Slabtop - Portable Desktop Replacement "Laptop" Enclosure

Discussion in 'Notebook Cosmetic Modifications and Custom Builds' started by Razyre, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. Razyre

    Razyre Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    61
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    31


    Hi there NotebookReview!

    Posting to share with you a project I've been working on: Slabtop. Slabtop is a project which aims to take standard desktop class hardware and fit it into a portable battery operated enclosure with all of the regular input devices of a laptop.

    This early concept was built based on the feedback from a questionnaire posted on /r/pcmasterrace in January asking what people would want if they could have an effective "desktop laptop".

    From the questionnaire, it was wittled down to these primary factors:
    1. Had to support full desktop GPUs
    2. Price and upgrade friendliness were paramount
    3. 15" was the ideal middle ground for an initial design
    And as a result, the prototype demonstrated in the video above was conceived. Essentially I just want to hear your feedback, what you think of the idea, the form factor and any improvements you think could be made.

    This concept was shaped by the community so I want to know what the community thinks of the initial result!
     
    ThatOldGuy, jaug1337 and chezzzz like this.
  2. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

    Reputations:
    1,085
    Messages:
    5,489
    Likes Received:
    2,755
    Trophy Points:
    331
    This is awesome! Very impressive prototype.

    I do have to wonder though, what are the main benefits of it over say a Clevo P870DM? Both have the desktop cpu, and the P870DM can fit two GTX 1080 gpus. Now, to be fair, they are MXM cards, and wouldn't have all the cooler options that can be found on true desktop gpus, but the performance between the two is pretty much neck and neck.

    What would be the price for something like that with like a 6700k and 1080? Plus like 16GB of ram and a 1TB HDD or something. It looks like it would have a lot more i/o than a laptop as well.
     
  3. suntory time

    suntory time Guest

    Reputations:
    0
    Have you considered shaping it a bit more like a wedge, so that the keyboard would slope towards the user at least a few degrees?

    The fact that the keyboard is fully level and the machine is noticeably thicker than any other laptop might make typing somewhat awkward.

    Also, the big, prominent logo doesn't do the machine any justice. Let the design speak for itself.
     
  4. Razyre

    Razyre Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    61
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Price is one of the big differences. That and upgrading the desktop GPU will be a pinch versus the MXM cards which are likely to be very difficult to find and very expensive to buy. You can't just get them off the shelf either, you either have to go via a system builder or grey market.

    Price would be in the realms of a desktop with a small premium on top. Nothing's confirmed yet but it's one of the aims of the project, to be a lot cheaper than a similarly specced laptop :) I/O may or may not be an advantage. You're at the mercy of whatever ITX board you choose.

    The wedge thought has crossed my mind but it makes things a lot more difficult to put together when prototyping. I haven't actually found it much of an issue because the system has a massive palmrest and low profile keys which make typing a pretty comfortable experience. I'll need to get a group of people to test the flat profile to see what they think. A much simpler solution to getting the gradient on the keyboard would be to slightly angle the keyboard up at the rear.

    The logo isn't final, the size can be changed if people think it's too large. The plan is to do a series of polls with a concentrated community to decide on various aspects of the end product.
     
    ThatOldGuy likes this.
  5. Starlight5

    Starlight5 I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

    Reputations:
    215
    Messages:
    2,191
    Likes Received:
    758
    Trophy Points:
    131
    @Razyre what's the expected weight? You should consider a handle of some sort. Also, I believe you should empasize 2.5" drives instead of 3.5", because the latter are much more fragile and not really suited for portability.
     
  6. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    235
    Messages:
    651
    Likes Received:
    111
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Very cool concept.

    Could the keyboard be removable perhaps? Looks like you are avoiding too much detail in the video so as to protect your IP, can't say I blame you there. But looking forward to seeing the internals. How did you side load the gpu for instance.
     
  7. Razyre

    Razyre Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    61
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Weight of this prototype is around 3-4KG with components. Could change based on the final material though, the acrylic used for prototyping is quite light, but then so would ABS or a similar material be if we chose to use that. Using 2.5" is a must, 3.5" would be a pretty asinine waste of space.

    I think a mistake I made with this video is not emphasising the size of this prototype; it's a 15" screen on there with dimensions of 370x270x55mm, it's really quite small, with just a higher profile than a normal laptop for obvious reasons. I was mainly trying to drive home the fact it's upgradable and cheap.

