Whatever Happened To The Desktop Computer?

If you buy a computer today, you’re probably going to end up with a laptop. Corporate drones have towers stuffed under their desks. The cool creative types have iMacs littering their open-plan offices. Look around on the online catalogs of any computer manufacturer, and you’ll see there are exactly three styles of computer: laptops, towers, and all-in-ones. A quick perusal of Newegg reveals an immense variety of towers; you can buy an ATX full tower, an ATX mid-tower, micro-ATX towers, and even Mini-ITX towers.

It wasn’t always this way. Nerds of a sufficient vintage will remember the desktop computer. This was, effectively, a tower tilted on its side. You could put your monitor on top, negating the need for a stack of textbooks bringing your desktop up to eye level. The ports, your CD drive, and even your fancy Zip drive were right there in front of you. Now, those days of desktop computers are long gone, and the desktop computer is relegated to history. What happened to the desktop computer, and why is a case specifically designed for a horizontal orientation so hard to find?

The IBM Model 5150

Dawn of Home Computers

From the beginning of the IBM PC era, the desktop computer was the default. The IBM model number 5150 shipped as a beige box with two 5 1/4″ floppy drives right up front, and if you ponied up the cash, a beautiful CGA monitor perched on top.

This machine became the foundation for the entire PC industry. The combination of the Intel 8088 processor, a PC-compatible BIOS, and ISA expansion slots became standard, but so did the form factor of the PC itself.  The Apple II, released half a decade before, put a motherboard and a keyboard in a single case, with some room for expansion slots. The maligned Apple III, released a year before, continued the tradition with an integrated keyboard and a monitor on top. Commodore’s offerings at the time were again a motherboard and keyboard in a single enclosure. The Trash-80 had the same form factor as the Commodore. These were ‘home’ computers, and with the IBM PC and it’s emphasis on business use, there was finally a new category of computer: the desktop PC.

The IBM PS/2

From the original IBM 5150, the design of the desktop PC evolved. 3.5″ drives were added, power switches moved to the front, and the architecture was reasonably standardized. IBM followed the success of their incredibly popular AT and XT machines with the home-oriented desktop PCjr, and later the IBM PS/2 (no, not the port, the computer) series. Compaq, first to market their IBM-compatible portable computer, introduced their Deskpro series in 1984. This, again, was a plain beige box with a keyboard and video connector on the back, meant to be placed on a desk in a horizontal position. Dell followed suit, Gateway put cow print patterns on their boxes, and every computer was a desktop. Towers existed, yes, but every tower of this vintage you’ll ever find was relegated to server duties or at least some sort of semi-headless configuration. How then did the tower take over? Like most design decisions in the world of personal electronics, from smartphones to horrific security bugs, the answer begins with Apple.

The Macintosh IIci

Apple’s Design Influence

The original Macintosh was designed for simplicity. There were no expansion slots, and there was no color monitor. Combine a reasonably high-resolution monitor, graphical UI, and a fancy new laser printer, and you have a machine that would become a darling of the publishing industry. Aldus PageMaker made a mint, and soon there was a demand for even bigger monitors and more expansion slots. With the departure of Steve Jobs, it only made sense that Apple would give the Mac-buying public what it wanted.

This new modular Macintosh was a new dawn for the company, and the design of the computer leaned heavily on the standard desktop IBM-compatible PCs of the day. Released in 1987, the Macintosh II featured a beige box with 3.5″ disks in the front, power and video connectors in the back, six expansion slots inside, and a monitor perched on a slab of plastic designed by Harmut Esslinger, founder of Frogdesign. The Macintosh II was followed by the IIx, and later by the IIcx, a slimmed down version featuring only three expansion slots. The IIci, as evidenced by the positioning of the logo and branding screenprinted on the front, was designed as a desktop computer.

In late 1991, Apple introduced their new line of high-performance computers based on the Motorola 68040. The Macintosh Quadra began with the Quadra 700 and Quadra 900, a mid-tower and full-tower, respectively. Introduced alongside these monitors were a new line of monitors, including the enormous Apple Macintosh 21″ Color Display, a massive CRT with support for 1152×870 resolution that cost $4600 USD and weighed eighty pounds. We have come a long way.

The 21″ Color Display was Apple’s response to massive monitors produced by third parties. Although third-party monitors had been sold since the days of the Mac Plus (an interesting story of hardware hacking itself), the market bloomed with the release of the modular Macintosh II. A Full Page Display (FPD) released by Radius gave the Macintosh true WYSIWYG desktop publishing; the FPD showed an entire 8.5×11″ piece of paper on the screen without scrolling. Radius followed this up with a Two Page Display, and the sublime Radius Pivot Monitor, a CRT that swiveled ninety degrees, changing the computer’s desktop orientation from a horizontal to a vertical layout.

Quote from May 1992 BYTE Magazine

Squash Box

There was a problem with these third-party monitors. Like all CRTs, they were heavy, and the Macintosh II was big. If you’ve ever been inside a Mac II, there are few structural supports on the top side of the case. That’s not a problem when the default monitor is a tiny 13″ CRT weighing less than thirty pounds, but slapping an eighty-pound monitor on a desktop will crack the plastic case. With the release of the Quadra 700 and Quadra 900, Apple simply couldn’t ship a desktop computer that would be sold with a monitor weighing as much as a child. It would simply collapse under the weight of the awesome power and a base price of $5700 USD.

It is impossible to understate the importance of the Quadra 700 in the progression from ubiquitous desktop computers to towers. Despite being a much more capable, workstation-class machine, the 700 bore a striking resemblance to the earlier Macintosh IIci and IIcx. This is not a mistake — all three machines share a service manual. Except for a few changes to the plastic, the addition of removable, right-angle rubber feet on the Quadra, and a rotated logo, these cases are the same. Why, then, the change?

The simplest explanation is so consumers wouldn’t be tempted to perch their 21″ monitor on such a tiny box. This is the clearest evidence you will ever get that the weight of CRTs is the reason an industry switched from desktop to tower cases. Is Apple solely responsible for the change? No, towers had existed for a decade before the introduction of the Macintosh Quadra. This, though, is the same case designed for 14″ monitors flipped on its side for 21″ monitors. You simply can’t get better evidence of an engineering decision taking into account the weight of a monitor than that.

The Sublime Irony of Ubiquitous Towers

Go on Newegg, hit up /r/buildapc, and try to find a desktop case. They exist, and I’ve seen them in the wild, but you’ll have a hell of a time finding one. You’re far more likely to find open-frame cases made for benchmarking, or bizarre form factor cases that look like they came out of an alien egg sac. The closest thing you’ll find to the traditional ‘monitor on top’ case are media PC cases, meant to sit beside your cable box underneath your TV.

