portable desktop build or laptop?

I'm not too sure if this is the right section to post my question but here it is.

I will be going overseas to work in different countries for 6-12 month periods. I would really prefer a desktop over a laptop for performance, upgrade options, ect. but I'm concerned about transporting it. I want to build a decent system, quad core (some overclocking), mid/high-end video card or SLI/crossfire, 4gb ram, 22-24" LCD and some kind of near silent cooling arrangement. I can see how cooling would be an issue in transportation so I would either need use liquid cooling and drain during transport or passive cooling and remove the heavy heatsink(s) during transportation, and of course some quiet case fans.

I'm thinking that I won't be able to use a very small tower with this kind of build do to space requirements and air circulation, though smaller would be easier and cheaper to move. What size case, or specific cases would people recommend for this kind of a build?

The second question is about the cost and safety of transporting. Anyone have experience with this? Did you transport in the original packaging? dismantle the system and package the parts separately and box together?, stick the case and screen in your suitcase wrapped in clothes or stick it in a special box marked fragile? If you have tried any of the above options or another what were the associated costs?

Is it possible to take the tower on the plane as a carry on in some kind of lan-party case/bag?

Am I just asking for trouble? Should I just give in and buy a laptop overseas (Taiwan/HK/Beijing?) and use an external mouse, keyboard, external HD and possible a cheap LCD? I'm not really sure what the cost/performance ratio is between a laptops and a desktop build or what laptop panel quality is like.

I know people move their rigs around for land parties but an airplane is a little different.

I'll be using the system for internet, word processing and watching movies (hopefully Blu-ray depending on what I can find in the region). I might also use it to watch TV through a tuner if I can, and play games. Some shooters (not crysis) and mostly action RPG games like Witcher, Oblivion, Startcraft II and Fallout 3 when they come out.

I've been looking forward to upgrading after I finish my degree from a P4 2.6, 1GB ram and nvidia 6200 with a 19" CRT Samsung SyncMaster 995DF. Even a decent laptop will be a big performance jump but I was really looking forward to building a new rig.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
Thanks in advance.
5 answers Last reply
More about portable desktop build laptop
  1. My favorite portable case is this:


    Works with MicroATX. I just built a system for $500 that has this case, a dual core processor, an 8600GT, 2gb of RAM, etc. Small case, works well.

    I'd use that case, a reputable PSU to replace the stock one, an 8800GT, and a mid-end dual core or Q6600 depending on your budget. People keep forgetting to list their budget and it makes it difficult.
  2. Nice :) Congratulations for your incoming work :) Must be an interesting and challenging job ..

    I have similar case with you. And I bought a brand new computer (full tower - ATX) with 19" LCD wide from my hometown (when I was on holiday) and carry it on plane (two flights with one transit). I took everything out of my case (except the processor) and put everything (HDD, optical, VGA) on their own box. I put all in baggage (except the monitor, I carry it my own). Once I arrived in my duty post, I assembled everything (took less than 2 hours) and have no problem at all.

    It's risky I admit, but possible. Anyway if your new duty station is in big town, it won't be a big deal. You can just buy some parts on your new post.
  3. I second a microATX setup. You can't have it all, so I think you probably just want to make a good system with air and no SLI rather than an awesome SLI water system. I think the latter will be too much of a hassle. Not to mention, with how stringent airlines are now with carry-ons, I doubt that would be allowed.

    Here's one more case to add to your list:


    Have Fun!
  4. I'm thinking of setting my budget around 800-1000. that would include a 22" display. From the feedback I'm getting and the fact that I won't be moving my system around daily I think I won't go with a laptop.

    I didn't really know anything about the microATX or small form factor setups. I'm just trying to figure out how limiting they are. Is it harder to cool a smaller case? you would think that they could just make one or two of the side with huge low RPM fans, cool and quiet. Do I need a special power supplies or anything? I know I would need to watch the length of the video card and be limited on drive bays and MB choices.

    I also read about someone caring on a mid tower.

    I was thinking about what antas suggested, but I'm not really sure about the best way to transport a full tower, I would probably leave the drives in, with screws in all 4 corners they aren't going anywhere. just pull out all the cards. I'm not sure what the packaging will be like for a tower. I will see if I can find a box that was used for shipping a system.

    I'm looking forward to working instead of studying
  5. I travel a little bit to various places stateside and overseas. Personally I would recommend a laptop depending on how much traveling your doing and what your living arrangements are. I am able to keep my laptop locked up in a drawer when I am at work, which is nice considering I have roommates that I cannot choose. Plus this allows me to keep a change of clothes and some extra socks and underwear in my carry on, which is essential because in my job we can get stuck without our luggage for sometimes more than 24 hours.

    It's all based on your circumstances but if you do what I do, which will find you in some rather dusty sandy climates with shared living quarters from time to time, I recommend a laptop over a small "portable" desktop.
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