    I was talking with someone elsewhere about making the palmrest and screen assembly very easy to remove so that it could be swapped out on the fly if one wanted to take it from their desk as an effective ultra small form factor desktop and convert it into "laptop" mode. It's a possible. Making just the keyboard removable again might be possible but with the wiring and such I'm not sure, we'll see. Depends on the demand. It will definitely be removable and swappable with another panel because of how it's built, it's whether it becomes a system where you can pull the keyboard out, put that on the desk and such sort of deal.

    It's not so much about IP that details are scarce but the fact it's not final hardware yet. It's very messy internally as it was a very much "get it working" prototype. Hopefully some more media can trickle out as it improves to keep people updated. I wanted to talk more about the concept as a whole than the specifics, but I omitted a bit too much by not talking about dimensions of this prototype and whatnot. I think maybe people think it's a lot larger than it actually is, though there are clear shots of it on my lap.
     
    Starlight5 likes this.
  8. juandante

    juandante Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Hello,

    I have LONG waited for an idea like this to come to life, I just can not understand why the current companies they force people to buy laptops with weak hardware and not up-gradable specs. In fact, no problem really in the fact that we have slim ultrabooks that are not up-gradable, it is more why is it that there is not alternatives.

    Why I want this prototype to go to production :
    1. Current laptops are rather under-powered, or to expensive, or when they are outdated you just have to throw them and buy a new one
    2. You have no way to change one part to your taste, you can not give the laptop a truly custom side for example if you want a touch screen (just example) well buy a weak atom tablet or wait many years for finally one manufacturer to have the courage to do one
    3. I need true power where I move and if one part break I don't want it to be a hassle to replace it, ITX and desktop parts are very easy to find

    Here is what that would be great :
    1. A second smaller model (for later) with no GPU support, just minimal size to hold the mini ITX /HDD/fan, because what I really want is the true RAW CPU power and motherboard/CPU up-grade possibility.
    2. An ITX motherboard is very small so it would be good to have a mini size of the Slabtop just enough to hold the HDD, fan and the mother board
    3. For the screen to be able to hold any LCD screen with a lock in system and not just the one included. For example, I could just buy a 15" screen for ebay and a correct electronic adapter (DVI/HDMI to the LCD screen model and lock it in the Slabtop). Because for example, I could easily swap to a Apple Retina and use an adapter and/or if the screen break, easily change it.
    4. The keyboard, you mentioned that it will not be able to change it, N.P. with this for my part.
    5. Speakers ? You didn't talk about speakers, there is no problem either but default speakers would still be a nice option.
    6. Finally, battery. Using this with a 140W CPU will kill instantly any correct size battery for this laptop but there are ways to under-clock the CPU for it to consume very few watts. I don't think there is a need to overload with a big battery, a good warning sticker will be good.
    7. Humidity. I see that the case have a lot of wholes, I guess it is for the cooling. But a laptop desktop system is still a certain way a laptop, all those wholes will easily damage what is inside after some days of transportation.
    8. How is the monitor connected to the motherboard ? Because on a (standard) desktop ITX you must "go out" from the motherboard to connect it.
    9. A cache to hide behind the Slaptop, using this like this in a library will make people freak
    10. I really like the metal and the fact that there is a lot of screws, I haven't seen a such flexible model like this for ages !
    This idea is really a modders dream and I will be very happy to acquire one when it will be out !

    EDIT : I don't know if you read this http://www.tomsguide.com/forum/65602-35-notorious-laptop
    But they give very useful info on this thread. Especially for the panel and CPU power needs. So concerning the monitor, I will have to cancel what I said, at least for the moment. Having a non-interchangeable panel is not a problem at least for the beginning.
    Also, I guy on the thread said that he almost never use his laptop for the battery and this is exactly how I use my laptop to. I almost mainly use my laptop with the power-cord, especially that it is a powerful laptop (people don't buy powerful laptops for their battery) and I mostly use the battery as a UPS in case of power loss or just if I want to change place and have to unplug the thing. 30 mins to 1 hour of battery life is already enough (even if having more is always better)

    For the speakers I watch the video again and I saw them indeed.

    Here is a project : http://www.overclock.net/t/1538911/...sized-itx-based-gaming-laptop-updated-jan-8th
    But this one is less good. The thing if FAR to big. No keyboard, and the PSU is inside adding a lot to the size. But lot of things to learn from here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  9. Razyre

    Razyre Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    61
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Phew okay, this is a biggun.

