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OCZ branches out to include notebooks under its growing umbrella.

While most people know OCZ Technology as a memory company, it has recently branched out into many sector of the computing market. OCZ's portfolio has now expanded to include video cards, power supplies, memory cards and solid-state drives (SSDs).

OCZ hopes to branch out even further with the announcement of a new do-it-yourself (DIY) gaming notebook. End-users will be able to purchase the DIY notebook barebones and add components to the machine to build an entire system. OCZ venders, however, will be able to spec the notebooks however they see fit.

Each notebook comes from OCZ standard with a 15.4" WXGA display, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 512MB GPU, Intel PM965 northbridge/ICH8M southbridge, SATA support for HDDs or SSDs, 8x dual-layer DVD burner, four USB 2.0 ports, ExpressCard 34/54 slot, and a fingerprint reader. Optional components will include Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, a TV tuner, and a Intel 4965AGN 802.11a/g/n wireless adapter.

OCZ's DIY gaming notebook is no lightweight, however, and weighs in at hefty 7 pounds with a 9-cell battery pack. External dimensions for the machine ring in at 14.25" x 11.25" x 1.5".

"For years consumers have wanted to build their own mobile computing platforms, but the product offerings and market simply did not serve them as they did in the desktop do it yourself segment," said OCZ Systems Solutions Product Manager Eugene Chang. "With the OCZ Do-It-Yourself Notebook initiative, OCZ empowers with the resources like validated component guides, documentation, tech support, and a warranty to allow consumers to configure and build a true gaming notebook with the exact specification that matches their unique requirements."

OCZ also plans to go above and beyond the call of duty by offering validated components in the system, toll-free support, and detailed instructions on how to complete a new system build.

Pricing has not been announced for OCZ's DIY gaming notebook, but will be revealed when the system and its siblings arrive later this year.

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well they're not first
By TMV192 on 5/13/2008 6:43:59 PM , Rating: 3
ASUS released the C90s a long while back, and parts aren't hard to come by either
the problem with these are they are heavy and bulky, and while that's expected the real issue is that unlike Desktops its actually more expensive to build a laptop then get one pre-made

RE: well they're not first
By cmdrdredd on 5/13/2008 6:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
True, price becomes a key factor. They're also huge. I priced out an HP with similar specs to this OCZ offering and it fell in under $900.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 6:56:35 PM , Rating: 5
Hi TMV192, thanks for the feedback. Since it is my first post in this thread let me identify myself as an employee here at OCZ. This will just be the first of a complete range of DIY notebooks that we will be releasing, expect to see something exciting at upcoming events. We are going to go in both directions, gaming and portability for the DIY kits, and more and more resources will become available, including upcoming integration step by step videos.

We are starting with the gaming segment because that is where we got the most consumer requests for, it certainly is possible to build a performance loaded configuration (say with SSD’s for example) that can be quite costly, but it is possible to configure the notebook where the total cost is competitive. I can tell you that upcoming DIY notebooks will offer much more room for configuration.

A lot of times in the past manufacturers have released a product and basically left it at that. Our goal is to make it easier with not just the products but a complete initaitive to support sonsumers in terms of validated components, support, and guides.

RE: well they're not first
By TETRONG on 5/13/2008 7:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
Cool, just happy to see someone finally doing this.

Good work OCZ!

RE: well they're not first
By bdewong on 5/13/2008 7:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, azander has been here for a while and will come in and speak on the OCZ product announcments. It is great to have someone from the company to speak directly to.

I know that these will fall into a niche market because pre-fab computers are usually cheaper and smaller/lighter. I would love if these can be [relatively] low priced even if their weight is on the high side.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 7:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks very much for the kind words bdewong, we really like the feedback we get from the very tech savvy participants of this site. I agree regarding the niche, especially of the higher end gaming DIY notebooks. We will be releasing more “productivity” oriented notebooks in the future that are even easier to integrate, have lower component requirements, and fit into that more aggressive pricing segment.

RE: well they're not first
By afkrotch on 5/16/2008 12:23:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing these DIY notebooks won't have user replaceable graphics cards or set some kind of standard for them, so you can go beyond the type of card that was originally designed for the notebook.

RE: well they're not first
By murphyslabrat on 5/14/2008 12:23:22 PM , Rating: 3
I know that these will fall into a niche market because pre-fab computers are usually cheaper and smaller/lighte

Originally, Computers themselves were a niche market, as it was a whole lot easier, cheaper, and faster to use a personal assistant. However, with the digital revolution, it has become far cheaper to use a computer.

