Problem replacing a DVD writer in an Acer Aspire laptop


I have an old Acer Aspire 1700-series laptop (latest BIOS) running XP SP2.

Its builtin Matshitta DVD Writer got to the point it couldn't read/write or know the CD was changed.

Today I took it to the store and replaced it with a brand-new NEC AD-7543.
The store couldn't finalize setting it up 'cause the battery run out, so I brought it home to work on it.

First off, the BIOS does not see the Atapi device.

Second, WinXP sees the drive but cannot find a driver for it (no special drivers are needed).

ASPI drivers are set up properly so this is not it. Also, no extra drivers are in the CDROM device chain.

The problem should have to do with the undetected ATAPI device in BIOS and the question is why?

A strange thing with this Acer is that the CD is plugged into the primary IDE channel and the hard disk into the secondary. This is because of some design considerations according to the Acer manual.

I don't see how this could affect the replacement drive. There are no switches on them that can be set.

Any idea what's going on and how to get around it?

Thanks in advance.
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  1. Kind of confused. This is a laptop? I don't know much, but they have two IDE channels? You can switch them? I thought there was a section for the hard drive and a section for the optical drive.

  2. It is a laptop with two IDE channels.

    The primary channel has the DVD-ROM and the secondary has the hard disk.

    I cannot switch channels for these two devices.

    First, I wouldn't know how to go about it (I'm clueless with laptops).

    Second, the manual says that the devices were put on these channels (in this reverse way) for some unspecified design reasons.
  3. Oh, I get it now. Thanks for clearing it up.

    OK. Windows doesn't see the drive, does it? Does it get power? Can you eject it? When you put a drive in, what happens? Does it whir? What about the light on the drive? Blinking, anything?

    How do you know what channel it is on if the BIOS doesn't see the device?

    Optical drivers require no drivers. Tried updating firmware?


  4. The drive gets power and lights up when I insert a CD.

    Windows sees the drive but it claims it has no driver for it. The drive shows under "Unknown Devices".

    The laptop has two channels and the manual says that the primary is used for the CD-ROM because of design considerations. The new DVD writer was a direct replacement of the original one and unless they flipped them around at the store, I assume it is still using the primary channel.
    Whatever the case, I get the hard disk shown in the disk category and I get a blank in the ATAPI one.

    I use the latest available firmware and I even reflashed it.
  5. Yeah, computers are weird like that, liking something in place instead of another.

    Can you "browse" a CD or anything?

    Unknown devices? What does it say, just "Unknown Device"? Any hints to what it might be? A type of device listed? Try double clicking it.

    Don't see why a brand-new drive won't work correctly.

    Tried updating chipset drivers?

  6. I can't browse a CD since the CD drive doesn't show up.

    "Unknown devices" is the category XP creates and puts under it all the hardware it has no drivers for.
    I can't force a driver on it since the device is not detected by the BIOS.
    By the same token, new chipset drivers will affect XP and not the BIOS.

    I have the latest drivers I could find but there must be some more recent ones according to an online driver check, except they want a subscription to make them available (it will cost me less to search for them elsewhere).
  7. Well, I can't see how it can see it in Unknown devices, inside Windows, but not inside the BIOS, very basic. Not saying your wrong, but how do you know that the unknown device is your optical drive? What does it say next to the question mark thing? NEC AD-7543?

    Here: Go into device manager. Right click the device. And click update driver.

    Don't believe those "online driver checks". I don't trust them. Just get the ones released by a manufacturer or a highly-used BETA. Not trying to be mean, but to me they sound very fishy. Where oh where did they get a better driver? Idk...

    :? Is Device Manager the ONLY place you can see the drive? And that is under Unknown Devices?

  8. I have the laptop packed to take it to the store and make sure they didn't flip around the hard disk and DVD Writer on the IDE channels.

    The device under "Unknown" had the name of the DVD Writer. It was something like eDVD AD-7543. I haven't added anything else so this has to be the one.

    I'll post any updates later today.
  9. No luck at the store. I am where I started.

    Before I went there, I found out the possible reason for the problem and told them.

    The problem is that on this Acer laptop at least, the DVD drive is connected to the primary IDE connector and the hard disk to the second.

    In addition, most probably the Acer shorts something to cause the DVD drive to be a secondary master.
    If it didn't, there shouldn't have been a problem since the new NEC is set as primary master from the factory (as per NEC).