There is a perennial joke that college students spend at least $500 on a monitor stand every semester in the form of textbooks. Massive monitor stands can be had for a hundred, at least, and the rising trend of standing desks is in part a response to having a monitor at an ergonomic eye level. There’s something missing here, and it’s something that can be solved by simply putting your monitor on top of your case.

Of course, with CRTs weighing close to a hundred pounds, this is impossible. We’re at least a decade and a half past that and we’ve been enjoying light, thin LCDs for a while now. Cases can indeed support monitors again, but we’re left with a box under a desk collecting dust. This is a technological amnesia most likely built from the memories of lugging a gigantic CRT around. Unfortunately, case manufacturers are still running with the towers-only paradigm, and the best solution for anyone who wants a desktop is gutting an old Packard Bell case. It may be beige, but it is, for some people, a bit more functional.

209 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To The Desktop Computer?

  1. Well Brian, business and government still utilize the tower computer,
    I see them everywhere. Interesting side note, when a government contract is completed/cancelled, the rules say
    “Remove hard drive, smash it, recycle the tower/laptop”.
    So I buy dual quad Xeon towers for cheap, install another hard drive, and talk about “Bang For The Buck”.
    The HP Z800 dual quad Xeon, 24 gig ram, 2 TB hard drive, less than $300.00
    Laptops are the same bargain, Dell, HP, Lenovo, all for pennies on the dollar.
    Dell Intel i5 quad core $150.00, i7 $175.00
    FYI

    1. Yeah if anything as PC gaming becomes popular (current gen consoles are failures) it will become even more common.

      For all the success in console gaming, PC gaming is bringing in nearly twice as much money.

      If you want to enjoy VR you will need a PC.

      1. The problem with PC gaming at the moment is that miners have seriously pushed up the price of GPU’s making VR and 4K gaming even more affordable. This also impacts machine learning and other scientific tasks that require a high performance GPU too.

        Modern small form factor desktops are often small enough to bolt onto a monitor’s VESA mounting points so these days the monitor doesn’t sit on the desktop but rather the desktop bolts onto the monitor.

          1. Probably an Intel compute stick they’re pretty useful once you get Ubuntu or similar on one to replace the castrated variant of Windows 10 they usually ship with.

    2. Hmmm, you might have missed the point of the article. Brian’s looking at why the tower computer is the only desktop form factor still out there. This article looks into why we don’t see computer cases holding up monitors… you know, on the desk… anymore.

      1. Airflow and heat dissipation. Their ubiquity in workplaces also led to the realization it was just bad ergonomics. While the author touched base on this, the adjustable stands also are so much better than just the macro adjustment of having a desktop under the monitor or not having a desktop under the monitor. I am also with Jerry on the z800, that the Z8xx series are fantastic, and the only monitor I have attached to it is ~8″ and used very infrequently.

        Side note, I have seen mac minis strapped to the back of the monitor. I assume others have done this with tiny PCs or thin clients as well.

        1. “Airflow and heat dissipation”
          I agree with this. Remember when we went through the GHz wars, when the chip manufacturers were competing on clock speed, and everyone was stuffing cases full of fans to handle the heat. Desktop cases just couldn’t supply sufficient airflow.

          And as a bonus, since towers didn’t need to support the monitor, the metal could be a lot thinner. I recall some pretty flimsy covers.

        2. “Side note, I have seen mac minis strapped to the back of the monitor. I assume others have done this with tiny PCs or thin clients as well.”

          Yes, both Dell and HP have “Mini” form factor systems designed for Medical/Dental or any small business that uses thin client and needs to meet HIPAA standards.

          1. I have seen a college lab using the Dell Optiplex 7050 Micro PC , All in One Stand, and Monitor rather than a desktop, tower, or “all in one” PC. Pretty cool so far though memory upgrades remain limited without replacing the Micro PC and with laboratory wide Ethernet the MicroPC WiFi capability presently stands unused.

      2. While the CRT problem of course was an important part in why we don’t have pizza boxes anymore the reason we don’t have them now is simple: use cases for computers have changed.

        Those that want maximum performance goes for a tower as it is better suited to install proper cooling and storage.
        Those that want something cute but powerful on their desk buys a cube type computer.
        Those that want to take their work with them (or just like to be able to put away the computer) buys a laptop or notebook computer (not the same).

        Power users tend to have more than one monitor so a pizza box can’t support them all. Even single-monitor systems can have a problem balancing on a reasonably sized box – look at a 32″ LCD like the Samsung CHG70. Stand footprint: >50 cm wide and >30 cm depth.

        So there’s no real need for that form factor right now. It may change in the future but probably not – I’d expect wireless connection to monitors with ports for common interfaces (USB A and USB C) with the actual computer hidden somewhere else to be a more logical progression.

        1. “Power users tend to have more than one monitor so a pizza box can’t support them all.”

          DisplayPort 1.2 supports daisy chaining a second monitor from the first, which would help. And mini-displayport sockets are small enough that a pizza box could easily accommodate several.

      3. Aren’t we supposed to be standing at our desks? Hang them from the ceiling lol. I built a couple of computers like that for giggles in the early aughts.
        I really miss the way computers used to smell. They had a slight flux-y,board cleanser, future chemical smell purring from THE cooling fan. Something about that and the fake speed display on the front made me feel more like I was seeing the future than talking to my sink. I am probably the only person to miss that though :(

      4. Yeah, I missed that point on the first read as well.

        Really, that is one of the silliest things I’ve read here. A tower is a desktop, it just has a smaller footprint, i can’t imagine why one would want to draw such a distinction.

        And fwiw, at my workplace we have all windows 7 “desktops” by Brian’s definition. Many of them are still wedged in under desks in an awkward vertical orientation. None of the users actually like the horizontal arrangement because it takes up a huge amount of desk space and nobody wants to put a modern large monitor on a platform to raise it.

      5. I’ve seen plenty of tower cases on their side “holding up monitors… you know, on the desk…” in recent years. Much more practical. No one says towers can’t lie down.

      1. If you’ve paid any attention to the gaming market, you would know that small-form-factor (SFF) builds are taking a lot of interest and have a LOT of options available. Like the trashcan Mac, but only the can on the outside.

      1. Oh you of little faith. The guys that sell refurbished computers know all about what makes them valuable.
        Hard drive caddies are included 99% of the time. Ebay has the rest covered.

        1. Speaking as someone who’s spent way too long in the used-Toughbook market where the custom FPC HDD cable is part of the flexible shock-absorption system, I can say emphatically that this is not the case nearly as often as you nor I would like.

