Retrofitting a Vintage Luggable with Modern Water-Cooled Gaming Hardware

To get a powerful gaming experience in a portable package, Redditor Nexaner7 retrofitted a vintage luggable with modern water-cooled parts.

Cameron Coward
19 days agoRetro Tech / Displays / Gaming

Before laptops and other true portable computer form factors came along, we had "luggables." Manufacturers marketed luggables as portable computers, but they were using the term very liberally. Luggables were pretty much just regular computers from the era crammed into suitcases. They were heavy, cumbersome, and almost always required a nearby power outlet to function. That concept is unbearable today, with one exception: gaming. Even the best gaming laptops struggle to compete with mid-range gaming desktops. To get a powerful gaming experience in a portable package, Redditor Nexaner7 retrofitted a vintage luggable computer with modern water-cooled components.

Nexaner7 started with what appears to be a Dolch LCD-386, which is a later version of Dolch's first portable "lunchbox" computer. The keyboard acts as a cover for the display, so the whole thing closes up into a tidy luggable package. It's quite attractive and is more portable than your typical gaming PC. But it also came out in 1988 and the best game it can run is probably Oregon Trail. So Nexaner7 replaced just about everything part inside the Dolch 386 with modern high-end gaming parts.

Inside this luggable is an impressive list of parts: an ASRock Fatal1ty B450 Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard, an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LP 3600MHz RAM, a 1TB ADATA XPG SX8200 SSD drive, an ASUS EKWB GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, and a Corsair SF600 power supply. The cramped space allowed no room for airflow, so Nexaner7 incorporated a complete water cooling system.

The original screen was an old monochrome display that would have been useless with this new hardware, so Nexaner7 replaced that with a modern 1440p monitor. That wasn't an exact fit for the original space, so they have to run it at a lower 2304 x 1440 resolution with black bars on both sides.

The keyboard setup is particularly interesting. The original keyboard had a 5-pin plug and Nexaner7 couldn't find an adapter to make that work with USB. So they took the PCB and keys from a modern Coolermaster Quickfire TK keyboard and fit it inside of the original keyboard's casing. By some miracle, that seems to fit quite well. It has a standard USB cord and even gives Nexaner7 some sweet RGB backlit keys.

Now Nexaner7 has a portable gaming PC that will make them the coolest person at every LAN party.

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