While waiting for the mSATA solid state drive to arrive, I researched this strange tiny beast I had bought. An ultra compact PC was unlike any other computer I had purchased.
First off, I discovered there is very little information about using this model of ultra compact PC, partly because it is brand-new (just shipped in the last couple of months), partly because there just isn't much about UCPCs. There are no dedicated forums, as I had expected -- and had experienced with just about any other piece of hardware.
But I did glean some information that Gigabyte doesn't tell us:
- This Gigabyte model must use only DDR3L RAM, that low voltage RAM that runs at 1.35 volts. It will not work with regular 1.5-volt RAM, so my collection of 1GB and 2GB modules is useless.
- It will not boot when the RAM and the SSD are missing.
- If there is no display through HDMI, connect via the miniDisplayPort port instead.
- Press Del while booting to get to the boot menu.
- It should work with any modern release of Linux, even though Gigabyte provides drivers only for Windows 7 (both on an included CD-ROM and online)
Because it came with no operating system, I have decided to install the most recent release of Mint Linux. While I was tempted to put on the new Steam Linux, it does not yet support Intel graphics.
While perusing the Internet for information about this computer, I realized that the motherboard has connectors that acted as additional ports (see figure 1). Gigabyte says nothing about them, so here is a bit of data for you:
EDP - embedded display port. This connector is meant for connecting an display internally, such as on a notebook computer.
HDD - hard disk drive. This connector can hook up to another SATA drive. This is the data port; for power, use the adjacent 4-pin connector.
? - H08. I don't know what this is for. On PCBs [printed circuit boards], "H" is the code for hardware, which is rather ambiguous.
Ordering Low Voltage RAM
So, I put in an order to Mike's Computer Shop for the cheapest DDR3L RAM I could find. Many of the modules listed on their Web page were "back ordered," so I ended up paying $50 for a single 4GB module, specifically Kingston model # KVR16LS11/4. The technical specs are 1600MHz, DDR3L, non-ECC, SO-DIMM, 1.35V -- and is one of the models on Gigabyte's approved list.
Mike's doesn't charge for shipping at this price level, an appreciated bonus. It should arrive in a couple of days.
Installing the SSD
FedEx delivered the SSD late in the afternoon, and so I immediately installed it. It installs almost like a RAM module, but with one twist, as follows:
1. Open up the box by undoing the four screws found in the feet of the computer. (See figure 2.)
2. Take out the screw standing by itself near the eSATA connector. (See figure 3.) I should point out that the shiny module next to the screw is the wireless networking component.
3. Take the SSD out of its packaging, and then shove it into the slot at an angle, as shown in figure 4.
4. Put back the screw, which makes the SSD flatten out. See figure 5.
Next in part iii: installing the low-voltage RAM, and then booting the computer (I hope).