back to article Yes! It's the cardboard PC!

Green is the new black, or so it seems. So an enterprising designer’s inked plans to build a desktop PC that does away with the traditional metal and plastic exterior, in favour of… er… cardboard. Recompute_01 Recompute: sports a cardboard body The Recompute PC would – if it ever makes it to the shops – have a body …


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  1. Parax


    Nice Idea to use cardboard but a bad design! It looks to me like whole concept evolved around soemone realising theres holes in corrugated card! and then trying to use that principle as little chimineys hence you get a massive stack of cardboard about 500 layers thick with a tonne of glue. and a tonne of waste cut outs from each internal sheet.

    Just use a NORMAL folderd box with some holes in.. Just remember to take the tortoise out first!

  2. Steve
    Thumb Down


    Erm, cardboard is somewhat less recyclable than the conventional steel cases - it takes a lot less contamination for cardboard to become un-recyclable than with steel. That's before you even start thinking about EMC and CE requirements!

  3. Matt Smart
    Thumb Up


    I really want one! More specifically I want the case... this thing is very cool.

  4. Michael Miller

    Don't let HP see this

    Who knows what will happen if they try putting a cardboard PC in a cardboard box....

  5. Rachel


    Wouldn't a cardboard container be a static risk?

  6. Maria Helm

    which is worse...

    (1) the prospect of the thing going up in flames

    (2) that some well-meaning soul cleaning your house will throw away the pile of cardboard sitting on your desk

    (3) that the dog or cat will chew on your cardboard PC

    (4) that the first time you spill coffee on your desk you will need a new case

  7. StillNoCouch
    Paris Hilton

    Isn't that wrong ?

    The "This end up" icons on the last picture imply that it it were set in it's "vertical configuration", the narrow end of the base would be at the bottom, with the heaviest component (Power Supply) at the very top of the case ... seems rather precarious.

    Paris: She can go bottom's up with me any time.

  8. Dale

    Fire risk

    If any of the cooling fans were to fail you'd have a significant fire risk. Probably not such a good idea.

  9. Peter Kay

    Pointless gimmick

    So, it's basically an oversized laptop with a very large case considering the functionality. The case isn't sold seperately - because it's just a gimmick and they can't make any profit on it.

    The idea of a flatpack cardboard case isn't necessarily a bad one, assuming the ventilation can be sorted (probably not, as cardboard is a much better insulator than aluminium or steel).

  10. Simon B

    I like the idea but if the power supply fails as they do, will it go up in smoke with your house?!

    Great idea, but I've seen a few power supplies fail in my time and smoke and melt, all it would take would be 1 hot ember to potentially set the thing on fire! That said though it's a neat idea and I like it.

  11. Nigel Wright

    I wonder if the "designer"....

    ..has actually considered real world practical issues like its fire-resistant properties?

    We have heat, dust and electricity. The potential for mishap is obvious

  12. Paul


    So they remove the easy to recycle metal part and forget about all the nasy stuff in the chips and PCBs...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Can anyone smell burning?

    Why aren't hifi and TV cases still made of wood I wonder?

    Flame Icon ofr obvious reasons!

  14. Luis Ogando

    Too Hot

    You could very easily turn a PC like this into a firewall!

  15. John Browne
    Thumb Down

    But what about the environmental cost...

    Of the fire extinguisher that would have to be kept handy. PC hardware occasionally makes smoke, but in a standard steel case it hardly ever makes fire. Maybe this thing could be fitted with an automatic extinguishing system, as used in aircraft and racing cars, but the cost (financial and envronmental) would be higher than than the old tin box. Also, the thing can't be robust enough to stand much in the way of cleaning, maintenance or upgrading. I wouldnt want to open it up too often or wipe it down with a damp cloth.

    Chances are it would be scrapped earlier than a standard PC, just because it was starting to look a bit ratty. Not green.

    If you want to be green, stick new kit in your old box 8-)

  16. James McGregor

    "... all the usual PC components"

    ... er, no. Where do the PCI, AGP or PCIe cards go? I don't see any holes to get at stuff you've installed. Then again, a bit of modding with a stout pair of scissors might just do the trick. Probably not covered under the warranty, though. :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't the french call their computers "le box"?

    Or la boîte?

    Does that constitute prior art?

  18. Matthew

    Missing something?

    Surely anyone who is this tight-fisted will have considered the option of reusing a free cardboard box from the recycling bin instead?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where is the metal shielding to stop the radio interference from the box?

    Don't think it will be CE compliant without it.

