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Modular Computer System

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Problem to solve:

I've never liked laptops.  They require a lot of good design to stay cool.  The screen is smaller than I like.  I like mechanical keyboards.  They aren't as ergonomic, as  being able to place the keyboard and screen in optimal positions.

 

What I'd like to see.  Portable modular computer with the following components:

  Power/Battery Brick

  CPU Brick, iGPU, RAM, M.2 drive

  Portable HDMI Monitor

  a nice Split Keyboard, trackball

  eGPU Brick with own optimized power for home - access to CPU brick PCIe slot via extender

  Focusrite Audio interface

 

  Coffeeshop - just take out the monitor, keeb, pointing device - and everything is wireless from backpack

  Band Room - bring more than one monitor, use Focusrite, microphones, cables

  Home Gaming - put the CPU brick on the eGPU brick, Minesweeper

  Sitting on bed - don't have to worry about blocking cooling of laptop, split keeb on either side, Wacom tablet on lap, wireless what I can

  Networking?  I don't know enough about that

 

The correct response to this is... damn dude, just go get a laptop, or hell, a tablet, and attach your external stuff as needed.

 

I'm just hoping for some discussion.  I'd love to see an open hardware version of this where you simplify the motherboard

 

If you have an eGPU with its own power - do you need any of the PCIe power from the slot if you are only sending data?

Isn't a LOT of the PCIe standard to make sure that the right amount of power is getting to the device - could we scrap some of that.

 

I wish I knew more about this stuff.

 

  

 

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22 minutes ago, kahnzo said:

Problem to solve:

I've never liked laptops.  They require a lot of good design to stay cool.  The screen is smaller than I like.  I like mechanical keyboards.  They aren't as ergonomic, as  being able to place the keyboard and screen in optimal positions.

 

What I'd like to see.  Portable modular computer with the following components:

  Power/Battery Brick

  CPU Brick, iGPU, RAM, M.2 drive

  Portable HDMI Monitor

  a nice Split Keyboard, trackball

  eGPU Brick with own optimized power for home - access to CPU brick PCIe slot via extender

  Focusrite Audio interface

 

  Coffeeshop - just take out the monitor, keeb, pointing device - and everything is wireless from backpack

  Band Room - bring more than one monitor, use Focusrite, microphones, cables

  Home Gaming - put the CPU brick on the eGPU brick, Minesweeper

  Sitting on bed - don't have to worry about blocking cooling of laptop, split keeb on either side, Wacom tablet on lap, wireless what I can

  Networking?  I don't know enough about that

 

The correct response to this is... damn dude, just go get a laptop, or hell, a tablet, and attach your external stuff as needed.

 

I'm just hoping for some discussion.  I'd love to see an open hardware version of this where you simplify the motherboard

 

If you have an eGPU with its own power - do you need any of the PCIe power from the slot if you are only sending data?

Isn't a LOT of the PCIe standard to make sure that the right amount of power is getting to the device - could we scrap some of that.

 

I wish I knew more about this stuff.

 

  

 

Well, running a PC in a backpack is a highway to hell.

Also... if laptop screen is smaller than you like, then how big of a monitor you want to bring to coffee shop ? :x

But yeah, I think an itx pc or something like Intel Nuc or MinisForum EliteMini B550 will fit most of what you describe.

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Thanks Poinkachu, you're right that basically this already exists.  I have a special liquid nitrogen cooled backpack.

 

Mainly, I was more curious about building a small form factor motherboard which only has, and needs to power, a limited number of devices.  In addition, I was wondering if you can decouple the power over PCIe and an eGPU.  So it's really a question about power efficiency more than peripherals.

 

 

 

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LTT just reviewed something that's not /too far/ from what you're describing.

 

And determined that it's just not terribly practical.

 

The MinisForum box thingy:

 

 

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tkitch, thanks

 

Ha ha ha.  The Minisforum looks like a proof of concept, and then they just gave up on any design considerations.

"You want to power the GPU?  You'll need to also hook up the motherboard/CPU."

 

What's the performance of an Intel NUC hooked up to an eGPU?

Are there portable batteries that you could hook to a NUC?

 

 

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I wonder why you have to hook up the motherboard to the PSU when you hook the GPU up.  I suspect it's so that the PCIe voltage controllers can tell the PSU what to do?  Very confusing.

 

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7 minutes ago, kahnzo said:

I wonder why you have to hook up the motherboard to the PSU when you hook the GPU up.  I suspect it's so that the PCIe voltage controllers can tell the PSU what to do?  Very confusing.

 

Simply because more power draw.

 

When you're just powering the CPU, you're not going to be pulling a ton of extra juice.  Pop in a GPU, and suddenly that goes up another 75W which probably will overtax the power brick.  

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1 minute ago, tkitch said:

Simply because more power draw.

