Discussion So I want to make a laptop

Apr 1, 2019
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Yeah I'm sure it's a dumb idea, but my college is willing to give me money to do it and it could be fun. I wanna put together a custom laptop and am slowly doing research and gathering ideas. I'm well-aware of how much work it would be and that I'd be hopping into something I'm not educated on but oh well! One thing I'd love to do is get near desktop-level power in a laptop form without making the thing 2 inches thick. Again, it's a wild thought, but my university has money to burn.

So one solution I have is to rob a gaming laptop of its mobo and other soldered-on components. This is the easiest option, but that's boring.

Idea 2 is to take a mini-itx or micro-atx/itx board and plug in all my own parts. The issue is that these suckers are thick as can be. What I want to know is if it's plausible to replace the tall stuff on such a mobo with shorter parts: so the capacitors, mosfets, chipset heatsinks, io, etc. I figure that these are just soldered or otherwise attached on and that different parts could be swapped in instead, but I could be wrong. I also do have access to people who actually know what they're doing when it comes to computer science.

Thoughts? Thanks!
 

Mandark

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Sep 13, 2002
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Every resistor and capacitor and component has been engineered to work for any given motherboard. You can’t Willie Nilly replace parts on a motherboard unless there are the exact specifications of the part being replaced. Circuits are designed in other words and you would be changing the capacitance the voltages and almost everything else

You can probably forget about making your own motherboard all together
 
Apr 1, 2019
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Every resistor and capacitor and component has been engineered to work for any given motherboard. You can’t Willie Nilly replace parts on a motherboard unless there are the exact specifications of the part being replaced. Circuits are designed in other words and you would be changing the capacitance the voltages and almost everything else

You can probably forget about making your own motherboard all together
I definitely wasn't planning my own mobo, I took one glance at that and new it was a dead end (though I could theoretically work with some folks at my uni and get it done, but that's a lot more effort than I was planning on). I also recognize that mobos are carefully designed to work as a unit. However, my question is weather I could make a motherboard thinner: How do laptop motherboards get away with being so thin, after all? I assume part of it is using less power, but I'm not going for QUITE as thin as our itty bitty ultrabooks.

If customizing a mobo is out of my realm of possibility, then that's fine, I know I can use a laptop mobo. This is more out of curiosity, since it'd certainly be cooler and more unique.
 

Mandark

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Well, there are open source hardware. search for that stuff maybe?


You could use 3-D printers to make stuff and do it that way and maybe use better hardware LOL
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
The problem with non-laptop parts (mini-itx or micro-atx/itx board ) is the power supply.
The second issue is designing a cooling situation for the CPU.

A desktop motherboard isn't much "thicker" than a laptop board. All the other stuff, though...that's the problem
 
Why is the university funding you this project if I may ask? Is not exactly ground-breaking, Nobel Prize winning.

There is nothing "exciting" building your own laptop, or building a PC, IMO, after my 8th build, but I mean not exciting in the sense of for general humanity, which I assume the University thinks there is a greater benefit to fund you. Building a computer these days is just putting parts together that are designed to fit like LEGO pieces.

If you are going to build something, to learn how things work, why does size matter? you are making it harder on yourself. People who create new machines build --relatively-- big prototypes, then when the functions are perfected, THEN they go into phase2 of miniaturizing everything for selling to the consumer.

This subject comes up once in a while, and you will hear lots of people telling you don't, don't bother, can't and invariably someone says, yes you can, (he read) somebody done it! so then I demanded to see a picture, any picture of the finished product, and what I got resembles more like an Apple One, in a wooden box, certainly thicker than 2"

But hey, if you end up going ahead with this, please post pics.
 

godlysoup

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Jul 27, 2013
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Why is the university funding you this project if I may ask? Is not exactly ground-breaking, Nobel Prize winning.

There is nothing "exciting" building your own laptop, or building a PC, IMO, after my 8th build, but I mean not exciting in the sense of for general humanity, which I assume the University thinks there is a greater benefit to fund you. Building a computer these days is just putting parts together that are designed to fit like LEGO pieces.
I don't know about you, but I still get excited when I get to do a new build and I've done countless ones when I worked at a local shop.

The best things I've seen lately are the are the rhaspberry pi builds people have been putting together like building their own gameboys and whatnot. I still have a touchscreen build on my wish on Amazon.

They used to have more barebone builds on newegg, but now I only see a few. Here's a link to some I found just googling:

https://rjtech.com/shop/index.php?dispatch=categories.view&category_id=220

Probably the closest you'll get to 'building your own laptop.'
 
