Portables have earned their popularity over
the years. At one time, not many people had portables, then
some had portables and desktop PC’s, and now these days
there are lots of people who only own portable computers.
CompTIA wants you to know about some of the components of
the portable computer.
The types of RAM used by portable computers
are called SO-DIMs. SO-DIM’s are available in two sizes:
72-pin or 144-pin. The 72-pin SO DIMMs are 32-bits wide, and
the 144-pin SO DIMMs are 64-bits wide.
In order to replace RAM on a portable, follow
the manufacturer’s instructions as per opening the case,
and then insert the RAM modules into the slots firmly.
Portable computers used to have 3.25”
hard drives, but these days the popular size is 2.5”
for a hard drive. Hard drives in portable computers have the
same features and configurations as ATA drives.
In order to replace a hard drive inside a
portable, follow the manufacturer’s instructions as
per opening the case, and then attached the ribbon and power
CPU’s in portables are of course specially
made by the manufacturer. Of course, you can upgrade and replace
the CPU on your portable, just like you can on a PC.
In order to replace the CPU on a portable,
follow the manufacturer’s instructions as per opening
the case, and then hold the CPU over the socket and gently
set it down into place, then press firmly.
Replacing Other Components
In order to replace other components such
as floppy drives, CD-ROM drives and CD-RW drives, please follow
the instructions from your manufacturer. Although CompTIA
includes these in their objectives, you will never be tested
on it, as different manufacturers have different methods for
replacing components on a portable, including hard drives,
CPU’s and RAM. I was reluctant to put any info as to
replacing these units on a portable in here because there
is so much room for error with so many different manufacturers
that make laptops that open up different ways – and
as I said CompTIA will not test you on replacing units on
a portable either because they know it’s too proprietary.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit
about the basic components of a portable computer, let’s
look at PC Cards. PC cards are credit-card sized cards that
are hot-swappable. Almost any component or device can be in
the form of a PC card including hard drives, modems, network
cards, and the list goes on.
PC cards were created by the PCMCIA (Personal
Computer Memory Card International Association). The PCMCIA
has set standards for PC cards, and while these standards
are not set in stone, most manufacturers follow them:
Type I cards are 3.3mm thick and are generally
Type II cards are 5 mm thick and are generally for modems
Type III cards are 10.5mm thick and are generally for hard
Please note that all PC cards have 68-pins
and run at 5.5V.
Two levels of software drives are required
to support PC Cards: Socket Services and Card Services. Socket
Services drivers detect the component. Card Services drivers
recognize the function of the card, and provide specialized
drivers to allow the card to perform that function.
There is a new type of PC card on the market
– Card Bus cards. Card bus slots use synchronous burst
transfer just like PCI slots. Card Bus cards can provide up
to 8 functions; whereas, PCMCIA cards can only provide two
All Card bus cards run at 3.3V. and have
PC cards can plug into Card Bus slots for
backwards compatibility, but Card Bus cards won’t fit
into PC card slots.
All components of a portable obviously require
power. Therefore CompTIA feels that it is necessary for you
to know about Power Management for the A+ exams.
System Management Mode
System Management Mode allows the CPU to
slow down its cycle, and in some cases top its cycle without
having to register information.
Intel introduced APM (Advanced Power Management)
in 1992 and APCI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface)
Both APM and ACPI require four features in
order for them to function:
1. A System Management Mode CPU (almost all
CPU’s made today are)
2. An APM Compliant BIOS
3. All devices will accept being shut off (most energy star
compliant devices will)
4. The operating system has to know how to shut the devices
There are 5 Power levels defined by APM/ACPI.
Those power levels are: Full On, APM Enabled, APM Standby,
APM Suspend, and Off.
For Full On, there is no power management
and all components run at full power. APM Enabled causes the
CPU and RAM to run at full power, power management to be enabled,
and unused devices to be possibly shut off (they may or may
not be shut down). APM Suspend causes everything in the PC
to be shut down or at its lowest power consumption setting.
APM Standby causes the CPU and all peripherals to be shut
down. The Off setting causes your computer and all of its
devices to be powered down.
You can configure APM/ACPI in the CMOS or
through Windows. If you configure it in Windows, it will override
any CMOS settings.
One of the disadvantages of portables is
their dependency on batteries. In order to be a good technician,
and for the A+ exams, it is essential that you know about
Nickel Cadium (Ni-Cd)
Nickel Cadium batteries were the first batteries
for portable computers. They must have a steady voltage and
tend to lose their capability to recharge if recharged repeatedly
without being totally discharged.
Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries have been
around for a while, and are still quite common. These batteries
can tolerate overcharging, and last longer between chargings.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Lithium Ion batteries are the most commonly
used batteries for portables today. They are extremely powerful,
and have a long lasting charge. Be careful with Lithium Ion
batteries though – they’ll explode if they are
There are batteries out there called Smart
Batteries that tell the computer when they need to be charged
Fuel Cell Batteries
Fuel Cell batteries are the newest kind of
portable batteries, and they provide clean-burning energy.
Fuel cells produce energy by removing electrons from hydrogen
fuel and transporting them to oxygen, via electrodes and an
Docking Stations give portables access to
the same things that normal PC’s use: full sized monitors,
mice, network connections and many others. Docking stations
make it very convenient for a company to have portable computers
only for their workers.
A talk about portables would not be complete
if hardware profiles were not mentioned. A hardware profile
is a list of devices that Windows automatically enables or
disables in the Device Manager. You can create a hardware
profile for any system – but hardware profiles were
originally created for portables.