Client requested "portable" desktop, suggestions welcomed


Dec 22, 2008
I have been requested by a client to build a "portable" desktop due to the limitations (and cost factor) of laptops as desktop replacements. The time frame for the build will be post-July 1 to allow for more information on Windows 7 upgrades from Vista to filter through the system.

Since the build will occur in a few months, specific pricing is not truly an issue at this time. However, how many of you have had similar requests? With a...

A. Maximum build budget of ~$1,500 US dollars (computer hardware + OS; no monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, or other software required)
B. System should be able to play "newly made games" for at least 2 years with no upgrades
C. Only "simple" upgrades (ram, new/2nd video card) to extend life another 1-2 years to allow for "newly made game" play
D. System will mostly be used for gaming, but will used for "light multi-tasking"

...would you post your opinions on the following:

1. Case recommendations <I have no experience in building Home Theatre or "Lan Party" desktops, so no prior knowledge in dealing with cases smaller than mid-tower ATX>
a. Full size "gaming" video cards must fit
b. Regular size ATX power supply must fit
c. 2 Optical drives preferred (so, 2 external 5.25" slots), but 1 would be ok if price/case options facilitate such
d. No 3.5" slot required
e. 3 interal 3.5" slots preferred (OS hard drive and 2 large storage drives in raid 0)
f. Adequate/good cooling since light overclocking will be used

2. Processor/MB <I am thinking Intel Core 2 Q9400S due to...>
a. Low power = low heat (even after a planned slight over clock from 2.66 to ~3.0)
b. If your suggestion is different, remember that the smaller case will not allow for the larger of the CPU heatsinks, so "high overclocking" isn't possible

3. Graphics Card <Will change in the months leading to build due to the pricing wars and continued name changes, but if built today thinking a 4870 1GB>

4. PS <Pricing/new models changes build, but...>
a. Low heat output/good cooling required
b. Enough power for processor and video card while staying at best efficiency for PS
c. Due to a & b, probably a ~750 watt modular cable unit with a 120 or 140 mm fan from a first or second tier manufacturer

5. Ram
a. Start with 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) if Core 2 X, 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) if Core i7, or 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) if Phenom 2 X

6. Hard Drives
a. 1 ~750GB drive for OS/program installs, 2 ~1.5TB drives for data/file storage (Raid 1 for data safety, especially since it will be moved around)

7. Optical Drive(s)
a. 2 DVD burners, one may have to be "shorter profile" for the case

As stated, this won't be built for a few months. However, the most important part of this computer build is the case. (As, the case determines what the other parts can even be...) The processor choice then determines the rest.

Thank you ahead of time...


Dec 9, 2008
here is a build for $1,329.88

2xLG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail (you can get the antec 900 or the antec 1200 or the cooler master haf 932 because there is some extra money)

Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM

SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail

OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail

ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail

Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler - Retail



Oct 18, 2006
I built a system for my brother with Case (which meets all your criteria except only holds 2 HDs) a couple months ago for a late X-Mas present.
It is quite a nice setup, and there also is a steel version which is more reasonably priced.

Here is the actual order parts and I also put in a HD3870 two TV tuner cards (1 analog and 1 dual HD card) It is hooked up to a 73" 1080p tv and uses a bluetooth Dinovo setup for KYB and mouse.

Nice thing about the SG01 is that you can set a nice carrying bag for it.


There is a case I really like that isn't quite as portable since it is quite long but is fairly light, the LI PC-A05B



Dec 24, 2008

Read that thread Proximon posted. Its a super system for the price, and will be much better than the Q9400S system.


Dec 24, 2008
If I remember correctly, this is what that build looked like:

DFI LanParty JR X58
i7 920
G Skill DDR3 1333 6gb CL7
2x GTX 260's not this exact one, this one is faster because of the OC
Silverstone TJ08 Case This case is compact and allows for a large CPU cooler for a decent OC and has great cooling, which is why it was favored over the Silverstone Sugo Case, and Silverstone cases are high quality.
S1283V DK If you decided to go with a smaller case, you might look into this CPU cooler
LG DVD Combo Drive
Your looking at building something like this:

If you use a regular ATX board then you simply have a full desktop. If you want a good gaming rig and slightly better portability you should get a mATX motherboard and case. An ideal case would have nice handles at the front or on top to move it easier.

An older example:

3 internal 3.5" slots and 2x 5.25" external completely contradicts the idea of "portable" maybe 1x5.25" and 2x3.5".

Anyway, you need to start by finding a suitable mATX case (box style, like the Shuttle PC's). After that it's making sure your parts fit.

I found what you need to start, the Thermaltake VF1000SWA:

Motherboard: MSI X58M

RAM: 6GB DDR3 (3x2GB) @1033MHz (PC3-8500)

CPU: Intel Core i7 920

Audio: Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1

PSU: Google, good example is PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750. Corsair makes great PSU's. Google reviews.

Graphics: since you're waiting, maybe hold out for a good 40nm card. AMD/ATI is releasing a mid-range 40nm card "soonish" so we should see there new powerhouse card at 40nm after that. I'd get 1 of these to start then another if needed (Crossfire) later.

Hard Drive: WD 300GB Velociraptor (main drive), and WD 1TB storage.

DVD burner: read reviews at NCIX and Tigerdirect.

CPU HSF: read reviews for suitable one (pay at least $40)

This is just an example, but I do think this case is ideal. After that it's a matter of which uATX board, AM2+, AM3 or X58? Pros and cons. After that it's choosing suitable parts that fit. You obviously want a quad-core CPU and 4GB of RAM (6GB for Core i7).

mATX boards are few. Another X58 is the Asus Rampage II Gene. It's got pretty good onboard audio which helps offset the price of the board. In Crossfire, the PCI slot is likely useless as high-end cards are dual-slot.

mATX and a small case are going to require carefully ensuring you have all the parts, expansion capability and inputs that you need.

Good luck!

(You may wish to get a copy of Windows 7 RC on May 5th when it comes out and install it when you build your system then get an OEM copy later.)
Note to above:
My chosen MSI will cover up expansions in Crossfire with 2 dual-slot graphics cards. It seems if you want Crossfire or SLI and great audio your options are limited. The ASUS Rampage II Gene might be best.

A single high-end graphics card paired with add-in audio might be better. A high-end NVidia or ATI card paired with a good quad-core is pretty awesome. Noise will be reduced as well.

Yeah, I'd definitely go with a single card for a portable system, then swap it out in two years. By then maybe great audio will be integrated into the graphics cards and now we have Crossfire plus good audio.
Cases like the lian li PC a05b are excellent for protable system, more so in my opinion then those square designs. If your looking for some thing a little cheaper my vote goes for the cooler master elite 360.

It only houses 2 HDD and 2 Optical drives. Although in a lan system I really would only use 1 optical drive. you can get a 3.5 ->2.5 converter to add a thrid HDD.