Redmond, WA-based company GAEMS is perhaps best known for making briefcases with built-in monitors inside so that console gamers can play from virtually anywhere while on the go. But aside from some portable USB monitors, the company hasn’t put much focus on the PC gaming market. That changed at this year’s E3 when the company showed off its first computer case for the first time, showing a major shift toward the PC market.
GAEMS isn’t necessarily making systems in the way boutique manufacturers such as Alienware does. Instead, it’s partnering with a company to load its Guardian Pro XP case with PC components. This way, instead of buying a Guardian case and a mini ATX PC separately to put inside of it, customers can purchase all the components in advance to have them installed. The product concept is so new that GAEMS doesn’t even have a name for it yet. So, we’ll just call it a Guardian PC until an official name is given. You might say it’s for gamers, but it would be more precise to say that it’s for gaming content creators and BYOC competitors who need to bring their entire studios with them wherever they go.
Desktop computer in a briefcase
The Guardian case includes a 24-inch 60Hz monitor inside of it, which puts it into a completely different class of computing compared to gaming notebooks – even large ones like the Alienware Area-51m. I don’t think there’s anything on the market that’s quite like it. The system is kind of like taking a DIY project to the next level by putting PC desktop components and a 24-inch monitor into a large briefcase.
Although you’ll likely be able to game on the device, the fact that you can only fit mini ATX components into suggests that full-sized desktops with high-end video cards may outperform it in terms of raw horsepower. There’s also the matter of cooling during long sessions, since the demo model didn’t appear to have many visible fans or exhaust grills outside of the cage that housed all the components.
No base configuration, price, or launch date has been settled on yet, but GAEMS is looking to keep the cost low enough for up-and-coming streamers to afford. For reference, the Guardian Pro XP by itself costs $700. That’s a pretty good deal compared to the cost of most gaming notebooks, but there are some significant trade-offs involved. Specifically, the Guardian PC isn’t a notebook, so there’s no battery life to consider. There also doesn’t appear to be any space to pack a keyboard inside of the case, so that would have to be carried around separately.
It’s also gigantic for a portable system, and its size would likely be heavier than most gaming notebooks. The case can hold up to 10 pounds, but it’s unlikely that anyone will pack that much into it.
Measuring 23.45 x 16.9 x 4.79 inches, the Guardian PC is a massive briefcase. If emptied out, you could easily fit a couple of 17-inch gaming notebooks within it. Inside is the 24-inch monitor, built-in 9W speakers and a subwoofer, a power adapter and more. Plus, there’s space for the computer components themselves along with a few small peripherals like mice and gamepads. All those components sit between the user and the monitor, which could end up feeling like the length of a football field to gamers who tend to lean in close to their screens while playing.
But at the same time, it is an extremely versatile device. It could potentially serve as a gaming computer or a livestreaming deck that can be packed up and moved at a moment’s notice. The 24-inch screen only supports 1080p resolution at 60Hz, which is a little disappointing given that there are versions of the Guardian XP Pro with 1440p screens. This was likely done to help keep the cost down while providing the general standard for broadcasting.
An all-in-one livestreaming studio
Depending on the configuration, users could potentially use the portable desktop as their main PC. Although expensive desktops would still outperform it, they cost thousands of dollars and can’t be easily packed up and transported. Meanwhile, its core components may be switched out and upgraded as needed, making the Guardian PC more futureproof than many notebook computers.
I asked the GAEMS representative what the primary use case for the system was. Was it a gaming PC or a streaming and video editing deck? He said that it was for whatever you wanted to use it for. He explained that the inspiration for developing the device came from talking with livestreamers and competitors who often had to wheel their desktops around to events, tuck monitors under their arms while trying to open doors, or carry multiple notebooks around to do different jobs – one for gaming, the other for streaming and audience engagement.
Put in the right hardware and you can do practically anything, since it’s a PC. The representative went on to say that the demo unit supported multiple 4K cameras, was capable of 4K graphics (which would mean hooking it on to a different display), and could stream at 4K simultaneously. That sounds a little like overpromising if GAEMS intends to keep the price relatively low. But we’ll have to see if that’s truly the case when the system officially releases.
With this device, users have the option to have an entire livestreaming studio with them wherever they go. The lid of the case allows cameras, microphones, and lights to be clipped on so that creators can produce quality content on the go. There are also multiple ports for adding on screens or USB devices. If it delivers on everything, livestreamers can have all their equipment in one box instead of spending thousands on gaming notebooks and a secondary system for streaming.
The briefcase makes for a better option than lugging around a $4,000 desktop setup and risking damage to it. Although the model shown at E3 played 2016’s Doom well enough at 1080p, it remains to be seen whether the system can provide the power needed for serious competition.
GAEMS admits that its products might not be for everyone, but the Guardian PC certainly is an interesting concept. It might be a little much for those who don’t create content and but want a portable gaming system. After all, it takes up a significant amount of desk space. So, unless you’re using it to make content, owning the Guardian PC would mostly involve the novelty of having a whole PC and monitor inside a briefcase.