  20. Martin Lyne

    I'd rather have

    a cardboard box to be fair. Current metal ones always give me nasty cuts. That said, corrugation = insulation, and a spilt drink = carnage.

    Just make robots that hoover up the dust from inside the case, pretty please?

  21. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    RF interference

    Computers live in metal boxes to prevent radio waves from getting out and messing up your (neighbour's) TV. Unless the box is lined with foil and the edges carefully sealed, someone is going to find out about EMC laws the expensive way.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire Hazzard

    and it doesn't come in black :)

    Nice idea though, perhaps the card board could be treated, or the idea extended to wood.

    The problem is the heat though, that is why metal is used.

    Oh I know, cigarette carton computer, that cardboard is treated against fire as far as I know, let me check ....

  23. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Other "green" stuff

    I also found this on Engadget, with a slew of other supposedly "Green" gadgets.

    My problem with the majority of them is the underlying power consumption of the devices themselves. For example, the "Power Hog" will pull power when idle. The "Power Plugs" will as well.

    The later would be more problematic as its popularity grows. There is already much concern over the 9W of power my entire entertainment system uses when "off" -- 32" CRT, DVD player, VCR, and amp -- I can imagine the concern when we essentially put a few "wall warts" in each and every new home.

    Just some thoughts.

    Paris, became more problematic as her popularity grew.

  24. Steven Jones

    Publicity Seeker

    I rather suspect that this is a bit of nonsense concocted to gain publicity. Firstly corrugated cardboard is a dreadful material iff the intention is to keep components cool. By the standard of these things, it's a fairly good insulator. Indeed it's a choice of last resort for the homeless. Secondly, what about electromagnetic interference shielding (unless, like plastic cases, they are using a metallic coating). Thirdly, most desktop cases are metal which is much more robust, perfectly re-usable and much safer. Fourthly a corrugated cardboard case is not much protection for delicate electronics, either in purely mechanical terms or from accidentally coming into contact with quite small amounts of liquid. Fifth, just how much of the energy content and engineering effort goes into the construction of a PC case rather than its inards, power supply and so on? Given the lack of expandability of this thing for disk bays and so on, then what's the point of the desktop format? Stick to something like a Shuttle - smaller, neater, more robust and, I would suspect, ultimately more "sustainable".

    Nope - I think this is just somebody seeking some publicity which, reading around the Internet, many tech news websites appear to have fallen for.

  25. Lottie

    I'd buy one

    I like the concept, but if he could make it look like a pizza box it'd be cooler :-)

  26. Wortel


    That actually looks cool, and isn't such a bad idea either in terms of recycling.

    Though if something goes wrong, you may just literally get smoked. :)

    Flame, well.. paper and heat.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Which way up?

    Unfortunately, the "this way up" logo is correct for is in desktop configuration, but would render it upside down when in tower configuration...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    One word - Fire

    And when your CPU gets a little warm it burns your house down ?

  29. Martin Silver badge


    To meet FCC/CE regs the cardboard is going to have to have a metal film stuck on it, so it isn't going to be recyclable. And the metal case of a PC isn't exactly the hardest bit to recycle anyway.

    So we have a PC that isn't going to last as long (soon as someone knocks over a coffee) has the same toxic parts on the MB and replaces the only currently recyclable part!

  30. Jess

    Did it years ago

    Built an old 486-25 into a cardboard packing box for a laugh.

    Wonder how the RFI compliance is.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CE Approval

    Good Idea, but CE approval they may have to coat the inside with shielding.

  32. Paul Clark


    As someone who has thrown way too many old PC cases into the metal scrap bin, it's a nice idea, but it would almost certainly have to be lined with tinfoil to get theough electromagnetic emissions requirements.

  33. Jon


    "Ooh, four... I mean five... I mean fire! "

  34. Sooty

    fire hazard?

    not sure i'd want a processor that has a cutoff set at 85 degrees C, inside a load of highly flammable paper.

    Admittedly they don't often get that high, but when my heatsink got matted with fluff my pc went up to 75degrees. The warning beeps were a handy reminder to clean and reseat everything.

  35. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Nothing new

    My first home built PC was incased in a cardboard box, all parts scavenged from old PC's, eventually I felt it would be better to use something less flammable. :)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what if...

    ... the power supply burns out and smokes or a cheaply made usb sets on fire? does the box come fireproof for x'amounts of minutes?

  37. Natalie Gritpants

    How big is the shipping container?

    After all cardboard is quite fragile so it will need a big reinforced box to prevent it getting squashed by the postman. I know, you could use the metal box you're not using for the PC.

  38. Steve

    Soggy Card

    So if you spill your drink over your desk your nice new cardbaord pc will happily absorb the liquid.

