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This article was published on August 1, 2011

The craziest, most ludicrous PCs on the market

The craziest, most ludicrous PCs on the market
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

As a professional Microsoft watcher, I am tasked with the taxing job of keeping an eye on the PC market. I mean that in two senses, the first that I have to look at the strength of the PC market and track total sales, but also that I observe what sort of PCs are being built, and what consumer reaction they receive.

Another symptom of my job is that I have the ability to request any laptop that I want to submit to a battery of tests, and more often than not, have it shipped to me for a week’s loan. My occupation is tough, I know. But there are certain computers in the market that even with my most concerted efforts, through any number of channels, I can’t seem to get my hot little hands on. Today’s post looks at three of the craziest computers in the world, each earning that distinction for differing reasons, only one of which I have managed to actually play with.

There is something to be said for going ‘over the top.’ Apple’s computers are brilliantly built machines, but they have an air of understatement and refinement that can get a bit dull over the years. Imagine the emotion that the driver of a Lotus Exige feels when he stops at a light only to find himself next to a guttural piece of American steel. That feeling, the call of muscle, is something that a fair number of PC manufacturers seek to target.

Usually, gaming machines are the most ridiculous computers on the market. Gamers have exacting requirements that are difficult to meet, and since gamers’ computers spend so much time with their owners, they tend to be more customized, as they are more personal. But there are other computers in the market that are, for lack of a better term, insane, or at least unreasonable.

And we mean that in the best possible way.

We wanted to find what was the most egregiously awesome machine on the market, and we found some top contenders. Today we are going to look at the Origin Big O, the Asus VX7, and the Spacebook. Oh yes, those are all real names. Each is crazy in its own way, and each awesome.

Let’s get into it, shall we? We’ll start with the Big O.

The Origin Big O

Imagine a gamer’s tower, and take it to eleven. We tried to land a Big O for testing, but were rebuffed. That in mind, we can only take the company’s word for it, but the O is nothing short of incredible. Let’s talk about its specifications. In fact, we’ll let its creators have the honors:

With the ASUS Rampage III Extreme and Intel’s Core i7 series processors tuned to precision by ORIGIN’s highly trained techs you can feel assured that your Big O will devour all that stands in its way. If that’s too tame for you let the Big O cream on the competition with our as-seen-in CPU magazine build. With EVGA’s SR2 motherboard and Intel’s Xeon X5680 processors there is nothing that will slow down your Big O. Each X5680 features six-cores, twelve threads and supports ECC memory and that is before we add a second CPU and overclock it to a lighting fast 4.3GHz or and up to 24GB’s of Corsair GT 2000Mhz memory.

Let’s put that in perspective. If you go all the way with the Big O, and get the Xeon X5680 processors, it will have three times the number of cores that each operate at twice the speed of the top end Macbook Pro (for a simple comparison). That makes for roughly six times the raw horsepower of the top Apple laptop.

Why compare the Big O to a Macbook Pro? Mostly because they are a benchmark that everyone is familiar with, that’s all. Oh, and the Big O can come with six times as much ram as you can fit into a Macbook Pro, again to give you a measuring stick.

In other words, the Big O is what every gamer wants. Not only is it hulking, and fast, it’s far and away over the top. I’m not sure there exists a game that could fully use every ounce of the Big O’s power.

But the machine has a trick up its sleeve, You see, not only is the Big O a PC, it also has a built-in Xbox. Oh yes, you little gamer you, it is one of the world’s fastest computers, and an Xbox 360, together in one case. We told you these machines were crazy. What does it cost? The base model is $7,500. The top end version is $17,000. Ouch.

But admit it, you want one.

The Asus VX7

Cars are cool. Laptops are cool. What would happen if you built a laptop that is inspired by a car? Well, it exists, and we got to test it. The Asus VX7, or the ‘Lamborghini Laptop,’ is an odd computer. Not only is it huge (and heavy), it’s delivered in special wooden box. Oh, and it comes with a monogrammed mouse (an external mouse with the Lambo logo on it) and has leather inserts for hand rests.

We have no idea what the target market for the VX7 is (people who own a Lamborghini?), but it certainly is a behemoth to behold:

When you start it up, it plays a sound effect of a car turning on and revving its engine. Yes, that means that you probably shouldn’t take the VX7 to Starbucks, it would annoy the other customers. That and the machine is nothing short of larger than life. This is what ours had inside: An Intel i7 2630QM, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a GTX 460QM with 3GB of RAM. What made me mad is that if you added up my normal desktop and laptop, together combined they lost to this single laptop. I felt a bit small.

Whatever the case, the VX7 is a textbook example of egregious. It’s so bulky and wildly styled that you know that whomever you see typing on it knows that you watching them type. It attracts attention like plastic surgery. We did what all real computer testers do, and installed Starcraft 2 on the VX7 and maxed the settings. It didn’t care at all. Then we replayed the whole campaign in the name of science. Happily, unlike most laptops which sound tinny and sad, the VX7 has a powerful speaker set.

All told the VX7 will run you over $2,000, but not too far over. It’s surprisingly affordable.

The VX7 is so out there that it is almost a joke. Then you use it, and wonder if it didn’t weigh so damn much if you could take it to work with you, just to show it off to your boring coworkers. I mean, it has a monogrammed mouse. It’s ok to let your teenage self take the wheel sometimes, and the VX7 will let you do just that.

The Spacebook

The last of our three machines is so new that no one has had a chance to play with it. In fact, some thought that it was vaporware until it went up for pre-order. Ladies and gentlemen, please say hello to the Spacebook.

Before we show you a picture of it (no looking down!), we have to ask what could possibly be cooler than a laptop with one screen. What’s that? A laptop with two screens? Oh yes, that would be nice. And that is, by the way, just what the Spacebook has: two screens.

Needed? No. Awesome? Yes. Perhaps the best part is that the guts of the machine appear to be top-notch as well, so the screens should run without lag. Dual 17 inch screens on the go? You can’t so no to such a thing.

Feast your eyes upon it, and enjoy:

The Spacebook will run you between $2,300 and $2,600, for the i5 and i7 models, respectively.

Amazingly, the machine folds into a regular laptop shape, albeit a very thick one. Like the VX7, this machine is more of a luggable than a laptop. But that doesn’t stop it from being awesome.

We hope that you have been entertained, that was the goal of this post (and why it was written for the weekend). The PC market has enough fringe players, and fringe machines, that it is always interesting. We’ll be bringing you posts of this sort as often as we come across a handful of truly crazy PCs.

Look at your computer. Don’t you want to trade it in for something, I don’t know, more interesting?

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