          And when someone gets a damaged machine with the cable still in it, they mark the cable up to 50% of the cost of the computer itself, because that’s what the market will bear. Yup, the market works, but it’d still be nicer if the grunts stripping the decommissioned ones would save the caddies and cables.

          1. Point made, however, I still see ToughBooks slide through with tray/cable/whatever still installed.
            I purchased two last month, up and running.. Quad core i5, Correct SSD, Windows 7 Pro, and the stylus.
            You may need a better supplier.

    3. Yes indeed, desktops are still around in sufficient number to be found on the endangered species list. I bought a new one, a win 10 pc last year. Why? I do art and games, so for my uses the towers lend versatility to my binary adventures by supplementing my laptop, notepad and smart phone. (yes, at the risk of being dated I have a basic flip phone that I use more than my smart phone).

    4. A 850W power supply is pretty decent but what kind of room heater does that double as? $70 per month just to run the thing, not to mention the additional HVAC necessary. Assuming 100% load at 850W of course, which is probably somewhat excessive, depending on what you are intending to use it for. It’s easy to overlook operational costs is my only point.

      Assume $50 for the 2TB drive, where are you getting the Z800 with 24 gigs of ram for $250 delivered or picked up?

  2. “The Trash-80 had the same form factor as the Commodore.”

    Well, as the Trash-80 model 1 was released in 1977, and the Commodore VIC-20 in 1980, technically the Commodore had the same form factor as the Trash-80, not the other way around. :)

    Well, ok the Trash-80 model III had the same form factor as the Commodore PET, I give you that. Although again, the PET 2xxx series were quite unique with their built-in cassette deck and idiotic keyboard.

    1. Ah, that’s a good point, and one I hadn’t considered.

      I just built a new battlestation in November… realized my previous hardware as 9 years old and could use a refresh. I wanted to get a desktop form factor that I could hang on the underside of the desk but as Brian points out, the only cases you can find right now that are like that target media center PCs. I ended up getting a tower which is big and somewhat quiet, collecting dust and getting kicked as I type this. If it were on the desk I would definitely be bothered by the fan sound.

        1. That was less of an issue when we all had deep CRTs, but flat panels, are, well, flat. Having just measured it to make this point, the *front* surface of the monitor I’m typing this on is a mere 21 cm away from the wall behind it measured at the top edge, and 25 cm away measured at the bottom edge.

          If you do want your computer entirely on your desk, in front of you, with the footprint of a CRT-on-pizzabox, just face the tower to your left or right and place it *behind* your monitor.

          To keep it off the floor, (and slow down the internal collection of dust) I have my tower beside my keyboard and mouse on my desk, just barely within arm’s reach.

          With the reduced footprint of flat panel monitors and the continued advances in computer miniaturization driven by laptop, tablet and cell phone design goals, the spiritual successor to the space-saving design of a CRT-on-pizzabox setup is the all-in-one, such as Apple’s iMac or Dell’s or HP’s all-in-ones. Of course, the trade off to this is poorer cooling, customization, upgrade potential or ease of repair. So, all-in-ones, then, are a perfectly appropriate choice for plenty of people who just want to pay maybe $500 or $1000 for a computer and then use the computer for x years, but rather less so for most of Hackaday’s readership.

          1. I just realized…If I would still have had a CRT, it would be much closer to my face. And that means that I would have needed reading glasses much earlier. :) Now I can just sit far off from my screen and am still able to read everything.

    2. It’s also a case of the search term you use to find a case, nowadays horizontal ones are called HTPC instead of ‘desktop’ since they are primarily intended as a home theater setup, and Silverstone for one seems to have a ton of choices.

  3. The integrated keyboard/box goes at least as far back as the S100 based Sol 20. They were gorgeous machines with hardwood sides and a large flat spot for the monitor on top.

    You could, of course, argue that the Altair 8800 was a desktop computer too. But that’s probably pushing it. :)

    Radio Shack was the first to put everything into the keyboard in the form of the TRS-80 Model I, several years ahead of Commodore, who came out with the all-in-one-terminal, the PET.

    The TRS-80 Model I was an interesting bit of design work with the kbd on top of the main logic board and a ribbon connector in between. The small space meant they had to build the Expansion Interface to add more than 16k of memory, disk controller, and RS232 card. The interface cable to that was a bit of ribbon cable with edge connectors on either end.

    The Model I was joined by the Model II which was, I believe the first CRT with detachable keyboard style desktop computer.

    But in between was the very rare beast, the Tandy 10. It was truly a desktop computer. It came with the desktop!
    http://www.trs-80.org/tandy-10/

    The Model I was succeeded by the Model III, then IV, which adopted the all-in-one thinking of the Commodore PET, et al.

    And, if you are going to deride the TRS80, at least do the same for all the others of the era. They all had issues, camps, critics and fans. :)

    1. The Tandy 10 wasn’t a desktop computer, it was a desk computer. That brief age when computers had become small enough to all be in the same room as the user, but still so large they had to double as a piece of furniture.

      Now people are building desks to hold the components of PCs, and think they’re doing something innovative.

    2. Naa, it will always be Trash-80 for me. :) But… In my opinion Tandy has not had enough credit for what they did. In 1977, the TRS-80 Model I was the first ‘turnkey’ personal computer. You bought it. You unboxed it. You plugged it in. You switched it on. And you were ready to start typing a program.

      Not like an IMSAI or whatever, on which you first needed to toggle in a bootloader, then load a bootstrap (or a monitor) from paper tape or cassette, and then you could use the bootstrap to load BASIC. Took at least 30 minutes before you were in BASIC.

      Tandy deserves credit for making the first computer that could be used without having to know what was inside. Ok. It was coming anyway. But Tandy did it before anyone else.

    1. I was going to comment about the desktop systems that IvyTech had not too many years back. The only real issue with them is as big as they were they still didn’t have much room for expansion inside of them. I don’t even think they could accept a 3 1/2″ floppy drive in the 3 1/2″ slots that were on the front. They just didn’t have the depth to mount the drive or any drive for that matter.

    2. I work for a fortune 10 company.
      Contract for Dell replacement every 36months.*
      Desktops/towers litter the place.
      Field or management have laptops.

      * generally field and eng have at least their last ex lease laptop/desktop on a non corporate image/network so they can actually do work due to all the lock downs, but that’s a differnet story which pretty much goes by the first rule of fightclub internally.

      1. EE at small consulting company. We all have locked down Apple or Dell laptops. Except engineering, because we need to install stuff to do our work. And being nice to the *excellent* IT Crowd gets you all kinds of perks, including first shot at machines (including servers and network gear) about to be recycled, etc.

