Razer, which has made a habit of showing off interesting new system designs at the Consumer Electronics Show in recent years, is back with a concept design called Project Christine, a gaming system that would make it easy for anyone to build, customize and upgrade their PC.
The idea behind Project Christine, which was unveiled at CES Jan. 7, is to create a highly modular design that would enable users to easily choose and install everything from the CPU and the graphics technologies to memory and storage. Each component is housed in a self-contained and sealed module that easily snaps into the system's base. For example, if Intel or Advanced Micro Devices comes out with a new CPU, the user takes the old CPU module out and plugs another module containing the new one into the base.
The same can be done with other components. Want a new storage configuration? Switch out the old module for the new one.
Razer officials said they want to make it easy for even those with limited technological knowledge to build and maintain their PCs. While most PCs are open and use industry-standard technology, they are complex systems that mostly hard-core enthusiasts have been able to build, customize and upgrade.
Few general PC users understand enough about their systems to know what the various components do, how each works with the other and how to make them all come together to create a solid system, according to company officials.
"Project Christine is a new concept design that will revolutionize the way users view the traditional PC," Min-Liang Tan, Razer's co-founder, CEO and creative director, said in a statement. "This is the first gaming system that is able to keep pace with technology and could allow consumers to never buy another PC, or gaming system, again."
Project Christine's design easily lets users upgrade or add capabilities by plugging in new modules, which could include up to quad-SLI graphics, multiple solid-state disk (SSD) and RAID storage components, I/O and power supplies. The components housed in the modules are automatically synced by the PCI-Express architecture in the base unit, and the system also includes a touch-enabled LCD display through which the user can monitor the entire system.
There are no cables in the design, and each module offers active liquid cooling and noise cancellation capabilities, enabling Razer to over-clock the components in the factory without voiding warranties. The Project Christine design also can run a range of operating systems, according to company officials.
While the concept design has advantages, it also comes with challenges. For example, a user would be locked into the modules made available by Razer, even if a particular component hits the market that Razer may not support in its modules. In addition, they would be tied to Razer's schedule—if a new AMD chip comes out on a particular day, the Razer user would have to wait until the vendor's module is available to install the accelerated processing unit (APU).
In interviews with various new sites from CES, Razer officials said Project Christine is in the very early stages, and everything from pricing to technical specifications is being worked out. A Razer representative told Tom's Hardware that engineers were still sorting through which components would be used, and suggested that the system could come with a subscription service that would send new modules to subscribers when new components are released.
A company spokesman told PCWorld that the concern about lags between when a new component is released and when Razer releases a module isn't a worry. The goal of Project Christine is to let users build and customize their PCs. "When it is launched, users will have the ability to use the best GPU/CPU technology that is currently available," Young Bae, global project manager of systems at Razer, told the news site.
Among Razer's more recent product releases was the Blade gaming notebook, which launched in June 2013 and is powered by an Intel Core processor and GeForce GPU from Nvidia.