CES 2014: Getting Better Acquainted with Razer's Project Christine [Video]

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Stockislander

This concept doesn't really offer anything new in the way of true modularity. What would get my attention is a Drobo approach: need more storage? ADD a drive of any type or capacity to expand what you already have. Need more GPU power? ADD a module to the existing GPU system. Likewise for the CPU. Swapping out parts is so last century...

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PCLinuxguy

Gotta love all the negative reactions to things these days #firstworldproblems at their finest. This is just a concept, yet the way some people are bashing it, you'd think that this concept was actually a real machine that was being forced down their throats.

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John Pombrio

Razor is not inventing anything new here. Modular computing plug ins started 20 or more years ago. About every 3-4 years, it is brought up again, wearing a new dress and with more lipstick. It's still a swine tho as we already have a perfectly good modular upgrade path. It does involve opening up the case but has been tested and has been working for over 30 years.
Take the RAM in this "modular" system. Want to add more? Sorry, you have to swap out the CPU AND the RAM becuase they are in the same module and are covered in mineral oil. What would take 10 minutes and $100 in parts to do with the "old way" would cost hundreds more in this "modular way" and take about the same amount of time. GPU card about the same. CPU would again have to swap out the whole module to replace one chip and you would lose the RAM you already bought on the module at the same time. With the old way, that CPU and RAM left over could be used to good use to upgrade or build another machine. Yes, you could sell it back to the company for a "fee" but you will never match the savings in the "old" way of doing things.

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xJohnnyQuidx

Dude, TOTALLY. It's actually getting on my NERVES. People have these really strong opinions as if they're being propositioned for a business deal or some shit. IT'S A CONCEPT. No one really should have much of anything to say because no one has even USED the goddamn thing yet! How can you say "Oh this is gay" when it's not even a THING yet? That's like watching an architect sketch out a building and after he's finished being like "Oh, this building sucks. If someone built that, I wouldn't even go in it."

Personally (and my opinion doesn't really mean much), I think this concept is pretty interesting. I wonder why no one has tried to do this before. Seems like it could be awesome and help a lot of people out.

Let's GIVE IT A CHANCE TO BREATHE first people, before we just shit on it for no reason.

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MaximumMike

>>Dude, TOTALLY. It's actually getting on my NERVES.

Why? Someone has an opinion different from yours and it gets on your "NERVES"? Why shit on their perfectly logical opinions when you have offered none yourself?

>>People have these really strong opinions as if they're being propositioned for a business deal or some shit.

Yea... so do you. This website is full of people with really strong opinions about all sorts of stuff. What's wrong with that?

>> IT'S A CONCEPT.

But unfortunately in this case it's a bad one.

>>No one really should have much of anything to say because no one has even USED the goddamn thing yet! How can you say "Oh this is gay" when it's not even a THING yet?

Maybe you should tell that to RAZER. They were the ones at CES soliciting public opinions of the thing.

>>That's like watching an architect sketch out a building and after he's finished being like "Oh, this building sucks. If someone built that, I wouldn't even go in it."

Well, for instance, if some architect drew up plans for a building sitting on the back of a turtle, I wouldn't need to walk in the building to know it was a stupid idea to begin with.

>>Personally (and my opinion doesn't really mean much),

Then why give it, and with such strong wording?

>>I think this concept is pretty interesting. I wonder why no one has tried to do this before. Seems like it could be awesome and help a lot of people out.

That's nice. Care to say why?

>>Let's GIVE IT A CHANCE TO BREATHE first people, before we just shit on it for no reason.

I think most of us who don't like the idea have pretty good reasons for not liking it. Care to give us any good reasons why we should give it chance?

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LatiosXT

Well, taking from Engadget's article ( http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/07/razer-project-christine-hands-on/ ), there was this little piece written.

"The idea here is to both combat the waste in the PC world of buying annual hardware refreshes and to push back on massive price spikes for PC gamers."

This could be the article writer's interpretation of what's at stake here but if that's really the case, then Razer out of their minds. Unless they get enough people aboard to support this and can effectively mass produce it such that these custom housings are negligible in cost, then there's no way you can push back the so-called massive price spikes. Not to mention most PC gamers don't upgrade annually, especially whole systems.