        Recycled machines, even 4-year old ones, have quad cores and make excellent Linux systems. Especially when they’re free.

  4. “It wasn’t always this way. Nerds of a sufficient vintage will remember the desktop computer. ”

    We get better with age. But of a sufficient vintage we’d remember minicomputers, and workstations as well.

  5. I suspect you wouldn’t want powerful machine sitting right under your monitor since it would be loud under load. In which case, why not just get an all-in-one, or a laptop, or one of those small form factor machines and stuff it behind or around the monitor?

        1. Well, I guess you need to think a bit more.. Not too many 19″ racks on the desktop these days.
          And yes, a server room will make you deaf. Not unlike diesel trucks, Cat tractors, Jet planes.
          Real business keeps the server room a few rooms over there ->
          Yore mileage can vary..

    1. I would say it has to do more with looks and aesthetics. Loud under load can happen in all in ones and laptops and sff machines as well and can be worse due to those devices having less cooling abilities. Sure a desktop full tilt maybe loud but during normal operation might run cooler and quieter than a smaller device with bad thermals.

      Heck the loudest thing i remember from yester year with desktops was the hard disk, with the whinny spindle motor and then the kurklunk of the head seeking, the CPU and the PSU fans were not really noticible

    1. I’ve pondered this! At work, we need some cases with layouts you just don’t find on the market, though all the components should fit just fine.

      It still looks like sheet metal is the way to go, and sadly there don’t seem to be a lot of bespoke sheet-metal services. I ould have any number of places cut it for me, but the bending is considerably harder to find, and I’m not that confident in my skills with a press brake.

      Seriously, if there are bespoke PC-case design services, and I don’t mean “cut a window into the side of a tower” services, I’m all ears. It looks like the folks who make the Backblaze Storage Pod might be worth a call. But who else?

      Or, are there valid/serious DIY routes to this? Bending the slot-bracket part seems to be the hardest part…

      1. Protocase? I’ve heard they can take a lot of different kinds of designs without issue, and their quality seems pretty good. They do fast turn around too. They also offer design services to help you get it right. They might be you best bet.

  6. One point missed: pizza box computers are loud and right under your nose. They need to be, because there isn’t much space for ventilation, so people preferred to hide them under the desk, out of sight and ear. Gamers also preferred the extra space for expansion cards and GPUs that began to balloon up in size, Example:

    Other point: cheap tin steel tower boxes cost $20. Proper desktop or “media center” cases designed to look good on the table go up to $200. People simply spent the money on better components.

      1. It was a voodoo 5 card. It was their last hurrah, and outperformed the GeForce 2 Ultra and ATI Radeon 7500

        Those fans cover four GPUs and a row of VRAM chips. 3Dfx was the first to introduce multi-GPU cards, and SLI to string up to four of them together.

        SLI stands for Scan Line Interleaving, which means each of the GPUs is rendering its own scan line on a CRT, which meant that they basically just copy/pasted the entire graphics card multiple times over on the same card, each with a copy of the data, which meant that it was incredibly expensive. About $600 per card. They tanked soon after.

        1. Not surprised, really. They deserved it, if that’s their idea of high performance. I could tell by the analogue VGA port (and nothing else, well, except S-Video) that it wasn’t anything modern.

          1. Of course it is VGA only. This is a card from the era where the average PC user still had a CRT on their desk. LCDs were just coming out and expensive. I remember LCDs of that era, i still have one on my desk, a 21″ 1600×1200 samsung that cost me $1200 back in 2003. I still use it to this day. It still works well, and I actually prefer the old 4:3 ratio screens. I have since purchased a 2nd one from ebay for a dual monitor setup. IMO 16:9 just isn’t right for computing tasks, it is meant for video consumption. Especially in a multi monitor setup, it just eats up so much desk space. 16:10 was nice but you really can’t find those these days.

    1. I have a fondness for the alumin[i]um towers by Lian Li. They’re heavy gauge, thumbscrews everywhere, and just generally a joy to work on. I have three of them*, containing various AT and ATX motherboards. Plenty of room for peripherals, loads of fans and full size power supplies.

      *(running Linux, of course)

      1. I gots a huge oversized Zalman, that looks like Darth Vader’s luggage. Cost much more than a cheap one, but it’s worth it if I ever want to get in there. Much, much easier to do geek stuff when there’s plenty of room to work, as well as room to add more bits to it. As a bonus you’d probably give yourself a hernia if you tried to steal it.

        It has a transparent window, but no lighting, because I am a grownup.

  7. What happened to them? Nothing actually. The desktop PC market is alive and flourishing.

    “If you buy a computer today, you’re probably going to end up with a laptop.”

    A laptop sure as hell isn’t going to do anything I do with my PC at home at a similar price point. Triple 1080 gaming? No. CAD/CAM? No. I’ll take my custom built 8700k based ITX with a GTX 1070 and the custom (and whisper quiet) liquid cooling over a craptop any day.

    “The cool creative types have iMacs littering their open-plan offices.”

    Where are you even getting this from? Plenty of cool creative types have custom-built PC’s. The cool creative hipster apple loving drones have imacs in their open-plan offices – which, by the way, are show to decrease productivity causes more employee sickness.

    1. Agreed on all points.
      I actually do own a laptop. It’s currently collecting dust on the shelf below my desktop tower, and the only use it’s seen in the last 3 years was when I loaned it to a friend whose own computer had borken.
      I will continue to build custom desktops (towers, of course – I like my monitor to be at a lower height than most people do) for as long as the market will allow me to, as no store-bought computer in any form-factor will do what I need it to at a reasonable price point. I also despise proprietary parts in computers…

      1. I have a laptop. When I move the cursor off the top of the screen it appears on my desktop (courtesy of Synergy) where there’s a larger display and 24 cores for compiling kernels. The desktop mounts the files on the laptop so I can still pull the power and take my work with me.

        1. Me too neil, Except I have the desktop ergonomic keyboard and a trackball as the synergy server, run the synergy client on the laptop, and suffer the crappy laptop equivalents when I’m away from the desk.

    2. The used iMac I use for most things has a 4GHz quad i7 and a 27″ 5K retina display. It is awesome and is running UNIX. 16Gbyte of DDR3 and I think I’ll double that just because I can. I run KiCAD on the iMac, and on a dual monitor Linux tower. The iMac display is the dog’s bow-wow for working on dense layouts – or editing video.

