How to fix an Asus Transformer T102 that won’t stay on?

Just occasionally I run in to a tech problem that’s so weird it’s beyond annoying or frustrating. Today I switched on my trusty Asus Transformer T102 Mini laptop thing only to find it wouldn’t power up. In this article I’ll explain how I fixed the problem.

What you see on the picture above is my laptop… charging an external battery pack, running with the processor at 100% and the screen on full brightness in an attempt to drain the battery. Oh, and I’ve had to tape an eraser to the power button so that it doesn’t turn itself off. Normally this is a great little laptop but clearly something has gone horribly wrong here!

How I fixed my Asus Transformer T102

I’ll cut to the chase since if you’ve got as far as finding this article you’ve probably tried most other obvious things, like charging the battery (DON’T charge the battery!). Please have a read of the symptoms and how I stumbled across this solution. You’ll find all that under these 12 points since it’s obviously hilarious and at no point did I feel the need to CHUCK MY LAPTOP THROUGH THE WINDOW. Anyhoo, here’s what I did to fix it:

  1. I powered up the laptop with NO POWER plugged in (running off battery) and used a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser to hold the power button down, held down with Scotch Magic Tape. I had to wait about 30 seconds before it started to power up.

    Eraser on Power Button
    Yes folks, that a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser taped to the power button of my laptop.
  2. The laptop powered up fine so I logged in to Windows using the fingerprint scanner.
  3. I needed to FULLY deplete the battery so I used Prime95 to hammer the processor (see notes below).
  4. I turned the laptop screen on FULL brightness – you can’t do this with the keyboard so I did it through the power settings (Start -> Cog icon -> System -> Power & Sleep -> Additional Power Settings -> Change Plan Settings). Make sure everything in there is set to drain as much battery as possible – no switching the screen off or anything!
  5. For good measure I took an external battery pack (the sort you use to charge up mobile phones) and charged this up from the laptop’s USB port. Obviously make sure you do this the right way ’round – you don’t want to accidentally charge your laptop from the power in your battery pack! I’ll not tell you how to do this, it’s pretty obvious, but on mine the ‘big’ USB cable goes in to the laptop.
  6. Then I just left it…
  7. It probably took a good couple of hours to drain the battery fully but I left it overnight. It was dead as a doornail when I came back to it.
  8. Just to verify it was definitely dead I tried powering it up (still no power plugged in to the laptop) and it did nothing. No lights, dead. Good. Resist the temptation of putting it in the bin at this point.
  9. I then plugged my normal (USB) power cable in to the laptop and LEFT IT FOR ABOUT 20 MINS. This is key as the battery needs at least some charge before it will do anything.
  10. I then powered it on through the normal 2-3 second push of the power button and… IT WORKED! I let Windows fully boot up then gracefully shut it down and left it on charge for a couple of hours before using it.
  11. If this worked for you and you want to say ‘thank you Andy for writing this awesome article’ then shucks, don’t worry about it! But feel free to buy something from Amazon UK or Amazon US using those links and they might chuck a couple of pennies my way. There’s also the Patreon thing but that’s probably overkill unless you’re really in to my YouTube channel. Honestly, don’t worry about it – just glad you got sorted!
  12. If it doesn’t work, I’m REALLY REALLY sorry. I know how frustrating this is, trust me. There’s a few other articles and YouTube videos out there of how to resolve similar problems with the Asus Transformer Mini – I honestly couldn’t tell you if they’re any good or not. All I can say is I don’t recommend doing anything that invalidates your warranty as a call to Asus may be your only hope!

Symptoms

You should really have read this first, but here are the symptoms I had on my laptop:

  • Laptop doesn’t switch on in the normal way, you hold your finger on the power button for a couple of seconds and the white power light briefly illuminates followed by random flashes of the orange light. It then does nothing.
  • If you hold your finger on the power button after around 30 seconds the Asus Transformer T102 turns on! …but if you take your finger off the power button it immediately turns off (Windows doesn’t like this by the way so don’t do it too many times!).
  • If you allow it to boot all the way in to Windows and remembered to hold the power button down with a finger you DON’T need for the fingerprint scanner, everything looks normal… except:
    • The keyboard doesn’t work
    • Bluetooth doesn’t seem to work
    • There’s no battery indicator in the system tray
  • It’s almost as if it thinks it’s running from mains power… when it’s not.
  • No combination of “holding down the power button while pressing the volume down button” and other such nonsense does anything to help.
  • Try to shut the laptop down properly from Start -> Shut Down to avoid inevitable future problems with Windows 10.

