Asus Zenbook Wireless Problem Solution 38


I normally do not write in English unless I discover critical information which is relevant worlwide. This is one of those rare cases and I would like to describe the solution to the wireless problems of the Asus Zenbook, known also as UX31E (or falsely known as UX31). I would keep the reasoning behind the solution short and go straight to giving the solution but you can read my full rant in Turkish (thru Google Translate if you wish) by clicking here. Here is the low down:

Asus UX31E wireless card is a half mini PCI Express card in a form factor that is (apparently) invented by Apple, produced by AzureWave using an Atheros bluetooth/wifi combo chipset. The model number of the card is AW-NB086 and AzureWave has no information on this card on its web site. The chipset model number is Atheros AR9485WB-EG. There are two types of problems related to this wireless card in Asus Zenbook (aside from the lack of 5ghz frequency).

The first type of wireless problem stems from a hardware design error you can do nothing about. Zenbook chassis is made entirely of aluminium and this causes many wireless (and bluetooth) interference problems. If you use your computer connected to a screen and keyboard when you are at home, you’ll want to use the laptop with its lid closed. However, when you do that, both wireless and bluetooth signals will get erratic. In my case, my bluetooth mouse pointer starts jumping all over the screen and I would get (very) frequent drops of wireless connection. The cause of this behavior was hardest to discover. I could only discover the cause was related to the aluminium chassis when I suddenly realized that although there are tens of wireless access points in my building, I could see only three or four of them in Windows’ wireless network manager. (i.e. The problem was not only affecting the connection with my access point but with others too)

One other manifestation of the all-aluminium chassis problem is that you cannot wirelessly tether your phone to the computer if you put your phone behind the screen. The phone should reside at either the left or the right side of the laptop.

So solution to the first type of wireless problem is (idiotic but) simple:

Do not close the lid of your laptop while it’s connected to a wireless access point, and position your laptop such that the display looks in the direction of your wireless access point.

The cause for the second type of problem was, believe or not, easier to discover (since there are many pointers on the web for this cause). Windows and Asus power management utilities work hand-in-hand to drop your wireless connection (seemingly) randomly, especially while you are using your laptop unplugged. This is because your device wants to save power and tries to lower the current of your wireless card “thinking” that you don’t need that much power anyways. Well, it is wrong, you need more juice not less. The solution to this problem is a series of driver/software/bios updates and configuration of Windows power management utility so that the wireless card never sleeps and it is never power-deprived. But first, a warning:

Read the following steps till the end and download all the programs before executing them. Also, print this page if you like. Your connection will certainly get lost during these updates. Also make sure that the battery is charged enough and the laptop is plugged. Last but not least, make sure that you can understand what the risks of performing the following steps are. If you can’t know the risks, do not perform these steps on your own. Please go to your local customer support center and make them perform these steps for you. One thing goes wrong and your thousand dollar laptop becomes a paper weight. You have been warned. (I take no responsibility whatsoever for any problems that may arise from your application of these steps.) Well, enough with the warnings. Here you go:

  • You will find that Asus’ automatic update utility does not update the BIOS (and some other stuff as well). Why, you ask? Ask that to Asus and if you get an answer, please come back and tell me. In short, you should manually update your BIOS to the latest version available. At the time of writing, the latest version was 212. You can download it from Asus support site.
  • Uninstall Wireless Console 3 completely and do not use it unless necessary. If you like to use it, download and install its latest version. You can download the latest version from Asus support site. At the time of writing, the latest version was 3.0.27.
  • Uninstall Asus Power4Gear Hybrid, reboot, and install the latest version. You can install the 1.2.1 or a newer version if available. The 1.2.1 version can be downloaded from the UX21E support site, and not from the UX31E support site. (You can click this direct link to download)
  • Update your wireless drivers to the latest available version. The card is recognized by Windows as Atheros AR9485WB-EG. Asus does not publish newer drivers on the UX31E support site. You can however download the latest drivers from third party sites like Station Drivers or http://atheros.cz. At the time of writing the latest version was 10.0.0.45 (dated 09 March 2012). If you wish, you can also update your bluetooth drivers using drivers from these sites. The bluetooth radio is dubbed Atheros AR3012 Bluetooth 4.0 + HS and the latest driver as of this writing is 7.4.0.126 (dated 06 March 2012).

Now comes the hard part, the power configurations. I use the Turkish version of the Windows 7 and I will try to translate the menu names and options as good as I can but they may be off. Sorry for the inconvenience. So here are the steps:

  • Right click the power icon on your tray and click Power Options from the menu. (You can open also go to the Power Options menu from the Control Panel)
  • Click “Show additional plans” to see all available plans. Perform the following steps for each of the plans (both for the “Plans shown on the battery meter” and for the “Additional Plans”)
    • Click “Change Plan Settings”.
    • Click “Change advanced power settings”.
    • Expand “PCI Express” and under “Link State Power Management”, choose “Off” for both “On Battery” and “Plugged In”.
    • Expand “Wireless Adapter Settings” and under “Power Save Mode”, choose “Maximum Performance” for both “On Battery” and “Plugged In”.
  • After you finish setting these options for every single plan (yes for all of them), close the Power Options screen.
  • Open the “Device Manager” by opening the Control Panel and then searching for it. Then perform the following:
    • Expand “Network Adapters”.
    • Find the adapter whose name contains “Atheros AR9485WB”. Right click on the adapter name and select Properties.
    • A window will pop. Go to the “Power Management” tab.
    • Uncheck (untick) the option that says “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”.
    • Click OK. And close the window.

