Introduction: How to Disassemble and Upgrade the ASUS G53SX/SW
There are tons of different model numbers for the 15-inch ASUS G53SX and G53SW gaming laptop combined, but they all share the same basic layout. What differs is the hardware configuration and primarily that the newer G53SW has an NVIDIA GTX 560M graphics card which is actually slightly slower than the GTX 460M found in the G53SW due to a smaller memory bus.
But that's beside the point, what is important is that the entire lineup has room for dual hard drives but most of them only ship with a single drive--an almost unforgivable waste of precious space in a laptop. It can also accommodate up to 16GB of RAM but sometimes come with much less. Both of these problems can of course be amended!
Unfortunately the ASUS G53 is unusually difficult to upgrade. Underneath the laptop, where you usually find a plastic cover that you can open up by loosening a few screws to upgrade HDD and RAM, there are no screws to be found. Instead you have to access the internal components by removing both keyboard, touch pad and palm rest; only then can you loosen the plastic cover to access the hardware.
Here are the steps on how to do this, but as always you do it at your own risk! If you have no prior experience with electronics or feel uncomfortable with the procedure, just leave it alone and take it to a professional. It is also advisable to use an anti-static wrist strap when working with RAM modules and other sensitive parts.
That said, it's not brain surgery. What you need is a Phillips- and a flat-head screwdriver (size small) and of course the parts you intend to insert or replace--in this case a hard drive or SSD and/or DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM.
Step 1: Removing the Keyboard to Access RAM Slot #1
As previously stated, the first thing you need to do is remove the backlit keyboard. There are five slits along the upper rim of the keyboard and here you have to use the flat-head screwdriver. Start at one end of the keyboard and gently loosen it by pushing the screwdriver into one slit at a time. You may have to push it gently inwards to get it off the plastic placeholders, but be careful not to break them or the keyboard will not attach entirely to the laptop chassis when you put it back.
Once the keyboard has come loose, do not simply lift it straight up! There are two ribbon cables that connect it to the motherboard--two because it's backlit and needs a separate power cable. By lifting the keyboard just a little bit, you will see the cables. Cable number 1 is the widest one and is attached to connector #1 (pictured). You detach this one by carefully pushing out the white "cable lock" outwards and then it should easily come off.
Cable number 2 is the much smaller power cable that provides light to your keyboard. It is not visible from the angle in the first illustration, but you can see where it connects in the picture where the keyboard has been removed. This cable locks via two tiny white pieces of plastic that you again loosen with your small flat-head screwdriver before it detaches. Don't bother with cable number three for now.
Now you should be ready to simply remove the G53's keyboard and you will see a thin black plastic cover where the first two RAM slots are located (pictured). If these are empty (depends on the model) and you were just upgrading your RAM, congratulations! In that case you can just insert the RAM sticks and stop reading right now. The older G53SW often has all the slots filed up with 2GB sticks, while the newer G53SX might only use 2x4GB in the slots that are located underneath the laptop. If all the slots are filled with 2GB sticks and you want to upgrade the laptop past 8GB, you will have to replace them with 4GB modules.
Step 2: Removing Palm Rest and Touchpad
The entire rubberized palm rest area including the touchpad are all in one piece and should be removed as such. First of all you will have to undo the touchpad cable (3, also pictured in the previous step), which comes off just like the power cable to the keyboard.
And before trying to pry off the palm rest area you first need to unlock it. It is locked into place with a simple mechanism (pictured, above the Republic of Gamers logo). Use the screwdriver to open it by putting it in the hole and pulling the mechanism to the right. Here you may have to apply some mild force to get the job done.
With the ribbon cable and locking mechanism undone, you are ready to remove the palm rest, which is done by bending it upwards along the upper side and then sliding it towards you if you are facing the laptop on a table.
Step 3: Getting to the Bottom of the Issue
Now that the palm rest has come off, you will see the upper part of the ASUS G53 in all its naked glory. Of course, what you really want to access with this whole procedure is the opposite side, so now it's time to bring out your small Phillips screwdriver and get ready for some serious unscrewing.
A whole bunch of screws will have to come out before you are finally able to remove the bottom cover. Store them in a safe place for easy access when the whole thing has to be done in reverse order. When the screws are undone you will have to fold the laptop before turning it around, but now the bottom part should come off at last. It doesn't simply fall off, so you may have to wiggle it a little to pry it open.
At last, when the cover is off, you will finally have access to the important parts, namely the two hard drive bays and the other two RAM slots. If your G53 is like most configurations on the market, one of the hard drive cages will be empty, allowing you to add another hard drive or SSD. Either of the drives/SATA ports can be booted from, so it doesn't matter which one you attach it to as long as you change the boot sequence in the BIOS afterwards (if you want to boot from the new drive, that is).
There is no option for running the drives in RAID 0 in the G53SX/SW, but it is possible to run an SSD at SATA 3 (6Gbps) speeds, which is considerably faster than two hard drives in RAID 0 anyway.
When you have added the new drive and/or RAM, simply perform these steps in reverse and you should be all set.