Custom Tablet PCs?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by gutierrez, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. gutierrez

    gutierrez waiting for a fixed fan

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    I know this topic has been pushed before, but given the Modbook Pro is a no show, I'm looking to see if anyone knows of any service building custom tablets?

    I know I can customize to a decent extent all mainstream offerings like the Lifebooks, Thinkpads, ect. But they all are missing something I really want: dedicated graphics.

    Fuego in her day was a beast, good ATI mobility chip, and a still decent processor. Sadly, her star is fading. The most recent patch in Starcraft 2 has glitched all the graphics on the older ATI cards and besides, the last official driver update for her was in 2008.

    I'd really like to squeeze another few years out of a new one if I grab it and I'm greedy.

    General Questions.
    1. What is your budget?
    Financed, under $1500 if possible​
    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?
    New​
    3. Do you prefer a Slate, Convertible or Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC)?
    Convertible​
    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
    12" +​
    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from?
    US​
    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    No​
    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    Spare battery or expansion slot would be nice, 3 hours+?​
    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet?
    CAD work, programming and gaming​
    9. Do you have an OS preference?
    Windows​
    10a. What software and tasks do you intend to run?
    AutoCAD, Visual Studio 2010, Proprietary CAD software, Embroidery design software, Corel Draw, Photoshop​
    10b. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.
    Starcraft II​

    Screen Specifics
    1. What resolution do you prefer?
    WXGA or higher​
    2. Do you require the screen to be readable in sunlight?
    No​
    3. Do you prefer your display to be glossy or matte?
    No preference​
    4. Do you require Touch? (without pressure sensitivity) (Which one: resistive or capacitive)
    No, would be a plus.​
    5. Do you require a Pen? (with pressure sensitivity) (Which one: Wacom or N-Trig)
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    Pressure sensitive pen, WACOM would be a plus​

    Component Specifics
    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require?
    Will drop my own, already own an SSD, RAM is easy to pick up locally.​
    2. Do you require an Optical (CD/DVD) Drive to be built in?
    No, would perfer an extra battery bay​
    3. Do you require ability to add a second Battery or Hard Drive (Modular Bay technology)?
    Require, no, but would be a huge plus.​
    4. What type of graphics processor would you like to have in your device?
    Dedicated, high end mobile (Mobility Radeon HD 5870, Geforce GTX 580M, or similar)​


    I have a feeling none of the main companies (Lenovo, Fujitsu, HP, Dell, et. al.) have an offer like this, so I'm asking for a custom shop. If any mainstream producer out there has an offering like this, let me know. I'd be all over it.
     
  2. PhotoMuis

    PhotoMuis Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Can't say anything about custom shops, but if the purchase is not urgent and you can save up a bit still to get your budget to around 2000, then take a look at the Fujitsu T901, it's got a dedicated graphics option (NVIDIA® NVS™ 4200M GPU)

    Fujitsu America - LIFEBOOK&reg T901 Tablet PC
     
  3. OttoRobba

    OttoRobba Pen Pal - Newbie

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  4. gutierrez

    gutierrez waiting for a fixed fan

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    Thank you for the suggestion. I've looked over the model and it looks like the mobile graphics landscape has changed a lot since I bought Fuego in 2007. Who'd have thought? Looking at general graphics benchmarks it looks like you really have to check your performance closely.

    The integrated graphics in the T901 pull around a 350-400 passmark score - PassMark Software - Video Card Benchmarks (depending on your processor)
    The NVS 4200M pulling the rendering clocks in at 402 - PassMark - NVS 4200M - Video Card Benchmarks

    The main plus the 4200M has over HD 3000 is that it is DirectX 11 compliant over 10.1 on the integrated.

    It looks like you can squeeze a very respectable score of 775 out of a Intel HD i7-2820QM processor, which is the same score as a dedicated GeForce GT 550M.

    I might need to be hunting the best processor over all instead.
     
  5. Jergling

    Jergling Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Here's the issue: Laptops (tablets included) are built to fit a single, factory-standard motheboard. This motherboard is so specific to it's laptop model that you really have no upgrade or replacement options. It's basically impossible to buy standalone laptop motherboards, let alone upgraded ones.

    Being stuck with one motherboard also means you're stuck with one GPU, as well as a severe bottleneck on your north bridge if you upgrade the rest of the components. If a computer was build to use an integrated GPU, it won't have a port to install a dedicated one that fits inside the case (also, you won't find mobile GPUs for sale unless you want to buy "as-is" used computers and rip parts out of them).

    Furthermore, with a tablet you're going to have issues connecting the monitor and digitizer with the third-party motherboard and GPU. Penabled digitizers output on some kind of serial port that's read as USB. Only tablet motherboards have this port, and only one motherboard is available for each model of tablet. On top of everything, this issue really seals the deal.

    So that was really negative. I know. On the bright side - with sufficient equipment and engineering knowledge you could buy your components independently, build a custom case from the ground up, and have yourself a nice, DIY slate. It would be a big plastic rectangle, but it could be as fast as you want it to be.
     
  6. gutierrez

    gutierrez waiting for a fixed fan

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    I don't know if it's a question of engineering or more of a question of market share. If I head over to a custom retailer like XOTIC PC they have advanced search options set up for custom UMPC and Tablet form factors. The problem is no general producer like ASUS or Gigabyte seems to make a convertible form factor chassis and motherboard. I was hoping I could find someone who knows a producer that does. Or at least a major retailer with some better options. I may have to pester XOTIC and see if they have any leads.

    Play with their build options sometime. You can get a laptop with anything from a 12.1" to a 18.4" screen. They even have boards set up to take dual video cards (just be ready for that extra power brick, yes, they take two power bricks.) There's no lack of options or customization for the standard form factor. I just looks like the convertible tablet market has enough steam to drive them to make general hardware to customize.
     
  7. PhotoMuis

    PhotoMuis Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Wow, interesting idea, am keeping that bookmarked till I am in the market for some hardware again... If your pestering pays off and they can indeed make custom tabletPCs, please post all progress here, am sure there are many in this forum who will be interested in such information.
     
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