The PC market is largely dominated by two main categories: (1) Large desktop towers offering wide spectrum of options and upgrade capability, and (2) laptops offering portability in exchange for limited options and upgrade capability.

The laptop market has seen a great deal of innovation in form factors. From super thin-and-light convertible tablets to heavyweight expensive "Gamer Laptops." The latter pushes the limits of laptop form factor towards the desktop segment.

In contrast, the PC desktop market has not seen a similar level of innovation. The only significant deviation from the standard tower are the all-in-one PCs ("iMac clones") sharing many of the same limitation as laptops. In general there's been far less pushing the limits of desktop machines towards portability.

The "Luggable PC" project ventures into this under-explored space, to design a portable chassis which accepts commodity desktop PC components.

The key features over commercially available all-in-one desktop PCs are:

To deliver portability, trade-offs were chosen based on features that are underutilized (or not used at all) on most modern desktop PCs.


Pages describing specific design considerations in building this project:

  1. PSU Layout: The heavy power supply unit anchors the chassis.
  2. Motherboard Layout: Trying to pack components tightly around a (very) not compact full-size ATX motherboard.
  3. Screen Layout Challenges: The wishlist for my perfect screen layout and why it is hard to satisfy all the requirements.
  4. Screen Hinge: The final design that satisfied (almost) all of the wishlist.
  5. A Tale of Three Corners: Learning how to build better 3D printed structures with threaded rods. (Made irrelevant by the switch to aluminum extrusions.)
  6. Angled Feet: A minor design element with major ergonomics impact.
  7. Drive Bay: Finding the best way to package 2 x 2.5" storage drives.

Compared to ATX Mid-Tower Case: 40% reduction in volume

Tower case volume: 2270 cubic inches.

Luggable PC volume: 1380 cubic inches. (60.8% of 2270)

Compared to Compaq Portable (the original luggable PC):

(Source: Wikimedia)

Compaq PortableLuggable PC
Weight (lb)2817.5 (~62%)
Volume (cubic inches)18451380 (~75%)
Screen size (diagonal inches)9"17"
Screen resolution pixelsCGA (640x200)WUXGA (1920x1200) (1800%)
Inflation-adjusted price$7,325Much less!