The thing that upsets me with these PC boutiques thinking they can woo the console crowd with "superior hardware" is that a good percentage of the console crowd doesn't give a damn about having "superior hardware". All they care about is having fun games to play. And unless you can convince them that spending more than $500 on "better graphics" is meaningful, then you're wasting your time.

And when I think about it more, PC gamers are losing their touch in the "gamer" aspect. Sure it's nice to play games on higher details, resolutions, or FPS, but if the console version gives me just as much fun, then why should I care about the other stuff?

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vrmlbasic

Luckily the console versions cannot give you as much fun, unless you've got a masochistic streak, making that question easy to answer. :)

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Bullwinkle J Moose

PCLinuxGuy and xJohnnyQuidx are both wrong but please, by all means, buy a dozen of these if they become available and then tell us how great they are

A non-tech person will be better served with standardized components made for the vast majority of towers however and the learning curve may actually be easier for standardized systems and components

But please, instead of telling us how wrong our opinions are even after we have given you reasons why, tell us why we are wrong and why it is so great to build a walled garden around our hardware and why this concept cannot be easily duplicated with what we currently have available in standard components

How is this easier to learn and less costly than what we have now?

Can you find more helpful hints and fixes for a proprietary system on Youtube or for standardized systems?

Please give examples

Personally, I would rather have the modularity of what is already available, the ease of use from what is currently available, the tutorials and help already currently available and the much greater component selection available that what could result from this.....
whatever it is

but that's just my opinion and the reasons why I choose the simplicity of what we already have and easily understood due to the standardization already available and the many many many many tutorials and help already available for what we already have

If you really need another cpu and O.S. for a specific task, just add a nano box with a KVM switch

How hard is that?

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PCLinuxguy

Obvious troll is obvious.
As I said. people are shitting on this idea like it's being rammed down everyone's throats without a choice in it and that is NOT the case. This is merely a design concept, not a finished product that we are being forced to use.
So tell me again how I am wrong in stating the obvious fact that we're not being forced into it instead of trying to put words into my mouth that never left it in the first place.

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LatiosXT

Because you're putting words into our mouths thinking we think they're trying to ram this down everyone's throats like we don't have a choice.

We never said that. We just said this is a stupid idea for more or less valid reasons while you've yet to produce a reason why this is a good thing.

You can tell me all you want that I can't say bear poop is the most terrible choice of something to eat because I haven't given it a try (not to say this is bear poop, but whatever).

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PCLinuxguy

Not exactly. All the bashing I am seeing are people saying that the concept is shit and that it's evil because it's different, walled-garden, etc with the same implied hate of "this is being forced on us, we must rebel!". I can respect some not likig it because it's not in their taste, but some of what I'm seeing is just hating on it for the sake of hating. If that makes sense.

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MaximumMike

>>Not exactly. All the bashing I am seeing are people saying that the concept is shit and that it's evil because it's different, walled-garden, etc with the same implied hate of "this is being forced on us, we must rebel!".

I've read the entire thread and I haven't seen a single instance of this. What I have seen are for the most part intelligent and valid reasons for not liking the concept, which is exactly what the forums are for. Shame on you for implying that we aren't entitled to our opinions, or that we are somehow bad for "shitting" on this obviously shitty idea.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

PCLinuxguy,
You are correct Sir and I apologize for labeling you in such an evil rotten manner

It's still a "FAIL" though and the concept is indeed shit but since it is only a concept, it is not yet Evil and I have never hated on it for the sake of hating so you could not have been referring to me

I mistakedly took your original post as an endorsement of this non-product concept and I was wrrrrr....wrrrron..... not entirely correct

Anyone who does believe this concept has a valid reason for ever existing should state their case here
The public's positive reaction to such a concept in Vegas is irrelevant to it's worth
If it does have a valid reason to exist, the Companies who endorse such a concept AND intend to jump onboard this ship of fail should be listed here "Next Month" by the creators of this abomination instead of generalizing the positive reaction by the general public

It does kinda look cool though so BAMMM, there ya go, another general positive reaction to it
However, I don't buy tech based on just looks

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PCLinuxguy

It's ok. it happens to all of us sometimes. I like the modular concept of it, but I can see how it would not work very well despite the woerk that they put into it. And despite all of this I'm still not going to switch away from my tower anytime soon for the modular system like this concept showed only because I don't feel that it would be cost effective. The main thing about it I like is the modular CPU in that if one could swap from an AMD APU to a 6 core i7 witout changing the motherboard, just plug in a new CPU and you're golden. Though I doubt it would be "hot swap" as they claimed in the video as that is rather idiotic IMHO.

