Razer’s Project Christine Desktop PC Is Ambitous and Possibly Vaporous

A customizable gaming rig with plug-in parts sounds neat, but could leave users stranded.

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Jared Newman for TIME

Razer, which has produced some beautiful gaming laptops over the past few years, is now taking on the desktop PC with Project Christine.

Christine is a modular gaming desktop that aims to take the hassle out of upgrading. The base tower has liquid mineral-oil cooling built in, and lets users plug in each individual component, from the processor and motherboard to the storage drives and RAM. Each piece is specially packaged so it can slide right in, and users don’t have to mess with wiring or come in contact with the internal components.

At least, that’s how it works in theory.

As with Razer’s Edge gaming tablet, which first debuted under the name Project Fiona, Razer says it will only go through with Project Christine if there’s enough interest from the community. But this time, Razer didn’t bring a working prototype to CES. The company claims to have a prototype in its labs, but it’s pretty rough. The slick-looking tower on display at CES is just a mockup.


Jared Newman for TIME

Even if Razer can show off a working product, there’s a bigger reason to be skeptical: Because each piece must be specially made to fit into the tower, Razer is going to need long-term support from Intel, AMD, Nvidia and other component vendors. The point of Project Christine is to let users easily upgrade over time, but those users risk getting stranded unless a large number of vendors make years-long commitments.

Razer co-founder and president Robert Krakoff admitted that it’s a massive undertaking, but he pointed out that Razer has built up lots of clout with component makers over the years, so he’s optimistic that Project Christine can get the support it needs. “If this was our first product, we couldn’t do it,” Krakoff said in an interview.

Still, I suspect Razer will need to prove to vendors that there’s already lots of interest in Project Christine. The company’s usual tactic of gathering Likes and comments on Facebook now seems more important than ever.

MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete CES coverage