Compaq Portable III Is More Than Meets The Eye

The Compaq Portable III hails from the 386 era — in the days before the laptop form factor was what we know today. It’s got a bit of an odd design, but a compelling one, and the keyboard is pretty nifty, too. [r0r0] found one of these old-school machines and decided it was well worth refitting it to give it some modern grunt.

The Portable III ended up scoring a mini-ITX build, with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and an AMD RX580 GPU. Cramming all this into the original shell took some work, like using a vertical riser to fit in the GPU. Hilariously, the RGB RAM sticks are a little bit wasted when the enclosure is closed.

For the purists out there, you’ll be relieved to know the machine’s original plasma display was dead. Thus, a larger modern LCD was fitted instead. However, [r0r0] did play around with software to emulate the plasma look just for fun.

It’s funny to think you could once score one of these proud machines for free at a swap meet.

8 thoughts on “Compaq Portable III Is More Than Meets The Eye

    1. Might not have been dead. Worked for Compaq in product engineering and found a problem on the Portable III that killed the display. A ribbon cable between the system and panel was terminated into a IDC connector. The ends of the cable were trimmed after the connector was added, but the conductor ends weren’t insulated. The conductor ends would short to the metallic coating on the plastics and short out signals or power. A strip of insulating tape fixed the problem.

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