My “Laptop as a CPU” Setup

I wasn’t planning to buy a second monitor screen until I found it necessary for my current project. Using the Unity game engine, I need to view the actual game screen and the world editor at the same time. This cannot be done with my current laptop’s screen resolution which is 1366 x 768 with 15.3″ actual screen size. With this, I decided to buy a larger monitor so that I’ll have more screen space for my work. Moreover, I think this second monitor should be my main one. For programming, it can show more lines of code. For  movies, it can provide a larger display. For photo editing, 3D Modeling, and other media tools, it gives a wider screen space. So here’s the plan:

  • Set my laptop as my CPU (basically my main machine)
  • Buy a 2nd monitor
  • Buy a gaming mouse and keyboard (well, I never bought one before but I guess I was too stingy to buy a really good one… details are written below XD)
  • Buy an HDMI cable and a USB hub
  • Find a separate table

There. Now for the brief specifications of each item…

MSI CX61 Laptop

I actually posted all the info about this laptop in my first ever blog post. In case you haven’t read it, please do, so you’ll have all the information you need. V(^_^)V

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

Dell S2340L

This LED monitor spans 23 inches wide with a maximum screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. The glossy screen boasts 16.2 million colors and Dell’s “image enhance” technology creating it’s vivid display. It has a wide viewing angle measuring to 178 degrees. This is really convenient since back in the LCD monitor days, you can easily get an unclear view of the monitor like the one my old Dell Vostro 1500 laptop is using (haha how ironic). It comes with a VGA and HDMI input as well as an audio output. Just in case you’re confused, you can use the audio output to plugin your headphone or speaker since HDMI cables can transmit both video and audio data. In my case, I need to use a headset for Skype calls so I stick with the audio input and output socket of my laptop.

Dell S2340L: 23 " LED Monitor

Dell S2340L: 23 ” LED Monitor

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard

Yeah, I know I’m being stingy here. Dragonwar products are not the most recommended PC Gaming peripherals, but in any case, I gave it a try given the considerably low price. This gaming keyboard has backlight illumination (red for directional and WASD keys, blue for the others). The left windows key is replaced with a FN key (like the ones used for the laptop)  which is used in conjunction with the function keys (F1 -F10). The functions provide shortcuts for toggling the backlight on and off (hmm… I wonder why would I do that), accessing the basic controls for a media player, home page, bookmarks, search engine, and email client. It also has shortcuts for “My Computer” and Calculator (BEST SHORTCUT EVER :))). I wish there was a shortcut for the master volume since I use it a lot in my laptop. Besides, F11 and F12 are still vacant of  FN links. Oh well, it sounds like a first-world problem, so I won’t push it. Of course, if you have the dough, why not buy a Razer gaming keyboard instead.

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man's Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man’s Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse

Okay I get the point! I’m really getting stingy here. For consistency (that was a good excuse), I bought a Dragonwar gaming mouse. Other than the standard Left-Click, Right-Click, and Mouse-Scroll buttons, it also has two additional buttons, which are programmable using the X-Mouse button control software and a button for adjusting mouse sensitivity. The sensitivity can be adjusted in four different settings, 800, 1600, 2400, and 3200 dpi. To be honest, I’m already using a replacement right now since the first one became defective after playing One-Finger Death Punch for several hours. The game only uses the left and right mouse  buttons, so if you want to test your gaming mouse, this is the right game for you. Again, if you have enough money, just buy a Razer gaming mouse instead. 😀

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Kelly Mouse Platform

My computer desk is pretty old and made for more orthodox mouse and keyboard sizes. Now that I’m using a gaming keyboard, I have no more space for my mouse, so for a while, my right arm is in a not-so-comfortable position as it extends farther compared to my left one. With this, I searched for any tool that I can use to extend my desk and move my mouse to a more convenient place. A few google searches here and there, and I found this site Galleon.ph which apparently sells products from different countries with all the shipping costs and customs’ fee included. Here, I managed to get the mouse platform that I’m using now. It took them roughly one month to deliver your purchased item, and in case there are delays, they will directly call you. The mouse platform is serving its purpose so far, and it’s easy to assemble. It uses an adjustable clamp which I believe is compatible with the standard tables that we use in the office.  The platform can be rotated so you can keep it out of the if you’re not using it or if you happen to use the mouse with your left hand.

HDMI Cable, USB-HUB, and An Additional Platform/Table

Well, nothing much to say here. To keep it simple, it is recommended to use an HDMI cable to achieve better display quality compared to standard VGA cables. It also doubles as an audio input device so you can plug in your speakers or headphones in the monitor instead. The USB-hub is just to add more USB slots. Currently, my laptop only has three USB slots (One 2.0 and Two 3.0) which I find to be insufficient, given that I’m now using a USB keyboard and mouse. As for the table/platform, I was lucky enough to find a spare small cabinet at home. This is where I place my laptop so that all the cables can be connected from there.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input. USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input.
USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

There you have it. So far, I’m satisfied  with my setup with the exception of the replaced gaming mouse. If you have a mid-range laptop or higher, then this setup can be an option for you instead of assembling another CPU. Here’s a photo of my complete setup. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

My "Laptop as CPU" Setup

My “Laptop as CPU” Setup

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2 comments on “My “Laptop as a CPU” Setup

  1. How does your laptop stand up to the “beating” it takes now that it acts as a CPU?

    • iron59 says:

      1) I use my laptop table as a cooling utility. It comes with two fans. Admittedly, the fans are average at best, but it really helps. I check my laptop’s bottom surface every now and then and it doesn’t get too hot when placed on top of this table. I bought it here: http://www.tcat.com.ph/team.php?id=2109

      2) I don’t really use my laptop in hardware intensive tasks. My game programming job would be the one that consumes more resources, but so far, it gets the job done. As for games, modern VGA’s and motherboards now can select between on board video card and separate video card when using an application as you may know. I only choose my NVIDIA for the 3D games that I play and they’re not set on the best setting. I’m not really that nit picky when it comes to graphics.

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