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Asus Xtreme: Global Summit – highlights from the fourth round of blogs

Posted on 14th Dec 2009 at 14:24 by Ben Hardwidge with 41 comments

Ben Hardwidge
We’ve now reached the end of the PC hobbyist’s adventure that was the Asus Xtreme General Summit. Hardware has been tweaked, blogs have been scribed and cake has been eaten, but what did you guys get out of the whole experience? For the fourth and final round of AX:GS blogs, we asked those who attended the event to tell us what they’d taken away from the event, and we’re not just talking about the phenomenally sized bag of silicon swag that was handed out at the end.


How did it feel to peer into the workings of one of the world’s most successful PC component manufacturers, and did meeting the Asus engineers give you a new appreciation of what goes into component design? There’s a wide variety of answers, and a lot of you seem to have learned a great deal from the experience. We’ve posted the highlights from the fourth round of blogs below, and we’ll soon be able to tell you who has won the trip to Taiwan, as well as the final details, as well.

Asus Xtreme: Global Summit – highlights from the fourth round of blogs
We asked what you'd taken away from the event, and we weren't just talking about the stack of loot that was given away at the end.

The perils of motherboard design
One of the biggest surprises to you guys seems to be the sheer amount of hard work and effort that goes into designing an enthusiast motherboard. As Yakyb says, “The work going into an enthusiast’s motherboard is quite a lot greater than I initially anticipated.” He also adds that he originally just thought that ”the boards where designed strictly to spec and that the contributing pieces of the board where placed in where they fell.”

However, after chatting with the Asus reps, he now knows that they ”work very hard on getting the layout of the board spot on for us. From toying with the ATX power cable, to the adjustment of the SATA connectors’ positioning, the number of man hours that goes into creating an enthusiast board is phenomenal.”

Similarly, genetix concurs, pointing out that “designing a motherboard is much more complicated than it looks like at first: technological choices and compromises need to be made, considering a vast number of factors: the cost, of course, but also the user-friendliness, and whether the solution is robust in the sense that it won’t degrade performance or perform poorly or worse over time.”

The presentation from Asus about designing a motherboard, as well as the one-to-one chats you had with the engineers afterwards, seems to have been a really educational experience, particularly with regards to seeing what the design process really involves.

Bradders125 sums this up perfectly, saying that he ”left the event with a greater understanding of what the designers of the products actually do. Normally you don’t think about the amount of thought that goes into designing a motherboard, but after spending quite a few minutes listening to the Asus guys telling us about the reason the ATX power connector is never at right angles, or connected to the board by cables, you realise that they obviously do think about the design.”

Back in the good old days
Of course, PC enthusiasm wasn’t always the user-friendly pastime that it is today, and it’s easy for the crustier enthusiasts among us to forget that younger overclockers never had the pleasure of overclocking via motherboard jumpers or home-made electrical connections. Again, this is an area that Asus touched on in its presentation, showing how far overclocking has come over the last few years, and how this has changed the process of motherboard design.

This revelation appears to have stunned a few of you, including flibblesan, who says that ”one thing I am pretty amazed by is how far overclocking has come. It's no longer a black magic art which can only be performed by dedicated people with multi-meters and soldering irons. Now it's so easy to overclock, using simple-yet-powerful tools, and it's now firmly in the realm of the casual user.”

In fact, Skiddywinks says that he ” can't imagine what it must have been like,” in the days ”when overclocking involved shorting pins and messing with jumpers.” Meanwhile, blogging latecomer Rocket_Knight64 points out that the PC industry could be very different today if user-friendly overclocking hadn’t been developed. ”Imagine what it would be like if you still had to overclock your shiny new i7 by fiddling with banks of jumpers, a multimeter and a pencil,” he says, before asking: ”would you even bother?”

It’s not just overclocking that’s been improved with new motherboards, though. The chance to have a look at some older motherboards also showed up some other areas in which motherboard design has been enhanced. For example, genetix says that ”motherboards have gotten better looking with each new generation: gone are the green varnish or ‘baby poo brown’ PCBs and the ugly bland aluminium heatsinks of yore. Today’s motherboards are all about colour coordination and good-looking heat pipes and coolers.”

Asus Xtreme: Global Summit – highlights from the fourth round of blogs
As genetix points out, motherboards now look much better than their green, yellow and brown predecessors.

