Novena, an open laptop platform designed for hackers, has surpassed 280 percent of its crowd-funding target, and the open-hardware computing devices will start shipping in November.


Notebook computers are traditionally designed with closed and proprietary architecture, which leaves most tech-savvy users wanting for modifications. While most notebook designs will require expensive upgrades and components, a crowd-funding project called Novena promises to deliver an “open hardware computing platform” which can be configured as a laptop, desktop or even a standalone board.

Freescale quad-core ARM architecture computer closely coupled with a Xilinx FPGA. It’s designed for users who care about Free Software and open source, and/or want to modify and extend their hardware: all the documentation for the PCBs is open and free to download, the entire OS is buildable from source, and it comes with a variety of features that facilitate rapid prototyping.

The device comes in several configurations, with the basic board-only design priced at $500. The all-in-one desktop configuration costs $1,195, the laptop is $1,995. Meanwhile, the “heirloom laptop” model costs $5,000 as per the crowd-funding campaign on CrowdSupply. That’s certainly no small change, considering you can get notebooks and all-in-one computers from mainstream brands for a fraction of the cost.

But again, the target market is not the average laptop or tablet buyer. Users are encouraged to tweak and modify. Those who have access to a 3D printer could even manufacture their own bezels and speaker-boxes, for instance. And the battery? The user is required to install it.

Novena laptop

The Novena’s internals can easily be accessed without the need for a screwdriver. The creators also promise that everything is open-source, even the chipset firmware.

The heirloom laptop model is certainly expensive, although Novena’s creator, noted hacker Bunnie Huang, says it’s an Omakase experience: “You are buying into the craftsmanship and artistry of [craftsman-designer] Kurt Mottweiler, and trusting him to build a work piece of outstanding quality.”


This is certainly not your run-of-the-mill notebook computer, especially given the price. The crowd-funding campaign reached $708,900 of its $250,000 target, raised from 1,031 backers, and the team is set to start production later this year. Outside of the campaign, interested folks can still pre-order for a nominally higher price ($550 for the board only, $1,315 for the all-in-one, $2,195 for the laptop and still $5,000 for the heirloom piece).