Replacing an Ultrabook (Asus UX21E) Keyboard




I spilled a ginger-ale on my ultrabook's keyboard, and had to replace the keyboard. I noticed that there were some teardown pictures of the Asus UX21E online, but they all seemed to stop at taking the bottom of the laptop off. 

This information in this Instructable is specific to the Asus UX21E, but by reading my tips and following the general disassembly lessons you should be able to work on your own laptop.

That being said taking apart electronics has the potential to damage or destroy the electronics, so don't try to repair your own computer unless you know what you're doing. 

You need a couple of supplies before you begin this process:
Screwdriver set with Torx bits
Ice Cube Tray
New Keyboard

Step 1: Take the Back Cover Off

The back cover has ten screws. There are eight short screws and two long screws.

Do Not Use the Wrong Size or Type of Screw Driver!

Take out the eight short screws and put them into the first slot in the ice cube tray.

Now take out the two long screws and put them in the second slot in the ice cube tray. 

Step 2: Remove the Battery

The battery has five screws two silver screws and three black screws 

Remove the screws and put them into the second slot in the ice cube tray.

Step 3: Remove the Motherboard to I/O Cable

Hook your fingernail under one of the places indicated in the image, and gently lift. Do the same on the other location. The flat cable should pop right off. 

Step 4: Remove the Cooling System

There are seven screws in the cooling system two silver and five black. 

First remove the five black screws, and place them in the next ice cube tray slot.
Next remove the two silver screws, and place them in the next ice cube tray slot.

The cooling system will be stuck down slightly to the CPU. take your fingernail and hook it under the leftmost black screw hole and lift slowly and gently. Be particularly careful while pulling the cooling system off of the CPU.

Step 5: Remove the I/O Board

This board has only one screw and one speaker connector to remove. 

Take a small flat-head screwdriver and push the white part of the connector to the right out of it's beige socket. 

Remove the single screw, and place it in the next slot in the ice cube tray. 

Lift the blue I/O board from the left edge and it should slide right out. 

Step 6: Disconnect the Keyboard Ribbon Cable

First remove the tape holding the ribbon cable in place. Don't throw the tape away. When you're putting everything back together put it back in the same spot. 

Use your fingernail to gently push the beige tabs downwards towards the battery. They should slide out approximately 1mm freeing the keyboard ribbon cable. 

Step 7: Disconnect the Monitor Cable

Peel the retention sticker back towards the cable. When you reassemble the laptop make sure to stick the retention sticker back down. 

Use a fingernail to push the tabs towards the top of the laptop and release the monitor cable. 

Step 8: Antenna Cable Removal

Peel the tape off of the antenna connectors. When you're putting everything back together put it back in the same spot.

Use your fingernails to lift the small gold connector away from the wireless card connectors. 

Go ahead and disconnect the speaker connector. Take a small flat-head screwdriver and push the white part of the connector to the left out of it's beige socket.

Step 9: Mouse Ribbon Cable

Place your fingernail on top of the ribbon cable and lift. The black part of the connector will flip up and release the cable. 

Be particularly careful with this kind of connector as they sometimes will break off. 

Step 10: Remove Motherboard Screw

Remove the single screw, and place it in the next slot in the ice cube tray.

Step 11: Lift Out the Battery and Motherboard

You can now lift out the battery and motherboard.

If something feels like it's holding the motherboard back DO NOT FORCE IT. Look for a screw or a connector you missed. 

The battery disconnects from the motherboard with a connector that swings up. 

Step 12: Remove the Speakers

Finally we can see the keyboard!

Removing the speakers is a pain because they're held down with double sided tape.

Using a flat head screwdriver pry the edge of the speaker up from the bottom edge first. Slowly work the flat head screwdriver up towards the keyboard and the speaker will pop off. 

Remove both speakers. Note that the speakers are marked L & R. When you're putting the laptop back together make sure they go in the right locations. 

Step 13: Reveal the Keyboard

Gently peel the mouse cable back. 

Peel the plastic backing off of the keyboard. 

Step 14: Remove the Keyboard!

