Question Any of you ever built a briefcase computer?

GunsMadeAmericaFree

Senior member
Jan 23, 2007
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I've never been happy with the keyboard on any of the laptops that I've owned. For years I've considered using a mid to large size briefcase and building my own portable PC inside of it.

I would probably affix an inexpensive monitor to the inside of the lid. I would use something like an HP Thin Client as the basis for the computer. Then I would buy a basic mechanical keyboard. When I wanted to use it, I could just open the briefcase, then pull out the keyboard and use it.

The only real downside would be that it doesn't have a battery, so I'd have to plug it in to use. However, based on my past usage, I have almost never used our laptops where there wasn't a power outlet anyway - so no real problem there.

Have any of you ever tried something like this before? I was wondering what some of the potential downside/issues might be.
 

igor_kavinski

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Jul 27, 2020
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How would you make sure that the components inside do not rattle or fall apart during transportation? They already sell briefcase type travel bags with LCD for the Playstation 4. Or would you put a mini-ITX case inside the briefcase and secure it with ropes/cables?

Have you seen someone else do it on reddit/youtube etc.?
 
Aug 16, 2021
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I doubt anyone has done that, but if you want to do that, it should be possible. However, I can't imagine it being ergonomic in any way (keyboard is raised too high) and if you put battery in it, there are legal limits for maximum capacity, assuming you will ever want to take it to airplane.
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
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If the keyboard is the deal breaker on notebooks, buy a quality compact mechanical keyboard and plug it in.

I remember a few blogs about building briefcase PCs well over a decade ago. I always thought they were dumb.
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

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Jan 23, 2007
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>>How would you make sure that the components inside do not rattle or fall >>apart during transportation? They already sell briefcase type travel bags with

That is a good question - I wonder if some sort of springy latch would work, or perhaps that combined with a sheet of velcro. As an added safety measure, I could put one of those plastic air bags that I get in shipping boxes in there. Best would be some sort of form fitting foam pad that I could remove when opened, but not sure how to accomplish that one.

Honestly, I could use it as a desktop PC that I very occasionally might take with me.
 

Tech Junky

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Jan 27, 2022
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Honestly, I could use it as a desktop PC that I very occasionally might take with me.
Well, the NUC is about the size of a appleTV and would fit into a laptop bag. There are portable monitors as well. While not a "briefcase" it still is portable. Mind you the NUC option isn't going to get you anything high end for performance but, it's highly portable.

I would just opt for a laptop though as piecing this together might cost more than a cheap laptop that has more performance.
 
Aug 16, 2021
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Well, the NUC is about the size of a appleTV and would fit into a laptop bag. There are portable monitors as well. While not a "briefcase" it still is portable. Mind you the NUC option isn't going to get you anything high end for performance but, it's highly portable.

I would just opt for a laptop though as piecing this together might cost more than a cheap laptop that has more performance.
NUC + thunderbolt GPU can be fast. Intel even made their own NUC with whole GPU inside, so it's just a matter of internal layout in briefcase to make it work.
 

igor_kavinski

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Jul 27, 2020
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@VirtualLarry

Didn't you once tell me that it is a bad idea to run a PC inside anything but a metallic case? Something about a Faraday cage? What do you think will happen when our fine friend puts his PC innards inside a briefcase?
 

igor_kavinski

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2020
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I wonder if some sort of springy latch would work, or perhaps that combined with a sheet of velcro. As an added safety measure, I could put one of those plastic air bags that I get in shipping boxes in there. Best would be some sort of form fitting foam pad that I could remove when opened, but not sure how to accomplish that one.
What about heat exhaust?
 

OlyAR15

Senior member
Oct 23, 2014
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Honestly, this really seems like a pointless endeavour, given how easy it is to simply carry a wireless mechanical keyboard with your laptop, but you can combine a Dell 3090/7090 Ultra with a portable USB-C monitor like the Asus Zenscreen, or if you're really adventurous, a chinese no-name monitor off amazon: Link

You would have to figure out a way to hinge the monito to the briefcase lid, since most briefcases don't open back enough for a comfortable viewing angle. However, it can be done. Why you would do it is more of a mystery.
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

Senior member
Jan 23, 2007
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>>You would have to figure out a way to hinge the monito to the briefcase lid, since most briefcases don't open back enough for a comfortable viewing angle. However, it can be done. >>Why you would do it is more of a mystery.

I guess the fun of doing something I've always wanted to get around to doing, plus using some things I have lying around the house.
 

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