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Cudwieser

Building a Laptop with Desktop components. Is it possible?

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Cudwieser

A semi serious question. I'm more toying at the minute so don't take this as something that will happen, I am serious as to the theoretical though.

Is it possible to construct a laptop, using parts out of Desktop computers. If possible what shortfalls and obsticales need to be overcome and what solutions can you provide.

 

I bring the issue up due to general lack of modularity of the internals of a laptop and the need to fork out for a new rig every few years. Given the Desktops seem better supported for upgrading and generally have a longer life between obsolescence, why are laptops more hobbled. I've heard the answer about physical space yet if they can make components small enough for a laptop then surely then can make equally small and better components in time and be able to improve older laptops. It all sounds like purposeful neutering to me so that leads me to the work around idea of using Desktop components, namely the motherboard, GPU, HD and associated chipsets. Fans and other physical components would have to be adapted and doubtless some fresh programming, but surely with the right motherboard and CPU it should be possible to use Desktop components in a Laptop base?

 

What are your views and suggestions.

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Andreaz1
Posted (edited)

To put it bluntly, no it's not. Just look at the components inside your nearest desktop and look at how they are designed to go together. You can build a super tiny desktop but if you are looking for a typical laptop style computer the answer is no. No standard desktop components would actually fit inside a laptop style chassi.

 

The way they fit desktop class components in to laptops is by using special form factors and absolutely murdering the cooling of them.

Edited by Andreaz1

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Cudwieser
Posted (edited)

I grant you cooling would be interesting, but imo not impossible (time for the sketch books :) ). Taking things to a whimsical level (using the physical size of a Desktop Motherboard as a base).how small could you make a desktop. As I see it the critical issues lie (excluding cooling, which will always be the achilles heel) in the screen, keyboard and the general constraints of overall structure. I've seen in some deskjtops and there is a lot of space that is generally unused (granted most of these desktops are low to mid end PC's), but if a suitable base can be constructed (this is where we get creative)  to allow suitable air flow then what canactually be done.

 

To run a parallel what can actually be done to stretch or update the performance of laptops? 

 

P.S any 'master race' comments will be duly ignored. 

Edited by Cudwieser

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sivispacem

With some creative arrangement you can get PCs running full spec hardware pretty small (just look at the size of NUCs that can run dedicated GPUs). But they're still a lot bigger than a laptop in certain dimensions.

 

Buying off the shelf components, the smallest standard form factor full size PC component motherboard you can get is a mini-ITX. One of those plus RAM, plus a two slot GPU laid horizontally is probably 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep. And maybe 12"-14" square.

 

The biggest issue is going to be getting a power supply to fit in your hypothetical form factor. For a midspec gaming PC the minimum you'll require is around 350w, and the smallest 350w PSU are still 2.5" high orientated in their smallest dimension.

 

Hypothetically you could build something resembling a laptop, but using desktop components it's going to be at least 4" thick. Heat management is likely to be the biggest issue.

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Cudwieser

What are the flattest fans you know off?

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sivispacem

The smallest CPU coolers I can find are about 2" high. So not going to make your hypothetical build any, or much, taller.

 

Most fans are circa 20mm tall.

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Cudwieser

Doing some digging I do reckon a 'laptop' style PC is very possible, but as you and andreaz have pointed out it isn't without issue (one that hasn't yet been mentioned is weight). In an off the shelf manner it ain't going to be pretty (Casing can be tailored so I don't see it as an overly critical factor) as practicality can be attained, but in a very loose interpretation of the term.

 

Next comes out and out creativity and some knuckle breaking engineering.

 

 

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Inttelix

I really think that it will overheat easy because the architecture of both are very different. My Pentium D LGA775 motherboard had a coolermaster fan that was fat and was making a lot of noise even if the temperatures never came over 40 C with the entire CPU case open only with the chassis, motherboard, and HD. 

23635408_1GG.jpg

 

But I have this other motherboard, with a socket 486 original intel cooler and when I turn it on the noise is almost not noticeable and the motherboard temperatures would go in between 40 to 44 C.

 

TC1-1026.jpg  (notice that the fan's depth compared to the coolermaster fan is significantly smaller)

So I removed the intel cooler from the plastic housing and its original heatsink and kept the original coolermaster heatsink in the LGA775 motherboard. It began to report temperatures of 55-60 Celsius with a aditional fan. Imagine that with a extra fan the temperature still went up so think if I remove the extra fan where will the temperature go? I knew this was going to happen but I did it anyways because I already had another silent fan in the CPU so it did not bother me. I just like how it looks there.

 

Resuming: If you have a desktop motherboard it is almost impossible to prevent overheating with a cpu fan that has a smaller wind-velocity capacity then it is originally intended to be. If you have a desktop motherboard and want to put it inside a case to resemble a laptop you will need at least two other fans. AMD has some powerful CPU fans with higher output but they are fat fans. I dont know if you can find a thin fan with high power currency. Even then heatsink will be a problem and even if you buy a very small fan with high capacity of air-flow the case will be at least 15cm thick. Oh wait I did not count the power supply. Lets expect 20cm.