      In a sense, an iMac is a desktop plus display that has just absorbed the desktop hardware. The dual display Linux system has an 8 core AMD. The best performer in the lab is a 6 core Intel X995 at 3.5GHz (without the 5K LCD of the iMac). In a tower. I suppose you could lay it on its side if you don’t need a usable optical drive. But the sheet metal is pretty flimsy. A bit of dryer hose to blow warm air on my feet would be welcome in the winter. I gotta try the liquid cooling some day.

    3. Will speaks truth. I don’t understand how any engineering-type could possible think of utilizing anything short of a real desktop computer with at least 2560×1600 resolution, a wired keyboard and mouse. How else would you get anything done when it comes to CAD, datasheets, etc? No way can you develop anything of any kind of complexity with an I-phone, tablet, or lap-top.

    4. Yeah open plan is absolute shit. There is no faster way to show an employee they mean less to you than a box of pens. It is really just a nice term for “even less than a cubicle farm”. It is only useful for people that have no real job or responsibility. If it is a group dev project, then a bi-weekly meeting in the conference room should suffice, otherwise most modern office software environments cater quite well to group/shared/collab efforts. Nothing that the modified document and dev notes or an email chain can’t handle with aplomb. Plus you have an e-paper trail to help you remember what the heck you were supposed to do vs yelling across to another desk.

    1. You also have small form desktops and ultra small form computers from the major manufacturers (Lenovo, Dell, HP). They still sell a lot of those today.
      Intel have their NUCs.
      There are also generic SFF boxes available from the usual suspects, Cooler Master for example.

      1. Never understood why you’d want one of those ultra-small desktops instead of a laptop. Our IT department tried ’em and gave up quickly. They’re prone to overheating. VERY prone. I have one on my desk, and as long as the top is propped open the HDD runs at a reasonable (35-40C) temp. With the top closed, the inadequate cooling design causes it to read 80C or more.

  8. I had one of those Radius full page monitors. They were indeed fabulous. Not cheap, but in those days to get the same in color was _extremely_ expensive. Somewhat special purpose, but if you were doing serious layout/typesetting work for print, it was totally worth it. A Radius monitor and a copy of FrameMaker was all I needed.

    1. I purchased a pair of Radius 20gs as New-Old-Stock for the cost of shipping, to use on a linux workstation. Used them up over the next decade. Not having an aperture grill made them glorious, and losing color didn’t matter that much to me.

  9. I haven’t seen mention of all-in-ones, like the iMac (normal or pro). PC versions of the same concept are ubiquitous in the medical industry around here. Even our vet has them installed in all the exam rooms for taking notes.

  10. I finally stopped buying laptops with their worlds worst cooling engineering, unworkable monitors and pitiful half life. Don’t own one now.
    Have a tower on my desk (1 year old)
    Have a tower under my work bench (2 years old)
    Have a tower running my CNC machine (DELL lease turn in)
    And I have a smart phone.

  11. That image you have labelled as a PS/1 is in fact a PS/2. There is one simple reason why there are no desktops, because nobody uses a CRT any more, so why would anyone want a big box taking up desk space?

  12. What about size/space constraints? In the past with big CRTs on top of your desktop PC it was not very problematic to connect everything to the back of the PC because the CRT required the space anyway.
    With the widespread adoption of TFTs your choice in tables and arrangements increased tremendously but simultaneously keeping your big, clunky and expandable desktop between your table and display became a hassle with unnecessary restrictions.

    IMHO that is at least another main reason we don’t see as many classic desktops cases any more…

    On that note: I started to regret selling an ATX desktop case for a just few bucks some years ago after recently seeing the available options and prices for such used cases on eBay etc.

  13. One of the reasons I was told was due to air flow. The later AT and then ATX specs called for the power supply to be at the top and rear of the case. The fan in the PSU would suck warm air from inside the case up and out the back, while cooler, fresh air would enter from the bottom at the front.

  14. Ugh! Computers belong somewhere off of the desk. Terminals were just starting to shrink when I got my first “desktop” computer. an Apple II+. It took up more room on my desk than the terminals at school’s computer lab. So, I did some surgery on it so that the keyboard could sit on my desk (as part of a horrible enclosure) and the main chassis was bolted to the right side of my desk with the two floppy drives stacked on a tray that was supported by the chassis. I nearly wrecked the Apple II+ in the process, but when I was done it was great. I also constructed a Unistrut frame that held the gigantic monitor off of my desk and I haven’t had a computer on my desk since then.
    Laptops are a little better, but I keep them off to the side with a docking station.

  15. TLDR:
    The formfactor my devices come in are used for their specific purposes. Towers for PC’s that don’t move, laptops that do and a desktop PC for firewall. For anything else I use a 7″ tablet, which sees the most use apart from my work laptop.

    I still like my PC to reside in a tower case. I usually use the case for about 10 years before buying a new one. It usually has components that last 5 years. The components move down to the other PC tower (my old one) that’s running the cnc. I own a very old (by computer standards) desktop PC that’s used as a firewall. It’s a pentium 4, the first one with 64 bit extensions to run pfsense. For work I use the obligatory 15″ notebook. For daily browsing, youtube, reading and news I use a 7″ tablet. My 4.5″ phone is used just as a phone, and as an access point for the tablet.
    Every device has its own purpose and use. I like low noise pc’s so I use low noice fans where applicable, and the towers stand on the floor under the desk.
    Only the MSX-1, MSX-2, Amiga 500 and 1200 were placed on the desk. Since I got a PC it’s residing under the desk. The old microcomputers were sort of moveable computers, took them often to friends. Since the PC that’s not something you like to do often, for me at least.
    Lunchbox formfactor PC’s are on the rise though, cheap, easy to replace and functional. They also make good firewalls too.

  16. Laptops have more proprietary parts, that are more expensive, and that are thinner to save space and thus more fragile. Maintenance costs of such thus are much higher. I have both, but my laptop is a very old, used Toughbook.

  17. why on earth do you _want_ a desktop form factor case? pure nostalgia? stuffing a tower under the desk where it can collect dust is a better use of space. you get a couple square feet of your precious desk surface back, at the expense of much less space, located on the floor. where it is less exposed to spilled drinks/food, and you’re a bit further away from the whine of the fans.

    1. You would have loved some of the floor-mounted PCs place I use to work. So much dust in them you could grow a garden. Current tower is on the desk since I was tired of constantly cleaning it.

      1. I used to keep my PC tower case on the floor but after the amount of dust it got in it (which probably killed at least one GPU) but now I keep it on top of my desk where it gets less dust and crap in there (and its right there so its easy to clean the outside at the same time I clean my desk)

  18. In the mid 90’s I was on a team designing RISC workstations. I obtained a 20″ color CRT. It was basically a very heavy glass CRT enclosed in a thick sheet metal shell, wrapped in plastic, and about the volume of three full size PC towers. Not much room for keyboard & mouse in front. It was heavy enough that over several months it drooped and ultimately cracked my particle board / formica desk surface that latched into my cube walls. Facilities came by with a new desk surface *and* a large piece of inch thick plywood to reinforce the desk. Was happy to trade in for an LCD – though back then the image quality was hugely in favor of the CRT.

