Iwill ZPC: Closer Look
I guess you are curious to find out more about the architecture of this cutie, too. So, we disassemble it and take a look inside. That’s what the ZPC looks like inside:
Not bad, yeah? We have only one big circuit board, and one small, which serves to connect the drives (we will talk about it, and about the disk subsystem in greater detail a bit later).
Note that there is only one wire in the entire case! It supplies power to the processor cooler. The rest of the components are all connected without any wires, loops, cables and so on. Actually, the only components, which participate actively in the assembly process on the mainboard are the CPU socket, the memory slot and four IDE-like connectors. Everything else is already soldered up, including the power and reset buttons and front panel connectors.
This is the way the mainboard is fastened inside the case:
The sides of the case are equipped with special rails, along which the mainboard moves inside. The cover is then screwed from behind, so that everything sits quite tightly.
The CPU cooler, as I have already said above, also serves as a system case cooler. The vent hole is placed right above it:
The only drawback of this solution is that the noise produced by the fan is not muffled by anything. As a result, the tiny Iwill ZPC is rather loud at work. On the other hand, the ventilation inside the case is good enough. The temperature remains normal even under high workloads.
A few comments concerning the assembly and software installation. Even an inexperienced user can put a ZPC together without much effort. You just cannot confuse anything, plug something the wrong way and the like. When installing the HDD, just be careful in order not to bend the pins on the drive as well as those on the daughter-board connector. The CPU and memory are installed the usual way.
As for drivers installation, this process is as simple as you might wish. Just throw the disk into the CD-ROM drive, wait for it to autorun, and select “Driver Installation” in the window that pops up on the monitor. Then you will see this window:
Click each item one by one (they didn’t include an “Install All!” item again!), and you are done. The program is unable to determine the components of your computer and the already installed drivers, so all the items in the menu will be always available, even on a quite different PC (by the way, I made this screen-shot on a different computer indeed).
Besides the drives, the CD contains a few utilities: Adobe Acrobat, Hardware Monitor and BIOS Update. It also has a digitized version of the user’s manual (an exact copy of the paper edition enclosed with the barebone system).
Now we will take a closer look at each subsystem of our ZPC one by one, and will also run some tests to get a idea of their performance.