This week I will show you how to void your warranty and walk you through the steps to open the Toshiba Satellite C55D-B5214 and map out the available, easy access upgrades: HDD and RAM.
RAM Update: 2015/01/04
I have confirmed that this model can have RAM upgraded to at least 8GB. Please see the RAM section below for additional details!
2014/05/31 – Mark Harmon has stated in the comments below that he has upgraded successfully to 12GB of RAM.
2015/06/20 – SuzyD has confirmed in the comments below of a successful upgrade to a full 16GB of RAM. I was unable to track down the specs for the CPU that lists the max, but this is the most you can purchase as it only comes in a max of 8GB per 204pin stick.
Wireless Update: 2015/01/31
I have found the wireless module and confirmed that you can upgrade it. Please see the Wireless Module section below for additional details!
Before I purchased this laptop I did some research to see what kind of upgrades would be easy. I assumed that like all laptops I have been in contact with before that RAM and HDD were a given. However, while looking this machine over on Best Buy’s website, one line struck me as odd. The RAM listed itself as not being expandable and that 4GB was the max. This concerned me as there is an increasing number of laptops, especially low cost or ultra thin devices, that soldier the RAM to the motherboard. This is usually ok, as long as you never have to upgrade and the RAM doesn’t die on you within the devices working lifetime. As with it being soldiered to the motherboard, the only solution to bad RAM or upgrades is to buy a new machine.
With that said one of the reviewers stated that they had upgraded their RAM to 8GB using an empty expansion slot which increased the APU’s video RAM to a full 1GB instead of the 512MB that is used with its default 4GB. Seeing this, I figured that it was then possible to upgrade the device and ended up purchasing it under the assumption that I could upgrade both the RAM and HDD without too much trouble.
Solid Bottom Case Design
Another item I noticed while researching this laptop is that the bottom of it is solid. No covers or slots for easy access to any internals. Even the battery appeared to be melded into the case. It turns out however, that this case design is easy to open up and I can’t imagine the process be any simpler. So don’t be fooled by it’s solid design.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT IF YOU ARE NOT EXPERIENCED WORKING WITH COMPUTER COMPONENTS. THIS PROCESS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND YOU MAY DAMAGE YOUR SYSTEM. IF YOU PROCEED IT IS ADVISED THAT YOU USE PROPER STATIC PROTECTION TO MINIMIZE RISK OF DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER OR ITS PARTS.
Want to see how to disassemble this in video format? Check out this video, else read on below!
To open the C55D-B5214(and its brethren) you will need to remove a dozen or so screws and pop the rear case off. To start, first ensure the laptop is powered off. Then remove the battery screws listed in the diagram below. Once removed, the battery will slide out the back by pulling it away from the rest of the machine. This is much simpler than anticipated and makes this an easy to replace item in the future. (One major concern is taken care of!)
Now that the battery is removed we can continue disassembly. It is now you will want to put on any static protection gear such as an anti-static wrist strap.
The DVD drive is the next component to remove. Unscrew the single screw holding it in place and slide the drive out of the casing.
After removing the DVD drive, you can now remove the remaining screws listed in the first diagram. Do not worry about getting them mixed up, they should be all the same size(mine were).
After removing all remaining screws, you are ready to remove the bottom panel. Use the DVD drive opening as a starting point and slowly pop apart the bottom from the rest of the laptop. At this point they are only snapped together so it should be straight forward to separate them. This is best completed with the laptop resting upside down on a flat surface. Some of the connections may refuse to come apart easily so grab a tiny flat head screwdriver(such as an eyeglasses screwdriver) and gently pry the connections apart. Once done, the entire panel will lift off and leave you with easy access to it’s components.
What Is All This Stuff?
Here are the items of most concern: HDD, RAM and DVD Location (for placement reference).
Other items that are not labeled include:
- CPU Fan
- SD Card Reader (Half Size)
- Motherboard with connections to daughter boards. One for power, Ethernet and USB 3.0 and another to the touchpad and card reader.
- CMOS Battery – Not labeled as it doesn’t exist. Looks as if the motherboard could have a mount added in the grey circle area under the fan and above the HDD. This unit uses the regular main battery for this purpose. This is the reason removing the battery always results in a clock reset however settings such as CMS/EFI boot remain. Not the way I would expect it to work.
The HDD that came with the laptop is a basic 1TB 5400RPM drive. This is a decent size for a drive, however from my experience the 5400 RPM speed was causing much of the sluggishness I noticed when using it. As noted in my post on Windows 10 Technical Preview, I upgraded the HDD to an SSD. Below is the process for removing and replacing the drive.
Start by removing the blue tabs at the end of the HDD and then slide the drive out of its slot by pulling the silver tape tab that is connected to the drive.
Once out, the rubber casing can be removed and a new HDD can be slid in to replace it. After replacing the HDD, simply slide the rubber case back into place and set the tabs into their slots.
Below is a picture of the drive replaced with an old Samsung 830 128GB SSD. I have folded the tabs to make the drive fit better and the SSD is not as thick as the mechanical hard drive.
As shown in the diagrams above and mentioned earlier, this device has an empty RAM slot just waiting for you to fill it. With what RAM you ask? The A8-6430 in this device can handle up to 1866 MHz ram (per the AMD Product Description) however I am not sure what the motherboard is rated to handle. [Update 2015/09/17: Motherboard 1866MHz compatibility confirmed by Alison B in the comments below!]
The stock RAM that is installed is SK hynix brand. According to their Product Document Page and their Part Decoder Page this module is 4GB of 1600 MHz 11-11-11 1.35v RAM. Although usually it is best to buy sticks of RAM at the same time and all from the same brand, to save costs, you can use this information to purchase aftermarket items.
