Do it yourself

OCZ allows you to build your own gaming notebook, much like you would a PC, and that has Senior Technical Editor Jason Saundalkar jumping with joy. Here's why…

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  November 11, 2008

I’m a big fan of the ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) concept, I’d much rather put together something myself, be it a desktop PC or a storage cabinet, rather than buy something off the shelf. The experience and fun from taking on a DIY project is invaluable and, of course, you ultimately end up with exactly what you want.

I’ve been assembling desktop PCs for over 15 years and, I’ve long been waiting for the chance to do the same with notebooks. Why you ask? Being a gamer I like to be able to play the latest and greatest games when I’m away from my home or office and that meant owning a pre-assembled ‘gaming notebook’.

To date, I’ve owned three such notebooks and in each case, I’ve never really been able to run a game at the LCD’s native resolution with even medium detail level. This is simply because the ensuing result looked like a PowerPoint slide generally crawling to the tune of 4fps rather than at a fluid and playable 30fps. This was always because the CPU and GPU chosen by the manufacturer never seemed to be picked in sync with the native resolution of the LCD screen.

So, across all three notebooks, the CPU and GPU just didn’t have enough oomph to run games at the screen’s native resolution, which meant that I had to reduce detail or, worse still, drop the resolution. Not fun at all, especially considering the high cost of these machines. As a result, I was thrilled when OCZ announced its DIY notebook line. And, it seems as though OCZ literally read my mind because what they now offer is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for.

The DIY notebook program allows you to choose from a 15-inch or 17-inch screen and allows you to fit a CPU, memory, storage drive and even WiFi adapter of your choice. The rest of the components, such as the motherboard, battery and optical drive and GPU are standard but, thankfully, OCZ has been clever in terms of component selection. So if you decide to buy a 15-inch DIY model, you’ll find that the GPU is just right for that screen’s native resolution and the same holds true for the larger, 17-inch model. Thanks to this, OCZ’s DIY gaming notebooks are far better, on specs at least, than some of the pre-assembled gaming notebooks on sale today.

Other than games, the fact that you can choose what components you want also makes it possible to build a mean application machine. You can build a beast with a quick processor, gobs of memory and a super-quick Solid State Drive (SSD) rather than a standard hard disk drive. Alternatively, you could build a notebook for long trips, going the low-voltage SSD route again and choosing a lower frequency processor.

In the future, I’d like to see OCZ evolve its DIY notebooks so that consumers can even choose what GPU the notebook will have independent of screen size. In my mind I see this as a sort of cartridge solution where the GPU, its memory and cooling solution sit on a PCB that can be connected via a high-speed connector to the rest of the notebook’s components. It’s a tough ask I know but everyone’s entitled to their dreams right?

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