In Part 1 of our three part notebook series we showed what pieces were needed to build your own "custom" notebook. Once you get all the pieces for your notebook you then just have to put it together! While many DIY (Do-It-Yourself) users may feel overwhelmed building a notebook -- it is really quite simple. The only tools you will need for the project is a screwdriver set, tweezers, and some space to get everything put together.

What You Get w/ The Barebone Notebook:

The Bare Notebook Top!

The Bare Notebook Bottom!

Our ASUS M6N notebook came looking like a ready to use notebook, but it's missing all the key hardware! The above images show what the notebook top and bottom will look like before you start adding the parts you selected. The photo on the lower left shows what ASUS includes with the ASUS M6N notebook. In this box we found the detailed user guides, driver CD's, hard drive tray, battery, power cables, phone & video cable, as well as the filler plug (if you don't use an optical drive). The lower right image shows our CD-RW packaging.

The Box Of Parts

The Slim CD-RW & Drivers

Getting the KeyBoard Off:

Use Tweezers To Pop The 3 Clips

Then Pull Back the Keyboard

The hardest part to putting together this notebook is the removal of the keyboard. The processor, memory, and mini-PCI card are all installed under the keyboard. First remove the two screws on the bottom side then turn back the notebook back over so the keyboard is facing up. The trick to getting the keyboard removed is to pop the three clips that are holding the keyboard in place. ASUS recommends the use of tweezers, but we found that anything (credit card, small flat head screw driver) that fits the gap between the frame and keyboard keys will work for pushing the levers back. Once you carefully pop the three retaining clips off one by one the keyboard can be carefully pulled back towards you. The above right photo shows our keyboard pulled back. Note that the keyboard is still wired/connected to the motherboard via the FPC cable! This cable simply pulls out and just needs to be carefully pushed back in to re-install it. With the keyboard removed and out of the way you can go on and install the processor, memory, and mini-PCI card.

Installing the Pentium 4-M 1.7 Processor:

Our Intel Pentium M 1.7 (sSpec Number: SL6N5)

The Bottom of our CPU

We went with an Intel Pentium M 1.7 processor for our notebook. The Intel Pentium-M 1.7 is built on the 0.13-micron process technology and features a massive 1Mb of L2 Cache to help power all of our various high demand computing needs. It is also excellent for processor-intensive background computing tasks, such as compression, encryption, and virus scanning.

With the keyboard removed you then have to remove the keyboard cover?s two screws and then pop up the cover by popping up the two corner rails. Once the cover has been removed just slide the fan bracket to the left then take it away. Once you have all the brackets and covers removed you will see the entire heat pipe assembly. Notebooks have the heat pipe screwed down(unlike desktop's clips), which is done to make sure the heat pipe doesn't pop off during travel/use. There are 4 screws that need to be removed at the heat pipe base. Once these four screws have been removed the heat pipe can be removed (See bottom left photo). With the heat pipe removed it is clear that the M6000 Series Notebook comes standard with a Intel 478-pin Micro FCPGA Socket. Insert the new CPU onto the socket then close the CPU Socket?s latch to fix it. As the lower left image shows the thermal pad is factory installed, so all you need to do is place the heat pip over the CPU and secure the four heat pipe screws to secure it in place. The ASUS whitebox notebook kit also includes a warranty seal label that can be placed over a heat pipe screw to show if anyone has tampered with the processor after removal.

Heat Pipe With Thermal Pad Pre-Installed

Processor Installed & Heat Pipe Screwed Down

Installing the Intel Mini-PCI 802.11 Card:

The WiFi Card goes on the top left under the black lid

The Intel PROWireless Card Installed

The ASUS M6000 Series Notebook comes with a Mini-PCI slot that can be used for wireless internet connectivity. The ASUS M6000 notebook comes with the antenna already installed around the screen so you do not have to worry about running the antenna wires. We went with Intel's PROWireless solution and it will give us the ability to connect to wireless LAN networks in your home, in the office, and in wireless LAN hotspots in airports, hotels and coffee shops!

With the keyboard removed you need to remove one screw on the mini-PCI cover and take it off. Once the cover is removed insert the new wireless LAN module into the mini-PCI socket at a 45 degrees angle and push it down to lock it in place. Once the card is secured just connect the 2 antenna cables (white and black cables in above right photo) to complete the module installation. Once the card is secure and the antenna snapped into place just put on the mini-PCI cover and secure the one screw previously removed.

Installing the Memory:

The Primary Memory Module Goes Under The Keyboard

Our Primary 512mb Kingston PC-2700 SO-DIMM Installed

The M6000 Series Notebook do not have onboard memory and requires the use of PC-2700 SO-DIMM memory. The ASUS M6000 Series comes with two sockets for installing SO-DIMM RAM. This will allow memory hungry users to install up to 2GB of memory if installing a 1GB module on each socket. The primary memory module is installed underneath the keyboard & the secondary module is installed on the other side (bottom) of the notebook. For the notebook to function you need to have a module installed in the primary DIMM socket. The secondary DIMM socket can be used for future memory upgrades or right away for additional notebook memory capacity.

On our notebook we went with two Kingston PC-2700 512Mb (Kingston part #KVR333X64SC25/512) memory modules for a total of 1GB of memory. Installing the memory modules are really simple. One just needs to insert the new SO-DIMM memory module into the DIMM socket at a 45 degrees angle and push it down to lock it in place. For the secondary module the cover is held on by the memory DIMM cover and has 2 screws that need to be removed for installation/removal.

The Secondary Memory Modules Home

Our Secondary 512mb Kingston PC-2700 So-DIMM Installed

After the Processor, WiFi Card, and Primary memory module has been installed you are done working underneath the keyboard! At this point you can re-install the keyboard, so you don't lose any screws and to avoid damaging any of the static electricity sensitive parts.

Now we can move on to installing the hard drive and optical drives!

Installing the Hard Drive:

Our 40GB Fujitsu 5,400RPM Hard Drive

The ASUS M6N Hard Drive Bay

The M6000 series Notebook uses an industry-standard 2.5 HDD with IDE interface. Remove the two screws holding the hard disk cover on and then just remove the cover. Place the new Hard-Disk onto the HDD Housing & then mount the hard drive into the housing by securing it with the four supplied screws. Insert the hard disk module into its compartment and lay it down gently. Once the hard drive tray has been slid into place put on the hard disk cover and re-secure the 2 cover screws.

Installing the Hard Drive into the housing

Hard Drive installed into the notebook

Installing the Optical Drive:

Our CD-RW & Optional Bay Cover

Installing the CD-RW

The last thing to install on our notebook was the optical drive. We saved the hardest for last!! For the installation of the optical drive just push the drive in (make sure you have it flipped the right way) till it clicks into place.

After installing the optical drive all that is left to do is to pop in the battery and plug the notebook in to charge the battery (it is not fully charged from the factory). From here we can begin to install our operating system of choice and begin to use our notebook!

Whitebox Notebook Part 2 Conclusions:

Our Notebook Fully Assembled

Up & Running (Preview of Part 3!!)


Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:

The actual process of putting our pre-selected hardware from Part 1 together in our notebook took well under an hour. For someone that is a novice or a user that reads all the manuals before attempting something like this a couple hours should be set aside for the project. All of the pieces we picked out installed perfectly and the system was up and running minus the Operating System at the end of part two!

That is it for Part 2 of our whitebox notebook journey. Our last and final article on Building a Whitebox Notebook is soon coming and will feature benchmarks, performance tweaks for the integrated ATI 9600 Mobility, BIOS Settings, and our final thoughts on the ASUS M6N notebook.