 

Things become worse if you want that laptop to run new games. How will a GFX card fit there even with a riser? Remind that the GFX Card also has a fan and heatsink. In most modern cards there are two fans.

 

Now if you create a motherboard schematic from zero using existing laptop components then I say it is possible.

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ghost of delete key

Been mentioned above, but...

given the form factors of desktop components, theoretically YES, it's possible BUT-

your "laptop" would be frikkin' yuge, weigh 12-15 lbs, and would not be battery powered.

The two technologies (laptop vs. desktop) are quite divergent, and the driving factor between them is _form factor_.

This incorporates many things such as physical layout, power requirements, heat/energy dissipation, etc.

yes, you could get tiny flat fans like in laptops, but they can't dissipate the heat generated by desktop components...

yes, you could use small-profile CPUs and heatpipes, but you can't get them in desktop configurations...

the combinations of no-go's are endless.

Honestly though, I'd love to see more "standardized" reconfigurable laptop components, but given the Form Factor problem, that will never happen.

Every model of laptop is specifically designed with proprietary components to suit exactly that model, and when it dies (like my ROG just recently did), you will need to replace it with a complete, new unit (or replace a mobo, CPU, and proprietary GPU in a near-impossible teardown and rebuild effort).

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Cudwieser
3 hours ago, ghost of delete key said:

Been mentioned above, but...

given the form factors of desktop components, theoretically YES, it's possible BUT-

your "laptop" would be frikkin' yuge, weigh 12-15 lbs, and would not be battery powered.

The two technologies (laptop vs. desktop) are quite divergent, and the driving factor between them is _form factor_.

This incorporates many things such as physical layout, power requirements, heat/energy dissipation, etc.

yes, you could get tiny flat fans like in laptops, but they can't dissipate the heat generated by desktop components...

yes, you could use small-profile CPUs and heatpipes, but you can't get them in desktop configurations...

the combinations of no-go's are endless.

Honestly though, I'd love to see more "standardized" reconfigurable laptop components, but given the Form Factor problem, that will never happen.

Every model of laptop is specifically designed with proprietary components to suit exactly that model, and when it dies (like my ROG just recently did), you will need to replace it with a complete, new unit (or replace a mobo, CPU, and proprietary GPU in a near-impossible teardown and rebuild effort).

Just a couple of things you said there. Heat pipes anf Form factor

 

What are heat pipes and could you explain form factor? :) Thank you.

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Blaze

Heat pipes essentially transfer heat between two places using vapor, for example in this picture the heatpipes running off the CPU/GPU chips transfer the heat to the heatsink fins next to each fan.

 

r6wV0hZ.jpg

 

Form Factor refers to the shape/size/etc of the components which has already been said would be one of the limiting factors of doing something like this as desktop components are designed for full size cases/adequate cooling, not being shrunk down into a laptop esque configuration. Sure, you could go for a mini itx motherboard, low power CPU/GPU, low profile ram etc and fit it into a small form factor but at that point you'd basically end up paying more for lesser performance trying to cram it into a DIY laptop when you could just buy a regular laptop with better components.

 

That being said if it's more of a project/experiment and or you have money to burn then imo you probably could create a "laptop" - the practicality of it being portable would be diminished but I have no doubt you could cram a mini itx rig, low profile GPU with a riser, SFX psu and an SSD into essentially a box, mount some small fans for intake/exhaust to it and then rig up a folding screen/recessed keyboard on the top level. It'd be ugly and impractical but theoretically it'd work.

 

 

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sivispacem

Heat pipes are solid or fluid filled metal pipes which use conduction or convection to distribute heat away from a component, usually into a radiator-like finned cooling device. Normally seen in CPU coolers or graphics cards.

 

Form factor normally relates to the size of the mainboard/motherboard. There are actually quite a lot of variations and done are not properly standardised. You get E-ATX, ATX, Mini-ATX, Mini ITX and Micro-ATX as common form factors, from largest until smallest. 

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ghost of delete key
Posted (edited)

You see, the thing is, laptops are specifically designed in their own forms to accomplish a specific feature-set. Laptops use heat pipes to wick away heat generated by the CPU/GPU, the configuration based on the layout of the board required to fit it into a laptop case...

(sorry to correct you @Blaze, vapor is NOT a design material... virtually all lappy heat pipes are copper! <copper and aluminum having the best heat transfer coefficients>)

One of the biggest considerations in a computer physical design is heat transfer... in a traditional desktop, or in a laptop, heat must be transferred from heat-generating components to a radiator of some sort. In a desktop, heat is dissipated by way of a (typically aluminum) heat sink with a specific surface area, and blown with an airflow of specific volume.

