Notebooks have been slowly but surely overtaking desktop PCs as the first choice for many a home's computer. However, there's one area where they've always lagged behind. For someone willing to get their hands dirty, PCs have always had the potential to be easily upgraded or augmented. Notebooks, on the other hand, are somewhat trickier to tinker with. It's this gap in the market that OCZ is trying to bridge with its range of DIY notebooks.
Available in 15.4in or 17in versions, the OCZ DIY notebooks aren't what you'd call ultra-portables. Instead they're aimed more at the desktop replacement and gaming ends of the market. As such one of the 17in versions is available with two ATI graphics cards running in CrossfireX, while all the other models have pretty decent graphics cards in the form either ATI HD3650, nVidia 8600M GS, or nVidia 8600M GT. The one we're looking at today is the 15in Intel/ATI Edition, or the OCZDIY15A2-DM86 to give it its full model number.
As will have become immediately obvious from the pictures on this page, the DIY element of these notebooks doesn't come from the ability to build the whole chassis yourself, like some highly expensive Airfix kit. Straight out of the box, this looks much like any other notebook. It's just that when you go to turn it on, nothing happens. This is because it ships without a CPU, a hard drive, or any memory (RAM). This is where the DIY element comes in.
You can spec up your own choice of these three components sourcing them from wherever you like and choosing the cheapest or fastest and most expensive available. So, if you are on a tight budget, you can use something like a 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive to start off. When you then get a bit of extra cash you can start swapping components out, adding a faster CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.
All well and good but immediately some of you may have noticed a fundamental flaw in this idea. If you're into gaming and are choosing to buy one of these notebooks rather than one with a more modest graphics chip, then you're probably going to be most interested in upgrading your graphics as this is still the primary bottleneck when it comes to gaming performance. However, this is not possible as the GPU is hardwired into the motherboard. So it strikes us that you're probably only going to configure these notebooks once then just sell the whole lot on in a year or two's time when you need the extra graphical performance of a new model. Regardless, though, the upgrade option is there if you want it.