How to Speed Up an Asus EEE PC
By Jeff Grundy
ASUS designed the EEE series of netbooks for users who don’t want a full-fledged laptop but need a little more computing power than a smartphone or tablet provides. Using Intel Atom ultra-low-voltage processors, ASUS EEE netbooks are highly portable, offer reasonably good battery life and include a full Windows installation. However, the same Intel Atom architecture that makes EEE netbooks so portable also lends to their sluggish performance for power users. Nevertheless, a few improvements and tweaks can help you considerably boost the performance of an ASUS EEE netbook.
As with virtually any other type of computing device, adding more RAM to your EEE PC is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to improve its performance. With the exception of the 700 (2G Surf) and 900SD EEE PC models, all others in the line have extra sockets for adding an additional RAM stick. RAM-upgradeable models in the ASUS EEE 700 and 900 series use DDR2 400, 533 or 667-MHz RAM. ASUS EEE 1000 series PCs support DDR2 500/667 RAM. EEE PCs in the 1100 and 1200 series use DDR2 667/800 memory. The 1215b series EEE PC is the only model that supports DDR3 memory. Adding memory to a EEE PC is essentially the same as upgrading RAM in a laptop. You can access the memory slot for a EEE PC on the bottom of the netbook or by removing the keyboard.
Right-clocking/Overclocking the CPU
The consensus among professional reviews and owners is that the ASUS EEE PC offers better than average battery life for the type of performance it provides. This is due in part to the way ASUS clocks the Intel Atom processors used in EEE PCs. In most cases, ASUS actually underclocks the processors to improve battery life. The BIOS menus in EEE PCs do not offer a means of changing the clock speed of the Atom processors. However, free utilities such as SetFSB and EeeCtl enable you to set the Atom processor at its default speed or increase its performance by increasing the front side bus, clock speed and voltage settings (links in Resources). Overclocking the Atom processor can be risky, though, as tweaking it too much could cause the CPU to overheat. Nevertheless, many users report success when overclocking modestly or "right-clocking" the processor (setting the Atom processor to its Intel factory default speed.)
Crank Up the Video
Except for the 1201N and 1215b models, all ASUS EEE PCs feature Intel GMA video chipsets. While the Intel chipsets are adequate for normal Web browsing and common computing tasks, they are usually not fast enough to play graphics-intensive 2D or 3D games. Neither ASUS nor Intel provide a utility for overclocking the GMA chipsets. However, GMABooster offers a free Windows utility that does exactly that -- lets you increase the clock speed of the GPU chip to improve performance (link in Resources). The 1201N and 125b models include significantly faster GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD respectively. If you have the 1201N EEE PC, you can download and use RivaTuner to overclock the Nvidia Ion graphics chip in the netbook. For the 1215b model, download the AMD OverDrive utility to overclock the EEE PC's high-performance HD 6250 graphics chipset (links in Resources).
Disable Unneeded Windows Services
Most ASUS EEE PCs ship with a full desktop installation of Windows. Whether the EEE PC runs Windows 7, Vista or XP, the operating system loads many services by default that you don’t really need with a netbook. Regardless of the version of Windows you use, you can reach the Services console from a Run box. Press "Windows-R," type "Services.msc" in the Run box and press "Enter." In the Services console window, you can disable many services safely, and thus free up RAM and other system resources. To help boost the performance of your EEE PC, feel free to disable the following services: Block Level Backup Engine Service, Bonjour Service, Certificate Propagation Service, Group Policy Client, HomeGroup Listener Service, HomeGroup Provider Service, Offline Files Service, Portable Device Enumerator Service, Software Protection Service (only after you activate Windows), SSDP Discovery Service and Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. If you use a third-party anti-virus application, you can disable the Security Center and Windows Defender services as well.
Ditch Windows Altogether
Even with laptops and full-sized desktop PCs, Windows requires a relatively large amount of hardware resources to run optimally. While the hardware in an ASUS EEE PC is adequate for running Windows, the systems will never run the Microsoft operating system as fast as you may be used to with a high-end desktop or laptop machine. Nevertheless, if you're amenable to trying an alternative OS, you can increase the performance of your EEE PC by simply installing a version of Linux, which requires far fewer resources than Windows. Countless Linux distributions exist that are compatible with your EEE PC, and you can install most of them from a USB stick or external optical drive (since most EEE PCs don’t have a CD/DVD drive.) Popular distributions that are compatible with ASUS EEE PCs include Ubuntu, Puppy Linux and Knopix (link in Resources).
Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.