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Cy-Kill

Does MaxPC not remember* that many, many years ago that they did an article in their magazine about a modular PC like this?

* I may be remembering incorrectly here, it may have been another magazine.

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aarcane

For the typical maxpc user, this is a definite No.

However, for the typical xbone or ps4 user, this is a serious possibility. The option to upgrade pretty much anything as easy as snap, click, snap, done, well, that's amazing. The real trick however will be making it so that any part can be added to any slot, and that multiple of these parts will be used effectively and without configuration by the end user. A lot of that will need to be done in Software.

The other thing that will be essential, especially for those people on the cusp between casual and hard core gaming will be customizable module cartridges, where a person can buy an empty tray and put in whatever off-the-shelf components they want.

In my defense, I haven't had time to watch the video yet, and won't until this weekend. If these issues are addressed therein I apologize.

That said, once these issues are addressed, if Christine is priced competitively, she stands a good chance at competing in the low end gaming market against the likes of the xbone and ps4.

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big_montana

You need to watch the video, as this is anything but a low end PC. When you can have 4 graphics cards installed of your choice, it is anything but a low end gaming machine, and if you watch the video the modules are filled with oil/water so you cannot purchase an empty one and install the component of your choice.

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Ghost XFX

Ummmm....

They might want to shift their focus and make it more of a modular Steam Machine or something. Otherwise, I don't see this going anywhere.

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John Pombrio

Worthless product. A buddy of ours at HP (Frank) asked my friend Leo and I how to upgrade his CPU as it was too slow to do video conferencing. Frank had never cracked the inside of a PC case in his life (software guy). The manual told Frank what CPUs were available and we found the chips on NewEgg. Frank ordered one and upgraded the CPU himself. 15 minute job and the new CPU almost doubled his speed and had a much faster integrated graphics. That is about the hardest job I know to do on an upgrade and Frank did it himself. He could have also brought it over to a shop and had them do it.
RAM and a new graphics card are trivial to do, the CPU a little more so. Anything more than that probably would be a good idea to buy a new PC. Why pay so much more for stock parts just to put them into a module?

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vrmlbasic

A CPU too slow to do video conferencing yet still had chips using the same socket available new from NewEgg with the power to double his speed? How long ago was this? What chip was this?

I agree with the point though, computer upgrades aren't all that difficult or intimidating.

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John Pombrio

Hmm, I think it was a 1155 dual core chip that we got a quad core for a good 1.1GHz bump in speed and a Passmark GPU that was twice as fast. He really had the lowest end CPU for the 1155 socket, that's for sure and the integrated graphics was pathetic.

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radarblips

razer this goes against everything I am as a PC gamer and enthusiast. Shame on you for peddling this ridiculous concept. Why do companies always try to make something that "looks" interesting but offers nothing.

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radarblips

ps - yea.... I need to "hot swap". that really gets me going. Just the other day i needed to "hot swap" my cpu. Do these guys even own a PC. I doubt this kid has ever even built one.

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MaximumMike

Meh... this is a dumb idea. They're bringing nothing new to the table here.

They talk about hot swapping components, but the bottom line is that if the device itself and your OS don't support it you still can't hot swap it. And if you buy a good case it's simple enough to hot swap the components that can be hot swapped already. Furthermore, you're still going to have whatever driver issues normally accompany your OS of choice. It's not like they have some magical way of making drivers go away just because they wrapped all the same components in their own individual boxes.

This thing looks like a waste of space. The optimal solution is to put all these components into the same box, where they mount directly to the motherboard and can be cooled efficiently. There's a reason why engineers determined decades ago that the essential components should be in close proximity of one another. I can foresee latency issues. Also, more components can be fit into one open space than can fit into multiple enclosed spaces, providing yet more optimal usage of space.

Also, they've eliminated one essential modular component, the motherboard. Looks like you're stuck with whatever small form factor MOBO Razer can stuff into one of those little bays, and your system will essentially never be better than that MOBO. If you really want a modular system, stick with a traditional PC. Nuff said.