If your symptoms are in any way different from the above you may be having a different problem so the stuff suggested in this article may not work.

The full story

I love my little Asus Transformer Mini. It has a cool touch screen thing with a pen, it was only 400 quid, it does everything I need it to do for mobile working and the battery life is awesome! Ironically the good battery life was part of my problems here.

Things have been busy and I’ve been mostly using the ‘big computer’ over the last couple of weeks so my laptop hasn’t seen much action. When I’m not using it I normally just close the lid and let it calmly put itself to sleep. I assumed this would be fine since that’s what it does and there’s no ‘hibernate’ option in Windows 10 any more, for some reason. Unfortunately it transpires if you leave it asleep for 2 weeks it gets a bit forgetful when you wake it up. Here’s what my laptop forgot:

  • It forgot it had a keyboard
  • It forgot it had bluetooth
  • It forgot it had a battery
  • It forgot how to stay switched on

So I tried powering up the laptop using the usual “holding your finger on the power button for a random amount of time” method… but it did nothing. The lights flashed a bit but other than that, nothing. I assumed the battery was dead so I plugged the USB charger in (first mistake). It still wouldn’t power up. Hmm… so I left it charging for a while (second mistake). Tried again, still wouldn’t switch on.

My finger’s getting sore

Eventually I worked out if I HOLD my finger on the power button for 30 seconds or so it switches on – yay! Problem solved. Only, when you take your finger off the power button it IMMEDIATELY switches off. So I try again and hold my finger on the power button until Windows boots up – no joke, you couldn’t make it up – it goes straight in to a Windows freekin’ Update! You know that message we’ve become accustomed to on Windows 10? The “Windows is updating. This may take a while. If you power down now your system is toast” message. So I’m sitting there with my finger firmly on the power button unable to move, with the progress counter on “10%…”. Sack that. I’ve seen this thing take overnight to complete an update and I’m tired. I reluctantly remove my finger from the power button and watch it instantly die… mid-update. Windows really doesn’t like this and for a while it was stuck in landscape and portrait mode at the same time, we’ll brush over that…

Asus - Incredible
Yup, Asus – In Search of Incredible… while being in portrait mode and landscape mode simultaneously.

After a bit research and a considerable amount of trial and error I worked out that what I needed to do was FULLY DRAIN THE BATTERY. As a result of being asleep for so long it’s in some weird buggy state where it thinks it’s running from mains power, when it’s not… but there’s more to it than that (see Symptoms). To drain the battery I followed the steps mentioned earlier, all while holding the power button down with a plastic eraser so that it wouldn’t turn itself off… and here we are.

What is Prime95 and using it to drain the battery?

Prime95 is a computer program used to find big prime numbers. It’s often used to stress-test computers since it really hammers the CPU. If you want to thank the team at Prime95 for helping to resolve your IT issues there’s a ‘donate’ button on their web site.

Anyway, here’s how I used Prime95:

  1. As I didn’t have a functioning keyboard I had to use other means to search for Prime95. One option is the Windows on-screen keyboard. Instead of this I just searched for Prime95 from a different computer in Google Chrome. I could then access it via the search history on my broken Transformer Mini.
  2. I downloaded the 64-bit Windows version from here.
  3. This downloads as a .zip file so I created a folder on the desktop and extracted the contents to there (you can do all of this without the need for a keyboard).
  4. I double clicked on the ‘Prime95.exe’ file to run the program. If you have file extensions hidden it’s the only file called prime95 and has a pretty little green and blue logo.
  5. I clicked the ‘Just Stress Testing’ button.
  6. I selected the second option in the Run a Torture Test screen, the one that says “In-place large FFTs (maximum power consumption, some RAM tested) and clicked OK.
  7. That’s it! If you want to double check it’s working you can right click on the task bar at the bottom of the screen, select ‘Task Manager’ and check the CPU is at 100%.

Giving Asus the benefit of the doubt

If this turns out to be a Windows 10 problem rather than an Asus thing that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. Windows 10 is by far the WORST version of Windows I’ve ever used… and I’m old enough to remember Windows ME. If you’re considering upgrading from Windows 7 (you’re a bit late!) just DON’T DO IT! If there’s ever an o/s that going to tip me over the edge to Mac it will be Windows 10. I’ll save why for a different rant on a different day. 🙂