Voila! Your problems should be solved. You could also update all your Intel drivers to their latest versions using the Intel Driver Update Utility, just to make sure everything works fine. Click here to go there.

I paid over 1000USD to buy this computer, which is a very high price for a laptop in Turkey (let alone a ULV). This puts the Zenbook on the high-end class and these many steps should not be necessary for the end-user to have a decent user experience, on a high-end device like this. However, here we are..

Please share your results after you apply these steps and if you have any more steps to add, I would love to add them to this (pseudo)guide.. Also if you find a decent 2.4 & 5Ghz MIMO/Bluetooth 4.0 combo adapter suitable to replace the one in the UX31E, I’d love to hear ’bout that too..

  • Dain1

    Yeni,
    This is an excellent post. I also have a ux31E and have occasional difficulty connecting to wifi. I always connect, it just takes longer than I think that it should. I will try some of your ideas. Thank you for writing in English – which is excellent. I am a typical American and have difficulty with other languages. Thank you.

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Dain1 glad you liked it. Please come back and write here what works for you (if any of it works)

      (By the way, my nick is Kirpi, but I can see the source of confusion :) )

  • Alex

    kirpi,
    thanks a lot for your post, but… it didn’t help.
    Wifi vonnection became really weak after reinstalling windows and i still try to fix it.

    Neither power management configuration, nor updating drivers and bios helped me.

    ehh…

    Anyway, your post was the most informative :)

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Alex sorry to hear it didn’t help. Did you try installing wifi drivers from Windows update only? First remove and delete the old driver from device manager. Then reboot and try windows update thru ethernet cable.

      Also please try to disable power management for PCI, USB and Wireless to see if it helps. (3 separate settings)

      • Alex

        @qirpi:disqus
        I’ve tried to delete the driver, but windows update haven’t fount the appropriate driver and i had to download it from atheros.cz.

        I tried manipulating power configuration (also I has experiments with enabling/disabling different adapters from device manager – because there are too many different devices in network adapters category), but I can’t feel the changes.

        Thanks for your attempts :)

        • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

          @Alex you’re welcome. I wish I could be of more help. By the way, at this point in time, best course of action is to sell the UX31E model and buy a brand new UX31A model, which is an obvious improvement over the former one.

          • Alex

            @qirpi:disqus
            I am happy to tell you I have solved the issue – the problem was not with software, but in hardware – something bad in the assembly of my notebook! I got it fixed by warranty.

            Good luck :)

          • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

            Well good news. At least the warranty works nicely. I guess this is the last laptop I’m buying from Asus. One of Samsung Series 9 and Lenovo X1 Carbon would probably be the next.

  • ced

    Hi,

    Could you tell me the exact procedure to upgrade the bios? A lot of people bricked their laptop doing it incorrectly… I heard that it should be upgraded with the file being on a FAT(not event FAT32?) usb key and by using EasyFlash from within the BIOS itself.

    Thanks in advance.

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @ced I cannot write an exact procedure but let me tell you how I did it:

      - Fully charge the battery

      - Plug the wall charger and keep it plugged the entire time

      - Boot Windows

      - Go to support page.
      - Download latest BIOS update (currently it is 212 for UX31E)
      and unzip it
      - Download and Install Windows BIOS Flash Utility

      - Follow the instructions on the Windows BIOS Flash utility to flash the BIOS (don’t use the zip file. Use the unzipped file)

      If you aren’t experienced on this, please contact your local support or read a lot before installing it.

      • ced

        Thanks. I decided to send it back to Asus to get a new one instead. It’s not my computer so I can’t risk bricking it. I followed all the other instructions but instead of giving me a better reception, it became even worse… I think the card was really defective.

        • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

          You’re welcome. If Asus has replaced the unit, that’s fantastic. If I were you, I would get a refund on the unit and buy the newer UX31A model where all these problems seem to be fixed. I can’t return mine since it’s been too long but I’ll sell it and buy the new one as soon as possible.

      • Swe

        Kirpi! Thnx for gathering this data and helping people out! I’m going to chip in and say nothing of the above wrked for me unfortunately – but a very good solution to getting a fast and reliable wifi was to get the D-Link N Nano USB Adapter (N300). It doesnt poke out more than the charger plug and I got full 100Mbps d/l after it installed itself. Not the thing you’d expect having to do after buying a spanking new computer – but it got rid of the headache for me!

        • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

          @Swe thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I use both of the USB ports. So adding an external adapter is not a viable option for me. And even after paying a huge amount for this device and spending so much time on it, I can’t say that it is a spanking computer. But I sure can spank the people who didn’t test this device thoroughly before pushing it to the market :)

          I will sell this one and buy a Haswell based ultrabook as soon as they are available… And probably this will be my last Asus for a long long time..

  • kristian

    f….fantastic – you rock. I love Turkey and Zenbook (I’m actually Danish but spend all my summers in Side (close to manavgat) in my appartment with my zenbook :-)

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      You can check other sites too. There are may places in Turkey worth seeing :) Thanks for the sentiments..

  • Howie

    Hi, I just like to confirm. If I want to connect my ux31e to a 5Ghz wireless network, I have to get an external wireless adapter? Is there no way for the aetheros in ux31e to detect 5Ghz network?

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Howie no way without an external adapter. Sorry. Your best course of action would be to sell the UX31E and buy a UX31A. All of the wireless problems I mentioned above seems to be resolved with the new model. It uses a dual band Intel card (2×2 antenna). Also, to prevent signal drops stemming from the monolithic alluminum chassis, they have put two grills on the bottom of the chassis. Also UX31A’s Intel HD4000 graphics card performance is way higher than UX31E’s HD3000.

      I currently wish I had waited for the new model. (And I will buy it ASAP)

  • name

    kodumun gerizekalısı

  • Tron

    Thanks a lot for this detailed guide! I really hope this works (so far so good…) Only question: By changing that power plan is there a noticable change in battery live?

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Tron I didn’t test the difference. I can use the device with full power more than two hours. How much more? I don’t know for two reasons:
      - I close the lid and go away when I’m down. I don’t even hibernate the thing. And I mostly (i.e. 95+% of the time) use the high performance mode, since Firefox does not respond well to the battery saving mode.
      - I plug my Nexus S to the UX31E so that my cellphone’s battery does not drain while tethering. So, at all times, I try to keep the wallplug on.

  • C-note

    Thank you so much for this post. Thankfully, all I had to do was tell Win7 not to turn off the wifi devices to save power. btw, I have the UX31A.

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @C-note nice to learn that. I’ll try when I buy UX31A. (If I don’t opt for a Lenovo X1 Carbon :) )

  • Fabio (italy)

    Thanks for your post

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Fabio You’re welcome. Hope this helped.

  • Tiago

    hi there Kirpi… i bought a asus ux32a, also a zenbook and i was getting mad about wifi on my laptop( internet pages opening very slow,lag in online games, low speed at torrents, etc), so i decided to search for zenbook wifi problems in google, and here i am :) i deleted the partitions and installed myself the windows 7 with the latest drivers and programs on asus support website. i did a full instalation and i was getting problems… so i desinstall the asus hybrid, asus wireless console, instanton, and im with the latest wifi intel drivers (Intel WiFi Wireless LAN Driver 2012/07/20 ). i dont know to say if the problem is solved, but i did this 5 min ago and the wireless is a lot better, i will see if what i did turn wifi normal or if there´s still any problem.

    thanks for your help :)

    cheers from Portugal

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Tiago probably what works for most people is the BIOS upgrade part and the Power Options. Even if you install Windows from scratch, probably the power schemes come with the option to turn wifi off when necessary. If you can put your finger on what did actually work, please share it here so that others have a better experience.

      By the way, I think it sucks that we are doing what Asus testing team has to have done and at these premium prices. I guess my next choice would be Samsung’s new series 9..

  • http://www.solidstategroup.com/ Matthew Evans

    Thank you thank you thank you. Very valuable info.

  • Casper

    Well it is a great post -thanks.
    Unfortunately not good enough in my case.
    Brand new out of the box, without any software additions/changes/deleteions, I had these problems on a UX31E.
    In addition to your steps, I have set my Wireless Access point to Channel 1 (upon advice of Asus, have changed WLAN security from WPA+WPA2 to WPA2 only.
    I have also completely disabled Windows Firewall.
    Now things seem to work stable…

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Casper thanks for the additional information. However, if you disable Windows Firewall, you should have at least a third party firewall protecting your system. Without proper protection, your system may get compromised when connected to insecure networks (i.e. pretty much all of them)

  • Ali

    thank you and also thank god for inspire you to write in English ;)

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Ali you are welcome. Hope it helped :)

  • http://www.dirkmurschall.de/ Dirk

    Thanks a lot for your great support!

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Dirk you are welcome. Nice to hear I could help.

  • Peter Farrell

    Thanks so much for writing this guide. This is a ridiculous oversight.

    • http://www.kirpininyeri.com kirpi

      @Peter you’re welcome.

  • fandor

    Thank you very much for your guide, it solved all my wifi problems on Asus Zenbook.

  • Davide

    I think is a kind of software problem, running a Linux Ubuntu live distribution I can connect and it never goes down (tested for more than 24h with a script to check the connectivity). It’s a sneaky software problem with the Window’s driver…I’m pretty sure!! But I don’t have any idea about how to solve it!!!