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PCLinuxguy

How does it waste space? It seems more organized than let's say a full tower in regard to footprint and overall size.
Also a traditional PC isn't as modular as the concept (which needs work). You can swap parts, sure, but you're still limited to what you can swap to. For example, tto swap CPU brands you have to swap motherboards out to accomodate a different socket. How is that modular? Wouldn't it be better for the end user (i.e. enthusiast) to remove that thorn? Sure different classes of board can be offered from low end all the way to dream machine boards, but without the pitfall of changing boards merely for a CPU socket seems wasteful, especially with how Intel likes to change sockets quite often.

Everything else is fairly modular, as DDR3 of any speed will fit in the same DIMM slot, same goes for the GPU into the PCIe slot, as the boards accept AMD and Nvidia boards. Only when the CPU can be changed as easily as a GPU (in regard to brand) then it's not as modular as it could be and frankly, we deserve.

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MaximumMike

>>How does it waste space?

How can it not waste space? That setup is as large (if not larger) as a full tower with significantly less stuff in the box. Most of the space is taken up by custom enclosures. It's clumsy and tacky if you ask me.

>> It seems more organized than let's say a full tower in regard to footprint and overall size.

I'm not sure how footprint and overall size are different, but it doesn't seem any smaller than a full tower to me. And it certainly holds much less. As far as organization is concerned, there is often (though not always) a trade-off between organization and space. It's clear they unwisely traded space for organization here. Furthermore, well built pc's can be meticulously organized. That's really up to the builder.

>>Also a traditional PC isn't as modular as the concept (which needs work).

You're quite wrong there, and mostly because of your next statement, which I'll address in just a second. Traditional PC's are actually much more modular.

>> You can swap parts, sure, but you're still limited to what you can swap to.

Yes, there are limits to any modular solution. However, the PC is the least limited solution known to the computing world.

>>For example, tto swap CPU brands you have to swap motherboards out to accomodate a different socket.

And you will have to do the same thing with this contraption as well. AMD and INTEL sockets haven't played nice since like 200 MHz processors. Just because they've stuffed a gimped micro form factor mobo into its own module along with the cpu and RAM, doesn't mean they somehow have a new socket that takes both AMD and INTEL parts. You do understand this aspect of computer architecture, right?

>>How is that modular?

It's modular in that the cpu isn't soldered onto the board and that you can drop in another faster processor whenever you like, as long as its compatible with the socket.

I'm sorry if that isn't modular enough, but INTEL and AMD don't always play nice. Both project Christine and the traditional PC share the same limitations here.

However, Christine is more limited, because you are now forced to swap your cpu, mobo, and ram all at the same time, lest all that mineral water (oil, lol) run out and your custom cooling solution go kaput. But these are three components that are often upgraded at different intervals on a traditional PC. How was it that you thought Christine won on this front again?

>>Wouldn't it be better for the end user (i.e. enthusiast) to remove that thorn?

Yes, I still pine for the days when I could drop either an INTEL or AMD processor in my rig at will. I would like to be the first to know when you're done getting the execs at INTEL and AMD to agree to adhere to a universal socket technology.

>>Sure different classes of board can be offered from low end all the way to dream machine boards,

And project Christine would eliminate that diversity. How is that a good thing?

>>but without the pitfall of changing boards merely for a CPU socket seems wasteful, especially with how Intel likes to change sockets quite often.

I'll say it once more, just to drive the point home. Project Christine won't change that. In fact, it will just make it worse, by forcing you to upgrade more parts at the same time and limiting selection.

>>Everything else is fairly modular, as DDR3 of any speed will fit in the same DIMM slot, same goes for the GPU into the PCIe slot, as the boards accept AMD and Nvidia boards. Only when the CPU can be changed as easily as a GPU (in regard to brand) then it's not as modular as it could be and frankly, we deserve.

Well, it's a little more intricate than that, especially when you start talking about SATA support, number of PCI-express lanes, USB 3.0 support, Thunderbolt support, and a plethora of other technologies that may or may not be on your motherboard. If you want the ultimate in modularity, rest assured you're going to pay top dollar for it. But I guarantee you those kinds of motherboards won't fit into one of those tiny bays (modules, or whatever they're called) on project Christine.