    Then once the Card has enough i am pretty sure the electricity wuld be more then happy to travel around teh card thus makeing the thing live. lol

  39. Eddie Edwards


    Are those USB memory sticks sticking out of the top, or highlighter pens?

  40. Steve John

    Yeah, that'll help.

    Replacing what is probably the most recyclable part of the PC anyway.

    Doing something about being able to recycle the myriad different substances within would be properly useful.

  41. Pantelis
    Thumb Down


    It is a nice idea but I doubt it would pass EM emmision restrictions to be commercialy used

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a loony idea...

    I thought half the point of a metal case was to mitigate EM interference etc? Doesn't cardboard insulate pretty well, and what happens when you spill your coffee on it?

    Cardboard computer case, right up there with the inflatable dartboard and chocolate teapot.

  43. Adam


    Unfold, refold and drink 'till she's pretty.

    Might be green, might catch fire, but without an apple logo I can't see it catching on.

  44. jmccoy

    A fire waiting to happen

    The fire bridgade will be busy when this one catches on and subsequently catches fire.

  45. Yorkshirepudding

    reminds me of...

    ... the old atari consoles in wood!


  46. Vonga
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear. Another designer who bunked off the physics class

    So corrugated cardboard will help with ventillation? Only in the same way double glazing does - it's a few mm of air trapped in a long rough-sided tube. Go ask a tramp what they prefer for a winter night's doss: plastic sheeting or sturdy corrugated cardboard box.

    And by the time you've dosed it with enough fire retardent & stiffening it'll probably be 100% unrecyclable too.

  47. Richard Neill

    Why are we making items that should be long-lived into throwaways?

    PC cases ought to be made from sturdy metal, so that the machine can have a useful life of 10 years+ Even if the innards die, the case can usually be re-used for the next one! So this is a really inappropriate place to use cardboard. Built-in obsolescence?

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Heat + cardboard?

    I daresay it's well thought through, but what happens when some component or another goes wrong? I've had a PSU go bang in the middle of the night (interesting to be awoken by a blue flash and a smell of burning), not sure I'd have wanted it in a cardboard case. As Basil Fawlty might say "Fire........ffffffire........FIRE!!!!"

  49. John
    Thumb Down


    And how would a cardboard PC meet EM emissions regs?

  50. Jason

    Where will it end??

  51. Popup


    How do they handle EMC? This thing will radiate like mad.

  52. Lonesome Twin

    It's for Cloud Computing...

    ... 'payper use' :-D

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How has no-one else noticed?

    How will it pass emissions regulations?

    Strange, I'd have expected someone to have mentioned that in the first comment.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't see how that's going to pass emissions regs.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What about RFI?

  56. Kevin Turnquist

    This isn't going to end well

    I've had components on motherboards fail, overheat, and set the component and MB on fire - to the point where the CPU and heatsink had burn marks from the flames. The case itself provides a "fire shield" of sorts, so imagine if the case was cardboard ...

    Flames ... for the burn.

  57. Bob Holtzmann

    Cardboard Fibers

    There are problems enough for the fan motor collecting dust and inhibiting the movement of cool air. But dust + cardboard fibers clogging the fan motor?

    It appears that the cardboard case has corrugations to allow vertical movement of cooling air, but the securing straps appear to get in the way of that. Also, the cooling fan pulls the air to the bottom of the unit, near the power supply. Which is where all of that cardboard dust will collect. And overheat the computer.

  58. Jon Axtell

    Which way is up?

    I'm just a bit concerned about the "this way up" signs in the bigger picture at the bottom. Seems that the PC is designed to be upside down.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    * Vertical ingress for dust (that would be the reason very few devices are top-vented...)

    * Internal PSU. An external "brick" would be safer.

  60. Chronos
    Thumb Up

    EMC testing goes like this

    "See? Nothing! It's absolutely flat on the spectrum wotsit thingy!"

    "Sir, that machine is switched off."

    "I know that, peon. We don't sell them switched on, do we? Make yourself useful: Sign this and fetch that roll of CE stickers..."

  61. A J Stiles

    Interference shielding? Pah

    Interference shielding? Pah!

    I used to live near a MW transmitter and I never, ever had a problem running naked PC guts in the open air, without any RF shielding. Of course, this was in the days of many volts and few megahertz. Modern kit may be more sensitive to RF interference.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Yay! HP take note.

    Ohh, how about an HP server that comes in massive amounts packaging, you unpack it, only for you to discover you just disassembled the server?