  19. A laptop? Really? No way in hell! If my lifestyle was totally different and I was on the move all of the time with no fixed location maybe I would find some way to make that work.

    Everything is wrong about a laptop. As has been said everything is proprietary and closed and you have to deal with a keyboard from hell. I have been using a tower based machine running linux for as long as I can remember, and have a second tower for windows (exclusively because of lightroom and photoshop). Why would anyone use anything but a tower? Plenty of room. Quiet. No proprietary parts. And best of all I can select a keyboard that makes me effective, not try to adapt myself to some horrid midget keyboard. Once you get spoiled by an ergonomic keyboard there is no going back.

      1. This only makes sense if are driven to the laptop for mobility reasons. Otherwise the desk-side tower wins on every count. If I had some horrible lifestyle where I had no office of my own or was working one week out of the month in Baltimore or something, maybe a laptop would make sense along with a docking station at home.

        With a deskside tower I can pop in a new video card, power supply, add hard drives — and select the parts I want and get them for agreeable prices — and quickly too.

    1. laptop is a computer you use for 5 years then throw away. I plug a keyboard and monitor into mine. Eventually it wears out and I throw it out. It’s like instant ramen, I don’t really need the source to the recipe, I just need a place to throw the cup out when I’m done.

  20. Hmm… I could be considered an idiot for saying this… but doesn’t the disappearance of the desktop doesn’t have anything to do with the absence of the need of swapping floppies every 30 seconds?
    The only reason that I would want a large noisy box on my desktop would be because of the diskdrives. Swapping floppies every 30 seconds for whatever application (we called them games or programs back in the days) is a lot easier when the diskdrives are in front of you. Reaching below the desk isn’t user friendly. As soon as the diskdrive lost it’s appeal, mostly by cheap harddrives, the need for a loud box in front of you went away. The CD-rom drive with it’s noisy X-speed sounds was perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the desktop.

    So, nothing mysterious about it if you’d ask me. So the reason why the desktop is gone is simple… In a time where monitors are becoming thinner then its powercord the desktop is the worst monitor stand you can imagine! it simply wastes desktop space, is noisy and there is no need of having the machine directly at reach. In other words, it offers no benefits anymore.I would like to state that most designs are considered ugly (then and now) but that’s a matter of taste, so I take that back.

    1. @Jan says:

      “The only reason that I would want a large noisy box on my desktop would be because of the diskdrives. Swapping floppies every 30 seconds for whatever application (we called them games or programs back in the days) is a lot easier when the diskdrives are in front of you. Reaching below the desk isn’t user friendly.”

      EXACTLY! Why was this OBVIOUS observation missing in the OP HaD?

      Back then you had (typically) two floppy disk drives in the machine, one you boot from, and the other to run applications on (lots of disk-swapping was common). Back then you would also have a LOT of these floppy disk storage boxes stacked on your desk:

      Also, early floppy drives were NOT reliable unless they were oriented horizontal.

      Finally, back then unless you were in a highly secure office environment (paper file cabinets with dial-combination locks and sometimes second-key locks), as an Engineer you were given a tiny office (or later an even smaller cubicle), so you had to store all your files in boxes – which usually took up all the space under the computer desk.

    2. I think you’re onto something. No more floppies, even pushing in optical discs is uncommon with our giant harddisks and always-on broadband. With modern power management, there’s no hard power switch on the front, and not much need to interact with the soft power button – walk away for a bit and it sleeps, jiggle the mouse and it wakes up. So there’s much less need for the box to take up precious desk space, facing front and at hand’s reach. Towers are the perfect form factor to turn sideways and hide behind a thin LCD screen, or tuck under a desk without getting underfoot. (Not that the idea of under-desk “towers” is such a modern idea; geeks of a certain age will remember the extra holes in the side of the desktop cases for remounting the feet on the side, or how CD-ROM drives used to have those silly clips for holding the disc in place if the case was stood on end.)

  21. You missed a form factor: VESA mounted mini PC’s. They’re quite popular for businesses, in my experience. They have most of benefits of all-in-ones, and few of the drawbacks.

        1. Considering I mainly use my laptop as a remote terminal for my desktop when I am traveling…not much. I mainly use the desktop for CFD work. I can use the laptop for creating the models, checking emails, and reading hackaday.

  22. The move to the floor was early. However I and others were aware at the time that the bottom foot of vertical space in a room was off limits to PC’s and storing media on the bottom shelf of a bookcase was a no-no. Second shelf on up was OK. Most e-desks had a shelf for a tower up off the floor where older desks had a hanging file cabinet instead.

  23. Meh. First monitors got big enough that they no longer needed to sit on top of desktop. Then they got too heavy to put on top of a machine. Then they got slim and freed up a lot of desk space that you didn’t want to use for the computer. (I once replaced a 21inch color CRT with a 24inch LCD. It was amazing, having a desk back!)

  24. I did look around for a desktop case for my current work computer… basically my laptop at home was dying, my work one was now 3 years old so had done its service duty for tax purposes… and I no longer needed the portability. So buy a new desktop to replace the laptop at work, bring the laptop home.

    When I looked around at desktop cases, I found most of the true desktop options were mini-ATX or smaller… and the motherboard offerings for those cases was a bit lacklustre. I wanted some decent CPU grunt. In the end, I dragged an old mid-tower out of the garage here at home (sporting Intel P4 stickers) and slapped a Rysen 7 based system into it.

    A dead hard drive tilts the monitor back.

  25. Let’s see. The write says I have 3 choices. Laptop, Tower or “All in One”. All in One’s suck because everything is proprietary. Laptops have almost the same problem, and you get stuck with a horrible keyboard to boot. Looks like the only sane option is a Tower. Whatever you do, don’t put a computer on top of my desk.

  26. Dell 7050 SFF has feet on the side so you can set it flat on the desk, we have customers put their desk phones or monitors on it to free up some desk space. The desktop form factor is not gone…

      1. The earliest tower I recall seeing was the Boroughs B20 series multi user system in 1982. The terminals consisted of a screen and a tower (screen was on the side of the tower—which also acted as a copy stand). The main CPU was also a bigger tower that looks like a PC’s big brother.

