Are we at the point where a true DIY (motherboard upgradeable) notebook is possible?

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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One reason I ask is because it hypothetically possible to have a very simple chassis with only one type of port shape on it (usb-c and/or Thunderbolt III) doing everything (including power)). Even headphones are beginning to use usb-c.

This for desktop replacement and workstation.

EDIT: I think open source design would be a good idea (for a lot of reasons).

EDIT2: Compute Card XL?

EDIT3: Forgot to mention the low power version of this idea mentioned in this second part of this post is underway via the Intel compute card.

EDIT4: Replaceable motherboard on the way!
 
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Feb 25, 2011
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We've always been "at the point" technologically. The problem is that mobile users want thinner/lighter/bigger-brighter-screens/bigger-batteries. Which means as long as there is any "fat" on the form factor, whoever cuts it first and abandons the form factor wins big.

The gaming laptop market, by itself, hasn't been big enough to sustain a standard like that alone. There have been a few attempts at swappable GPU modules over the years, some of which were also used in SFF desktops, like iMacs. But none of them have stuck. You integrate a GPU onto the motherboard and you get your thinner/lighter/smaller laptop, and mobile gamers seem willing to tolerate replacing their entire rigs every 2-3 years. Until that changes, there's zero incentive for manufacturers.

So buy one if you can, and otherwise, grab a beer and fuhgedabowdit.
 
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whm1974

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We've always been "at the point" technologically. The problem is that mobile users want thinner/lighter/bigger-brighter-screens/bigger-batteries. Which means as long as there is any "fat" on the form factor, whoever cuts it first and abandons the form factor wins big.

The gaming laptop market, by itself, hasn't been big enough to sustain a standard like that alone. There have been a few attempts at swappable GPU modules over the years, some of which were also used in SFF desktops, like iMacs. But none of them have stuck. You integrate a GPU onto the motherboard and you get your thinner/lighter/smaller laptop, and mobile gamers seem willing to tolerate replacing their entire rigs every 2-3 years. Until that changes, there's zero incentive for manufacturers.

So buy one if you can, and otherwise, grab a beer and fuhgedabowdit.
This is the reason I will never buy a gaming laptop. Cost too much and can't upgrade them.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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We've always been "at the point" technologically. The problem is that mobile users want thinner/lighter/bigger-brighter-screens/bigger-batteries. Which means as long as there is any "fat" on the form factor, whoever cuts it first and abandons the form factor wins big.
For a device used primarily mobile I do agree with you.

But how about a device that is not meant to replace a person's current mobile device....but rather a person's sff desktop and mechanical keyboard?
 
Feb 25, 2011
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For a device used primarily mobile I do agree with you.

But how about a device that is not meant to replace a person's current mobile device....but rather a person's sff desktop and mechanical keyboard?
There are number of XBox-sized SFF gaming PCs, most of which are basically creatively packaged ITX rigs. Those can be upgraded through the usual methods. And that's if you don't get a Fractal Node 202 or similar case and BYO.

The smaller NUC-sized gaming rigs are usually home to "good enough" APUs - they have low-to-midrange GPU performance and low-to-midrange CPU performance, in a single, affordable package. A high end CPU or a high end GPU is going to have cooling requirements that make living in a USFF enclosure... difficult.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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A high end CPU or a high end GPU is going to have cooling requirements that make living in a USFF enclosure... difficult.
One way around this would be to have a design where the battery can be replaced with additional cooling. That way when the desktop replacement laptop is running off AC power there would be plenty of air circulation relative to the internal volume.

With that mentioned, perhaps some people would even build up without the battery. (Overall, such a device should be more space efficient (even if its internal volume is larger) than SFF desktop due to not needing a separate keyboard).
 

bononos

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Aug 21, 2011
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It would be really good for the diy industry if the off the shelf parts are reasonably priced.
 
Feb 25, 2011
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One way around this would be to have a design where the battery can be replaced with additional cooling. That way when the desktop replacement laptop is running off AC power there would be plenty of air circulation relative to the internal volume.

With that mentioned, perhaps some people would even build up without the battery. (Overall, such a device should be more space efficient (even if its internal volume is larger) than SFF desktop due to not needing a separate keyboard).
*mulls*

Some kind of modular heat pipe system might be neat, but I suspect the joints/connections would be thermal bottlenecks. Adding more fans would likely just add more noise to little effect.

Even if it is more space efficient (which I doubt, since SFF systems are already pretty darn small, and we're talking about pretty darn big laptops), the ergonomics of laptops are kind of a disaster. Most gamers shouldn't/don't want a laptop, whether they realize it or not. For more than a little bit of playtime, you want a monitor at height X, Y inches away from your face, with keyboard at height Z, chair adjusted just so, etc. Otherwise, you're just asking for RSI. It's worse, the older you are.
 
