Cooling shroud spotted on ECS motherboard concept

The old saying goes that good artists copy, and great artists steal. I’m not sure whether the shroud on ECS’ X79R-AX Stealth concept motherboard qualifies as stolen or copied, but it looks an awful lot like the Thermal Armor featured on some Asus Sabertooth motherboards. ECS posted a picture of the concept on its Facebook site, and the accompanying text claims the shroud protects onboard components while "acting as an umbrella to cooling systems."

When we tested Asus’ first shroud-equipped motherboard, the Sabertooth P67, we discovered that the Thermal Armor actually increased the temperature of motherboard components. Only when we added a noisy "assistant fan" did temperatures drop to below what they were with the shroud removed entirely.

ECS’s Facebook post says "exhaust vents allow air to escape and store unit fans," but I’m not seeing any venting or fan mounts in the picture. It doesn’t look like there’s room for a spinner in the rear port cluster, either. Any fan that fits the shroud is likely to be small in diameter and require high rotational speeds to generate decent airflow. (Asus’ assistant fan peaked at 5,600 RPM!) In our experience, such fans tend to be much whinier than the larger, low-RPM models typically found on CPU coolers and in cases.

Shrouds like the custom-painted Thermal Armor pictured above certainly give artists a nice canvas. However, I’m not sure they make sense for desktop motherboards. Slick looks hardly make up for higher component temperatures, and we’ve yet to see a shroud implementation with sufficiently quiet cooling. Thanks to HardOCP for the tip.

Comments closed
    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    You hide a motherboard. Even in my mesh/open-air HAF 932, you can barely see any open slots, let alone faux bullet holes and faux gears and sprockets…

    Why bother with ANY bling at all?

    And more worrying, why would anybody purchase such a thing?

    We are a truly wealthy people, aren’t we?

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      Well, this is the age of scientology and Yahoo! Answers 🙁

      If ECS says the shroud saves pandas and increases your gas mileage by over 9000, then you can bet there are enough delusional dumbasses out there to make it a worthwhile target demographic for ECS.
      (expect a panda-friendly, gas-powered X79 motherboard from [s<]PC Chips[/s<] ECS in the near future)

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    There’s no point protecting the onboard components from user damage when the reason that ECS boards fail is because they use cheap-ass components and cut corners.

    The PC-Chips stigma is so bad that not even a name change will help them.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    The real shame of it is the Sabertooth motherboards are great. You just have to void your warranty and shuck the plastic crap to get at ’em. Too bad Asus doesn’t just sell them without the armor for a cheaper price and then sell their armor for people who might want to use it. I suspect they’d see very few takers.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I always wanted a case inside a case inside a case! We need more cases!

    You know, am I the only one who thinks a normal motherboard has plenty of bling to it? Not necessarily in terms of flamboyant paint jobs, but in terms of capacitors, resistors, slots, sockets, and ports all over it. It’s really it’s own art style thats like industrial geek. There most definitely could be an emerging art style here.

    I think if they tried to [i<]accentuate[/i<] this instead of trying to [i<]hide[/i<] it, they would most definitely stand out more. Like the flux capacitor from back to the future, heatpipes before they got all crazy with it, and vacuum tubes which are catching on again. That's REALLY what makes you want to look inside someones case and what draws you to a motherboard for the first time... Heck we enjoy the techno-nudes in reviews here at TR... That should be proof enough. Geeks like things that do stuff and have functional meaning. Not painting gears on the side of corrugated metal and making it ten kinds of rugged. Everyone goes through the LED phase and moves on. Bling is not the answer.

    • Madman
    • 7 years ago

    If the shroud works as a massive heat-sink, I actually like the idea.

    There is less place for dust to accumulate, and the PC looks neater overall.

    Moreover, if the temperature rises by 1/2 degrees for colder components, it’s not such a big deal. As long as hot parts are kept cold.

    Heck, GPUs work past 80C regularly…

    • fantastic
    • 7 years ago

    “Thanks to HardOCP for the tip.” You’re getting along now? I hope so.

    • Welch
    • 7 years ago

    Thats odd that TR tested the Sabertooth and found that the shroud actually increased temps. Every other review I saw of the board (which I now own) showed that the temps with the armor on decreased temps as long as you had a downward blowing cpu fan. They showed that removing the shroud increased temps and that the assist fan gave the best results.

      • moose17145
      • 7 years ago

      As long as you have a downward blowing CPU fan…

      Which I, along with many other people, do not have. I have a nice 120mm Zalman on my CPU which is far superior to the stock garbage that Intel typically ships with their stuff. My guess would be that TR probably used a heatsink that did not blow downwards. That aside I also am fairly certain that these shrouds increase temps among other components that do not have temperature sensors on them (as a few others have mentioned already). Such as much of a voltage regulation circuitry and lots of the capacitors that are on sections of the boards that typically get little air flow without a shroud… and are likely sitting in totally dead air zones with the shroud.

      Edited for a sentence I completely failed at typing…

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      What moose is trying to say is that downward blowing CPU fans are nearly extinct. Why make claims based on unrealistic situations.

      I can bench press 1000lbs for 60 reps

      * in zero gravity.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Because 3D topo map, that’s why.

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    wouldn’t the shroud actually inhibit air flow over mobo components? In particular the VRMs?

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    If displayed on an open air case like a test bench or anything where the aesthetics of the board can be readily appreciated, then I can kinda see something like this being worthwhile to someone, but for 90% of people, even if they have a window, the motherboard will be hidden behind their graphics card(s) and their massive air cooling heatsink or liquid cooling loop. These motherboards are nice to look at in a display case at a store or on a product page on a website, but as soon as you stick them in a case the aesthetics are pointless.

    If these looks increase the cost of the board by any significant amount I’d much rather that money either not be spent, or be spent on increasing the connectivity and reliability of the board

    • swaaye
    • 7 years ago

    Well umm I suppose you don’t have to worry much about the screwdriver slipping and shearing off SMD stuff anymore. But I have to say that the “super cool military, lets play CoD!” aesthetic is getting tired.

    • puppetworx
    • 7 years ago

    I have no idea who buys these products. I think this type of component ‘bling’ looks ridiculous.

      • chµck
      • 7 years ago

      i would have when i was 15

        • Farting Bob
        • 7 years ago

        Shame most 15 year olds don’t have $200-300 to spend on a motherboard..

          • Duck
          • 7 years ago

          No but daddy does.

            • chµck
            • 7 years ago

            who is daddy, but an aged 15 year old?
            *inception*

            • Duck
            • 7 years ago

            Meh, I haven’t seen that film yet.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      It would make more sense to me if open air cases were more popular and available.

    • tay
    • 7 years ago

    Fool and his money….

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Would you walk away from one?

        • Mourmain
        • 7 years ago

        In a heartbeat.

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