Hardware HD decoder in a netbook

[banzai] wasn’t happy with the performance he was getting out of his Samsung netbook. He decided it was time to do something about it. He noticed that Dell and HP both sell an optional HD decoder card for their netbooks. After a short search, he found one on ebay for only $24. He had to give up his internal wireless, but he doesn’t mind using a USB wireless dongle. Sure this isn’t horribly complicated, but he has information here that might help smooth out the process.

[via OlivierDole]


  1. The Moogle says:

    why not populate the second slot and have both?

  2. otomoton says:

    If you RTFA you’d see that his netbook doesn’t have the second slot available.

  3. Oler says:

    Why bother to post if you dont bother to read the whole article?
    Would this save battery life (for other things than just hd playback?)
    This makes me want to solder that second mini pcie slot on my acer aspire one.
    Anyone tried on win7 yet?

  4. eric says:

    The second slot is there, but lacks connectors. A little solder and a voided warranty may prove that both slots are functional. That would be a real hack!

  5. xrazorwirex says:

    I’m still researching how to get – if possible – a second mini-pcie slot on my aspire one for this exact reason… I’m considering stacking a second molex connector and using a switch somehow to go between wireless and HD playback, since I don’t often use both at once… but really don’t want to use a usb dongle…

    I’ll do a writeup on that if I ever figure it out, obviously.

  6. MS3FGX says:

    Maybe a netbook wasn’t the best platform to purchase if his goal was playback of HD content, especially if he has to lose WiFi to do it.

    Don’t really get what he was trying to do here, why would anyone use a netbook to playback 1080p content? The screen isn’t up to standards, and if you are going to hook it up to an external monitor/TV, you might as well just build a HTPC (around something with more power than a netbook).

    If he had soldered in the headers for the second mini-PCI slot then at least he would have had his 1080p playback (for whatever reason) without crippling the rest of the machine’s functionality.

  7. Oler says:


    She added the second mini pcie conector for 3G on an Acer Aspire One 150.
    She did a (slow)ssd to hdd, memory and eSata upgrade as well.
    So it is defenatly possible.

  8. Oler says:

    You can even use the wifi switch in the opposite direction to turn off the second mini pcie card.
    All you have to do is file the left side off the cover.

  9. anon says:

    Hate to be the one to say this, but installing a card into your laptop, and using it for its intended purpose is not a hack.

    Check it out guys, I just totally hacked my computer by installing a video card! Now it plays games faster, what an awesome hack, right?

  10. fenwick says:

    LOL, Transformers 2.

    I could install my OS to a good USB flash drive with a high number of write cycles, swap out my SSD and put one of these in my eeepc900. Could be nice for streaming HQ video.

  11. t0ny says:

    This looks very interesting. It looks like there is r soon will be support for this card on the Apple TV.

    On my old MythtTV box I was getting about 20 fps with 1080i video from my HD Cable box. I could buy one of these little cards and a mini-pci to full pci card and put it in my Mythtv box! Well if I ever get HD cable again.

  12. popcorn says:

    the real hack in that article is soldering together a second spare mini PCI express slot to work!


  13. M4CGYV3R says:

    I think if you need a separate card just to process HD video you should:

    1. Buy a real laptop without the silly half-assed netbook specs.

    2. Buy a TV and Blu-Ray player and watch something in HD for real.

    There’s always YouTube-quality HD for the netbookers.

  14. blizzarddemon says:

    Already got this, and yes it works like a charm. : )

  15. Mike says:

    I’ve done the exact same thing with my netbook.

    But I soldered the empty mini pci-e connector in, and used a mini pci-e wifi card that uses the usb interface on the connector. This way I don’t have to use a dongle.

    The link to the card is on my name.

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    I don’t understand why you’d want this but it’s an interesting hack and appears to work well.

    Personally I got away from TV hardware mixing with my PCs when pages stopped taking forever to load!

  17. Mike says:

    The atom processor in these netbooks are pretty low-powered. Trying to play an HDTV clip, even 720p chokes most of them. Hulu or YoutubeHD does the same thing. Adobe Flash will support these hardware decoders next year, so this mod will give you smooth Hulu, which is what I was aiming for.

    Also, since some netbooks have HDMI, this will allow you to output 1080p content smoothly as well.

  18. Eyuras says:

    I think this would make a very good addtion to something like my own HTPC (which is based of the MSI Wind nettop) super low power requirements and HD playback..

  19. bacon says:

    I have an Acer Aspire and with some appropriate tweaking of the video settings and mplayer I can play 720p content with almost no chugging. 1080, not so much…

  20. PSN Coder says:

    Nice you could easily do this to netbooks.

  21. billyjohn says:

    You should really moderate the comments here, not everyone talk about this subject

  22. naszbiznes says:

    Whats on: I do not know whether this is so. Overall, very interesting written

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