In the early-to-mid 90's. Computers were readily available at reasonable costs to consumers. There are OEM parts available, but for the most part it is cheaper to just purchase a computer from an OEM itself. After-market parts are usually just for replacing a broken component, or upgrading.

Fast-forward 15 years, and we have another situation entirely. You can purchase a the components to a computer (including OS) for less than the cost of a new computer, especially on the high-end models. Most OEM computers will have a replacement-part index, where you can purchase an approved part, but most cards, CPU's, HDD's, and ODD's are fully interchangeable, as most of them are fully modularized.

Today, you have laptops with closely integrated cooling, making a rigid thermal envelope. One thing that is necessary to make DIY laptops more flexible in price and compatibility would be modularized component cooling. For instance, a video-card slot that utilizes a standardized for-factor for a cooling device, with the device itself included on the card.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/14/2008 1:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Murphyslabrat, totally right on in regards to the graphics. While most other components within notebooks have become modularized (standardized) the graphics and cooling haven’t quite gotten there yet. Not on the part of the graphics providers but on the part of the notebook makers. In the past many notebook manufacturers have been wary to make videocards or cooling upgradable, and it is cheaper to put graphics down on the actual motherboard. With the higher end graphics this will change, and with standards like MXM it is possible to make a GPU cartridge complete with cooling. The CPU cooler is more proprietary to the layout of the notebook shell, but upgrades are possible with better heat pipes, changes in material, etc. There just has to be enough scale for a market to exist for the upgrades.

RE: well they're not first
By MightyAA on 5/15/2008 2:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
My suggestion. The main issue with notebooks and upgradability is that the formfactor and chipsets are rather fixed (which truely limits what you can do). Even using a MXM standard won't save you because that standard changes often, the chipset limits gpu, and every manufacturer has proprietary cooling solutions without a chance to upgrade.

Honestly, if I were going at the high end performance and enthusiast markets, I'd look to standardizing some sort of port that allows the notebook to dock with a accessory box. CPU and integrated graphics on the notebook (making the notebook much less complex and cheaper). The external accessory box would have a sub-mobo that allowed for desktop gpu's, hd's, soundcards, etc. Basically a psu, small mobo and expansion slots that conforming to desktop standards. That box could be quite small, and most of us gamers with notebooks dock our rigs for playing anyway. Components within the box could be upgraded at will just like desktops. The notebook then is basically a barebone machine that you could detach when roaming around (a cpu, small screen and keyboard). With that concept, you could use any OCz notebook to dock to the station; so that insures you of future sales as well.. (who's gonna pitch his accessory box loaded with desktop components that won't plug and play with any other notebook?). That's really the hook: Enthusiast like to upgrade a component at a time and stretch out the life/speed of their rigs by constant tweeking and component swaps.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 7:51:29 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks TETRONG, appreciate the support. One of the reoccurring feedback items we got from a lot of events was that notebooks are becoming much more of a viable gaming platform now, especially for on the go gaming like LAN’s and such. We believe that there are customers out there that not only are interested in configuring a notebook, but would enjoy the experience of building one, just like desktop.

RE: well they're not first
By murphyslabrat on 5/14/2008 12:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
Or for people who can get a better bang-for-buck. Even now with the Asus C90s, you can get a Geforce 8600GT, 2.4Ghz CPU(stock, with the possibility for an overclock), 2GB RAM and a 15.4 inch 1680x1050 screen for just under $1100. Most laptops with similar price only have a 1280x800 or 1440x900 screen, and have slower CPU's.

RE: well they're not first
By SiliconJon on 5/18/2008 5:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a big bang-per-buck buyer myself. The ability to upgrade parts or customize the system myself retains its own value. Make the DIY laptops truly peripherlized internally with standardized component interfaces and I may get a new laptop sooner than expected. Make the interface standards propreitary or non-existant, and I wouldn't touch it.

RE: well they're not first
By Agitated on 5/13/2008 7:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
maybe partner up with an online vendor who can help with being able to test more parts quickly and giving customers a specific location where they know where they can get parts and not have to hunt around.

Letting people know what cpu's a laptop can support and maybe allowing more options in the bios would be a nice change for once.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 8:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Agitated, very good points. We will be releasing actual component qualification guides with the actual launch later this week, and are working with our customers for additional qual of their top requested components. I’m hoping that some customers will also offer special pricing on the components as well in a complete DIY bundle, but we need to rely on the resellers and e-tailers for this.

