Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Asus U47A Review & Reformat Troubleshoot

So I just reformatted my Asus U47A & it was surprisingly harder than I originally expected. Fueled by both irritation & a hint of semi-malevolence, here is a  tutorial on how I bypassed the "unable to format GPT partition drive" error as well as an overall review. Keep in mind, at least for the review, that I'm already a few-beers-in.

For the sake of easy reading & to establish context here is a quick rundown of problems & solutions I had with the U47A:

  • PROBLEM:     Glitchy touch pad.
  • SOLUTION:    Use software on/of - Plug in external mouse/reciever
  • PROBLEM:      Slow performance/boot - Bloatware
  • SOLUTION:     Reformat ASAP. This model comes like this out of the box.
  • PROBLEM:      Cannot reformat drive due to "drive is GPT partition" error.
  • SOLUTION:     During window's instalation press SHIFT + F10 & run DISKPART

I got my Asus for $600 and considered it a huge bargain when i had finally reformatted it and set up the drivers. Keep a few things in mind:

  •  This laptop comes with 109 processes out of the box.
  • After reformatting, before drivers, I had 39 active processes.
  • After installing everything I could need, 47.

Here's the specs from the manufacturer:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate or other editions available
  • Compact and light: under 1” thick and less than 2Kg
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate
    Genuine Windows® 7 Professional
  • World’s most compact 14” notebook!
  • Highly durable materials and build quality for portable use
  • New 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i3/i5/i7 processor and Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4000
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life

First off, regarding battery life... it seems greater than eight. Maybe it's my settings after reformat, but after a seven hour day at class I still had four hours and fifty minutes of battery life remaining.

Regarding speed, it's quite fast but is still a *dual core* so keep this in mind. My boot up is quick, about two minutes, (after reformat; before it took up to 8 minutes due to bloatware!) but the computer is slow to load Photoshop, initial boot applications, and many other situations if one is used to a high powered desktop.

That being said, it seems equally as good as a MacBook Pro in the 2k range, just $1400 cheaper. So what could be wrong, besides needing to reformat?

Well, reformatting is a pain if you don't know what to do. That's what inspired me to make this blog post.

When I tried to re install Windows I was greeted to *five partitions*. First I deleted all the partitions but one, because I wanted to reformat it and install the OS. However the installer would not let me continue due to a "gpt partition error". It took me about 4 hours to find out that you can use a command prompt command called "diskpart" to change the permissions of a drive so you can install windows on it. The only problem; how the hell do you load a command prompt during a windows install?

It turns out this is actually quite simple; just pres SHIFT+F10 at any point and the command prompt will pop up. Here's the rest to convert the drive that I copied from some board, I think Tom's Hardware:

Using a command line
  1. Back up or move all data on the basic master boot record (MBR) disk you want to convert into a GUID partition table (GPT) disk. If the disk does not contain any partitions or volumes, skip to step 2.

    For more information about backing up volumes, see Related Topics.
  1. Open Command Prompt.
  1. Type:


    If the disk does not contain any partitions or volumes, skip to step 7.
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    list volume

    Make note of the number of the volume that you want to delete.
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    select volume n
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    delete volume
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    list disk

    Make note of the disk number of the disk that you want to convert to a GUID partition table (GPT) disk.
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    select disk n
  1. At the DISKPART prompt, type:

    convert gpt

After this windows installed fine. I installed the necessary drivers and everything works fine, from USB 3.0 (quite high speeds on this laptop actually) to the webcam.

There is a problem however, a huge one. It's not enough to make me have buyers remorse over my purchase but it's enough where I feel I should mention it.

The touch pad is shit.

People have written on many forums, had their touch pads replaced numerous times (allegedly) and nothing changes. Asus is using a strange keyboard/touchpad hybrid setup and lots of software that east up ram that overall creates a wonky touchpad. Whenever I use the laptop with the touchpad activated the cursor will warp randomly as I am typing. The only way to solve this is to use the (hilariously aware) function-f9-disable-touchpad-key but alas, mine DOES NOT WORK. Instead I must hookup an external mouse and deactivate my touchpad. Its a minor annoyance, especially with wireless mice, but still, it's worth noting.

* EDIT 5/26/13: While cleaning up some old posts I noticed that I was a little harder on the touchpad than I should be. It is still a wonky touchpad, but I found out that part of the problem is the sensitivity of the pad and how one types on the laptop. The touchpad is so sensitive that if your palms are hovering slightly above the touchpad, even outside of the range or on the plastic of the laptop itself and not on the touchpad, it will start to warp and wonk out. It seems to happen less frequently if the gesture's options are turned off. Still, the drivers are terrible & the touchpad is so sensitive I have to hold my hand in a different typing position that can become awkward without practice and patience. But the laptop is more functional now & I can always stick a wireless mouse receiver into the USB slot to make the typing work fine (little strange but it's not a large device and can be stored on the laptop itself in it's own USB slot). *

Nonetheless, I am quite happy with the laptops performance, battery life and size. Reformat that digital molasses though: 109 processes out of the box is crazy and it runs at about a 1/3 the speed.