How to build a desktop computer for air travel in a suitcase?


Just wondering whether any of you travel with high powered PCs while you’re travelling?

I’m in the middle of buying myself a Mini ITX machine. It will be faster than my current desktop and small enough to fit in my suitcase (hopefully).

Any ideas about how to travel with computer equipment?

I’m thinking to buy an LCD in the country Im staying in so dont need to travel with that.

Then I’m thinking I will disassemble the PC before travel and reasssemble when I get there.

Interested to hear if anyone else is going through the same thing.


It sounds ridiculously and unnecessarily complicated to me. And if you ever have to check it, good luck seeing it all again. Or replacing a part that is lost or damaged.

Hi wanderingdev,

Just wondering what “check it” is? Sorry, not up to speed with these things.

I tend to spend longer than a few months (e.g. 6-12 months) in each destination, mainly out of lifestyle choice.

A laptop is not fast enough to carry out my work, so I have to build my own and carry it with me. I’ve been driving so far, but plan to do some flying to Asia soon and some other places, so looking for advice.

Just trying to find out whether there are any pitfalls with travelling with this type of equipment? Mini ITX are quite new, so I’m guessing for a few people they might be quite useful, if they can’t use a laptop for their work. They’re small enough to fit inside a suitcase, but there might be some convenient ways people are using to travel with them, such as taking them to pieces before travelling, or some special travel case that can be used.

A PC can be more successful than a laptop if anything goes wrong. if some security guard drops the whole thing, only part of it is broken, and the needed parts can be ordered anywhere.

See: (and related) for discussion of travelling with a desktop in checked baggage. TLDR: pack it well, and you should be fine.

Carrying it on the airplane is another option if it’s small and light enough: see (and related).

If you guys come up with a nomad-friendly power-setup, let me know.

I spend 4 - 6 months per destination and I would definitely love to have a desktop. I already buy and sell a new display/tv every time.


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I’m rebuilding because of the release of this -

This will take the newest skylake processor 6700k, and newest gfx cards (if gfx is you’re thing)

It makes it possible to (finally) get some serious horsepower inside a small form factor (mini itx) - basically same size as a laptop, but as fast as the fastest desktop.

So, it should be easily possible to fit this inside a suitcase (I will keep all the original boxes and then pack them and rebuild the PC at each destination - Companies ship all the time with these boxes and never get broken components/hard drives, so I’m sure they should be able to handle it?)

I’m in the same boat but even I’d rather do a laptop at this point. This is the one I built in 2011 and I’m still using it.

it doesnt sit inside of a suitcase but its relatively small enough to not be too much of a bother to stack on top of my larger wheeled suitcase and take somewhere. The density also means that there’s less room for things to bounce around in there and break in transit.

Check it = check in your luggage. I would under no circumstances check my laptop or any other equipment I required to perform my job. The odds of it getting lost/damaged/stolen are just too high for me.

Ahh I see. Yes, I always travel with laptop and ipad in hand, as I can make do with those until shipping parts etc.

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I’d totally go for a maxed out MacBook Pro, but respect that you’re going for a mini ITX haha! Must be better for gaming too :smiley:

Disclosure: My work doesn’t require me to have a power-computer. My current MBA is more than sufficient.

I spent the day doing some research, and after giving it a lot of thought, I discarded both a custom desktop setup and a maxed out MBP.

Instead, I’ll keep my MBA and also get a Lenovo Y50 that supports a very decent gaming experience AND is hackintosh compatible.

The Y50 has enough power to support any extra work that my MBA can’t. But to be honest, it will be used mainly for gaming. This use didn’t justify paying for a high end MBP.

On the bad side, I’ll be traveling with three laptops now: Toshiba Chromebook 2 (light writing on public spaces), MBA for everything else and now a Lenovo that will be used as desktop replacement.

If you happen to have any other affordable gaming laptop that supports hackintosh, please let me know.

Thanks for this dvc, really useful :slight_smile:

thanks for the mini ITX mention. I’m seriously considering it now since I can re-use a lot of the same components. May have to get another GPU though. I just moved with the machine that I have now, for overseas moves where you have access to someone giving you a ride it’s ok but it’s still too much of a pain to be a nomad etc.

If you do go for ITX, you might want to have a look at some previous builds people have done, so you can make sure all the parts go together properly. For instance, these ITX boards need a cooling fan that covers the whole board, rather than water cooling (that just encases the CPU. Mainly because ITX runs a lot hotter and larger surface area (due to the small size/form factor).

I already have been thanks to you lol.

and I like this one, Playstation level form factor :slight_smile:

but yeah I’m gonna accept that I may need a new GPU, SFX PSU and possibly optical drive to go along with that mobo