As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/
Options

Portable Desktop Feasibility

FozwazerusFozwazerus Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
This is a cross-post from Moe's Stupid Technology Tavern. They don't seem to get as many views, so I'm posting here as well. I didn't see a rule against cross-posting, so here it is:

Hello PA,

After over 2 years of PC gaming inactivity, I'm feeling the need to catch up on all of the amazing games that I've missed. So I'm looking to build a high end PC able to play games like Age of Conan, Warhammer Online when it comes out, Hellgate: London and the like.

The problem to overcome: Portability. Laptops just don't do it for me with their increased cost and lack of upgradeability. I work as an independent contractor, and thus must travel frequently for work. I either fly or drive 6+ hours once or twice a week, depending on my current job. For example, I've been driving 430 miles home and 430 miles again back to work each week for the last month, and will continue to do so until the end of May. After that, I'll be flying across country maybe twice a month, and I don't want to be without my gaming. As it is now, I am SO BORED when I'm traveling, and my work issued laptop cannot play games beyond roguelikes (which are cool, but I've burnt out on them now.)

So here are the components that I wish to stuff into whatever portable case that will suit my needs. Keep in mind that I'm pretty out of the loop on building computers, so these are just what I think are good for 1500 USD.

MB: eVga 780i. Won't utilize all of it's capabilities, but will make for good upgrading in the future.
CPU: E8400, Q6600, Q6700, or similar. Whichever is most economical when I begin buying.
GC: geforce 8800GT, 9800GTX, or similar. Possibly 2 for SLI, possible just 1 for now and another later.
Other components aren't really important to note here.

So what I need is some kind of desktop case that can handle high end components while addressing:
1. Portablility. Not the biggest concern, since any computer is portable. Light weight isn't important, but is a nice bonus. Nifty little storage spaces for cables and such built in would be another bonus.
2. Durability. I want my computer to be protected absolutely from vibrations, reasonable impacts, any other possibly damaging motion.
3. Heat Dissipation. Built in fans, space for more fans, well designed air-flow are all important for any high end system. If I end up with a Quad core, I'll have even more cooling issues to deal with.

The final problem is of course viewing devices. I don't really want to lug around a monitor. What is the optimal way of actually using my computer while traveling? Connecting to shitty hotel TVs would be optimal, but I'm not certain if you can even do that. I'm pretty behind on this kind of technology. If that isn't possible, could I connect my desktop to my work issued Lenovo laptop and use its screen? Pretty ridiculous, I know, but I don't have a solution and would be open to any suggestions.

So PA, can you assist me in my endeavor to create a nice portable desktop? Has anyone else attempted this before, and if so, can you give me any tips or warnings?

tldr: How to create a feasible portable high end desktop?


Edit: Wow I just found this:
http://www.casesbypelican.com/computers/apple-imac-24.htm
It is specifically for iMacs, but something like this for a generic desktop case would be amazing.

Fozwazerus on

Posts

  • Options
    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Well... it would be possible to hook it up to a tv as long as your video card has a TV out. Two problems with this however. Many hotel TVs don't have accessible inputs to allow you to connect things, and the picture is going to be crappy compared to a decent resolution monitor.

    In terms of displaying it on the laptop, there's nothing I can think of to easily deal with that either. I mean you could remote in or something from your laptop to your monitorless desktop, but I'm not sure how many options that's going to leave for 3D gaming (little to none... and if it does it'll likely be using the laptops video card to render, NOT the desktops).

    If it were me I'd just get a good laptop with a dedicated video card (not just random on-board video) and use it for gaming. It's going to be easier, more portable, and avoids the problems involved with finding a display.

    Daenris on
  • Options
    GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Similarly, I don't believe laptop graphics cards typically have a video-input capability, since it's not really a common usage... and unless you're in a hotel with an HDTV, it's going to look really really poor on regular TV, I tried this once with my desktop at home (plus you have the same hassles as bringing a console to a hotel - it may not be possible depending on how much access they give you to the back of the tv/plugs). I think this is your major concern; I'm pretty sure you can get micro-atx motherboards for at least some sort of newish CPU, though I have vague memories that bleeding edge stuff might not be possible

    I know it's not really what you wanted, but you're basically the exact market those "semi-portable" desktop replacement laptops are made for... yeah, they're giant and give off heat like crazy, but if you're playing games on a desk and not surfing the web on your lap they're perfect. I've had a pretty good experience with my dell xps, which I bought like three years back for the same reason - moving across country for a year, and didn't want to ship my desktop out, and it's worked well enough that I'm only now starting to run into games it can't handle.

    Re your link - honestly, if you're going to spend $500 on a case to carry a desktop around, you might as well just get a bitching laptop with desktop components and give up hope of easily upgrading

    Gdiguy on
  • Options
    ArrathArrath Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'd try looking at one of those..satellite cases I think they're called, smaller than normal cases and designed for LAN gamers who participate in a lot of BYoC events. Only problem is that they use an odd form factor, probably ruling out any good mother boards.

    If you're looking to stay compact, portable, and well ventilated, I'd go with a single video card rather than SLI it, it'll keep more space open inside the case for airflow and take off a tad of weight. And (I think..) its also general opinion that SLI isn't worth the cost yet as most games don't really take advantage of it, or are CPU bottlenecked, not GPU limited.

    Arrath on
  • Options
    GlaealGlaeal Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    http://www.falcon-nw.com/config/fragbox.asp

    Falcon Northwest sells their pre-configured "Fragbox" PCs for $1500-$2000 without anything else. They seem to be pretty good PCs, but I'd bet you could build something similar on your own for less.

    Glaeal on
  • Options
    GlaealGlaeal Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Arrath wrote: »
    I'd try looking at one of those..satellite cases I think they're called, smaller than normal cases and designed for LAN gamers who participate in a lot of BYoC events. Only problem is that they use an odd form factor, probably ruling out any good mother boards.

    You were probably thinking of Shuttle PCs. I had an early one that had serious heat problems, but I don't know how they're doing now.

    http://us.shuttle.com/

    Glaeal on
  • Options
    FozwazerusFozwazerus Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I've seen the fragbox. It's neat, and certainly something that I would use, but I'd rather build myself simply for the satisfaction of making it work myself. Aw who am I kidding, call me el cheapo!

    Those shuttle PCs look neat. I'm going to look into them some more.

    I think I may be leaning towards single graphics card now and going micro ATX. I don't know... I change my mind twice daily. I might just make a nice 1000 USD micro ATX single card machine and overclock. E8400 is so cheap and AFAIK easy to OC. 8800GT 512 seems to be the most economical card right now, so I might snag one of those, or I might splurge and get something nicer since I'll only be buying 1 card. As far as I know, those items will run the games that I'm interested in (AoC, etc) at high settings.

    What kind of ram should I get for a nice overclock micro system? 4gb of 1066 or just 4gb of cheap 800s?

    If I can make this thing for 1000 USD I'd be pretty happy. It's not a limiting factor, but would be nice. Then I could buy my wife another machine! 2 good machines > 1 great machine!

    Fozwazerus on
  • Options
    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Depends what OS you're going to be using. If you're using a 32bit OS, it won't use 4GB (it'll max out somewhere around 3-3.5). But if you're going to be using a 64bit OS, by all means go with 4GB of RAM.

    And you haven't solved the display problem so far. If you're definitely set on putting together a portable desktop, your best bet is probably going to be finding a decent, high resolution 15 or 17 inch LCD with small/minimal framing and come up with some kind of padded briefcase or something to transport it in.

    Daenris on
  • Options
    FozwazerusFozwazerus Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hmm it looks like the only shuttle box that can even utilize the components that I want to use is almost 500 USD by itself. I don't think you can even install your own motherboard on any of the barebones shuttle boxes. While the shuttle boxes are a cool concept, I think I'm gonna keep looking around for a better and cheaper micro ATX case.

    And yea, I'm still not sure about the monitor problem, but I'll worry more about that after I figure out how to build the actual PC. I might end up with some kind of cheap monitor with a padded travel case designed for aircraft / car vibration and shock.

    Fozwazerus on
  • Options
    GlaealGlaeal Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    LCD Monitor Carrying Cases: http://www.mylugger.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=upgrades.products&subcat_id=4

    Those seem really expensive. I'm sure you can find cheaper.

    Glaeal on
  • Options
    ArrathArrath Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Glaeal wrote: »
    Arrath wrote: »
    I'd try looking at one of those..satellite cases I think they're called, smaller than normal cases and designed for LAN gamers who participate in a lot of BYoC events. Only problem is that they use an odd form factor, probably ruling out any good mother boards.

    You were probably thinking of Shuttle PCs. I had an early one that had serious heat problems, but I don't know how they're doing now.

    http://us.shuttle.com/

    Ah yeah, shuttle. Read about them a few years ago in an ad in pc gamer, can't blame me for not remembering :P

    Arrath on
  • Options
    dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    My nicely portable case suggestion would be Ultra's MicroFly
    It takes microATX mobos and full size PSUs. Two large drive bays, one HD caddy that comes out (holds two HDs) and a removeable mobo tray
    It even has a nice little handle on it (it feels flimsy, but after taking apart mine and looking at the construction and attachment points, I feel comfortable with it)

    dlinfiniti on
    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
  • Options
    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    If I were trying to do a portable desktop gaming system, I wouldn't want to try it with a case any bigger than this. It's about the same footprint as an average laptop, only several inches thick instead of one inch thick. That means it's also roughly the same footprint as a 15" LCD monitor, so if you can find one that has a small bezel, and easily removable stand, and not too much chunky stuff on the back of the panel, the two together wouldn't be gigantic. My thinking is it'd be more convenient to carry than the cube-shaped cases that take mATX boards, anyway.

    A case that small is going to pose some significant challenges though. Challenge the first, you'll need to restrict yourself to a microATX motherboard. That's not too hard, most modern chipsets have mATX boards available. Challenge the second, you're going to be constrained by the built-in power supply, so you'll have to pay really close attention to how much wattage your components draw. This power supply calculator can help ensure you don't go overbudget. Challenge the third, any card you put in that system has to be low profile. Galaxy makes a low profile 8600GT that seems ideal for this setup, but you might rule out this case based on potential future difficulty finding low-profile video cards. And challenge the fourth would be heat. Small cases tend to trap heat, so you might have to mod an extra fan in somewhere.

    The shape of the case makes for some really interesting mod possibilities. Where it's roughly the same footprint as a 15" LCD, it might be possible to tear the guts out of a 15" LCD, toss the stand and bezel, and mod the screen right into the side of the case? Yet another challenge! I'm not sure this is at all feasible, but if I were doing it, that's how I'd come at it. To be honest though, I think it'd just be easier (not to mention lighter) to buy a laptop with a half-decent video chipset.

    vonPoonBurGer on
    Xbox Live:vonPoon | PSN: vonPoon | Steam: vonPoonBurGer
Sign In or Register to comment.