Restoring and Installing WinXP
Restoring the W5F to Factory Settings
Sometimes you may need to restore the W5F back to its original factory settings, but how is this done and how easy is it? You will need the two Recovery discs and the W5F driver disc. To start the procedure, you reboot the laptop using the first Recovery CD (you may need to change your BIOS settings to do this).
Eventually you will be prompted for the second disc when prompted and then the Asus W5F driver CD.
Finally, the system will reboot and it will begin re-installing Windows XP Home edition along with all the factory drivers and software. I didn’t time the whole procedure, but it took at least 2 hours to complete which is a bit longer than a typical Windows XP installation (which takes about 45-55 minutes).
In the end, you will have a new OS partition with all the drivers, Asus DVD, Norton Internet Security (which is needed for any fresh install of Windows XP since you may be missing critical WinXP updates), and Asus software (like WinFlash and LiveUpdate). Also if you chose to restore the second partition, that will be clean and ready for use as well.
To make your life easier, the restore procedure gives you the option of either restoring both factory drive partitions or just one of them. This shows great forethought on Asus’ behalf since many expert users save their important data on the second partition and don’t necessarily want it deleted during the restoration.
Installing Your Own
Windows XP Home is not exactly the weapon of choice for many experienced users, so I don’t blame you if the first thing you do when you get the W5F is format it and install your own OS. However, some laptops are designed to make this difficult for you as some devices are only usable when used with the factory installation.
In this test, we will install Windows XP Pro with SP1 onto the Asus W5F and see if we have any complications getting all the devices up and running.
Using the Asus driver CD provided I let the Windows installation procedure automatically configure what it thought was necessary. Once the whole deal was done, the Asus W5F was up and running fine with the exception of three unidentified devices.
Some missing devices after installing your own WinXP.
Unfortunately figuring out what drivers to install isn’t trivial since the device manager doesn’t tell you what is missing. Going through the feature list of the W5F I figured it was the wireless adapter, the audio controller, and the modem. Installation of the these drivers was straight forward though I needed to use updated wireless drivers from Asus’ website as the copy on the Asus driver CD wouldn’t install for some reason. The modem and audio drivers are integrated, so installing the “UAA” driver for one device will identify the other.
Aside from drivers, you will also want to install the Splendid Video utility and the NB Probe software seperately. Splendid video will help you improve video quality since the Intel driver is pretty poor at this. NB Probe monitors your system health (CPU, North Bridge, and HDDs) and alerts you when something goes wrong.
There is also a “CPU hotfix” on the driver CD which you should install because without it, the W5F performs very slowly (PCMark05 came up 1000 points short). The catch is you need to have SP2 installed in order to install the patch. So if you have been avoiding installing SP2, I suppose this is a good reason to finally do it.
Optionally, you can install Norton Internet Security, the video camera software (you can use the camera without it), and video security.