    Imagine the fun of trying to put it back together again! We all know that somehow, the contents never go back into the original box.

  63. Pierre

    Less recyclable than a metal box!

    How could we go green? I know, let's replace the only fully recyclable (as-is, no treatment of any sort needed) part of PCs with parts which need an expensive (and pollutant) recycling plants. Way to go!

    Recycling an old metal box is as easy as screwing new parts in. Repeat as many times as you wish (or until makers change the standard dimensions for components. B*stards.). Estimated lifetime: infinite (on a human scale). This cardboard stuff will need frequent replacement, and used ones will need to be sent to recycling plants, to be recycled 2-3 times max I guess. Estimated lifetime (including recyclings): what, 5 years, 10 maybe, if you're very careful.

    Kill Mother Earth, buy a "green" cardboard PC!

  64. Anonymous Coward

    How will you be able to tell...

    ...the fake cardboard ones they use to display computer desks and entertainment centers from the real thing?

    I want to see the whole line of cardboard laptops and blade servers!

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: If you want to be green, stick new kit in your old box 8-)

    No comment.

  66. Anonymous Coward


    Dear sir,




    We have a fire...

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    April 1st

    When I read this I had to check the date... no, it's not April 1st. Wierd.

    And to add to the collective viewpoint: fire, dust, heat, shielding, etc.


  68. Steven Jones

    @A J Stiles

    I rather think you have got this backwards - emmission laws are about stopping electronic equipment emitting unacceptably high levels of EMI, not to stop the equipment being interfered with (of course designers do include shielding in sensitive areas for that reason, but for technical, not legislative reasons), It all adds to the background levels of interference which can affect the legitimate use of radio communication. The reverse is not true - an office full of unshielded PCs could quite easily affect things like WiFi reception and mobile phone reception.

    Of course MW waves work at radically different frequencies to PCs and the conductors in a circuit board are a tiny fraction of the length of radio waves at that frequency so it was extremely unlikely that it would have suffered problems. Also an MW transmitter, by it's very nature, transmits over a relatively narrow band of the EM spectrum - of much more concern is "wide band" inteference than blasts out over a wide range of frequencies.

    Incidentally, whilst strong interferences at MW frequencies won't interfere with a PC, it can be highly problematical to ADSL. Faulty equipment (although, not usually PCs), can cause severe local problems with ADSL and that is clearly perceivable on MW radios.

  69. unitron

    I think you've got it backwards

    <QUOTE>Interference shielding? Pah

    By A J Stiles Posted Thursday 5th February 2009 18:11 GMT


    Interference shielding? Pah!

    I used to live near a MW transmitter and I never, ever had a problem running naked PC guts in the open air, without any RF shielding. Of course, this was in the days of many volts and few megahertz. Modern kit may be more sensitive to RF interference.</QUOTE>

    Metal cases are as much, if not more, for preventing the computer from causing interference to other devices as they are for protecting the computer from interference.

    Mine's the one with proper shielding built in.

  70. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Insert tab A...

    ...into US B

  71. Andus McCoatover

    2 x 4?

    If it was made in Israel, they'd surely call it a "four-by-two" (Cockney for Jew)

  72. JP Bonello
    Thumb Up


    Interesting concept but the thing that really made me wet myself was Eddie Edwards comment at the top about marker pens. So true!!!

  73. Gary Littlemore
    Thumb Up


    Can't see this catching on at Dell, but a good idea.

  74. Anonymous Coward

    @fire risk people

    cardboard is good up to 233 degrees C (not counting any safety margins), people build solar ovens out of the stuff (not to mention packaging designed to cook food in)

    naked flames are a lot hotter than this, so yeah, it can burn quite well, so no candles.

    but if youve got anything on, near or in your computer that is likely to hit those temps (like say, the rest of your house being on fire, or phisically placing the box on top of the heating element of a space heater), you've probably got other things on your mind...

  75. Matt
    Thumb Down

    Gimicky and counter-productive.

    It looks kinda cool but cardboard will do more harm than good. It's a protective shell for damagable parts that aren't so easily recycled.

    Cases are easily re-used, and they aren't subject to the usual rules of obsolescence. I ditched my 1st ATX case at the end of 2007, it had been in service since 1997 and I've plenty more machines running in cases of a similar age. The one I'm working at right now is a 1998 model. With the exception of monitors I don't think there's another area of kit that stands the test of time so well.

    IMO cases would be better improved with easier access and replacability of the power switch and any front panel controls as they're about the only parts that ever get damaged beyond simple repair.

  76. Ralph B

    Liquid Cooling?

    I hope they also use liquid cooling ... using petrol.

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