This may be the most expensive 'free' computer you've ever seen

Raptor Engineering hopes to build a nonproprietary motherboard that'll fit in ATX cases, and be 'Made in the USA.'

You can have an open-source operating system on your PC, but it’ll never be truly “free” because all modern x86-based CPUs and chipsets feature secret firmware “blobs” that are proprietary to AMD and Intel.

That’s something Raptor Engineering is hoping to address with what may be the world’s first modern ATX motherboard using a Power8 CPU (a product of IBM’s open-source OpenPower group).

Dubbed the Talos Secure Workstation, Raptor Engineering said the CrowdSupply.com project aims to build ATX motherboards that will work with IBM’s first OpenPower CPUs. Unlike CPUs from Intel and AMD, OpenPower CPUs have no proprietary firmware and are developed in the open with partners.

Why this matters: Those concerned about the secretive firmware Intel and AMD bake into their CPUs and chipsets really have no alternative using modern hardware. In addition to the strict licensing models, open-source and security experts object to the black box nature of proprietary firmware, which could potentially expose users to hacking and to government spying.

The Talos Project motherboards will support a single Power8 CPU, up to 256GB of RAM using registered DIMMs, and two x16 PCIe slots. And yes, the ATX spec means many off-the-shelf PC ATX cases should work with the motherboards.

Making Power-based PCs great again

The Talos motherboards aren’t cheap, but they did get an unexpected price reduction, the company says, thanks to the election of Donald Trump. Late last week Raptor announced that it had cut the price from a projected $4,100 to $3,700 for the boards.

“Why were we able to do this? To put it simply, Raptor Engineering is not your typical engineering company,” the company said in a CrowdSupply update. “The market conditions in the U.S. have recently and quite unexpectedly shifted to favor our business model, and we are passing the resultant savings directly to you, our valued customers.”

To put it bluntly, a company official told PCWorld that Trump’s protectionist stance favors Raptor’s practice of building everything in the US.

Unlike most computers, the vast majority of the components on the motherboard will be sourced in the United States. The CPUs, meanwhile, will be manufactured by IBM in New York.

“For now, Talos is as close as anyone can get to a fully ‘Made in the USA’ computer that not only respects your freedom, but is competitive with high-end machines for serious development work,” the company says.

Of course all of this is dependent on support. For the motherboards to be built, the company has to hit $3.7 million bucks in the next month; it’s currently raised $350,000.

Besides funding the motherboards, people can also opt to buy completely built systems. But yeah, that doesn’t really make it much cheaper. A Talos Desktop will cost $7,100 and get you a Talos motherboard, 128GB of ECC DDR3 RAM, an AMD Radeon RX 480, and two WD 4TB hard drives in a case with Debian Linux preinstalled.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags PC

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?