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Avalon is Asus' take on the modular PC concept

By Shawn Knight
May 30, 2016
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  1. The PC hardware of today is exponentially faster than what I had to work with when I first got into computing nearly two decades ago. Several new and innovative technologies have emerged over the years – multi-core processors and flash-based storage, for example – but what really stands out is how much things haven’t changed.

    The overall design of the PC – a motherboard populated with add-in cards and external drives, all shoved into a case and wired up – has largely gone unchanged for decades. That’s something Asus’ Republic of Gamers brand is aiming to change.

    During its Join the Republic press event at Computex 2016, Asus unveiled a platform called the ROG Avalon. With Avalon, Asus said it redesigned the motherboard and case as a single entity rather than as two items in tandem which allowed them to optimize the layout to alleviate the most frustrating aspects of the DIY PC process.

    Avalon features PSU, SSD and graphics-adapter boards for plug-and-play simplicity which eliminates most of the “messy” cabling and brings key components to the forefront for easy access (the graphics card still requires external power in this concept). There’s also a modular rear I/O panel that can be customized to fit varying needs.

    Essentially what we’re looking at here is a modular PC concept.

    Before you get too excited, keep in mind that this isn’t an entirely original idea. Razer unveiled a fully modular PC of its own a couple of years ago called Project Christine which never made it past the concept stage. Asus promises that’s not the case here, with the company saying that unlike the purely aspirational concepts often see in the tech industry (Project Christine), this prototype is a working system built on existing technologies that are viable to put into mass production.

    Asus’ modular implementation is incredibly impressive but I’m still a bit skeptical. There’s a reason the traditional PC structure has persevered for so long - it’s an open platform that’s relatively simple and doesn’t depend on proprietary hardware. Asus would need to get a lot of other hardware players on board for this to succeed and given the overall health of the PC industry, timing alone could be its biggest hurdle.

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  2. mcborge

    mcborge TS Maniac Posts: 208   +119

    To me this thing looks like a micro hifi system with odd sized speakers and no lcd display.
    Neat concept though.
     
    Tekkaraiden and wastedkill like this.
  3. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 164   +34

    Not the most clever of project names if you're trying to distance yourself from ephemeral prototypes, the first choice(?) of dogfish works better.

    On a more serious note I think the main thing they've gotten wrong is that the front bays should really be PCI-Express expansion card slots instead of SATA connectors. Given that this is going to take a year or two to get into production and initially only sell to higher end users the choice of SATA looks rather old fashioned. Plus, that'll allow both drives and other functionality to be added.

    Oh, and the silly choice of ports of the backplates but that's not fixed so it's a minor issue.
     
  4. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 336   +132

    I had the same thought. Looks like a high-end stereo system from the 80s
     
    Forebode and Tekkaraiden like this.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,554   +2,897

    I'm laughing at how the guy on stage (top photo) tried to dress the part. The only thing about this machine in common with his outfit is the name. The name that is it, but yet someone felt compelled to dress Avalonian (what else would you call the outfit)!
     
  6. bmw95

    bmw95 TS Addict Posts: 104   +52

    They need a new product designer lol. That thing looks awful.
     
    Forebode likes this.
  7. AvalonMD

    AvalonMD TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +42

    Hey, don't diss the "Avalon"...!!! :p
     
  8. Deault

    Deault TS Rookie

    I don't get it, why no 5.1 audio? Am I not staying current with the state of sound? They expect add-on sound cards?
     
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,554   +2,897

    Everything pictured above is for the left and center compartment. There is no explanation (perhaps I'm just not seeing it) as to what the right compartment is used for.
     
  10. Thrackerzod

    Thrackerzod TS Enthusiast Posts: 40   +30

    I don't get the point of this; PCs have been modular since they were introduced in the 70s. Why would anyone want to buy a bunch of probably overpriced, proprietary components when you can just buy standard PC components like we always have? Sorry but this seems really stupid.
     