Also a very good point regarding the bios, this first offering won’t have as much overclocking as you will see in upcoming units, but it is something that is high up on our list of priorities for the more advanced unit. We want consumers to be able to build and overclock, not to the same extent as a desktop as there are more cooling concerns, but we certainly want to enable our customers with more tools.

RE: well they're not first
By Omega215D on 5/14/2008 1:29:11 PM , Rating: 2
I would like to know further on MXM technology and whether it'll be used in any of your laptops. Many manufacturers touted this form of GPU upgrade but have failed to deliver.

RE: well they're not first
By tnucknip on 5/13/2008 7:48:28 PM , Rating: 2
This is a little off topic (well actually a lot),but since you are an employee of one of the more enthusiast oriented companies I have a question/request about power supplies. If you want to run an auxillary power supply like a 600W meanwell for a TEC then you usually need to buy some relay that is attached to a pci bracket. But how hard would it be to have an relay built into the main power supply.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 8:25:45 PM , Rating: 3
Good question, actually I’m sure this can be much better answered by Doug Dodson, our CTO of PC Power & Cooling, but I’ll do my best to answer it. The relay isn’t difficult to design but the demand for the product from our side is so low that the cost of the design and more importantly the added cost of the implementation into internal PSU designs doesn’t make it attractive enough as an add-on currently. In current quantities it is cheaper for consumers to simply buy a separate relay. Of course if we have a ton of demand for something like this then it is certainly something that can be considered for a mass production. Hope that makes sense.

RE: well they're not first
By Pirks on 5/13/2008 8:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
azander, why DIY notebooks are more expensive than pre-made ones, even when pre-made are configured by the customer "on the fly" like at the for example?

And why is it the opposite of the desktop world? I mean why DIY desktops are cheaper than pre-made and with notebooks it's the exact opposite?

Anyone else can explain this phenomenon please?

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 9:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Pirks, A good question. In the past it has been mostly related to scale. When a large company has more buying power they are able secure components at a lower cost due to quantity. With desktops there is an overall massive demand for components, and there are more suppliers building competing solutions. Notebooks in the past have used components that are bought and sold in lower quantities, especially in the level below system integration. Many times these notebooks had proprietary designs, like the GPU module for example. Now more and more platform providers are setting standards, and we believe that notebooks can be designed more open like desktops. While there are limitations with space that will limit upgrades (like cooling for example) it is possible that as DIY notebooks mature there will be additional upgradable elements previously built onboard or unable to be updated because of the proprietary design.

That said when comparing apples to apples on components with the great prices that e-tailers are now able to pass on with these standard components it is absolutely possible to build a DIY notebook for the same price or even cheaper than a pre made one. If more companies produce upgradable components, like MXM cards as just one example, that delta will also improve.

RE: well they're not first
By TETRONG on 5/13/2008 9:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
You're oversimplifying.

It all depends on what you're trying to do.

Once you reach a certain price threshold it becomes vastly cheaper to build your own desktop system because the companies like to play cloak and dagger with the available configurations.
Especially Dell. A lot of smart people sit around in a room for a very long time trying to figure out how to extract an extra $350 out of you for nothing. They make it appear that the cages are not even there by having a tiered product line with gaping discontinuities.

If you try to build a budget system you will quickly come to the conclusion that paying $100+ for a copy of windows is a deterrent to DIY under $600 or $700 dollars. Basically, the cost subsidy to get a system with windows OEM makes it hard to build a system under %700.

This is the main reason why AMD is struggling right now.
Because system builders are not using their chips anymore, and Intel gives preffered prices to vendors for doing just that.

To be sure-AMD's recent missteps, and stupidity in trying to chase Intel have not helped them either. They just don't get that Intel is trying to oxygen deprive them. They need to start their own game, and get some stupid marketing like Intel.

RE: well they're not first
By L33tMasta on 5/13/2008 8:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well this is awesome. I thought that there would never be a market for things like this and it falls right into my lap. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for the big manufacturers like Dell and HP, even Intel and nVidia to release upgradeable laptop parts. The thing that gets me right now is the current lack in the ability to upgrade laptops outside of RAM and HDD. Something like this defiantly interests me. Even if it is a bit heavy, if they can start to get close to what Dell and HP charge for laptops then I am totally sold.

