Clean Slate, a modular PC that looks amazing


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/20/clean-slate-a-modular-pc-that.html


#2

While it is certainly beautiful, I was expecting something a little more philosophical than a fancy case.

“Clean Slate” implies, for me, a break from the old computer problems of planned obsolescence and waste.
I was expecting maximum modularity; bespoke boards with snap together pieces maybe, or at least lots of redundancy to allow for many, many expansions.


#3

Needs a power- on LED that projects the Bat Signal on the ceiling.


#4

I’d been looking forward to a new one of Jeff’s machines, but I’ve stopped frequenting the PC Mod forums.

As alwayys, I love his work.


#5

I can’t argue with your expectation; but I’d note that it is a very, very steep request in practice: through some sort of supply-chain miracle that probably involves lots of abused workers and environmental catastrophes; you can get some 6-10 layer PCB, plus all the passives and support chips, with layout to support the 100-300MHz, wide, parallel, memory bus, etc. for like $50(obviously you can spend considerably more on a motherboard; but it’s amazing what you can get for less than a nice meal and a drink).

Even if you can interest someone in selling you the necessary silicon in lots of less than a thousand units; designing and manufacturing such a beast would be a formidable feat; and wouldn’t necessarily be any more modular or upgrade-able than an off-the-shelf board unless you managed something really impressive like abstracting CPU and memory sockets so that you could go from DDR3 to DDR4 with just daughtercard swaps or the like.

Unless you have pretty heroic skills and resources(or are targeting much, much, lower power) you don’t get much more modular than a fairly standard motherboard with ample PCIe and RAM slots.


#6

Modularity is the literal opposite of:


#7

If it ain’t fanless it’s just another pretty face. I don’t know who other than gamers needs full systems with this kind of power. I design stuff in CAD using an obsolete Passmark 1900 rated PC. The last PC I bought rather than built was a refurb HP puck the size of a large burger for my wife’s home office. It’s plenty powerful for basic productivity. Or as @fuzzyfungus said, for $50 you can get a fully integrated motherboard and just add memory and a drive.


#8

Video editors, motion graphics designers. Video keeps getting heavier, using exponentially higher amounts of data. It’s not just a matter of HD, 4K or 8K, but how compressed the video stream is, and uncompressed (or less compressed) is better for effects processing and color grading. Even home users editing 4K from their cell phones need some processing power if their editing program does real time effects previews.


#9

Yes, of course. I meant most people aren’t video or graphics pros. How many people do you suppose actually edit their phone video on their desktop, never mind 4k? I rail against an industry that convinces people they need ever more power, not unlike the auto industry that now sells ordinary family sedans with 300 hp.

Most people would be fine with a low power, silent, fanless PC drawing <20w rather than a loud full desktop with several fans pulling 100-300w. Laptops have their own issues.


#10

Well, you wouldn’t want to slow down that ransomware trojan with a slow computer, would you? :slight_smile:

As someone who edits video and multi-layer 12 bit per channel RAW files in Photoshop, my system will always be less powerful than I want it to be. I think you may be right about many users - how fast you you really need your desktop to be to order from Amazon and watch Netflix? But, on the other hand, companies tend to find ways to use up the available processing power. The only reason people don’t shoot more 4K on their phone is because of storage, editing and distribution limitations. 4K fills your phone fast, and even your desktop fast when you transfer files over. Granted, storage space isn’t processing power, but 4K is 4 times the data of HD, and that affects processing as well as storage.


#11

Wouldn’t do anything at all about planned obsolescence and waste if no one could afford it. I’m sure this is plenty expensive as it is.


#12

Honestly, my eyes can barely keep up with HD watching a 46" from 10’, I don’t know why anyone is jonesing for 4k. I need to get non-progressive glasses just for TV so I can slump down without watching through the bottom “reading” part! I recall the TV industry is finding 4k a hard sell in general, and the saturated screen market is causing them agony as less people want ever bigger. Tech doesn’t like to be told “it’s good enough”.


#13

Well, at one time I used to think HDTVs were silly. 720x486 was good enough for me and my professional videos - and data intensive enough as it was in uncompressed. But, hell, my still camera and cell phone now do 4K. You can pull full resolution still out of it. What a difference! I’d use it all the damn time instead of HD if I had the storage capacity. And now there are expanded color and luminosity gamut HDR sets - which take even more data!


#14

So, like, an i3 and an RX460? Those are decidedly on the slow side of modern hardware, but still fit that description. Also, 8GB of RAM is only beefy if you’re on a phone or phone-like tablet (as opposed to PC-like tablet). My 3 year old gaming rig has 8GB of RAM, and it’s an incredibly cheap build that even when I built it only barely outperformed the PS4.

The nice thing about this is that these formats are easier on computer hardware - they’re bigger than highly compressed formats, yes, but that only strains the storage system. Bigger GPUs and CPUs don’t help with that. They do help with advanced after effects involving motion tracking and what have you though, not to mention the final renders out to the new highly compressed formats.

Well, it’s built using desktop components, which is already a boatload more modular than modern highly integrated systems like all-in-ones, ultrabooks and custom rubbish bin computers. Plus, by using off the shelf components it’s more than an exercise in modularity, since the modules in this system are all off the shelf components that exist and are frequently used today.


#15

I’m not into case-modding but his gallery is :astonished: :astonished: :astonished:


#16

The fact that it doesn’t say i-anything to me indicates it might be something like this, but I’m not an expert.


#17

I didn’t know what to expect.

It could have come with a copy of Tabula Rasa installed

Or it could be a computer with no set operating system. But don’t worry, it’ll still totally work because it’s been built in a society with a strong cultural construct of an operating system.

Or it could just be a computer that’s slightly Pinker than all the others.

I’m here all week.


#18

Other than it being undeniably pretty, does anyone really have the desk real estate they want to give to this baby if it were theirs? I mean, who has a full size horizontal ATX case anymore?? And you can’t even perch your 12" monitor on top of it. Yeah, it could be an eye catching HTPC taking up your living room sidepiece instead of your booze collection, but I prefer a tiny, quiet HTPC myself.

It’s only justification is as an “art” piece to sell to a 1%er for his giant corner office on the 79th floor. I’m all for separating the foolish rich from their cash.


#19

That was the “Blank Slate” though. :wink:


#20

Try this for a high powered pc thats modular.