In short, the cooling of that component is a function of the dissipator's surface area x the flow of cool air across it in cubic feet per minute (your fan's rating). In a laptop, due to limited space/weight restrictions, the dissipator is virtually nil, being simply the interface between the chip's surface and the heat pipe attached to it, which is ultimately dissipated by the fan on the heat pipe's output (usually a manifold vane radiator like in your car's engine)

This is exactly where laptop and desktop designs diverge in form-factor design.... you either go large scale, higher voltage, high surface area,  or you go slim, low voltage, and low surface area. there's a reason then, why laptops typically weigh less than  8 lbs, and desktops top 20 or more (forget their respective sizes!) and why the parts for one will not suit the application for the others'!

Edited by ghost of delete key
spp

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sivispacem

There is a specific type of heatpipe type cooler called a vapour chamber. You get them in the higher end laptops particularly. They use a working fluid and evaporative cooling and are considerably more efficient at smaller sizes than conventional heatpipes.

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ghost of delete key

What is that, like 2% of crazy laptop builds?

Sounds interesting though, thanks for the info.

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Straypuft
On 6/2/2018 at 7:46 PM, Cudwieser said:

P.S any 'master race' comments will be duly ignored. 

Laptops are sometimes accepted as part of the master race.

 

Back on subject, You could probably get away with using a sturdy briefcase to put desktop components into, but you will have to cut into it to make vents and power cord hole, you will also need to find a way to keep components from moving around inside the suitcase, Possibly by making your own brackets to secure to the inside of the briefcase. Mounting a small monitor inside shouldnt be hard, But you will most likely need an external keyboard, Some wireless keyboards come with a trackpad.

 

Dont expect it to be light in weight.

 

I can see in the future where laptops can be upgraded, But there would most likely be very few laptop manufacturers doing this as if you upgrade a mobile gpu, thats money not being spent on a brand new laptop, Also, upgradeable laptops, the parts may be very expensive to the point it would make sense to just buy a new laptop.

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Cudwieser
11 hours ago, Straypuft said:

Laptops are sometimes accepted as part of the master race.

 

Back on subject, You could probably get away with using a sturdy briefcase to put desktop components into, but you will have to cut into it to make vents and power cord hole, you will also need to find a way to keep components from moving around inside the suitcase, Possibly by making your own brackets to secure to the inside of the briefcase. Mounting a small monitor inside shouldnt be hard, But you will most likely need an external keyboard, Some wireless keyboards come with a trackpad.

 

Dont expect it to be light in weight.

 

I can see in the future where laptops can be upgraded, But there would most likely be very few laptop manufacturers doing this as if you upgrade a mobile gpu, thats money not being spent on a brand new laptop, Also, upgradeable laptops, the parts may be very expensive to the point it would make sense to just buy a new laptop.

Love the briefcase idea. Novel and workable, On the point of manufacterers no wanting to make things upgradeable it almost flys in the face of logic especially when you consider the upgrade and repair (a sneaky word for you) industry nets manufacters bigger and steadier return than the core product. Auto manufacters are a brilliant example. It would seem daft not to make laptops upgradeable for that reason.

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The_Human
13 minutes ago, Cudwieser said:

briefcase idea

History repeats itself.
Modcomp.Zorba.RearSide.1.jpg

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Cudwieser
4 hours ago, The_Human said:

History repeats itself.
Modcomp.Zorba.RearSide.1.jpg

You say that with an avatar like that ;):D

 

Seriously though what is to say our ancestors weren't onto something. You oft need to look behind to see where you're going.

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HaRdSTyLe_83
On 6/17/2018 at 5:35 PM, Cudwieser said:

Love the briefcase idea. Novel and workable, On the point of manufacterers no wanting to make things upgradeable it almost flys in the face of logic especially when you consider the upgrade and repair (a sneaky word for you) industry nets manufacters bigger and steadier return than the core product. Auto manufacters are a brilliant example. It would seem daft not to make laptops upgradeable for that reason.

 

if you go with the suitcase idea, then you can use mini-itx and other desktop parts.

 

what about the monitor? how are you going to do it?

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Cudwieser

Probably the most obvious is to reinforce the hinges and the case itself and put the monitor in the lid. A flat touch pad style keyboard with flush rubber keys set above the components and the boards stacked and spaced with a fan to the side of the case (with heat tubes if needs be). The spacing (if there is room for it) will help with cooling. Put vents in both sides of the case to permit airflow.

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HaRdSTyLe_83

not talking about how its going to fit there? more like how are you going to do it in terms of battery for the whole build? if you still need to plug it to a power socket (monitor + power supply) then it defeats the whole purpose and you might just well build on a small case

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Cudwieser

Take a leaf out of tesla's book. Current Battery Tech is actually quite handy and if we have space you could stack possibly a couple of batteries. What sort of current and voltage do desktops normally run.

 

 

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