  27. As I recall, most VAXStations, DECStations, SparcStations, etc were of the desktop configuration and built to support the giant CRT’s of the time. The main issue with PC cases was cost. 90’s-era PC clone cases were made in Taiwan and constructed of a cheap stamped steel shell. The tower configuration was just more economical. There were some exceptions, like the original 286 IBM AT, but it took up way too much desk space and only supported smaller monitors.

  28. HP’s Elite series of SFF and USFF business computers can be set on a side for tower or laid flat for desktop. The SFF models have four expansion slots and the boards use standard BTX mountings. The USFF systems tend to have only one or two slots, and often non-any-standard board mounting.

    Why that’s good to know is because HP Elite SFF boards are popular upgrades for older full tower BTX cases. The gotcha is HP’s proprietary power connections, which can be fixed by the commercially available ATX to Elite power adapter cables.

    But then there’s the main thing that’s held back widespread adoption of the BTX standard. Almost all OEMs selling BTX computers have the IO shield built into the case, despite removable ones being part of the standard. For some reason the BTX IO shield shape is slightly longer and slightly lower height than for ATX.

    So to retrofit an HP Elite board to something like an old Dell Optiplex or MPC ClientPro you have to literally hack the case for the ports to fit. Another issue is many OEMs also have used special front panel connections instead of the .1″ header pins.

    But if you want a “theft proof” PC, an old Optiplex 520 or ClientPro 385 case with an HP Elite board will fit the bill.

    1. Came here to say this. At work I manage a small flock of Elites, mostly the SFF but also a few of the larger desktop/tower convertibles. The desktop form factor is still very much alive in business. I keep recognizing them in offices, banks, et cetera. We use most of ours in a vertical orientation to save counter space, but the optical drives and rubber feet indicate a clear horizontal intention.

      I’m saving this board swapping information for later. I haven’t had a power supply go out on me yet, but I’m holding my breath. We’ve got a stockpile of AT and 20/4 pin ATX PSUs and cases, so it’s good to know some might still come in handy. (Well, maybe not the ATs.)

  29. I have another reply caught in the moderation queue that details all the factual errors in this poorly researched Op Ed piece, but having thought about it more… I have to ask, tongue in cheek, is Brian a manchurian style troll posting account created years ago just to post this one troll post? If someone named Brian “Bench-off” came into my online community and said the “Desktop” was dead… well… please tell me you see the awful pun. ;)

    1. The above was approved, but I don’t see my other post, so I’ll retype the things I went over so the above makes sense. I posted it as a reply to Mike’s reply defending the post up near the top, but it must’ve gotten eaten by the system when WordPress suddenly wanted me to log in, or something:

      Mike, you need to pull this article and force Brian to rewrite it, or put red strikethrough across everything factually incorrect so that less knowledgeable people don’t mistake it for factual content.

      The Tower was to some extent a logical consequence of the user’s physical deskspace. Just cursory googling will reveal common complaints that their IBM + Monitor wouldn’t fit on the desk of a 1980’s cubical because of the bottom of the overhead cabinet. As a child, I also recall seeing monitors sitting on rolltop countertops with desktop form factor PCs sitting to the side, or in a product of it’s time, a plastic/metal wedge block designed to stand a desktop PC up on it’s side to make a juryrigged tower. IBM realized these upright stands were a thing, and incorporated the idea of a Desktop that could be put on it’s side into the IBM 6150 in ’86. Those Desktop to tower stands lasted well into the 90’s, if not longer.

      From that point, the next thing that caused towers to replace desktops was a very simple nemesis: Heat. As processors became more powerful, passive cooling in tight boxes with poor airflow became insufficient, The ATX standard was introduced to help compensate for this, by providing a simple solution that took advantage of the natural behavior of hot air: The CPU was to be placed as close to beneath the power supply as possible, so that the power supply intake pulled air away from the CPU, generating an active cooling on the then passively cooled CPUs. You can’t put the Power supply over a CPU in a Desktop form factor, which is why the ATX specification prescribed a Tower. (that didn’t stop some companies from trying) Struggling with heat already, every motherboard company suddenly started making exclusively ATX form factor motherboards to take advantage of the improved heat dissipation that the form factor had to offer. This is what really caused the tower to take off, not “imitating Apple”.

      I also remember that starting at some point in the 90’s, pretty much every computer desk was designed to accept a tower, and it wasn’t uncommon to walk into a house to fix someone’s computer during the 90’s and see a Packard bell turned on it’s side and shoved in one of those desk cubbyholes. I don’t know when those desks came onto the market, but perhaps a furniture affectionado can chime in with some extra input. Those desks had problems of their own with constricted airflow, so they eventually fell out of favor, as well.

      The ATX form factor also had some additional selection biases, especially once Overclocking became popular, and suddenly anything less than perfect cooling was insufficient, even in computers you didn’t intend to overclock. Many technicians in the 90’s, myself included, would not sell a desktop case because we were convinced that the poor airflow would cause the processor to overheat and come back for warranty replacement. (Especially because of bad experiences with packard bells, which were so tightly packed that the wires collected dust bunnies that stopped airflow, then burned out even slower 486 chips) Even today, if you tell an old technician you’re buying a Desktop form factor case, they will tell you that it’s going to burn up because of bad airflow, fully believing the inevitability of said statement.

      That’s not to say that Desktops were completely forced off the market. The Desktop form factor computers of today are still widely available, you can go on Dell’s small business site and buy brand new pancake box optiplex cases right now. If you go to Newegg and look at Towers, mixed in with the towers are Desktop form factors. Last year I purchased a Cooler Master desktop style case from Newegg for my Dad’s new computer that has a 240mm case fan and better airflow than my Antec Tower. Most Mini-ITX computers are technically desktop form factor, although admittedly it isn’t difficult to mistake them for an external DVD RW drive.

      Desktop cases are easy to find if you just make a halfhearted effort to look. Again, you really need to fix this article or mark it as a blatantly incorrect opinion piece.

      1. Quote: “ATX specification prescribed a Tower”

        ATX specified a form-factor and not an orientation. Indeed many ATX cases can be oriented both ways.

        The tower was a behind-the-scenes case long before their uptake for home or as business workstations.

        Before “U” rack systems were common or economical, tower cases were extensively used as servers or clustered as a server farm. The reason was that it is much easier to remove a tower system for maintenance than to remove a server that has 3 three other servers stacked on-top of it. This started in the BBS era.

        Though IBM had a good market share there were also many many clones and these collectively were more common than an actual IBM. This started in the XT era and was prevalent in the AT era.

        I have a DEL desktop PC than can be oriented both ways. I use it in a tower orientation as I have a 37″ monitor.

        The original thermal design was equally poor in either orientation.