    1. I personally love the 13" form factor and I reckon with tweaking down the line I can make one that would fit a regular ITX system AND a GPU or the option for none. Almost all who answered the survey wanted a desktop GPU and 15" or larger, so it's definitely not on the priority list to do either a 13" system or a GPUless enclosure for the moment.
    3. My hope is to offer screen upgrades, but I will offer them as a complete lid assembly so it is just a case of screwing it to the body. If I get panels in bulk, I should be able to offer upgrades which are easily competitive with if not better than the prices for just the panel on eBay, though some of the budget IPS panels are quite reasonably priced now.
    4. Again, the hope is that the keyboard can be changed, but it's unlikely it will be as easy as just clipping it in or out, some screwing will be required and a lot of custom work; likely work that I would offer to the community if they want different boards to what is offered.
    5. If you can see in the video, this model has some pretty large speakers in a stereo configuration, actually from quite a high end Bose system, but I would want to do more tweaking of the audio setup since I'm not that happy with it on this model. Clear, but lacking in the lower frequencies.
    6. A 140W CPU will still last a while if it's not under constant load. Loading the system is a different story, yes, then you will kill the system quickly but that's the case for any high power configuration with a GPU. You are right though, there will need to be guidelines of what will and won't work well in there. I'll likely feature recommended builds in a guide on the website and also consult the community on their build ideas too.
    7. I have no quarrels about the current design in terms of the holes on the side outside of water or similar getting in which I think will always be a problem with this concept, I very much doubt in moving the laptop around those holes will damage the internal components. I'm more worried about the long term effects of shock on the components which may lead me to mount the components with rubber washers inside the case to let them down more easily when the case is put firmly in a table, or bounced about in a bag. It will never be drop proof, much as it will never be water proof and that would be at the owner's discretion to look after it. The new design will be much more open than this to allow much increased airflow, utilising open mesh areas on large portions of the side panels.
    8. In the video, you can see there is a mini DisplayPort cable coming from the ITX GPU to inside the laptop. This is then converted to eDP which goes to the monitor; you can see the flex cable come out the back of the lid of the system. The crude DP cable will be replaced and hopefully the relatively large eDP board will be too. It all depends on funds. Power management, thermal management and case design are the biggest priorities.
    10. The body of the laptop is actually acrylic spray painted at the moment, it was a cheap way to rapid prototype. I love the fact it is completely assembled with screws too, it makes the system very flexible for changing the panels in the future and getting inside the chassis with ease. The screws will hopefully be inset in the final model so they don't scratch anything and the final material with either be a high quality plastic or aluminium, it depends what is most cost effective without compromising on build quality.

    More people do seem to be expressing the UPS wishes now. As I've said elsewhere, the battery design will be modular, with the option to add more packs to bolster capacity, so a one module approach should satisfy that short UPS like battery life. If you want more, you add more modules. The 15" case should be able to fit two modules, though the capacity of said modules isn't decided yet.
     
  10. juandante

    juandante Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Having a 140W power multi-core core CPU in a "laptop" will be so good.

    I didn't say that it must be your priority, and that is exactly why I said "for later", I just wanted to open a bit the ideas as to another interesting option when the 15" will be out. I have read all the polls and I know that most of the people asked for a GPU. Actually, I do development and so I just need a small, customization, very powerful "laptop" that none of the current big manufacturers are offering except this idea. So to resume nothing bad that it is not a priority to have a smaller than 15" one, just an good alternative option for later.

    Also, for the holes, well I don't know in which part of the country you live but in winter where I live or when it is rainy not necessarily water but humidity can easily destroy the system, remember those mini ITX motherboard are not made to just transport them everywhere in an "open" container like this. I didn't talk about water resistance either, by all means almost no laptops even in 2016 are water resistant (except rugged military ones), I just said that it is interesting to see if this will not be dangerous for the pieces inside if there is a lot of holes. Or even for gamers they little brother or themselves could just throw a glass of soda and instantly kill all the expensive hardware. Maybe put less mini holes and add some "big holes" for small standard desktop PC fans ? Or make the little holes on a removable panel so one could change it according to his needs ? Fans will be less dangerous with filter in front and could aerate at the same level, maybe it will be more noisy thought, but for standard PC fans you can find a very wide range with some that are very quiet (and still aerating better than small holes).
    And no, you wouldn't want to sell a car that kills anyone inside who drives it, so when I buy this I would like at least that I can make it safe for the expensive hardware that I plan to put in it. Now, also I don't say it is that you must do this, but studying more intensively is good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
Loading...

Share This Page