What Are White Box Laptop Chassis?

Build your own laptop from a base chassis and parts

In the computer industry, the term white box refers to computers that are built from parts made by any non-tier-one manufacturer. Thanks to the wide availability of white box laptop chassis, it's possible to build your own PC out of commercially available parts.

Information in this article applies broadly to a type of computer hardware.

What Does White Box Mean?

Dell, HP, and Apple are all tier-one manufacturers, and their computers are built from parts designed just for their systems. Smaller companies don't have the luxury of being able to afford custom components, so they build computers from general components offered on the market. Because computers made by these tier-two companies don't have logos printed on the plain cases, they are called white boxes. In recent years, more users have been building their own white box computers using custom laptop chassis.

What Is a White Box Laptop Chassis?

A chassis (spelled the same singular and plural) is the outer shell of a laptop. It includes the case, keyboard, pointer, motherboard, and display. To complete the system, you must install a processor, memory, hard drive or SSD, and software.

A white box laptop chassis is a generic shell for custom computers. If you compare laptops offered by companies like iBUYPOWER and Cyberpower PC, you're likely to find several devices that look identical. This is probably because they use the same basic white box laptop chassis, but that doesn't mean the internal components are the same.

Advantages of White Box Laptops

One of the biggest advantages of a white box laptop is the flexibility of component choices. Users have greater say over which parts go into the computer even when compared to the customization offered by companies like Dell. As a result, you can get a system tailored to your exact needs.

Another advantage of a white box laptop is its upgrade potential. Most laptops sold by the major companies are sealed so that only a few parts, such as memory or RAM, can be upgraded. With a white box laptop, the majority of the parts are easily accessible, allowing users to upgrade optical drives and processors without having to go through a manufacturer or buying a new system.

Disadvantages of White Box Laptops

When you purchase a laptop from a tier-one manufacturer, it comes with a warranty for all of the parts that reside within it. With white-box laptops, each component is warrantied to the individual manufacturer, which can make things complicated if something breaks or needs repair.

Another thing that many white box laptops lack is software. It is up to the consumer to supply all the software, including an operating system. On the other hand, many tier-one manufacturers include software bundles that give you access to popular programs like Microsoft Word for free.

Building your own white box laptop is a more viable option than it was a few years ago, but even with the expanded options for laptop chassis, there are still some limitations. For example, some chassis have graphic cards built into them, so they cannot be upgraded. The screen is also an integral part of the chassis that can't be upgraded or changed.

Should You Build a White Box Laptop?

Building your own computer isn't an economical alternative to buying one that meets your needs. The people who benefit the most from white box laptops are those looking for specific features in a mobile computer that no major manufacturer supports. For the majority of users, a white box laptop is likely to cause more issues for them than if they were to buy a major name laptop.

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