Slate Upgrading Wireless - YouTube

    6) Create a system restore point.
    [Search for System Protection, run it, click the "Create..." button.]

    7) If enabled, then Disable Internet Connection Sharing before uninstalling or reinstalling Intel® My WiFi Technology. (It is unlikely that this is being used on a Slate), but to be sure...
    Search for "View Network Connections" in control panel and open it.
    Select the network adapter used for Internet sharing.
    Right-click, open Properties, and select the Sharing tab.
    Disable Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.
    Later, you can open the Intel® My WiFi Technology utility and click Share My Internet.

    8) Exit all software that might access the network, eg cloud based backup pgms like SpiderOak, Dropbox etc

    9) Run the Intel driver package you downloaded for the wireless card. This will place the drivers where Windows can find them when you reboot with the card installed.

    10) [FYI, I did not do this, but I think I should have].
    Uninstall the "Atheros WLAN and Bluetooth Client Installation Program" by running Control Panel\Programs and Features \ Uninstall...

    11) You are now ready to uninstall the current drivers.
    [The old wifi driver name is ...athrx.sys and the old BT driver name athbtfilterco.dll - but some Slates use a different wireless card].
    [The above Uninstall of the "Atheros WLAN and Bluetooth Client Installation Program" might have already removed the drivers and the Device Manager sections (Network Adapters, and Bluetooth Radios), but check it...]

    Search for Device Manager, and run it.
    Click Network Adapters to expand that section.
    If the old wireless adapter is listed. For example, "Atheros AR9002WB..."
    Right-click the wireless adapter. Click uninstall. [I told it to delete the software - the System restore point will let you roll back even if you delete the software here].

    12) Also Uninstall the BT (Bluetooth) drivers...
    In Device Manager, Click Bluetooth Radios to expand that section.
    Right click Bluetooth Module, Click uninstall.

    At this point both sections (Network Adapters, and Bluetooth Radios) will be gone.

    13) Shutdown [& disconnect power].

    14) Get a good working area and lay down a towel to protect the screen.

    15) Remove the slate from its 'folio' case and BE SURE to remove the plastic cover (insert) in the SD/MMC slot (lower left corner on your Slate below the USB slots) and open the USB covers.

    16) Loosen the back of the slate with a plastic membership card or credit card (as in video). Look for a spot that is already a little separated and start there or press the edge of the back in a bit to start. (User Rnacy found that starting inside the pen compartment was easiest).

    17) Once the back is loose all the way around, carefully "fold" the back over so as not to stress the little ribbon cable connected near the USB connectors (pretend the end with the USB connectors is a "hinge" and keep that end of the backside close to and slightly above the main unit).

    18) Note which wires (2 antenna wires) connect to which connectors on the wireless card. Maybe take a picture - or see my picture in previous post. [Maybe take several pics of all the inside components for future needs/documentation].

    19) Swap out the wireless card: Pop off the 2 antenna wires. Remove 2 screws and tilt the antenna end of the card up then pull it out. Insert the new card - make sure it is well seated. Replace screws and the antenna wires. I had to bend one of the antenna wires a bit to make it fit. See photos.

    20) Reconnect backside of Slate. Carefully align it and snap it back as in the video. User CMMD-Z wrote: Closing it is also a piece of cake. You just start from one end and while applying pressure; run your thumb along the edges of the tablet. Specifically on the plastic where the connector tabs meet the aluminum.

    21) Plug in and boot up. Windows will install the new drivers.

    22) Reboot to let it finish installing.

    23) It should now see but not reconnect to your wireless network. Tell it to connect and supply the network passkey. All your network connection eg your home network etc will still be there.

    FYI, DONT DO THIS: At this point, I went to Intel's auto network driver update at Intel® Driver Update Utility for wireless networking
    to see if Intel had an updated driver. Unfortunately it did - the v15 driver which is not the most stable driver. See notes above.

    24) Test your Internet. See if you can browse to Google. Optionally benchmark again to see if anything has changed.

    25) Check that the power settings for the new adapter are what you want. eg advanced power settings: Wireless Adapter Settings : Select Medium Power Saving or Maximum Power Savings for the On Battery setting.

    26) The Bluetooth (BT) icon will no longer appear in the taskbar Notification area. If you want it, you can turn it back on. Do a search for "blue" in the Control Panel and select "Change Bluetooth settings". Then check the "Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area" check box.

    27) I needed to reconnect my Bluetooth (BT) devices - eg the Microsoft keyboard. Search for "blue" in the Control Panel and select "Add a Bluetooth device". It will start to scan for a BT device. Then press the indented "BT" button on the back side of the keyboard (near the upper left corner). Hold it in until the light on the front of the keyboard starts to blink. Then wait to let the devices find each other, then take the number displayed on the slate and enter it into the keyboard and hit enter.

    28) Take another image save - with new drivers in place. Or at least make another system restore point.

    29) Done!
    See next post if you are interested in WIDI.

    -------- Some Problems and Solutions of note from other users...

    A user wrote...
    For what it's worth, to follow up on my intel wifi adapter woes, it turns out the adapter was incompatible with D-Link DIR-655 Wifi router. It apparently had to do with the 'pre-N' compatibility of the router and the fact that the standard wasn't ratified until after the router was released. Supposedly there were two incompatible standards camps (intel and cisco if I recall?) so the pre-ratification wireless-N stuff can be hit-or miss. I ended up upgrading to a newer version router (ASUS RT-N56U) and it works great.