RE: well they're not first
By FITCamaro on 5/13/2008 9:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
Can you guys release one that comes with both onboard graphics and dedicated graphics? Alienware offered this at one time and while I wasn't able to purchase one (from their extremely high prices), it was a great idea. The ability to choose mobility or performance. You don't even have to make it switchable in windows. Having to reboot and change a toggle would be fine (of course with hybrid SLI this may no longer be necessary).

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 9:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hi FITCamero, we are looking at this as an option. Hybrid will address this certainly, it certainly is nice to actually finish a movie on plane, or go full bore on game when you’re plugged in. We don’t currently have a set project with the spec you describe, but we are working to increase performance and battery life in upcoming units. We are emphasizing features on these DIY notebooks, we don’t want them to be scaled back versions of Tier 1 offerings, but rather competitive true gaming solutions.

RE: well they're not first
By DandDAddict on 5/14/2008 7:02:39 AM , Rating: 2
Any laptop with a 690 or higher chipset and a 2 or better series ati gpu is capable of doing this. The Asus F3 series with 3650s and 2600s are a good example. Mine gets about ~2 hours with the 2600 on and about 5 with the igp on.

RE: well they're not first
By zshift on 5/13/2008 11:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
just out of curiosity, is OCZ going to release any units with a good gpu and possibly a lighter weight. I have an asus g1s with an 8600m gt and I have to say I wish it had more. It does everything for me, but just a little more performance in the smaller form factor would be great. also, I don't see the point in getting a 15.4" unit if the weight is going to be over 7 lbs with all parts included. Might as well go with a 17" and fit better parts (8800m gts/gtx) at a well enough price (gateway fx notebook starts at around $1300).

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/13/2008 11:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
Hi zshift, your pretty much right on. I can't divulge specs but I can say weight is an issue we are addressing as well as a much more robust graphics solution. With more graphics however the battery has to be souped up so there is some give and take. I will also say that you are correct in regards to the 17"

RE: well they're not first
By Sunrise089 on 5/14/2008 2:26:52 AM , Rating: 3
First of all, let me request a 15" model with a 8800 class GPU for the high end. It would be incredible if a gaming notebook could offer that combo that fills the enormous gulf between 8600 parts in usable chassis' and 8800s (when they are even available) in annoying non-portable 17" parts. I may be in the minority, but I think whatever market there exists for second PCs that can be used to game (while traveling or staying over at significant others' places etc) is drawn to a 15" form factor, while the 17" affectionados are dedicated LAN party games or students with room for only a notebook.

Second, let me compliment OCZ on choosing to have an employee serve as a corporate mouthpiece like this. The fact that a knowledgeable insider is willing to discuss the marketplace, hint at future plans, and not BS us is really impressive IMHO. I will say OCZ is 100x more likely to get my hard-earned PC spending dollars this way than spending the same money on a mixture of corporate PR-speak and viral marketing in forums. Serious props to you guys.

RE: well they're not first
By murphyslabrat on 5/14/2008 12:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
I am gonna echo everything Sunrise just said. I would rate him up, but I have already given like three posts here 6_6.

RE: well they're not first
By azander on 5/14/2008 1:04:33 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks Sunrise, this is all great feedback, and the reason I’m here. I really appreciate the dialogue with people like you. I understand the need for a balance of portability and performance, part of the reason why 15” models are the real volume movers in the market. I will say that there are challenges in a 15” for a dual card GPU solution, but along the line of your point with a single card in the 8800 class this is plenty enough graphics power for the majority of games and gamers out there. Thanks again for the great comments.

RE: well they're not first
By MasterTactician on 5/14/2008 5:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't this be an excellent opportunity for a notebook with external graphics, similar to the unreleased Asus XG station, but not limited by the PCI-E x1 Expresscard bus. I've always kept hope that some notebook maker would be intelligent enough to include a full PCI-E x16 connection as a custom port on the chassis, similar to a docking port but with the ability to handle a full desktop GPU.

RE: well they're not first
By rollakid on 5/13/2008 11:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hi azander,

I don't know if it is being planned or not but I'd really like to see an AMD system, maybe on the next turion ultra platform.

It's not as fast but the problem is that not everyone would need an ultra fast gaming laptop, like me, who's just a casual gamer after work.

Everyone's running on Intel chip, everyone is using Dell or HP. Now having an OCZ brand laptop with an AMD processor would surely make it looks special, like a Mac. Well, not really, but I like to be different and among the minority...

So far the only laptop that catches my attention is the Asus G2K something... turion + ati graphic. I'm not an AMD fanboy but I want to do everything to keep them in the game for everyone's benefit.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot
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