First remove the little piece of tape at the top right hand corner. 

There are about twenty one tiny screws holding the keyboard in place. Make sure you use the right size Phillips head screwdriver. If you manage to strip one of these screws it will be hard to find a replacement. Put the screws in the ice cube tray.

After you remove the screws gently lift the keyboard away from the laptop body. If there's any resistance look for a screw you missed. 

Step 15: Install New Keyboard and Put Everything Back Together

Look at the back of the keyboard you just removed and compare it with your replacement keyboard. My replacement didn't have the little grounding strips. So, I peeled the strips off of the old keyboard an attached them to the new keyboard. 

You should also check the model numbers of the old and new keyboards to make sure that they match.

Reassemble the laptop by reversing the steps that we used to take it apart!

If you have any questions or need a picture of a specific thing please leave a comment!



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    15 Discussions


    2 months ago on Step 15

    What type of adhesive is used for the keyboard backing? I have an Asus zenbook and this is the closest thing I can find where someone actually takes the keyboard apart. I spilled coffee on my keyboard and took it apart to clean it. I was afraid to peel off the black backing because the other tutorials I have looked at seemed to refer to the metal panel Andy keyboard as one replaceable part. So I poured 90% alcohol into the keys to clean out the stickiness. Now the adhesive is starting to come up around the edges anyways. I’d like to know what is used or a comparable/safe alternative to reinforce the adhesive that is coming up.

    Any help would be appreciated.


    9 months ago

    Great guide, really appreciate the pictures. From my experience for a UX21A Zenbook, it has a backlit keyboard, the replacement keyboard is the same, but on Step 13 you will see the keyboard has a puffy backing and a extra cable that you need to disconnect from the motherboard same type of connector as the trackpad connector. Take the puffy black part kindly off, that is the backlighting, it just has a simple glue and replace it when the new keyboard is on. Final note, when you assembling and you are on Step 4 regarding the cooling system , you really need clean the processor die and put new thermal paste to ensure the cooling system will work properly. Thanks!!!


    2 years ago

    Thanks a lot. This guide saved me 2yrs ago, when I spilled coffee over my laptop..

    Unfortunately, picked keyboard without backlight, and now I'm back to set that straight..

    Thanks x2


    3 years ago

    By the way, for the keyboard screws you need a Philips PH000 screwdriver. A PH00 won't work.

    4 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I've got this ph000 screwdriver (The photo on amazon is wrong and shows a ph0) but it doesn't work for those tiny keyboard screws. Do you know if it could be because of the blade length? The one I've got is a ph000x60 which means that the length of the blade is 60mm.



    Reply 3 years ago

    I've ended up getting a WIHA PH000 x 40mm PicoFinish screwdriver and it works. I was finally able to replace the keyboard. Thanks for the instructions!


    Reply 3 years ago

    You might try using the smallest flatheaded screw driver. If it doesn't fit file it down a tiny bit & try again.

    I find that big cheap sets of screw driver bits tend to be pretty low quality & may not really be a 000.


    Reply 3 years ago

    The PH000 I used was this:


    3 years ago

    is no ethernet port for ux21e, because no drivers for ux21e that i see here


    3 years ago

    The first time you remove the cover and see all the interior components you get a bit distressed. But with the tutorial actually it gets easy to take components apart and reach the keyboard. Maybe the hardest part of all is to plug back the mouse/trackpad connector. It took me several tries but in the end I made it.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Your post is full of knowledge. After going through this
    step by step guide, it seems very easy to replace the keyboard.


    4 years ago on Step 15

    Hi there, How do I ensure that I get the right keyboard fo my Asus? Where can I check my serial number? Thanks Peter

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The part numbers that I have noted for the keyboard on *this* laptop are MP-11A93US6528 & 0NK0-LX1US021e

    I had to take apart the laptop to get at these numbers...


    5 years ago on Introduction

    you could change the title to "replace anything in Asus UX21E". now i don't have to pick mine apart to check things

    great info and pics! I didn't realize it was so hard to get to the keyboard!