He also points out that we now also have features such as LEDs, and on-board Power, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons too. ”The ease of use, when building and booting a custom PC, is much better today,” says genetix. “Now nearly all components work out-of-the-box with each other, and drivers are automatically downloaded (most of the time). All of this has been facilitated by hardware makers like Asus, whose innovation and strides for progress and more features have helped enthusiasts a lot.”

These Asus guys really know their stuff
We’re not just talking about innovation and progress, though. A fair few of you were also bowled over by the fact that the guys from Asus really know their onions when it comes to overclocking. Not only that, but they’re also just as genuinely keen on PCs and overclocking as you guys.

Skiddywinks, for example, says that ”the engineers that did the presentation very much gave off the impression that they treated enthusiast hardware as a hobby and passion, as well as a career. At heart, they are just like you or me, so their ideas are very much in line with what the consumer wants. Not only that, but really listening to the people that keep them in business allows them to look at things in a different way.”

Meanwhile, skunkmunkey says that he never knew that Asus had its own in-house overclockers. ”I'd assumed all the OC testing was done out of house by reviewers, and those lucky enough to receive engineering samples,” he says, before adding: ”Did I mention I’m available should any jobs arise?”

The idea of a career in motherboard testing also appeals to Omnituens, but only for companies looking for someone to break their kit. ”It [the event] has opened my eyes to a possible new career too - BIOS testing,” he says. ”It appears I have a knack for breaking things, and this extends to BIOSes too - I managed to make an option completely disappear. I don't think the Asus engineers were too impressed, though; it didn't make any sense to them. I found it hilarious, though. Who needs HyperThreading anyway?”

Asus Xtreme: Global Summit – highlights from the fourth round of blogs
Managed to lose an option in the BIOS menu? A career as a BIOS tester could beckon.

Would you buy Asus now?
Getting an insight into Asus’ design processes, as well as meeting the guys behind your components, has also made some of you less cynical about buying Asus products again. Before the event, some of you said that you thought Asus products were too expensive for what was on offer, but now some of you think that the extra cost could be reasonable for what you get.

”I suppose I had better be honest here; prior to this event I had only ever owned one Asus component,” admits Yakyb, adding that ”this is primarily due to the fact that, in general, their prices are slightly higher than the competition.” However, after meeting Asus at the event, he now says that ”perhaps the prices are justified.” He explains that after ”speaking to the Asus reps, it’s clear to see that they have a clear and unarguable passion for their jobs. This is fantastic to see, as we also have a tremendous passion for what we do. This experience has taught me that if the product offers the features I require at the time, I will consider Asus first before thinking about other brands.”

Along the same lines, malaroo978 says he now regrets buying a competitor’s motherboard rather than an Asus model, simply because it was cheaper. “Given the choice I would have always gone with Asus, as I have done in the past” he says. ”The features are second to none and the speed has always been top notch”

Criticisms of Asus
Not everyone was full of praise for Asus, though, and some of you feel that there is still plenty of room for improvement. One good example is Robbie, who says that he ”got a strong vibe from there engineers that they wanted to be the first choice for overclockers, and I believe they are almost there; there are just a few issues. First is Asus’ unwillingness to remove legacy features such as floppy and IDE support; second is their poor website and driver support and third is the bizarre warranty system which makes getting a replacement very slow and laborious.”

Blogging is fun
Aside from the free kit, delicious cake and the chance to hobnob with Asus’ engineers, another surprisingly popular part of the experience was the blogging itself. Many of you said you were surprised to find that you actually really enjoyed putting your thoughts down in writing, including Omnituens, who says ”I've also discovered that I really like writing blogs. TBH, even if only Baz subjects himself to actually reading the content of these things, I know my work here was not pointless.”

Likewise, the ability to write in an interesting fashion has also taken some of you by surprise. ”I also realised I can write,” says skunkmunkey, ”okay, I’m no Dean Koontz, but I can at least write in a semi-coherent manner, albeit with bad spelling.” With similar self-deprecation, malaroo978 also says that ”‘I know I’m not talented in the literal department, but I feel I have written exactly as I feel.”, while also providing ”genuine thoughts for Asus to digest.”.

Again! Again!
We have to say that the feedback about the whole AX:GS experience has been overwhelmingly positive, apart from a few gripes about the teething problems getting the blogs up and running. We’re really pleased that you guys had such a great time, and that you’ve also learned a lot from the experience. So, after this experience, would you be up for attending an event such as this again?