Apr 1, 2019
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Why is the university funding you this project if I may ask? Is not exactly ground-breaking, Nobel Prize winning.
Well it's not a done deal, but they have a second year program where you can get money for a project/internship/travelling abroad. I mean, it's only $2k, so I wouldn't be designing a perfected, production ready system, but it's an idea I've been toying with. I don't have many other ideas I'm excited about, and it's pretty much a free 2k so I wanna use it.

The things I'd definitely be customizing is the laptop shell and peripherals. However, just doing that bit of it feels like not enough work, and I think it'd be cool to customize the electronics a bit. It's all a far-reaching idea, but I'm a fan of those: heck, I bought a 30 yr old car with barely any knowledge of mechanics cause it sounded like it'd be fun (it is : D)
 

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
Well it's not a done deal, but they have a second year program where you can get money for a project/internship/travelling abroad. I mean, it's only $2k, so I wouldn't be designing a perfected, production ready system, but it's an idea I've been toying with. I don't have many other ideas I'm excited about, and it's pretty much a free 2k so I wanna use it.

The things I'd definitely be customizing is the laptop shell and peripherals. However, just doing that bit of it feels like not enough work, and I think it'd be cool to customize the electronics a bit. It's all a far-reaching idea, but I'm a fan of those: heck, I bought a 30 yr old car with barely any knowledge of mechanics cause it sounded like it'd be fun (it is : D)
Have you talked to the university about who exactly owns the system bought with their money?
The projects done here stay with the university, so while you would build the system, you would not keep or otherwise use it beyond your experiment.

Seems like a bit of a waste when that money could be use to, lets say, design an interface for portable water filtration systems that works in multiple languages, and so on. This project just buying mostly consumer hardware and slapping it together.

Something to consider.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Well it's not a done deal, but they have a second year program where you can get money for a project/internship/travelling abroad. I mean, it's only $2k, so I wouldn't be designing a perfected, production ready system, but it's an idea I've been toying with. I don't have many other ideas I'm excited about, and it's pretty much a free 2k so I wanna use it.

The things I'd definitely be customizing is the laptop shell and peripherals. However, just doing that bit of it feels like not enough work, and I think it'd be cool to customize the electronics a bit. It's all a far-reaching idea, but I'm a fan of those: heck, I bought a 30 yr old car with barely any knowledge of mechanics cause it sounded like it'd be fun (it is : D)
Unlike desktops and the ATX standard, laptop parts are not all in the same place.
So, the shell needs to be built around a specific motherboard. And the shell is a significant contributor to the cooling situation.

Now...if you're using desktop level parts (microATX/ITX), those are mostly standard placement. A case could be made relatively easily.
But then you run into the power supply issue.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Yeah I'm sure it's a dumb idea, but my college is willing to give me money to do it and it could be fun. I wanna put together a custom laptop and am slowly doing research and gathering ideas. I'm well-aware of how much work it would be and that I'd be hopping into something I'm not educated on but oh well! One thing I'd love to do is get near desktop-level power in a laptop form without making the thing 2 inches thick. Again, it's a wild thought, but my university has money to burn.

So one solution I have is to rob a gaming laptop of its mobo and other soldered-on components. This is the easiest option, but that's boring.

Idea 2 is to take a mini-itx or micro-atx/itx board and plug in all my own parts. The issue is that these suckers are thick as can be. What I want to know is if it's plausible to replace the tall stuff on such a mobo with shorter parts: so the capacitors, mosfets, chipset heatsinks, io, etc. I figure that these are just soldered or otherwise attached on and that different parts could be swapped in instead, but I could be wrong. I also do have access to people who actually know what they're doing when it comes to computer science.

Thoughts? Thanks!
These types of questions are answered pretty simply, if you have to ask here on how to do it, you won't be able to do it. If you have access to people that know what they are doing, then check with them about what they can do. I can tell you that I have two friends that are knowledgeable about motherboard and CPU design, they both spent 6 years in school learning how to do things.

You won't get enough info in 100 forum questions and replies on how to design a full system to do the motherboard, case, screen connections, ports, BIOS, etc.. to make the system run. Thoughts would be "sure it's possible to build your own laptop, with enough expertise and materials". But that is basically saying "buy a building filled with engineers, programmers, chip fab, CNC machines, plastic fabrication machines, 3D printers, etc..." Even if you "build" a system with OEM parts, all you are doing is buying what the other vendors do and just putting it together like a lego set. For $2,000 you are just scrapping the surface of what you need. A fab that makes motherboards costs hundreds of millions of dollars, you won't make one in your basement and likely not in any school lab your school has.
 
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