Feb 25, 2011
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But how about a device that is not meant to replace a person's current mobile device....but rather a person's sff desktop and mechanical keyboard?
Wait... I just reread this - you mean to replace a SFF desktop and mechanical keyboard (and presumably a 24"+ monitor and gaming mouse) with a laptop? On purpose? Am I understanding your question?

And you think there's a market for this?

I think you may be mistakenly conflating the desires and products associated with multiple distinct market segments.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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Even if it is more space efficient (which I doubt, since SFF systems are already pretty darn small, and we're talking about pretty darn big laptops), the ergonomics of laptops are kind of a disaster. Most gamers shouldn't/don't want a laptop, whether they realize it or not. For more than a little bit of playtime, you want a monitor at height X, Y inches away from your face, with keyboard at height Z, chair adjusted just so, etc. Otherwise, you're just asking for RSI. It's worse, the older you are.
1.) It could always be used with an external monitor (either folded up and used as "thin tower" or open with the laptop display used in addition to the external monitor for a dual monitor set-up)

2.) If the keyboard is placed forward on the laptop (as shown below) It should ergonomically be just like a desktop keyboard:

 
Feb 25, 2011
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1.) It could always be used with an external monitor (either folded up and used as "thin tower" or open with the laptop display used in addition to the external monitor for a dual monitor set-up)
Now it's just an SFF PC.

2.) If the keyboard is placed forward on the laptop (as shown below) It should ergonomically be just like a desktop keyboard:

You're misunderstanding the problem. Having a wrist rest is a good thing - it's the height of the display that's the issue - you game on that thing, you gonna get smartphone neck. Or, alternatively, you raise it high enough to be a comfortable viewing angle, and you've got your arms raised like this:

 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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You're misunderstanding the problem. Having a wrist rest is a good thing - it's the height of the display that's the issue - you game on that thing, you gonna get smartphone neck. Or, alternatively, you raise it high enough to be a comfortable viewing angle, and you've got your arms raised like this:

I didn't actually consider that. That is a good point.

However, according to the following case study investigation here there is a position that doesn't put any stress on the joints. (Lying down on bed with head propped up and laptop resting on bent knees).

 
Feb 25, 2011
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I didn't actually consider that. That is a good point.

However, according to the following case study investigation here there is a position that doesn't put any stress on the joints. (Lying down on bed with head propped up and laptop resting on bent knees).

"However," nothing. That supports my point.

Have you actually tried sitting like that?
 

cbn

Lifer
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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There have been a few attempts at swappable GPU modules over the years, some of which were also used in SFF desktops, like iMacs. But none of them have stuck. You integrate a GPU onto the motherboard and you get your thinner/lighter/smaller laptop, and mobile gamers seem willing to tolerate replacing their entire rigs every 2-3 years. Until that changes, there's zero incentive for manufacturers.
Asrock has MXM video cards for its Micro STX desktop system:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12343/asrock-at-ces-2018-micro-stx-deskmini-gtx-pc-gets-coffee-lake
 

whm1974

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Personally I would want more ports then a single USB-C, after all it is very silly to have only one port. How hard would by to come with a standard design with replaceable parts, even if it is just few?
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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Personally I would want more ports then a single USB-C, after all it is very silly to have only one port.
Oh yeah, I would want more than one port myself. Maybe six (or at least four) on a laptop?
 

Yuriman

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Jun 25, 2004
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A laptop with everything necessary to be used as a real desktop replacement (e.g. reasonably large detachable monitor with stand) is going to be absurdly bulky and heavy, to the point that it likely can't be used anywhere but a desk.

Defeating the point.
 

whm1974

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A laptop with everything necessary to be used as a real desktop replacement (e.g. reasonably large detachable monitor with stand) is going to be absurdly bulky and heavy, to the point that it likely can't be used anywhere but a desk.

Defeating the point.
WhileYes, it is possible to design a notebook with standardized and replaceable parts. The hardest thing would be to convince Manufacturers to follow a common standard.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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A laptop with everything necessary to be used as a real desktop replacement (e.g. reasonably large detachable monitor with stand) is going to be absurdly bulky and heavy, to the point that it likely can't be used anywhere but a desk.
How big of a display are you thinking about?

 
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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WhileYes, it is possible to design a notebook with standardized and replaceable parts. The hardest thing would be to convince Manufacturers to follow a common standard.
The common standard is the issue, but what gives me hope is that Thunderbolt III and/or usb-c sharing the common port shape helps this process.
 

whm1974

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The common standard is the issue, but what gives me hope is that Thunderbolt III and/or usb-c sharing the common port shape helps this process.
Yes that will help, but lets hope no one follows Apple about having only a single port for everything.
 

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