AMD’s Threadripper Is The Beating, Heating Heart Of “Most Powerful” DIY Laptop

There are plenty of powerful, “desktop-replacement” laptops out on the market if you’ve got the money to spend. Sometimes, though, that just doesn’t scratch that crazy itch in the back of your head for true, unbridled computing power. When you’ve got an insatiable thirst for FLOPS, you’ve got to strike out on your own, as [Jeff] did with this Threadripper laptop.

The aim was to pack an AMD Threadripper processor into a nominally portable laptop format. For this build, the AMD 1950X was chosen for its affordability and huge computing power, as well as a TDP of 180W. This high heat output has stopped the chips ending up in portable builds until now, but [Jeff] didn’t see this as a problem, but a challenge.

What results is a wild, lashed together build of high-power parts into what could charitably be called a laptop – though we’d recommend against putting it on your lap. With a 4K 18″ screen, keyboard, touchpad, and many Dell Powerbanks kludged together into an HP Media Center case, it fits the usual form factor, albeit with more exposed heatpipes and cables than the typical consumer may be used to.

[Jeff] claims this is the current most powerful laptop in the world, as builds that use the 3950X throttle it back in their applications. We don’t have the data to compare, but we certainly wouldn’t be stacking our own portable rig up against it in a fight. DIY laptops have a long history at Hackaday, going all the way back to 2007. If you’ve got your own wild build, be sure to drop us a line. Video after the break.

50 thoughts on “AMD’s Threadripper Is The Beating, Heating Heart Of “Most Powerful” DIY Laptop

    1. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be an aesthetic to aim for even.

      But I’d be a bit concerned about sharp corners and cut edges of all those metal pieces. Brush it the wrong way and it might be ripping something other than threads!

    2. Not just the most powerful DIY laptop in the world, but quite likely the ugliest too—despite being built with part of the body of a commercial laptop! Let’s see: exposed fans (some mounted with white zip ties and some with copper wire, randomly), wiring falling out the back, wiring falling out the front, power button apparently not even mounted, zip ties through the palm rest, great big gap in the palm rest, kinked heatpipes, exposed fin stacks (easily dented), exposed unenclosed power supply, exposed roughly-cut structural metal pieces, exposed structural webs and manufacturing marks on the back of the screen, scratches on the back of the screen like he started to sand it and gave up…

      But I’m actually glad he didn’t make it look nicer. When a project looks too well-made, it can be intimidating if you want to do a similar project. Uglier things seem more approachable from the perspective of wanting to build one yourself, and I’m all for more people being encouraged to build laptops and cyberdecks, especially very powerful ones. This level of ugliness isn’t really required for that, but it might make people think “hey, I could easily make one that looks a lot better!”

  1. The crimped flat bends in the heatpipes make me wonder if they’re still functional.

    So I reckon that one could do better with the Ryzen 9s, a bit more cache, resulting in a slight percentage lead over threadrippers at same number of cores and same clocks, and they boost higher. Then also you have 75 less watts to worry about. Ryzen 9 3950x for example, bung it on something like a ASRock X570 ITX

    1. I’ve played with heat-pipes some, its certainly not a good thing for them, but it might well work fine – somewhat depends on the type. From my experience the ones with internal wick wires (think solder wick type stuff) don’t care, but the sintered internal wicking surface type can be crumbly inside and cease to function after a bad bend.

      1. Ahhhh, NOW I remember why I have a package of fine weave glass cloth, I found it last week and did the “I know I bought this for some particular reason or project but I can’t remember what.” Yeah, I was gonna try it as heatpipe wicking. However, that was when, holy crap that much have been quite a while ago, when you could get a $200 processor and get unbuyable performance out of it with a redonkulous overclock. So not sure it’s super worth the bother these days, except maybe for this sort of thing, when you want to get a lot of heat as far sideways as possible.

    1. My thought too.
      I agree that someone might have a need for such “portable” monster, but this is useless. It is way too heavy to put on lap, way too fat to put on table and way to expensive just for fun.
      There are other “portable” forms of computers, this “laptop” thing makes sense only if it is light. He could have use ordinary tower case, put handle on top, mount LCD on one side, fill it with batteries, and it would be probably more portable than this.

      1. i dont even think i want to run a threadripper in an sff case, certainly nothing under 12 liters. without a large air cooler or radiator, you are just wasting silicon. there are sff cases that can pull it off, if you want to spend a couple hundred bucks on the case itself. of course then you dont have batteries or integrated peripherals. id love to see a laptop made with tesla’s beer can cells.

    1. As I think I said at the time it first came up I liked the zedripper… a nice practical ascetic, none of this stupidly thin, no internal space for additions, uncomfortable to hold and probably rather floppy of most modern stuff. Just a nice clean solid box with lots of space..

      The improvements look really quite good too.

  2. Taking all this at face value, I would look into higher wattage 12V DC ATX adapters. The array of Dell power packs, spoof cables, and the need for a switch (in this case RCA cables) could be eliminated with a few simpler components. After all, those Dell bricks are probably packed with 18650s anyway. Yes, low voltage cutoff and charging circuitry would be needed to operate safely, but these things exist, and they are a far cry simpler than this hodgepodge of spoofed protocol negotiation.

  3. Holy crap, I finally broke the code… Portable PC case, Lunchbox PC case, etc gets you absolutely crap on google or other search engines. The search terms that start bringing in the gold are
    atx portable chassis
    portable workstation chassis
    atx portable workstation

  4. Props for getting that CPU into a “laptop” form factor.

    But seriously, dude needs to watch some Ben Heck videos for inspiration on how to make it look less like something the Borg came up with.

    1. I am dimly remembering that there might have been a Borg laptop… think it was a Voyager episode, maybe late TNG… planet of stranded Borg and they have comms arrays on surface trying to contact collective, and one of them I think uses a portable device to mess with one, kind of a background thing rather than main character. It might have been a pullout terminal, or I’m completely misremembering.

  5. it’s cyberpunk alright, like cyberpunk 2077.

    -it looks rushed
    -it has no aesthetics – like running cp2077 on lower xboxen
    -it looks cobbled together
    -it probably barely works
    -it’s impossible to maintain
    -it’s held together with willpower, duct-tape and bailing wire
    -it’s not fixable in it’s current state

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