Note: I am not sure what the max RAM is for this laptop. However, given that it’s an entry level 2 GHz quad core CPU, I wouldn’t think that you need more than 8GB unless you have a very particular work load that requires it.
Update: 2015/05/31 – Mark Harmon has confirmed in the comments below that 12GB of RAM is supported.
Update 2015/06/20 – SuzyD, from the comments below, confirmed that you can install the max of 16GB without any issues.
I have successfully upgraded this machine to 8GB of RAM. To do so I purchased RAM with the exact same specifications as listed for the pre-installed stick. If you are looking to upgrade this yourself and want to use something verified to work, I purchased the RAM shown below.
This is a 4GB stick of 204 pin 1600Mhz 11-11-11 1.35v crucial Notebook RAM.
To leave our blog and visit this product’s page on Amazon.com, click here: Crucial 4GB Notebook Memory
Installing the RAM
Installing the RAM is the same as all other laptops that I have seen and worked on. For those who haven’t installed laptop RAM before but worked with Desktops you may be confused at first. Basically you insert the RAM slightly angled into place and then push it down into the module holders. Below is how the stick rests when not clipped into place.
After installation no other changes to the computer are needed. The new 4GB of RAM is automatically detected. Windows shows that 6.94GB of the 8GB installed is usable and that 1GB is reserved for the integrated R5 GPU. This effectively doubles the VRAM for the GPU which should allow you to increase your graphics settings in any games you play. I haven’t tested this to see what the new scores are so perhaps that should be another post? Let me know in the comments or through our contact page!
-End of 2015/01/04 update-
-Start of 2015/01/31 update-
The default wireless in this machine is 2.4Ghz wireless N300. Not bad for this machine considering its price range, but what if you want to upgrade your home network or connect to any available access point? Well, the good news is that this is also upgradable. The wireless module requires some additional disassembly to get to but it’s nothing difficult. To get to it you will need to get underneath the cable held down with silver tape shown in the image below.
To do this, first remove the yellow tape holding it in place, then remove the silver tape from the chassis and slide the cable out of it’s resting slot. Once complete you should be able to gently fold the cable up but be careful not to bend or crease it.
After getting the cable out of the way you will see a tiny wireless module in an M.2 format expansion slot. I determined this after some internet research as the M.2 format is referenced as the standard expansion slot used in modern laptops and small form factor devices. I also matched the size and pin layouts of the cards used in these slots to help be more confident in it’s type. However, I never found any print documents that explicitly identified this slot type. I can confirm that the M.2 format wifi card I purchased does fit and works without issues, so I would think most cards of this type should work.
From here you just want to unscrew the single screw holding the stock wifi module in place and slide it out and replace with whatever card you wish and reassemble in reverse order of disassembly. The wireless card I chose is an Intel 7260 dual band wireless card as it runs both 2.4 and 5Ghz bands as well as A/B/G/N/and AC wireless up to 867Mbps (108 Megabytes per second). It even includes a Bluetooth 4.0 module which is a great bonus (although I cannot get it to work). This covers all current standards and wasn’t too expensive (paid about 40$ at time of writing on Amazon). Not bad considering Wireless AC only USB sticks sell for similar prices. Below is an image of the new wireless card installed.
I have done some initial testing and the card does work out of the box with Windows 8 however as of writing Windows 8.1 shows Bluetooth as disabled and greyed out. Unsure of why as I installed Intel’s drivers, however I will update this section if I can get it working. Update: I am unable to get Bluetooth working with my machine. I am unsure if I have bad hardware or if perhaps there is some other hardware limitation. I am also experiencing issues getting over 20 Megabytes per second transfer as well. So if you get this specific module, it may be something to consider, although I have a feeling this is a configuration issue on my part as usually the hard part is finding hardware that is recognized. I may have some driver conflicts as well that I haven’t had a chance to look at yet either. I should have updates to this before the end of February( 2015) if you would like to know for sure.
-End of 2015/01/31 update-
After receiving a number of comments asking about resetting the CMOS/BIOS password I disassembled my machine to take a closer look. The jumpers are present but very hard to find(tiny). Below is a diagram showing where they reside. They are just below the second RAM slot above the CPU when you remove the main back panel. If you can’t read it or see it, click the image to view it on it’s own.
The JCMOS section should work to reset the CMOS functionality while JPW should be related to the password(PW) set to the BIOS.(Per superuser.com)
Unfortunately while testing this out I managed to damage my machine presumably out of repair. So I will stress again, please proceed to use this information AT YOUR OWN RISK as it is possible your machine could suffer the same fate. Not so much because of using the jumpers but I believe I was poorly insulated against static shock. My machine only boots without any video(even when forced as I mention in the comments below). So unfortunately I can’t verify this will work. For some hints I found this link that may help from superuser.com(same link as in the previous paragraph): http://superuser.com/questions/983997/where-is-the-jumper-to-reset-bios-on-toshiba-satellite-p855
The section that is most helpful from the link above is the second portion offering additional troubleshooting if it doesn’t work. I hope this can help solve all your BIOS lockout issues.
-End of 2016/06/18 update –
This turned out to be the easiest laptop to take apart and upgrade that I have seen which makes me even happier with my laptop purchase.
Although I had also hoped to find the wireless module to upgrade as well(currently stuck with 2.4 Ghz Wireless N300) I feel that it may be tucked away under the keyboard. That investigation will need to happen at a later date. Possibly when I add the extra 4 GB of RAM into the extra slot. If and when that happens I will be sure to update this post. These upgrades were completed. Sorry for such a messy article, but there were a lot of updates from the original findings. 🙂
What do you think about this article? Was it helpful or interesting? Would you like to see more of this type of article? Am I crazy for voiding my warranty within the first two months of owning it? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more info on this machine? Check out my other posts!