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  11. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,606   +287

    Aren't PCs already modular???
     
    MonsterZero likes this.
  12. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 164   +34

    Both the USB and HDMI ports are capable of 5.1 output. Given there are other major omissions from the set of ports (DisplayPort, multi-monitor support) I suspect those backplates are just what they had lying around (or controllers handy for) rather than serious proposals.

    I couldn't work that out myself. Perhaps it's a space for expansion cards although there's no obvious connection on that motherboard for them. Water cooling support maybe?

    'standard' PC components also started as proprietary designs and their 100% IBM PC compatible clones. Given that Intel, the traditional source of PC standards, isn't interested in the expandable desktop any more, other companies need to start innovating to ensure the desktop keeps up with the latest trends. The desktop market is shrinking, the current standards simply don't fit with what people want from a PC.

    As to the benefits it's difficult to tell without the technical details but I'd guess this is a compact system that swaps over to mainstream (laptop) components where appropriate such as SODIMM memory and 2.5" drives as well as including as standard some long overdue features like hotswappable drives and a good selection of ports without having to buy a high end motherboard.

    I suspect this attempt may be still too large for the mainstream and any design with a realistic hope of replacing immobile laptops needs to be looking at 4-5L maximum.
     
    Capaill likes this.
  13. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Guru Posts: 372   +324

    It's an interesting idea, but I dont get it.

    PCs are already expandable, things like hot swappable drive bays can be purchased and put into pre existing 5.25 inch bays, I can simply add additional ports to my PC chassis through both 3.5 and 5.25 inch ports. Everything else here, from the GPU and PSU to the CPU and cooler, require just as much work as before.

    The only really cool thing would be those backplate connectors, I hope a 5.25 inch version with a PCIE connector comes out. I'd love to have that array of ports on the front of my machine.
     
  14. Ashwincampbell

    Ashwincampbell TS Rookie

    Republic of gamers? More like republic of lamers!
     
    Adhmuz and Arris like this.
  15. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Addict Posts: 227   +88

    This is a horrible idea and it needs to just die already. PC's by design are already modular.
     
    Arris likes this.
  16. NeighborDave

    NeighborDave TS Rookie

    "Asus would need to get a lot of other hardware players on board for this to succeed and given the overall health of the PC industry, timing alone could be its biggest hurdle." Why? Looks as though all the parts are standard, I.e., I could rip my PC out of it's current case and plop it in here as-is. Cool concept, ditching all the cables that always go to the same places anyway and making it sooooooooo much easier to re-seat the cpu when that thermal paste dries up from the looks of it.
     
  17. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,648   +521

    Your joking right? That doesn't really come off as a joke however...

    And yet you seem to acknowledge the use of the proprietarily designed boards everywhere? Also how many times do you reseat your CPU due to dried thermal paste? Not sure how this will make it any easier if you need access to the backside of the motherboard to remove the heatsink or water block.

    Really this has to be the worst idea to come out of Asus' ROG marketing division ever. Believe it or not people like the ability to have unique cases, different cases, custom cases. I couldn't imagine everyone at a LAN party having one of these things, it would look pretty sad, almost like if everyone had identical looking smart phones. People just like choice and like to stand out or at least not be sheeple all conforming to one layout, and those people already have Apple to choose from.

    The only place, and I mean only place, I see something like this being a good idea is if Asus wants to start sponsoring e-sports teams by providing them all with identical system to display at e-sport events, MSI is already doing it, but the managed to do so without reinventing the components required to build said PC, I believe it's called the night blade.

    Does Asus really expect us to believe they couldn't have gone that route to avoid forcing the industry to redesign components for a one off PC case? And then also what the hells the point of having no wires anywhere if you can't even see inside the damn thing to begin with? This really makes very little sense to me, besides the one I pointed out, but even at that, it's ugly and doesn't really do much for the ROG brand.

    The right side is to house a radiator as someone has theorized, quick google search and I found this, sorry for the Linus.
     

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