Question Custom ThinkPad Sleeper - Thoughts? Feasible?

Jul 29, 2019
2
0
10
0
To preface, I've done limited research on the possibility of this idea, so somebody who is more knowledgable may find this an incredibly stupid idea.

Being somebody who loves old and vintage things, I've always toyed with the idea of building a sleeper PC in a vintage case. This past weekend I saw some vintage ThinkPads at a convention and thought to myself "Hey, that's pretty thick, maybe thick enough for me to build my own computer in there?"

I've been looking at the older models, and it seems like if I got anything it would either be in the 300 or 700 series.

I would want this thing to be a real beast, so I'm thinking I'd run a Zotact 1080 mini, which would outrun the mobile 1060 in my Surface Book by a mile. I've thought about how powering this system on battery will be the biggest issue, but at max load this card only runs 180 W. To be fair, that is a lot of power, but if I under volt the card a bit and get a big enough battery (I think I would build my own from cells, which would help with space efficiency as I could create something that isn't square), I should be able to pull about 2 hours of gaming out of it. At idle I could probably get upwards of 6-7 hours, which is respectable and even tolerable to me. I am also considering the power cost of cpu in these calculations.

I've found that an intel NUC with a core-i7 would be both tiny and a beast. This board only runs 30W at load, so it's very efficient. With the size of the NUC, I could throw it into a section of the case without worrying about developing a purpose-made motherboard like OEM laptop manufacturers do. Although it doesn't have PCIe x16, it does have an x4 gen 3.0 slot, which, based on testing I have looked up online, would only limit the GPU by a 5-8% margin -- I can totally live with this. I would just use an x4 ribon cable to route to the card somewhere in the case and use an x4 to x16 riser to plug in the GPU

I would plan on replacing the built in panel with something higher res, and a touch screen; possibly high refresh rate as well. The hope would be that I have room left in the case to connect I/O and do any necessary wiring conversions and such.

Like I said, I may be completely and terribly wrong about this, but am I crazy to think this is doable? Anyone who can point out any flaws in my thinking, please do!

Thanks guys.
 
It may be possible, but would require a ton of work and doesnt seem worth it.

Replacing the lcd panel and connecting it to a 1080 may he a problem. You could use a control board for that specidic lcd to plug the lcd into the hdmi port, but these need powereed externally.

How are you planning to cool this cpu? Stock nuc cooler may not fit

The gpu will have thermal issues if it even fits. The vents wouldnt be in the right spot.

Also, the nuc has this pcie slot for nvme storage. How would you plug in a hard drive or ssd when using the 1080?

. Also, how would you power the 1080 and nuc?
 
Jul 29, 2019
2
0
10
0
It may be possible, but would require a ton of work and doesnt seem worth it.

Replacing the lcd panel and connecting it to a 1080 may he a problem. You could use a control board for that specidic lcd to plug the lcd into the hdmi port, but these need powereed externally.

How are you planning to cool this cpu? Stock nuc cooler may not fit

The gpu will have thermal issues if it even fits. The vents wouldnt be in the right spot.

Also, the nuc has this pcie slot for nvme storage. How would you plug in a hard drive or ssd when using the 1080?

. Also, how would you power the 1080 and nuc?
I would run it all on battery power. I would have to figure out how to wire an 8-pin off of it, and use them to power the display controller as well, but other than that don't see it being too much of an issue.

I'm operating on the belief that the stock cooler on the nuc will fit, especially if I desoldered some of the taller io ports, like the stacked USB ports. That being said, I could probably just desolder all of the IO on that board so as to solder up the existing IO on the laptop itself.

The GPU certainly concerns me. Perhaps it would be smarter to go with a 1070, or maybe some of the newer cards perform better thermally and with power (I have not been too well informed of nvidia card performance lately). It seems to me that with the Zotac mini, removing the stock shroud and fans would allow me to bring the thickness of the card down from 40.4 mm to 25-30 mm, or around 1"-1.5". I feel like this would fit, although I don't know if placing the fans elsewhere in the case would still not be enough airflow for the card.

I also just realized that the lid is so thick in these that I might actually be able to fit some batteries in there too -- longer life!

I really don't know how I would solve any of these problems without spending a fuck ton of money to actually be able to hold things in my hands and iterate, so you may be right that this isn't worth it :/
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY