The Emperor’s New Computer

You walk into a home office and see an attractive standing desk that appears bare. Where’s the computer? Well, if it is [DIY Perk]’s office, the desk is the computer. Like a transformer robot, the desk transforms into a good-looking PC.

He starts with a commercial desk and creates a replacement desktop out of some aluminum sheets and extrusions. The motion uses some V-slot profiles and linear rails. The monitor and keyboard shelf pop up on invisible hinges. When closed, there’s no trace of a computer.

The mechanics of the pop-out hatch are complex, but they worked the first time. At least, we think it was the first time. Video editing is a possibility! He did have to add some springs and pneumatics to keep it from slamming down. A magnet gives a positive lock feeling when you open the hatch.

The monitor is an ultra-wide OLED that can be curved or flat. He removed the electronics from the panel and mounted the screen on the inner part of the hatch. Half of the electronics went back into the desk. A small but powerful PC with an Intel I9 and a graphics card fit in the desk. A conventional power supply would be too large, but a pair of very thin GaN power supplies come to the rescue.

Surplus server heatsinks keep the system cool without breaking the bank.

Thermal management is also something that could easily be too thick. The solution was a custom brass heat spreader that runs the length of the desk, onto which he mounted 40 surplus server heatsinks paired with laptop fans. But when they failed to get the job done, larger heatsinks and fans were brought in. These stick out below the bottom of the desk, but you wouldn’t notice unless you were laying on the floor.

Honestly, the build is amazing. If you are on the fence, watch the first few seconds of the video where the desk transforms, and you’ll be hooked. The final step was to make the aluminum desktop look like wood with oak planks and some optical illusions.

We doubt our woodworking and machining skills are up to duplicating this, but we wish he’d take our money. Desk computers aren’t really a new idea, of course. Be glad you don’t have to build a 1965 “desktop” computer into a desk.

57 thoughts on “The Emperor’s New Computer

  1. Very nice but you know the Emperor’s new clothes was a tale about gullibility so if the title is to match the video the computer in the desk should be a 386.

  2. I’m sorry but I really hate this kind of thing. All I can think is “what a waste of resources for some showroom piece no one will use.”

    No ergonomics — you can’t meaningfully adjust the monitor.

    Unless you use the the right keyboard you can’t hide it because it won’t fit.

    When a component that is not easily replaceable dies or they no longer make that monitor form factor do you throw away the whole desk?

    It’s not really *useful* closed up because you’re not going to want to put anything weighty (or containing liquids) on top of the lid. Whatever you do put on top has to be moved elsewhere.

    It’s basically a gigantic stationary laptop in an awful form factor – It’s not even a collector’s piece like the steampunk stuff people do.

    1. Try harder. First you complain that you won’t be able to close the desk with a different keyboard, then say there’s no point in closing it in the first place. Don’t even know what you’re trying to get at with adjusting the monitor. He’s built the thing for personal use, obviously the monitor is right where he wants it. Do you adjust the angle of your monitor every day just for fun?

      Just a whole lotta words just to say “I’m jealous that the end result looks better than anything I’ve ever accomplished”

      1. I stand by my analysis. Bad ergonomics, not useful as a desk or table when collapsed and clearly not “just something he made for personal use” given it’s a second iteration and includes a plug for the standing desk company every 30 seconds. Just another form of TikTok pr0n. I don’t recall making any judgement about the maker but very classy and mature of you to personally attack me.

      2. Well…. I might argue he built it for YouTube clicks.
        I will say a piece like this is built to look cool over working well. It’s purpose is to look cool in a video.

    2. I was a really really big fan of doing custom computers they look great they fit great you get attention on the internet

      You sit there planning and measuring every little detail it looks like a dawned space ship from a movie

      Then a component fails or you upgrade something.. even something minor, guess what? The entire illusion is broken.

      Couple more upgrades and it looks like a child threw up and everything is he’ll and you might have just as well made it in a generic box that still looks good 5-10 years later

    3. You will totally be able to close it with different/bigger keyboard, or even with mouse left on the keyboard for that matter – it just be the last time you close it fully working. :)

    4. I’d have to disagree a fair bit – the monitor is in about the right position, at least for him sitting at the desk, the keyboard tray space is pretty darn deep I think even my much loved (but currently not functional) Terminal Keyboard would fit in there and that thing is giant in every dimension compared to modern keyboards. You could use it quite comfortably, certainly way more comfortably than any laptop I’ve ever seen even if you are way bigger than he is… So sure its not the infinite easy reposition monitor arm, but it is a big monitor at about the right spot, making it better than many folks existing setup with the supplied monitor stand that is often zero adjustment and way too low!

      And then with the materials of the frame construction and the thickness of the wooden veneer it would be a very functional table for sane office type loads – it is definitely not a workbench you might drop a heavy lump of cast iron on, but when folded down it should be more than good enough to do paper work and the like – the normal sort of stuff you do on your office desk. I’d actually take a desk like that quite happily (with some minor variations on the theme to suit me) as it gives a giant desk you can spread over when you need it – perhaps those occasions you manage to get your friends around for your tabletop games, maybe when you need to mark out and cut your fabric/paper/card templates etc and a usefully potent and upgradeable computer all in the space of one desk – which if you are in Europe, Japan etc where houses are pricey and small…

      And as for liquid spills its probably much much better at dealing with those than a laptop – almost all the components that might get damaged are trivial to replace with upgraded parts if they do get harmed at some point, and with so much space inside and the openings mostly funnelling the liquid into the voids there are not electronics… The monitor would be the biggest pain, but from a liquid damage perspective I think it is very unlikely to have much trouble anyway – while up its out of harms way (mostly) and while down gravity is going to want to pull that spill right past it.

    5. Some people just like clean minimalist styling. I build SFF not because I enjoy cramming parts in and limiting what components I can buy so it will all fit. I build it because the end result is very clean and takes up little space. With the pc in the desk it takes up zero desk space and when the pc is not in use it can be hidden away so it isnt an eyesore. This is the same as motorized projector screens or televisions that retract into furniture. Its definitely a luxury but its not useless or impractical. Replacing components happens so infrequently that the inconvenience would not be a concern for me.

    6. It looks like there’s around 4-5cm of space between the screen and the keyboard tray when the screen is closed, so plenty of room for a keyboard, and most mice (but not the vertical mouse I’m using right now).

    7. Except he built it for himself and likely will use it.

      You don’t really need to adjust the monitor, especially if you put it in the position you need it in the first place.

      Did you even watch the video? There is plenty of depth for a thick keyboard. Pretty much any available keyboard will fit.

      You don’t need to replace monitors often so why would them no longer making those monitors matter? If you look after your stuff and don’t break it then you shouldn’t need to replace it. If is a decent monitor anyway and we are nearing the limits of what monitors can do so there will be little reason to upgrade it either.

      All the components other than the monitor are easily replaceable and upgradable.

      The limitation of having to move stuff to use the computer really isn’t much worse than any other desk and having that much desk space when you need it is a good thing.

      So what if it is the second iteration? Are people not allowed to improve or remake things that they have built previously?

      Again did you watch the video? Yes the legs were sponsored but they could easily be swapped out for stationary legs or some other company’s height adjustable legs. What is wrong with people having sponsors?

      Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it is badly designed or a waste of resources. Most of your criticisms aren’t really valid anyway, it seems you are just making up reasons to hate it. You don’t like this, so what? Plenty of other people do.

    1. It works so how is it useless? You may not like it but that doesn’t mean it is useless.

      There are plenty of situations where you might need a large desk space but also need a desk for your computer, yes you can only use it for one at a time but that isn’t really that much of a limitation and it is a compromise that plenty of people would be willing to make.

  3. You know this is a furniture project right? It’s no Kramer’s coffee table book about coffee tables with legs that fold out so it becomes a coffee table.

  4. Well, besides the sponsored ¼ of the video, it’s a way to show what it could be done. Some ppl want to have a clean look of their room, some want to see all the bits and pieces and wires floating around to be sure that all is customisable.
    This channel is kind of p0rn: you want it like that, but it is not possible just like that. In the end it is a suggestion, perhaps new ideas and ways to do things. Also you’ll need a lot of paper tissue to collect the extra moisture (from the eyes and mouth) as you forget to be a normal human being and forget to close your mouth. From time to time (when the comercial hits) press pause, clean yourself, drink some water, wash the face and think if this should continue. Then start your own project.
    Still waiting for the next video.

    1. What commericals?…. Never see one. Watched the video. I do have ABP and Ublock Origin installed in my firefox (Linux). Plus Pi-Hole to block even more garbage. I thought everyone did that.

      1. Not commercials inserted by YouTube… The whole thing feels like it’s a commercial first, and a DIY tutorial… fifth. I agree with the p0rn comment—sorry, but I do—this was a $10,000 build, and I predict not a single viewer will make one themselves. Beyond that, maybe if he toned down the “how cool is that” tropes, it would feel more believable and personal. That said, I did like the whispered “these fans are really quiet” scene. (Shhh… we’re hunting wabbits…)

        1. While I agree most folks at least don’t have deep enough pockets to replicate the build exactly as is there are plenty of useful and inspirational elements to it.

          You could even argue I’ve already done my take on this project for almost nothing money wise – A hobby desk with a ‘hidden’ space for keyboard and mouse, and a really easily hidden ‘monitor’ being either my old Toughbook or Steamdeck brought to the desk when required… All made with mostly scraps of pretty cheap ply leftovers, salvage and a cheaper set of legs (same company IIRC but clearly a cheaper spec model and purchased on a deep sale). So in my case the design is quite different but different goals really however functionality not identical but similar enough you could if I hadn’t already built it cite this as an inspiration perhaps…

          But if I could have a desk more like his affordably in my tiny space I think I would – his is not quite as nice a computer desk experience to my current one in most ways, but not massively far away either and with the flexibility of getting a massive and reasonably solid flat desk surface for those occasions I need it.

          I wouldn’t go for trying to ‘hide’ the computer nearly as much though – probably have a very visible audio/server rack hanging off the top for easy of access. I do prefer practical over pretty.

        2. I’d recommend going back to watch his older videos (that didn’t get picked up in a story by Hackaday). This guy is genuinely excited about building wacky things, so his “how cool is that” is definitely not out of place if you’ve followed his channel at all. This one definitely felt like he wanted to monetize a bit more (who wouldn’t? if you’re posting on YouTube that’s usually the point), but he has always been that wildly excited about small things.

          1. It can seem a bit overdone at times but it is just him. He’s always like that.

            It was a big project and expensive so it makes sense to have sponsors. People love to complain about sponsors or adverts but also don’t support the channel financially so if there were no sponsors the channel wouldn’t exist.

            As far as sponsors go this actually wasn’t bad, he actually used the product and it didn’t seem like he tried to force it into the project either, it was something that was needed for the project anyway.

      1. How do you think this will go obsolete? The actual computer components should be upgradable and changeable as needed, the only thing that isn’t easily upgradable is the monitor and people don’t change their monitors very often.

    1. It is cool. But agree that I am not sure about usefulness. Spill a coke or cup of coffee, etc. If you use as a desk, you’d have to move everything on the desk to another table to use this one as a computer workstation. Work on it from the bottom would be kind of difficult I think. I know where the idea came from though. The first librarian movie “The Spear of Destiny” .

      1. You’d hardly have to move everything, the desk is massive and the folding section only takes up what 1/3? of the surface area – lots of space to shove stuff out the way if you need to pop up the computer quickly while you have the desk covered with other stuff. But ultimately its like most multipurpose furniture, you’d use it one way most of the time you are using it – I assume as the computer, as why else spend so much to build a useable and potent desktop into the desk. In which case what you have is a really great giant desk you can make easily available for those occasions you need it, and a computer monitor, keyboard and mouse that won’t get covered in dust quite so badly if you remember to fold it down while not using it…

        And while you’d certainly not want to spill a drink into it, you don’t want to do that onto your laptop or into your tower either, yet people will still manage to, at least this if it is damaged the components are trivial to get a suitable replacement (and upgrade).

        1. Also it may be pretty easy to protect it against spills, just make sure that any components are protected from liquid leaking in, should be quite easy to do with even just some plastic sheets.

  5. This is a beautiful and clever build and he shows you exactly how he did it. I only wish I had the time to do something like this. The video doesn’t fully convey the weeks needed to design and build it. I love that he showed how his original custom cooling solution wasn’t adequate and how he fixed it.

  6. In spite of the fact that the video on the surface looks like a “5 minute crafting” video, the video is actually quite impressive. He goes through all the design and work, and all the trouble with trying to build a cooling solution. To those saying there’s no room in the pocket, you clearly didn’t watch, the bottom rises with the lid, and drops when it closes so that there is plenty of room for a normal keyboard and mouse. It’s a quite smart build, and I’m a bit jealous of it.

    1. yeah I think most of the poople complaining didnt watch.

      that hole has like 5-8cm of height which is taller than any keyboard, he put speakers and an audio interface into it too.

      there’s also no way that spilling will be that big of an issue because all the goood stuff is so far away that that the liquid will have to do an obstacle course and seep through a series of small gaps and past glue etc to get anywhere.

      my god people seem to hate just to make everyone think they are stupid

      1. Plus people are wildly missing that the point of these videos is to show interesting design and building techniques and the end product is mainly there to have a novel difficult project to use to demonstrate those techniques. The value of DIY Perks is “oh that was a clever solution!” not “I want this impractical and expensive computer desk”

        1. It isn’t even that impractical. People do seem to miss the point and fail to consider how other people might use it not just themselves. There have been plenty of times I have needed a large desk space for something (even just opening packages and organising trays of stuff), and have had to go and use the dining room table or floor instead. The desk my computer and monitors are on would be big enough but my keyboard, monitors, etc just take up a lot of space. A desk like this would be ideal for the times that I do need a lot of space.

      2. Some of the comments do just seem like everyone is looking for a reason to hate it. Like all the people basically saying that it can’t be upgraded when it very clearly could be and pretty easily at that. The only component that couldn’t would be the monitor (although it may be possible to find a way to use a different one) and how often do people change their monitors anyway?

  7. What a lot of bitterness. The Mona Lisa, too, was a complete waste of paint, and its canvas could have clothed half a poverty-stricken child. This desk – and the video, arguably – are works of art somebody clearly enjoyed making. Probably the only appreciation will come from the off-shore manufacturers that pirate the design.

    1. It’s totes adorbs that you think the Mona Lisa was painted on canvas. Either one episode of My Favorite Martian or the historical story about the time it was stolen in the 20th century would have taught you on that. On the current project the people have spoken and I believe in democracy so go along with the majority. Their way IS the highway.

  8. While I personally wouldn’t use a standing desk and I have no need to hide anything, I thought this was an excellent presentation that held my interest throughout. I picked up a few ideas to use in other projects. I was also unaware that some curved monitors were adjustable.

  9. I’m a bit surprised that that initial cooling arrangement wasn’t equal to the task. Going with server heatsinks isn’t 100% ideal(their relatively tight fin spacing very much prefers forced air from a fan with at least a bit of static pressure punch, though those at least look like 2U rather than 1U, which is where you start to see fans being stacked to get the necessary static pressure); but it’s still absolutely loads of fin area and would have originally been tasked with a CPU probably rated for at least 100W, quite possibly more depending on the generation they were pulled from, and when you’ve got 22 of the things even getting substantially less-than rated performance would cover one of the more ostentatiously thirsty Intel parts.

    I can only assume that the difficulty is actually getting heat from the socket to that many heatsinks. Even if you are equipped to fabricate custom heatpipes that’s apparently an excessively long run for the conventional ones(‘thermosyphons’ can get all kinds of distance if designed and installed correctly; but the computer-standard orientation insensitive capillary action ones not so much); and there’s no way you’d get adequate thermal conductivity out of any solid heat spreader(unless you’ve got an epic chunk of diamond or boron arsenide; which can match the low end of heatpipes; but such a part would be somewhere between ‘cost no object’ and ‘literally nobody grows crystals that big’).

