[H] Consumer changes it up a little bit and brings you a unique article on what OEMs are doing to make the mobile DIY arena easier and more affordable. We assemble this laptop from the ground up and see what the hardware can do.
This article is very much off the beaten path of what we do here at [H] Consumer. In fact, on our forums, one of our rules is that any discussion of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solutions is prohibited. Call us hypocrites if you like, but when we were offered a chance to look at this “system,” we jumped on it.
The laptop DIY market is almost non-existent. Cost and availability of components for the consumer makes the process very difficult. Until now, the best solution has been to try to find a company that will just build you the computer and skip putting the Operating System (OS) on it.
This DIY “kit” from ASUS, the Z96J Whitebook, is a major advent in the industry because it brings mobile DIY availability to the mainstream. It also makes it more affordable to do so. This is a grand idea, and we wanted to find out what the consumer is actually responsible for once they receive their kit.
For those looking for the grand, sweeping analysis of the consumer experience that we do for our system evaluations, you aren’t going to find that in this article. We’ll still cover the performance metrics - WorldBench, DVD encoding, battery economy (since it’s a laptop), and gaming - but the System Build section will be replaced by a “System Assembly” section where we will walk through putting your machine together. There was no official purchase of this system (since you can’t buy it yet), so there was neither a purchasing experience to talk about nor a tech support package to evaluate.
Likewise, because we didn’t purchase this system and it is currently unavailable for retail purchase, it will not be scored. However, we’ll be looking at the feasibility of this initiative by Asus and what it means for all of us as consumers.
At the end, you should have a good idea of what it takes to put one of these units together and what kind of performance you can expect from it.
This is the second preview system that we’ve done. Our first was a Core Duo IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T60. For that system, we focused on the ThinkVantage umbrella software package that governed essentially everything on the computer. We were very impressed with the performance of the Core Duo in the T60, and overall it showed that the T-series was a formidable presence in the mobile market.
Our ASUS Z96J also has a Core Duo, although, since it’s the T2600 model, it’s slightly faster than the Lenovo. While the Lenovo was definitely not a gaming system, our Whitebook has an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 GPU. While not a high-end gaming solution, this definitely affords us the ability to play our gaming lineup.
Here’s what we got: