How to fit a PC in your car

This will either be secured onto your car dashboard, or can be mounted where the stereo would have been, either as Single DIN or Double DIN.

These can even include an audio amplifier, which is handy as otherwise you may have to purchase one separately. Alternatively, you can buy a complete ready-built car PC, such as the Single DIN unit available from ADS Shop, which has everything built in.

The best of the best?

However, the prince of car PC barebones is Infi ll’s G4 (€1,198 from, which negates many of the cable routing issues. This is a Double DIN unit based around a VIA Mini-ITX board sporting a 1.5GHz VIA C7 processor.

Most functions are built in, including VIA UniChrome PRO II graphics and GPS. It has a built-in 6.5in touchscreen with an 800x600 resolution, too. This is motorised, and can be angled for comfortable usage.

So all you need to add to this barebones is RAM, an optical drive and a 2.5in hard disk. Another consideration is how you build and set up the operating system and software.

Car PCs are intended to receive a 12V DC input from a car power system. However, they don’t usually come with an AC adapter, or have any conventional desktop PC power connectivity.

The Infill G4, for example, simply offers bare wires for connection directly to the 12V DC supply in your car audio head unit bay. The S631 barebones do ship with a test AC supply, making them easier to configure prior to car installation.

Choosing your software

Windows is primarily intended to be used with a keyboard and mouse, but an in-car PC is not exactly a desk-based environment. This is why a touchscreen is a necessity, with a finger-friendly operating system to go with it.

The Infill PC comes with its own interface software, capable of driving the majority of its abilities, but there are other options that integrate virtually every function you’ll want into one environment.

Most popular is Centrafuse, which comes in three versions. The Standard Edition (€98 from offers media playing, radio functions, DVD playing, a TV tuner, a web browser and audio mixing.

It can also accept a feed from a rear camera and monitor information from your car’s OBD-II interface. The XE version (€119 from includes Bluetooth support.

Top of the range is Centrafuse XLE (€289 for the European edition from, which has all the features of the XE version, plus GPS navigation.

Whichever version you choose, Centrafuse’s functions are held together by a simple main interface, which places buttons for the modules in the centre and media player controls along the bottom.

You can also try out Centrafuse for 30 days before taking the plunge. Once you have your car PC installed, as with any computer your options are limited only by your imagination.

Finally, what about GPS?

A GPS system is an obvious choice, as is a mini wireless or USB keyboard. An OBD-II interface (see ‘Monitoring your car’, above) will give you on-screen information from your car’s engine management system.

You can download a host of Centrafuse plug-ins from www. But for a true taste of luxury automotive options, why not install a camera in the rear of your vehicle for £42.99?

The wiring will need to be routed to your in-car PC, but this will then provide a much clearer picture of what’s behind you when you park than any rear-view mirror.

Considering how much this option costs when purchasing a new car – and it’s usually only available on top-end luxury vehicles – installing a system yourself underlines how a car PC can add to your automotive pleasure.

So give your car its own PC and turn it into the perfect digital home away from home, or office away from the office.

Monitoring your car

With a PC installed, your car will have two computers – the other one taking care of engine management. It’s a shame they can’t join forces to rule the automotive world. Well, actually they can.

Since 1996 (in the US) and 2001 (in Europe) a standard interface called OBD-II has been used for reading and writing data to and from your car’s engine management system, although there are a number of standard protocols for the transmission, depending on the manufacturer.

You can buy an RS232 or USB adapter to connect the PC to your car’s computer via OBD-II. Prices start at £24.99 ( for a dumb interface, which doesn’t support the SAEJ1850- VPW, SAEJ1850-PWM or CAN protocols.

ELM327 interfaces that contain the circuitry to support every possible protocol cost more than twice as much, but provide the widest range of software compatibility.

The Centrafuse ELM327 even has the ability to display certain performance data within its interface.