Manhattan, 2020: You step out of your taxi minutes after the rain stops. Your square and heavy roller briefcase plops down into a small puddle by the curb. Don’t worry, the leather doesn’t get too wet, and the awesome piece of high-tech equipment inside isn’t damaged at all.
You extend the roller arm on the case, and pull it behind you, giving zero fucks about the crowd around you who have to dodge it or get their feet run over. “What the hell?” a sharply dressed businessman yells as one of the wheels leaves a nice skid mark over his shiny black dress shoe.
But before he can come after you, you duck into the next building and ride the elevator to the 20th floor, swooping into the meeting room at your office before your boss gets there. Everyone has their MacBooks in front of them, screens filled with pie charts and PDFs of today’s agenda. You open your briefcase and pull out its contents by the built-in handle. This thing plops onto the table:
“What is that?” your coworker with oversized, black rimmed glasses asks you. “I know you said you were into retro PCs, but this is a little much.”
Oh, ye of little knowledge! This is a brand new, portable workstation from Mediaworkstations. Yes, it looks more like an Osborne 1 or Kaypro II from the ‘80s, but the specs inside this thing are so powerful, it could probably cook pizza if you programmed it right. Thanks to a Reddit find by Tom’s Hardware, you and I now know this is an actual thing that exists.
Users can configure this ‘80s throwback, which starts at close to $US8,000 ($11,181), with either an AMD Threadripper 3960X, 3790X, or 3990X, up to 256GB of RAM, up to three 2TB SSDs for storage, up to a Nvidia Tesla V100 GPU Computing Accelerator with 32GB of HBM2, and a back-up battery. It’s ugly as sin, the keyboard looks mushy, and even god doesn’t understand why it doesn’t come equipped with at least one HDMI port.
Seriously, look at the back I/O panel on this thing:
No HDMI ports. No DisplayPorts. Just a VGA port, maybe a DVI port, and I have no idea what that pink port is. There’s just two measly USB ports, and it doesn’t even look like they are USB 3.0 (they should be colour-coded blue if they were). And, goodness, who connects mice and keyboards with those types of ports these days? Modern motherboards don’t even come with those anymore. In fact, what motherboard is that? It’s not a good photographic representation of what motherboard this workstation actually comes with.
PC Gamer noticed earlier that the website listed the motherboard as an ASRock Taichi X399, and its I/O panel definitely does not look like the one pictured above. (That’s also the wrong motherboard needed for the Threadripper 3960X, 3790X, or 3990X.) However, while the site no longer lists that as the motherboard, I called the listed contact number and spoke with a Christopher Johnson, who told me that this workstation comes with an ASrock TRX40, which does support third-gen Threadrippers. And since it comes with that motherboard, that means it will also be able to support all the graphics cards varieties users can choose from when configuring their rigs, which means those cards will come with DisplayPort and HDMI ports.
He also said that the display is a standard 1080p resolution, but it can be configured with a 4K monitor for an extra $US1,000 ($1,398).
Not only does this thing seem like the real deal, but getting to talk to an actual person about the system was actually comforting. Mediaworkstations also has more aesthetically-pleasing desktops, but, hey, maybe someone out there needs a portable workstation like this. The design may not be much better than ones of previous decades, but when it comes to performance, this ugly gadget is probably future-proofed for years to come.