 

When you're just powering the CPU, you're not going to be pulling a ton of extra juice.  Pop in a GPU, and suddenly that goes up another 75W which probably will overtax the power brick.  

So the power draw of the CPU goes up because there's a GPU attached to it?  Why can't you just plug the PSU to the GPU and power the CPU with a better brick?  I think Linus asked the question when he was plugging it in, and someone in the background suggested that the brick power is disabled.  Maybe ground loops?  Everything is a ground loop, even when it isn't.  But in this case, it might just be that you don't want a floating ground or something.

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20 minutes ago, kahnzo said:

What's the performance of an Intel NUC hooked up to an eGPU?

Are there portable batteries that you could hook to a NUC?

Probably, but nothing specifically designed to, plus you'd have to figure out a portable screen and other things, so you'd legit be better off with a laptop.

 

Or do a briefcase PC build.  Those are pretty bitchin'

 

3 minutes ago, kahnzo said:

So the power draw of the CPU goes up because there's a GPU attached to it?  Why can't you just plug the PSU to the GPU and power the CPU with a better brick?  I think Linus asked the question when he was plugging it in, and someone in the background suggested that the brick power is disabled.  Maybe ground loops?  Everything is a ground loop, even when it isn't.  But in this case, it might just be that you don't want a floating ground or something.

No, the PCIE Slot provides up to 75W of the GPU's power.  So by having a GPU plugged in, you're demanding more from the board's power delivery.  

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29 minutes ago, tkitch said:

  

Probably, but nothing specifically designed to, plus you'd have to figure out a portable screen and other things, so you'd legit be better off with a laptop.

 

Or do a briefcase PC build.  Those are pretty bitchin'

 

No, the PCIE Slot provides up to 75W of the GPU's power.  So by having a GPU plugged in, you're demanding more from the board's power delivery.  

Oh, of course!  Thanks!  I wonder if you can turn off the up to 75W from the PCIe and have the GPU run on exclusively it's own power supply.  Perhaps that's an OS question.

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3 minutes ago, kahnzo said:

Oh, of course!  Thanks!  I wonder if you can turn off the up to 75W from the PCIe and have the GPU run on exclusively it's own power supply.  Perhaps that's an OS question.

That's hardware level, and most GPUs are not designed for that.  Most count the 75W into their connector budget.  That's how a single 6 pin card can pull 125-150W of power, when a 6 pin connector only delivers 75W.  

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if I saw someone at a coffee shop with a small computer with a full monitor,  mouse and keyboard setup,I would stay away from that person because they are clearly a weird.

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Judge the product by its own merits, not by the Company that created it.

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At that point you're better off with a "desktop replacement" laptop and a second add on portable monitor.
 

These exist. They're huge. They're clunky. Assume it'll need to be plugged in all the time. You'd end up giving up something like 5-20% performance vs a fullblow desktop. Which you wouldn't notice.

3900x | 32GB RAM | RTX 2080

1.5TB Optane P4800X | 1 TB Adata XPG Pro | 2TB Micron 1100 SSD
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45 minutes ago, Assimov said:

[NUC]

+

[Screen]
=

Profit ?

That's just a desktop replacement workstation laptop, the hard way.

Dell owns my soul.

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Assimov's NUC, and monitor are right on the money.  Needfuldoer, that's exactly what I want, a desktop replacement workstation laptop, the hard way.  I want a desktop replacement workstation, with no monitor and no keyboard that I can plug into a eGPU at home, and also a battery brick that I can power a portable screen and the neutered desktop replacement workstation (NDRW) with.  

 

Question:  Why?

 

Answer:  Because I love modular design.  I love the idea that I can buy a really nice portable monitor, or several, that might last several NDRW generations.  The portable monitors could be plugged into the NDRW, or maybe even plugged into a phone with the same design idea, or some sort of wireless HDMI/Displayport connection.  In a DAW I have on touchscreen for transport set up near my drums, another screen with waveforms on my wall, and a third screen to see how my streaming is going and to chat with my vocalist in Maine.

 

Wireless keyboard, mouse, macropad, numpad, drawing tablet, microphone, camera.

 

I seem to remember having a laptop a million years ago, where the battery was a bar that you plugged into the laptop externally.  I also love the idea that you could have a completely external battery system, so as that technology improves, you can replace the bar with batteries with better ones.

 

Standardize, standardize, standarize.  

 

Instead of owning a tablet, I own a portable touchscreen monitor diriven by the kick ass phone that I already own.

I'd love to have a 16 lane PCIe7? interconnect where I just set one brick on another brick and the eGPU and CPU are as close as I can get then together, AND there's no 75W of power needed over the interconnect.   The eGPU isn't depending on power over the data interface.

 

Modular design just means that you do ONE thing REALLY well.

 

But I'm weird.  Thanks for all the responses.

 

 

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I think if someone pulled out a whole ass desktop system at Starbucks even the MacBook guys would come over to knock it off the table.

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