Ever wanted to build your own notebook? Ever wanted to hand choose almost every single complement for your precious new potable powerhouse? Welcome to the world of boutique system builders. Systems that take the word “laptop” to a whole new level.
System Builders like Sager, Origin PC, and IBuyPower are nothing new, they have been around for years, building notebooks and desktops for the select few who desire the best of the best, or just want a notebook that differs from what you normally see.
Design and Quality:
What ultimately makes a botique custom built notebook different from anything else is their horsepower and their looks. For example, with Origin PC, you can fully customize the paint job of your new laptop. Want automotive paint in bright red, they’ve got it. Want a wallpaper on the back of your display? Sure!
Spec wise, there are no limits. Just to put in perspective of how powerful these laptops can get, most system builders DO NOT include MOBILE CPUs in their list of CPUs to choose from. ALL are DESKTOP CPUs with full TDPs. This includes the very popular I7-7700K, I5-7600K, and even the I3-7350K. You can also get locked desktop chips if your not into the whole overclocking theme.
There was even a time when you could get Intel’s Extreme series of CPUs…yes (if your a computer nerd)…you guessed right…Intel Core i7 3960X hexa core 12 thread CPUs with 130W TDPs and such like it. Sager was most known for putting the most ludicrous of CPUs into their “small” notebook chassis’.
The advantage of a desktop CPU over a mobile counterpart is their ability to keep their core clocks REALLY high. For a good perspective, most mobile chips don’t go much higher than 2.8GHz for it’s base clock, most stay in the 2GHz-2.4GHz range. Meanwhile with desktop chips, all of the mid range to higher end ones stay at least in the 3.5-3.9GHz range and boost far above 4GHz.
Another bonus to these boutique builders is the amount of connectivity that you are able to have. Usually you get at LEAST three display outputs (ranging from DVI, HDMI and Display Port), to 5-6 USB ports (usually all are USB 3.0), sometimes thunderbolt/USB type-C support, and 4 audio jacks to plug in some serious audio equipment.
The biggest downside is their size. Because these notebooks require additional cooling capabilities to run their desktop CPUs, you aren’t going to get a slim and thin form factor, not even close. These notebooks are very thick and can be quite heavy too.
Another downsize is their battery life. Battery life barely hits 2 hours for regular use. So do not expect to use this thing on the go. It’s more of a mobile desktop than a laptop in functionality
How They Build Them:
If your at all familiar with building desktop computers, building a notebook is actually quite similar. Sager, IBuyPower, Origin PC etc. all use a regular notebook chassis (it’s why they all look similar in the design), then they add all their fancy stuff in, like high end air cooling, hard drives, SSDs, CPU, GPUs, etc.
However, it is FAR from easy to build these machines. Because notebook use very non DIY friendly components (to make sure the notebook can stay small), system builders have an assortment of tools, machines, and other stuff to connect everything.
Is It Worth To Buy?
For nearly all of you readers, it won’t be worth it to buy a notebook of this caliber. Lately in the past 5 years of computer engineering, performance has gone up incredibly minutely. What’s changed the most is power consumption, allowing laptops to have far better battery life while maintaining fast performance. The average dual core i5 or quad core i7 is already quite fast for web browsing, video watching, mid-range gaming, and content creation. So sticking with a normal laptop will still net you a speedy browsing, gaming, and high workload experience.
The biggest obstacle for entry is the fact that these notebooks cost a lot of money. Now, of course, you can get stuff pretty cheap (less than $2000), but it’s rare and you don’t get a lot of performance for the price.
As an example, I speced out an Origin EON15-X with this configuration:
No paint job
CPU: Core i5-7600K Quad Core (Currently Intel’s i5 Flagship)
RAM: 2400MHz 16GB Dual Channel Kit (Origin Recommended)
GPU: Geforce GTX 1060 6GB
Storage: 1x M.2 500GB 960 EVO NVME SSD, 1x 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD (the 850 EVO is FREE from origin)
Display: 1080P 60HZ IPS G-SYNC
Max cost came out to: $2418. That is a very hefty price considering that you can buy a notebook with a core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1070 with a very similar storage configuration.
The targeted customers of Boutique notebooks is for customers who either are super rich and want the best of the best, or, are computer enthusiasts (like me) who love hand choosing components and having a custom look to their notebooks, and of course, overclocking.
Overall, these notebooks are really amazing in their functionality. Having the ability to pack desktop components into a notebook chassis is almost hard to believe is possible.
However, again, their very high price makes these notebooks very bad if your looking for a bargin. Regular notebooks that you find at bustbuy, amazon, newegg and other vendors will be far better priced for the performance you get.