The answer is a definite yes from some of you. ”Why not make this a regular thing?” asks skunkmunkey. He says that he’d even ”pay for such a thing; a weekend full of gaming, and discussing hardware and ideas with people who can make them a reality.” However, he adds the disclaimer that ”of course, there would have to be beer and cheesecake.”

That said, one complaint that reoccurred in a few people’s blogs was the gaming portion of the event. After all, different gamers specialise in different games, and the inclusion of racing games, as well as Xbox 360 games, has prompted a few objections.

Inferno was particularly vocal about this, saying that ”the worst point of the event, which was the only thing I would ask them to change, is the gaming competition.” He explains that ”while a lot of the people who go may be Xbox gamers, I am not; I only play games on the PC. There is a reason for this (they’re better).”

Inferno adds that his inexperience with the Xbox 360 resulted in him getting a low score in the game, and says ” I didn’t really find this fair.” He explains that ”It’s PC enthusiast hardware you are giving away, and are interested in promoting, yet you ask us to play on an Xbox.”

As an alternative, he suggests including a game that everyone can play, such as Peggle, allowing for the fact that not every gamer is a competitive Call of Duty player or an Xbox gamer. “Everyone can do it, it doesn’t evolve a controller and, most importantly of all, it runs on PC,” he says.

That said, Rocket_Knight64 says that the gaming part of the event has prompted him to get into more racing games. ”‘I’ve also learned that I need to play more racing games that don’t involve mushrooms, blue shells or laser packing jet cars,” he says, adding that ”they are not all bad.”

The winner
After reading through all of this week’s blogs, we’ve decided that Skiddywinks is this week’s winner, with his in-depth blog that not only discusses what he learned from the event, but also features plenty of predictions for the PC industry in the future, and examines how the changes will apply to Asus. It’s too long to sum up everything in the blog here, but it’s well worth a read and we’ll soon be posting it up in the bit-tech blogs section.

41 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
skunkmunkey 14th December 2009, 15:01 Quote
Well done skiddywinks.. Well deserved. Now just waiting for the final winner which im assuming will be between Skiddy and Andrew... or are you taking the whole 8 blogs into consideration?
andrew8200m 14th December 2009, 16:42 Quote
Well done bud! I had a read of all the blogs for week four and I have to say even though there were many good blogs, the decission for yours to win was the right one. Congrats mate!

Getting all excited now mind, all the blogs and highlights covered, now the big question... What next :D


PS... dont take too long this time guys eh ;)


Andy
Bindibadgi 14th December 2009, 16:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew8200m

PS... dont take too long this time guys eh ;)


Andy

Jeez keep yet knickers on. Good things come to those who wait. :P
andrew8200m 14th December 2009, 16:53 Quote
darn! Ive been rumbled! And there I was thinking I had managed to get away with knickers for so long.... Back to boxers it is :(


Andy
skunkmunkey 14th December 2009, 17:14 Quote
have you been sending you knickers in to sway the judges? Looks like I missed the trick there..
capnPedro 14th December 2009, 20:16 Quote
Ah, good old fashioned blackmail. If he doesn't win, he'll send in the knickers!
flibblesan 14th December 2009, 23:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by skunkmunkey
Well done skiddywinks.. Well deserved. Now just waiting for the final winner which im assuming will be between Skiddy and Andrew... or are you taking the whole 8 blogs into consideration?

I'd assume the winner will be made up from the four main blog posts. So far there has been four weeks of roundups for these. Skiddywinks won week 2 and week 4, andrew8200m won week 3 and week 1. But I suppose it's up to ASUS who gets the trip to Taiwan.

Anyway, lol to Inferno for suggesting we play Peggle.

Edit: Forgot andrew won week 3, sorry
andrew8200m 14th December 2009, 23:52 Quote
Nah I got week 1 and 3 :D was rather proud of my week three :P

I think all the blogs have been great to be honest and very tight to say the least but as I have said, week 4 definately went to thr right chap. Very well written I must say.

Andy
flibblesan 15th December 2009, 00:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew8200m
Nah I got week 1 and 3 :D was rather proud of my week three :P

I think all the blogs have been great to be honest and very tight to say the least but as I have said, week 4 definately went to thr right chap. Very well written I must say.

Andy

Woops, sorry for that!

So you two are pretty much tied. I wonder if they will look at your secondary blog posts also or just randomly select. It's so close! :)
andrew8200m 15th December 2009, 00:56 Quote
I dont think I have the daddy prize nor do i think I have the over all blogger prize however it would be nice to get one of them.

