Back in 2011 I picked up a refurbished Asus UL80J notebook as a secondary machine. I christened it ‘Intrepid,’ and overall it’s been a perfectly fine. It did have one annoying flaw . . . its Atheros wireless card was pretty flaky. It would periodically drop connections and would not restore them until I either reset the wireless card or put the machine to sleep and woke it back up. Apparently this is a common problem with this particular Atheros card, and might be caused by a driver conflict.
I tried a number of recommended solutions, but none seemed to work. Updating to the newest Atheros drivers just made things worse, causing the whole computer to freeze up when the connections dropped.
Well it turns out that most newer notebooks have modular wifi cards that can be removed and replaced, so I bought an Intel PCIe half-height wireless card for less than ten dollars and swapped it in. So far, no dropped connections. While I was at it I also replaced the hard drive with a new 128 gigabyte OCZ solid-state drive and did a brand new, clean install of Windows. So for about one hundred dollars total, I have a faster, more reliable, and cooler-running notebook. And, for the first time, I have some notebook surgery under my belt. Some photos of the operation are below.