There’s nothing new about building your own PC. It’s easy, fun, you can decide just how high-end to make your device, and upgrade anytime you want. We live in the era of DIY (do-it-yourself), and there’s nothing PC gamers love more than picking the components that will make up their gaming tower. For the computing industry, all of this democracy is sometimes hard on the big companies, but for individual enthusiasts, brings a sense of innovation. Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) has an almost new idea by launching its Avalon concept PC, a modular alternative shown off at this year’s Computex 2016 in Taiwan.
Asus isn’t the first to launch a modular PC concept, Razer actually did, back in 2014 when it came up with Project Christine, “the world’s most modular (oil-cooled) PC-concept design”. Unfortunately all Razer really did was come up with the idea, as we never heard a thing about the computer after that. Other modular concepts have existed since Christine, like the Acer Revo Build from 2015, and the stackable computer concept Microsoft came up with late 2015. Avalon, however, is more than concept, it’s a prototype that works. Appearing more like an old box stereo from your dad’s basement than a computer, Avalon definitely has that “retro hi-fi” (thanks Ars Technica, for the new term) appeal, that in itself, could be a selling factor in today’s society of vintage lovers. It’s body is all condensed components, a motherboard and chassis, integrated into one, solid, wireless design.
Still, Asus has a computer that has a far more compelling and realistic identity than anything we've seen in the past. As mentioned, it is free of cables, and Asus says its unibody “optimizes the layout” of your custom PC’s internal components. The company, with the help of case designer In-Win, created this extra cubical body with the intent of making building, swapping, and upgrading easier than ever. Avalon’s motherboard is fully modular, segmented into four primary modules- where the CPU socket, RAM slots, system power hardware, and connections for mingling with the other modules.
Tom’s Hardware says that several components that usually have to be screwed into the machine are now easy enough to just push into place. It’s SSD, PSU, and graphics-adapter boards (where all the mess of cords and cabling come from) are incorporated into the front of Avalon, where the motherboard is located. This way, they appear “on the PC’s face, rather than needing to be connected to the front panel with extenders and extra cables”, says PC World. The back features a completely modular I/O for your plugs (the rear I/O panels connect to the motherboard via “edge connectors”, which Asus relies on for making the device as wire-free as possible), and the hard drive connectors are placed in super easy hot-swap drive bays on the side. These are just some of the features of this Frankenstein device. You could read on forever about this thing, as I did on PC World, so feel free to nerd out over there if you want.
We haven’t heard much about modular computing since Motorola’s Project Ara smartphone, nothing huge in the news at least. Even the LG G5, which was technically modular, only included three optional parts, so, this proof-of-concept for a modular motherboard from Asus takes the cake by far. However, proof-of-concept means just that. Project Avalon isn’t ready for consumers, and could take quite some time to hit the market, especially as Asus continues to work with other partners in developing it further. We will be patient because at least we know this thing is for real.
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