    Another user had problems connecting BT devices that had worked before...fixed by ... he removed Bluetooth completely in the device manager. Then, restarted. Windows found a bunch of drivers. He re-installed the Intel software. Windows found an update. "Nothing looks different ... but now the Plantronics is working for playing music and VOIP."

    - end of step-by-step guide - [next post - about WIDI.]
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  3. Rob_Oppie

    Rob_Oppie Pen Pal - Newbie

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    WiDi (Intel® Wireless Display).

    WiDi can wirelessly connect a laptop to an adapter box that plugs into the HDMI port of any display - making it a 2nd display screen on the laptop (but with some limitations on the resolution). You can extend your desktop across both displays. You can play videos on the 2nd display.

    The EP121 Slate must have its wireless card upgraded to the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 wireless/bluetooth card ($18 from EBAY) to make WIDI work.

    This guide for WIDI on a Slate is not as detailed as the previous post on up-grading to the 6230, but this should help you get going...

    The ep121 has the 470um cpu and HM55 chipset - which DOES support WIDI - but not all the latest WIDI features. The HM55 is a series 5 chipset.
    *** Series 5 chip sets require an older version of the Wireless Display Software - version 3.0.13. See below for more details.

    This cpu and chipset can do 1st generation WIDI of 1280 x 720p but not 2nd generation WIDI - so it will not support the latest WIDI abilities of: Full 1080p video, Intel® Insider™, Blu-ray and DVD movie playback, and 5.1 Surround Sound.

    To see what hardware is required for WIDI go to http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wtech/iwd/sb/CS-032437.htm

    The Slate can work with 2nd generation WiDi TV adapters - but it will only produce 1st generation output on them.

    I found that WIDI pretty much maxs out the cpus and makes the system sluggish. Using Tech Inferno's Throttle Stop (with Set Multiplier to Turbo) helps a little - but running WIDI with Tubo pushes the cpu temperature up by 20C or more to about 75C in my situation. That is not too too hot. Tjunction Max (TjMax) for this cpu is 105C. [Exceeding 105 may cause instability, shorten the life of the CPU and cause massive performance issues]. A rule of thumb is: keep the cpu temperature 15C to 20C below TjMax when under full load, or 85C to 90C for the EP121 470um cpu.

    I think that more recent Intel chip sets do some of the heavy WIDI processing in new graphics hardware, thus lowering the load on your CPU and speeding things up. But the ep121 does not have this ability.

    BenjaminRies wrote: Just wanted to report/confirm that the Intel 6230 in my EP121 is working just fine streaming 720p and audio to my new D-Link MainStage DHD-131 WiDi receiver (2nd-gen Intel Wireless Display tech, similar to the Netgear PTV2000).

    And I can confirm that my EP121 slate (with the $18 Intel 6230 wireless upgrade) can run a WIDI display at 1280 x 720p when paired with a Netgear NTV200S Pro adapter for the TV/monitor (~$70 from Amazon).

    The Netgear NTV200S is a 2nd generation WIDI adapter (up to 1080p) but it does not support HDCP2.0 protected content [neither does my Slate]. The NTV200S has the added ability to play videos directly from the Internet without using WIDI at all. Thus dramatically reducing the load on your laptop and on your wireless network when playing Internet videos from Youtube, Netflix, etc.. (With Widi, Internet content 1st travels over your wireless network to your laptop, is heavily processed there, then travels again over wireless channels to your tv adapter). However, I suspect that the Netgear NTV200S is a bit slower and requires more steps than the Netgear PTV2000 when connecting or re-connecting to the PC.

    Also, you could just get the PTV1000 for about $34. It is a 1st generation WIDI TV/Monitor adapter - but so is the Slate, so you end up with the same WIDI experience as you would get with the more expensive PTV2000 (or other 2nd generation device).

    After upgrading your Slate wireless card to the Intel 6230 (see my earlier posts in this thread), then
    download the WIDI software required for the Slate's Series 5 chip set
    - namely Wireless Display Software version 3.0.13.
    Get it from http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Det...ies&ProductProduct=Intel®+Wireless+Displayeng
    Also get its Readme file (link is on the same page).

    You can read more about WIDI software with a link to above v3.0.13 software at: http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wtech/iwd/sb/CS-031109.htm
    Read still more at http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wtech/iwd/sb/CS-032437.htm

    Also download the optional Intel(R) WiDi Widget for Windows 7 - get its Release Notes and software from
    http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=20028
    Get and read its Release Notes (link is on the same page)

    Install WIDI in the following order:
    1 - Wireless (WiFi) Driver (should already be done - see previous post),
    2 - Latest Graphics Driver (get from Windows Update or from http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/detect/graphics ),
    3 - Wireless Display Software, version 3.0.13 (see above for download notes).
    4 - WiDi Widget (optional) (see above download notes).
    It is recommended to restart the PC after each driver or software installation.

    Visit http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wtech/iwd/sb/CS-031109.htm for more info and links to drivers and software.
    Also http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/highlights/wireless/wireless-display/
    http://www.intel.com/support/wireless/wtech/iwd/sb/CS-032474.htm

    I read that "You don't need the Pro/set running, but you do need the "Intel My WiFi" utility - basically it allows a second virtual WiFi connection to communicate with the WiDi device".

    One user needed to install the Intel Wifi administrator toolkit. I did not.

    Read more on WiDi here:
    http://www.netgear.com/ptv
    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-wireless-display.html

    -end-
     
  4. CF77

    CF77 Love Tablet. Senior Member

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    Very good write up..good work Rob..may put a link to this thread in the hard drive and wireless card upgrade..
     
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