The suitcase computer of 2020

Originally published at:


Well if I ever shoot a cyberpunk movie I’ll know where to buy my props.



(One of those is somewhere in my cellar, which has been morphing into a no-budget version of Charles Foster Kane’s warehouse over the years.)


Now, if I could just find a LAN party.


Expensive. The Osbornes, Kaypros, etc sold for around $5k in 2020 dollars.


My mom brought home a portable computer from her lab in Los Alamos in 1976. Huge cradle for the modem to hold the phone. Output was thermal paper which we enjoyed holding up to a lightbulb and watching it turn black.


My “dream” configuration came in at “Final total $31,412.00”. I added a UPS and battery back up but suspect they won’t last long what with the twin RTX 2080 Ti GPU’s.

Difficult to see a good purpose for it as I would imagine most of the gear needed for a remote video studio would be rack mounted in a van. It might make it more comfortable if you can take the computer out of the van to the hotel room. . . or maybe on site for a film shoot but again rack mounted systems in a PA case are probably the way to go.


I decided to to a test outfit of the a-X2P (the one with dual EPYC processors) at damn near max specs (I went with a slightly lower tier networking card, since I wouldn’t have access to anything except 10 GB/s RJ-45s on the high end), and a trio of 24" 4K displays, and with the highest tier of RAID, SSDs, dual 2080 TIs, and full UPS and battery backup, plus 5 years of top tier service and warranty, and it came out to just less than $78k.

And yeah, totally not needed unless you’re doing editing on-site and you’re not able to just use a rack-mounted server in a van, but at those prices, you’re paying more for the service and ease of use rather than because it’s the best option.


While it could be used for a remote video studio, it has a lot of other applications. Similar computers are typically used in military (for example for UAV control) and industrial (like on-site data acquisition / processing) applications.


One of the hardest event cancellations I had to accept earlier this year was the local e-waste collection. I had finally prepared to let go of all but three of my old desktops, drives, and peripherals. Now I need a container large enough to hide them until they can be discarded.


“Around 8000” for the basemost of base models. For funzies I configured it with all the most expensive options (including 2x NVidia Tesla V100s for $17,000) and got a machine that was $54,000.

That’s about the same as a fully decked-out Mac Pro. The Mac Pro might come with wheels, but this has a suitcase handle, so it’s EVEN MORE portable. Oh, and a screen.


With the added heat of the monitor and all the bells and whistles inside, i am guessing the airflow would add some whoosh to that thunk in your meeting…


I have an old Dolch PAC. It’s a Pentium-based PC that was fully expandable. This one had some network analyzer equipment installed in it when I got it. I replaced that with USB and SATA cards. And in the 5.25" and 3.5" bays put a DVD-R drive and a tape drive (DAT/DDS) for transferring archives between mediums.

The display on it is not good. The keyboard is great, although I have one broken key that I need to repair still. I don’t feel like unpacking mine to take a picture of mine right now, but it looks like this:


I honestly can’t justify that much computer; but I’d love to have a laptop that could do the below:


You used to be able to buy cases like that. Then you’d fill it with whatever motherboard caught your fancy.

In these days of bespoke high-powered gaming laptops, they seem to have gone away, which is a pity.

EDIT: Hey, they’re still around. “Lunchbox PC case” appear to be the keywords to use.



You just need to upgrade to the Ono-Sendai Cyberspace VII. A monitor is so turn of the century. Neural interfaces ftw…

(p.s. that is awesome.)


Another feature! The user could create a personal “cone of silence.” :laughing:


There is an e-waste container next to the neighbourhood bottle bank & paper bin. You can shove in anything with a form factor up to a 17" CRT. It’s maybe 200 metres, but it always takes me ages to get there.


I was going to mention those cases. Circa 1990 I’d see them advertised in MicroCornucopia magazine, I think there was even an article by someone who put a computer together in one of those cases.

They weren’t deep like the Osborne, and used some sort of non-CRT display, likely costly at the time. but there was more space than in laptops of the time. Or rather, there was enough room to put regular motherboards in.