    NEC had a document with a software solution (either that or find a drive that works on flipped around channels).
    Two small utilities that set the drive either to normal ATA or to reverse ATA.

    The utilities can be run in the laptop if the drive is visible (mine is not), or they can be run in a desktop connected to the drive with an IDE to JAE KX15-50ELD1L adapter.

    That's where I got stuck.

    The local NEC support didn't have the adapter, the store didn't have it either and searching the web got me only a few hits but no stores that sell it.

    No idea what to try next.

    As for the previous posts, it was not "unknown devices" but rather "other devices".
    The drive shows as "c DVD RW AD-7543".
    If I force it to take the CD ROM driver, it does, gets the yellow flag and the drive is still invisible.
  10. Channel issues

    1) A device will function as per usual whether it's on the primary or secondary channel. I have no idea why your laptop has the optical drive on the primary channel, but it's a purely arbitrary matter, it's no faster or slower than the secondary channel.

    2) They have put the 2 devices (hard drive and optical) on 2 separate channels to give each device maximum possible bandwidth.

    Drive issues

    It's possible that your bios is hard-wired to only work when replacement parts are provided by the manufacturer. This same kind of idea is used on laptops which have docking bases, to make them only work with the base they are supplied with, although this is usually an option which the user can disable - it's a security thing. In this case, if the hardware was somehow locked then it would be purely for the manufacturer's profits.

    Does the atapi device fit snugly into the bay? It could be that it's not quite making all the right connections.

    I would suggest reinstalling XP but it's an atapi device and XP is able to configure those instantly, just as it can an addition of RAM.

    Did you have to open the laptop up at all? Check and double check everything. I really don't think any device drivers are needed as XP SP2 supports pretty much all sorts of IDE CD and DVD drives. Contact the manufacturer and see what they say. Don't tell them you've put in a new drive or they won't do any kind of replacement, they'll say you've voided any warranty and that any damage is your fault.
  11. You're right about the channel function but in this case the problem is complicated by the CD drive expected to be set as slave.

    Maybe Acer did it like that because the original Matshita drives were dirt cheap and happened to be set in slave mode by the factory.

    In any case, I found more references to the same problem along with tools to set the drives to master or slave. They are for different NEC models unfortunately but it's no problem anymore.
    I just located the adapter from IDE to slim and soon as I get it, I will do the flip to master using my drive's utilities.
  12. I don't see why they would have both drives on separate channels and set the optical drive to slave. Of course it makes no difference performance-wise, it's just a little strange. Out of curiosity could you tell me whether the hard drive is also set to slave or if some imbecile at Acer thought that the hard drive had to be master and the optical as slave, even though they're on different channels? If you can't be arsed then fair enough, just curious, that's all.
  13. The hard disk on the secondary channel is set as master.

    I'll try later today to switch the new NEC drive to slave mode and see what happens. The system doesn't like it as master and if it doesn't like it as a slave either, then the Acer people must have done something strange to lock the laptop to the Matshita cheapos.

    I'll post the results later.
  14. Problem resolved.

    I removed the NEC drive from the laptop, connected it to my desktop with an IDE to Slimline adapter and run the NEC ReverseATA utility for this drive to set it to slave mode.

    I put the drive back to the laptop, the BIOS saw it, XP picked it up and assigned a driver to it and after a reboot the drive was accessed properly.

  15. I am so glad to have found this Forum and reply from kanenas so firstly thanks a load y'll.
    Saved me lotsa headache bcos I had issues with Ace Aspire 3100, changed to a new optical drive and the PC just wud not start, PIXIE issues, boot priority mix up.
    Then came this Forum and I used the data recovery cable,
    took the HD out
    used data recovery cable
    and attached it to my stand by lap top.
    All partitions showed up, hooray.
    Disconnected from stand by and back to Acer
    and all well, booted and OS ready for use.

    Seems this Acer, and other models have same issues, so for folks who run into such a hopeless situation, store these answers in a safe place.

    Cheers and good to be here.

    kanenas said:
    Problem resolved.

    I removed the NEC drive from the laptop, connected it to my desktop with an IDE to Slimline adapter and run the NEC ReverseATA utility for this drive to set it to slave mode.

    I put the drive back to the laptop, the BIOS saw it, XP picked it up and assigned a driver to it and after a reboot the drive was accessed properly.

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