Centrino Duo Whitebook: A Do-It-Yourself Laptop
Assembly: DVD+/-RW & Hard Drive
Now that we know what we're dealing with, let's find out what the guts of the Z96JS look like. The Z96JS was relatively easy to work on. Everything that is user-serviceable is accessible by removing the appropriate panel. It's no more difficult than working on a desktop PC really, but it does take a little bit more time since everything is held on with screws, lots of them, in a variety of sizes and lengths. Enough screws that I would advise carefully placing every screw you remove into a zip-lock bag labeled with where the screw came from. Unlike ATX cases, where the screws are interchangeable from case to case, these screws may be difficult to replace. If you lose one of these, you're toast.
ASUS has made it pretty hard to remove the casing in order to get at the entire motherboard. This is done to discourage tampering, since the motherboard is not supposed to be an upgradeable item and comes pre-installed. The picture of the bottom of the laptop, shown above, has been labeled with the locations of the many screws we will need to remove to get the panels off. The first order of business is to install the drives. In this case, a 2.5" 80GB Seagate and a low-profile DVD+/-RW.
The Z96JS accepts a standard low-profile laptop optical drive. The drive is held on with two screws. Installation was simple. We found that a solid push was necessary for the drive to 'pop' into place. Once it's in place, it is very secure, even without the screws holding it in place. Installing the hard drive required a few extra steps.
The Z96JS provides direct exterior access to the hard drive. A removable hard drive tray was included with the Z96JS to protect the drive itself. It consists of a metal tray with a textured black plastic end that blends in nicely with the rest of the laptop. The hard drive is placed in the tray and then four screws are used to hold the contraption together. The hard drive tray is then slid into its bay and two screws are used to hold it in place.
Like the DVD+/-RW, the hard drive also popped into place and was quite secure, even when no screws were holding it in. This leads us to wonder if the screws are even necessary. ASUS could have easily made drive installation a tool-less affair by simply leaving it up to friction to hold the drives in place, which seems to work quite well.