    An actively pumped liquid loop would probably be most viable; but that’s a considerable hassle unless your plumbing is impeccable, since it will end up leaking somewhere.

    1. My guess is that the squirrel cage fans he was using at first couldn’t produce enough static pressure to effectively use the first set of heatsinks. (And that any fans that *did* have enough static pressure would be pretty noisy)

      1. I was actually thinking it’s was just a lack of air flow. He wrapped those squirrel cages motors by the 3d print. I’m not sure where the air IN was coming from all I saw was OUT. And it was way to long to suck in from the sides. When he switched you could see the full path of air flow.

        I probably have switched to top being a quick metal geometric design and just made the whole table a heat sink, it was already aluminum, so a quick pattern to hide the seems would have been easy. But I love passive cooling, and tend to steer my builds to have very few fans and huge heat sinks.

        Fun build tho. I tend to agree that I have zero use for the end concept. Still fun

  10. I think it could be much simpler if you replaced the computer with the innards of a gaming laptop. More appropriate form factor and cooling would be much easier.

    1. I think he used laptop guts in a previous video about this concept. Figuring out how to use the beefiest desktop hardware is mostly part of the challenge / fun.

  11. Having already seen this video the only reason I clicked through to this article on my RSS feed was to see how toxic the HaD comments would be, and yup, (a lot of) you guys definitely delivered!

    It’s tragic that the HaD comments section is substantially worse than the average YouTube comments section, which was long considered the gold standard for ‘nasty, petty, vicious comments’. Well done on creating maybe the most toxic community in the maker space!

    1. I’m curious what kind of YouTube videos you are watching then if you think this is worse?
      That wretched hive of scum and villainy should just be burned.

      Here I just see a few people pointing out the downsides and saying it’s not their cup of tea.

      I do wish DIYperks would still make things that regular people could actually copy, like he did in the beginning. He gained a bunch of skills (and sponsorship money) and it’s been a long time since there was a cheap and simple DIY project on his channel.

    2. I personally love the hackaday comments. They provide very blunt clear critiques. They don’t all just sing praises. Do they often find micro critiques when the overall idea is good. Yeah but I would rather have people pointing out flaws then ignoring them.

      Often they also provide evidence to ideas being done before or otherwise highlighting how it was done previously using an alternative easier/cheaper method.

      All of that adds value to me the reader. If you would like we can become a comments section that just sings praise to every idea blindly no matter it’s merit but that adds 0 value to me.

    3. Think of the type o fpersonaloty which may be typical in the HaD comments section.

      Came for the motorisation. All that tech and you have to use your hands like a baby’s toy ?!

  12. My only observation is who uses their computer so infrequently that you can hide the screen away and then spread a project out that will cause you not to be able to use the computer when you need to.
    I know in my house, if there is an open flat space, I’ve probably got a project on it. Likely need to look at the instruction on screen.
    This doesn’t work for me on any level.
    Now if the screen went straight down and the entire cover surface lifted up then we might be able to talk…but I doubt I’d ever do this.
    It reminds me of the attempts years ago to make the desktop glass and place the monitor under the top at an angle so you looked downat desk and saw the computer screen — Don’t see them any more — Hell never saw anyone in real life that used one!

    1. The people that want to hide their screens have long moved all their computing to their phones or laptops.

      I saw a hidden _CRT_ desk in use.
      It was the receptionist’s desk.
      Her function was to be hot AF while making male visitors stupid. Tube would have partially hidden boobies.
      Yeah sweater puppies! Boo gravity. Boo time.

  13. Enspite of all the negative and positive critics, I applau this man’s effort and design. This took some serious planning and engineering with not everything going as planned, especially with the cooling system. For some this is not useful, but I am sure there are some people out there that would love to have something like this.
    Yes, I agree that the end product is heavy and will not be easy to move around. A lot of the items used is tailor made and not standard items. Surely a design like this does need tailor made parts like many new products on the market. If there is interest, it will then be manufactured and become more readily available. This is certainly not for everyone.

    All I want to say is – I give this man 10 out of 10 and just showing so many what can be done. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.

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