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PCLinuxguy

thanks for providing insight

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John Pombrio

there is more to this latency issue than you know MMike. At 1GHZ, a single pulse (bit) can only travel about 6 inches in copper (.6 the speed of light). You start trying to feed the output of fast RAM any long distance and there is going to be a major lag in the data transfer. That is why mobo manufacturers put the RAM chips so close to the CPU. When routing the traces on the mobo, it is incredibly important to keep them as short as possible to prevent lag, keeping the eye centered, preventing a slow ramp up for transition states, and corrupting the data. I just don't see it happening without optical buses connecting the modules, not available yet.

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MaximumMike

>>At 1GHZ, a single pulse (bit) can only travel about 6 inches in copper (.6 the speed of light). You start trying to feed the output of fast RAM any long distance and there is going to be a major lag in the data transfer. That is why mobo manufacturers put the RAM chips so close to the CPU. When routing the traces on the mobo, it is incredibly important to keep them as short as possible to prevent lag,

That is exactly what I was referring to, though I didn't know the exact numbers. Thanks for verifying John.

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FatOldGuy

480p video? my phone can do 1080p you guys broke?

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jimmthang

We can shoot in 1080p. It's uploading large files that is problematic. CES isn't known to have speedy wifi, unfortunately. 

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LatiosXT

The irony of being at a technology tradeshow and the one thing lacking is internet speed.

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FatOldGuy

LOL you would think if anyone would have good wifi it would be there.

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definingsound

Surely it's mineral oil, not mineral water?

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appleroxinhouston

They said mineral water, but I'm assuming mineral oil cause mineral water... no.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Meant for those who want to get into PC building but are not technically savvy (Jimmy Thang)
-----------------------------------
Maybe you should point those people to a 15 minute Youtube video on how to build your own PC

There is really nothing this offers to justify jumping onboard

We already hotswap USB hard drives and optical drives

If I want to instantly switch to Linux, I just push a button on my KVM switch and still save tons of money over such a proprietary system

It's like Microsoft getting all the 3rd party developers to make Windows a success so that Microsoft makes all the money

You can market it as if it were a huge success like Microsoft does but I see FAIL!

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appleroxinhouston

You have underestimated the laziness and stupidity of humanity

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LatiosXT

Indeed. Building a computer is really easy and most hardware comes with instructions for installing other hardware. Example: case quick guides including the motherboard mounting procedure.

The hard part about building a computer is troubleshooting if something goes wrong, which is conveniently left out.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Indeed!
Troubleshooting is the hardest part
I make an ass of myself regularly on this site with my misdiagnosis of problems, but when I finally do figure out the problem, it beats the hell out of any proprietary approach or going to the Freak Squad to get reamed

I'd LOVE to see someone build a KVM switch into the case for 1 or more nano (Brix Type) computers along with a Mini ITX motherboard and state of the art graphics card

I bet you could stuff 2 or 3 extra computers into a Bitfenix Prodigy case if you do it right

Swapping out the drive cages for computer cages would be ideal

If you don't learn to troubleshoot your own problems, you will end up spending much more than the price of those extra computers for tech support and downtime, and with a system like this you will be limited to the minimal hardware selection of only those who jump onboard this project with only the components they select

NOT ideal

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LatiosXT

Eh. Even if third part manufacturers climb aboard, I still won't think this would make the system any cheaper than what it would normally cost to get same thing from say Origin or Falcon Northwest. Especially since liquid cooling is a must for this thing.

I have all the sentiments to this like PhoneBloks. Great idea, but it won't execute very well. At least Razer is in the hardware business. And I still don't believe something like this will ever be common, considering it means a universal standard to everything has to be implemented to make this as pain free as possible to the consumer.

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PCLinuxguy

What would be a nice benefit though would be for CPUs in that you wouldn't need to scrap a whole Mobo to swap CPU brands (swapping from an AMD A6 to an Intel IB-E i7) when it comes to this particular modular design.

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LatiosXT

Good luck getting either company to agree on anything. :P

If anything, the best they can do is the what ECS did with their PF-88 motherboard - Include the chipset and socket in one module. Hopefully since both Intel and AMD still use the same RAM standard, you can separate RAM. But that probably won't happen, as RAM latency will probably be a lot worse (unless you make a module for a module?)