Centrino Duo Whitebook: A Do-It-Yourself Laptop
ASUS Z96JS Centrino Duo Whitebook
ASUS has been playing the Whitebook game for a long time and they've been making Laptops for even longer. They offer a wide variety of models with both AMD and Intel platforms in a variety of sizes, from ultra-compacts to DTRs. As we touched on earlier, we'll be working with their Z96JS model. The Z96JS is an Intel based whitebook utilizing the Centrino Duo mobile platform. It has a 15.4" WXGA widescreen LCD with an integrated ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 feeding its pixels. We would have liked the X1600 to be a MXM solution instead of being integrated but it does have 256mb of dedicated memory, which is a nice touch.
We have selected the Core Duo T2600 as our processor and we've decided to only use one 1GB stick of DDR2 667 memory.
The first thing you'll notice about the Z96JS is the complete lack of branding, with the exception of the Intel and ATI stickers. Even the ASUS logo does not appear anywhere on the laptop. As a result, the Z96JS is rather dull looking, lacking any eye-catching labeling. This was done to enable small businesses that build and sell these laptops to easily brand them as their own. The top of the laptop lid has a subtle ridge which forms a frame that system builders can use to place logo or graphics in to help distinguish their products.
The second thing that you are likely to notice is that this laptop has a low profile and is one of the thinner ones on the market. The careful use of thin silver strips on black creates an optical illusion that makes the laptop appear thinner than it really is. A 4-in-1 card reader is hidden on the front of the laptop, to the right of a headphone and microphone jack. The usual cluster of I/O ports at the rear of the laptop are missing. Only the power connector and two USB ports are present.
The right side of the Z96JS is full of ports. For some reason, ASUS has put the D-sub and S-Video port on the side instead of their usual position at the back. This may be inconvenient for some users. Right handed users who prefer to use a mouse with their laptop will be especially bothered by this placement, since these port placements will mean that all sorts of cables will be competing for prime mousing real-estate.
The bottom of the laptop is covered in the usual assortment of serial code labels. A tiny, deeply recessed button is located just under the vents on the bottom of the laptop. A quick flip through the manual reveals that this is a CMOS reset button. An external CMOS reset button comes in handy since reaching the CMOS jumpers on the motherboard requires some tools and a bit of work.