        The later heat generating Pentiums were the cause of cases have an additional case fan. With the addition of a case fan there thermal characteristics of either orientation was much the same. Convection accounts for very little in a forces air design.

      2. The original ATX specification had the power supply fan on the bottom (side if in a desktop) drawing air IN through the power supply to blow at a fanless heat sink on the CPU. The idea was to reduce noise and use one fan for cooling both the power supply and CPU.

        But in the meantime while ATX was being launched, CPUs got faster, and hotter. Blowing power supply warmed air at a hot CPU (even with its own fan) didn’t work very well. But the OEMs stuck to the plan for a while. I flipped over a lot of early ATX power supply fans to blow out through the power supply. I also used aluminum flue tape to seal up the inside vents in the power supplies so air wouldn’t circulate back into the case.

        The results were much cooler temperatures inside the computer cases due to cooler air being drawn in from every vent and hole around the case. With some of them it was easy to feel the difference in temp with a hand on the case side.

        BTX has had the opposite problem. Initially designed during a time of really hot running CPUs, the requirement for a very massive heat sink scared away potential adopters, especially 3rd party / aftermarket component manufacturers. But CPUs soon took a turn for much better efficiency, more computing power while using less power. BTX does have much better cooling than ATX, especially for the CPU where every CPU is in the same space on every brand and there’s a clear space between the CPU and front of the case plus a large, quiet, fairly slow turing fan exhausting out the rear.

        BTX also fixes a long time WTF? in PC design. For some reason when PCI was designed, a decision was made to make the cards backwards from ISA, EISA, VLB, and MCA cards. AGP then PCI Express continued the backwardness. When desktops were first flipped on end to make towers (and there were many case designs with rotatable drive bays for either orientation) it was natural to flip the right end up because it put the toasty warm chips on the expansion cards on the *top side* where heat could easily rise up and away.

        With PCI, AGP, and PCIe, in a conventional tower design, the chips are on the *bottom* of the expansion cards so heat has to flow over to the edges of the cards before being able to rise up.

        A few ATX cases, OEM and aftermarket, have flipped the motherboard over while some inverted the whole thing, putting the power supply (and sometimes the external drive bays) at the bottom.

        What BTX does is essentially mirror the ATX board, putting the slots on the opposite side. It also positions the expansion cards so the chips are on top. Another benefit of this is in some BTX cases a GPU with a 2x thick cooler can be placed in the first slot without blocking an adjacent slot – though in most OEM BTX boxen there’s not a slot opening next to the first slot, so they’ll only take GPUs that have a single wide back end, or if they have a 2x wide plate have no ports on the extra half.

        But despite the technical superiority of BTX, especially when it comes to cooling and airflow, most of the PC industry is still stuck back in 1995 with the ATX standard.

        1. PCI being upside-down might be so that you could put one dual-purpose slot on a motherboard. It would support a PCI or ISA card depending on which connector you plugged into, but the card would fit in the same cutout on the case. It was normal for PCs to have one slot like this when PCI and ISA (and good ol’ VLB) lived together.

          Thinking about it, that was a bit short-sighted.

          Tower cases keeping cards horizontal is inferior to having them all vertical. Probably has something to do with why modern PCs have 18 fans in them, blowing air in every direction at once. Really we’re lucky the sides of the case don’t collapse in from the vacuum.

  30. I still use desktop as my main computer, no one made a laptop that can outperform a 32GB i7 2700k clocked to 5GHz. Not to mention storage space. 7x4TB hard drives don’t fit a single laptop, most could only do 2 (one via CD to hard drive caddy).

    However it’s an odd case. Not rectangular like so many of the desktops or towers but cube. A nice 18x18x18″ cube by Mountain Mods. Enough room to have serious water cooling setup for quad SLI’d video with dual CPU motherboard, or a two motherboard and power supply to have 2-in-one computer set. And pretty darned strong but it’s not holding up a monster CRT monitor. I’ve switched to LCD long ago. Instead the computer case has a monster wide format all-in-one printer.

  31. i like a small form factor case. been happy with my elite 110 but its been a rather ungainly little box. sitting in a corner of my desk rendering a square foot of desk area useless. but its full of empty space. i figure it could be cut down to 40% of its height just by rotating the video card 90 degrees and moving the psu (a tiny sfx psu with an adapter plate to fit in the atx slot) and ssd drives to one side (or to the mobo with m.2). this would make it a little wider, but thats whats desired in a desktop case. my monitor could stand to be 4 inches higher up.

    case modders have forced the industry to make so many components over sized just to justify buying a case the size of the apollo guidance computer. most people just dont need four video cards, 6 drives, a 1kw psu, and a water cooling loop. thats pretty much overkill for anything id do with it. at most im looking at one video card and a couple ssds and a tiny 600w sfx supply is enough to power it all (which i bough because atx power supplys seem to be growing).

    with the drive problem resolved, smaller psu form factors, and smaller cases being available, there are still a few areas id like to see improved. id like to see half height video cards that dont suck and thinner psu coolers being the biggest remaining issues. more m.2 slots would also be nice (especially on smaller mobo form factors like mini-itx).

      1. im running a 1060 6gig because i can. it barely fits but it fits. thing is you couldn’t half the case height without having to give up some room for the gpu. so either a half height or a 90 degree riser. the latter isnt really a bad idea, ive seen cases that allow lateral mounting of the video card but its far from being an industry standard. have the mobo in the center with drives and psu on one side and the gpu on the other. this would make a great desktop case, only about as deep as a mid size video card and if you can get it down to four inches high that would be nice.

        but the cpu cooler hight needs to be reduced to around 60% of stock height. ive seen some very flat cpu coolers out there, but never one considered better than stock or one of those gargantuan aftermarket coolers.

  32. Pads and books are reduced feature laptops, laptops are reduced feature PC’s, and now people are realising that the only advantage of a laptop is its portability, they are going back to the PC, which you can also build yourself, and can be easily stripped, repaired and upgraded. This ability is very limited with a laptop, and non existent with a Ipad type device, so why buy one? FASHION!!

  33. Less shielding on our desktop or system in general? I still have the Zenith… I forget which computer that was 286/386 that is rather solid for the rust and ??? disgust growth. Reminds me I need to look into chlorine dioxide to kill spores and eggs.

    1. I think I’m going to use the Zenith case and some components also, since it has a power tubular lock switch for one, with an Air Conditioner build since I have a couple of those lying around also asking to be used for an overclocked build.

    2. I have a HP 9845 I’m tempted to put modern guts in as it may not be possible to restore it to working condition as a couple of chips on the rom card are physically burnt so who knows what else is fried inside it.

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