I think I only swayed it week one as not many really knew what level of blog was needed and I did go on a bit lol. The rest of the weeks were massively stepped up so all in all the quality of the blogs I feel really started from there on. Whoever gets what ever it is they get then congratulations in advance as it was very much well earned.

Andy
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 01:54 Quote
Thanks for all the congratulations guys! If I'm honest, it quite surprised me!

As for who wins, I am really hoping they take in to account all 8 (or more, if anyone has) blogs. There are some excellent articles there that have nothing to do with the guidelines, and it would be such a shame if they weren't all taken in to account.
Xir 15th December 2009, 08:27 Quote
This may sound a lot more negative than I mean it but:
astonishing that most of the learnings seem to be a first contact with basic electronic design...
Quote:
...they obviously do think about the design
Quote:
”Imagine what it would be like if you still had to overclock your shiny new i7 by fiddling with banks of jumpers, a multimeter and a pencil,” he says, before asking: ”would you even bother?”
Nope...but the overclocking grade hardware is ultrastable when NOT overclocked :D
Quote:
Today’s motherboards are all about colour coordination and good-looking heat pipes and coolers
Personally I prefer good working designs over good looking ones, but hey
Quote:
he never knew that Asus had its own in-house overclockers. ”I'd assumed all the OC testing was done out of house by reviewers...
Gee, they're not just stacking some stuff on a PCB and hope it works?
But really, the way a PCB manufacturing-line is set up is SO EXPENSIVE, they think about it first, and try to change as little as possible.

then again, maybe a lot of the readers really are very technically inexperienced. And, truth be told, getting an insight into electronics manufacturing is not easy.

Xir
crash32953295@msn. 15th December 2009, 09:01 Quote
Well done skiddywinks, well desserved,

Cant wait to find out what the final prizes are, And also that was my only negative point :p reading it back now makes me seem more angry than I was at that point :p
skunkmunkey 15th December 2009, 09:14 Quote
Well look at mr technical genius. . . If only we were all as enlightened as you the world would be full of perfect hardware. You seem to be missing the whole point of this exercise. To raise awareness of the manufacturing process and give the average end user a chance to be part of that process. Whilst most people on this site are hardcore enthusiasts i very much doubt many have given much thought to how hardware is produced. Its commendable that asus has taken the time to listen to their customer base and adress any issues.
-VK- 15th December 2009, 09:27 Quote
The blogging standard at it's usual high. =)

I just got back from Taiwan on Saturday morning and I've got to be honest, I learn an awful lot from just a few hours in the RD labs.
-VK- 15th December 2009, 10:28 Quote
Nah, that's nothing to worry about at all. Somebody's taken the story from a site and got it lost in translation.

It won't affect ASUS in any way at all.
crash32953295@msn. 15th December 2009, 10:32 Quote
Good to hear :)
andrew8200m 15th December 2009, 10:33 Quote
Very good to hear! I thought for a second I was going to have to buy parts in the future under a right dodgy name. It would have pushed me back over to EVGA :P

Andy
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 10:34 Quote
They will still be Asus. They just won't do the manufacturing directly.
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 10:36 Quote
Or it is entirely wrong. So what is going on with that story then VK? Or can you not tell us? Is the spinning off manufacturing true or not?
-VK- 15th December 2009, 10:46 Quote
Ok, so let me explain.

Imagine a big ASUS umbrella. Underneath this umbrella are 3 little bears. ASUS Bear, Pegatron Bear and Unihan Bear.

ASUS Bear is a big fan of being it's own brand and creating all the products that you see day today, P6T, Rampage II Extreme, The Republic of Gamers etc.

Pegatron Bear is a manufacturing bear and is very handy with a screwdriver. He makes lots of different things for lots of different people.

Unihan Bear is another manufacturing bear, who is very handy with a spanner. He makes lots of other different things different to Pegatron Bear.

So that Pegatron bear can continue to grow as a manufacturer, he has to move away from under the ASUS Umbrella and the other bears, but he still wants to be friends with them. (ASUS Umbrella sells 75% of shares to Pegatron bear)

ASUS Bear will continue to manufacture it's own products, like it's done for the last couple of years and customers won't be affected. You'll still see ASUS products, under the ASUS brand and nothing will change. :)

The only thing this changes, is who the major share owner of Pegatron is. Which is now Pegatron and not ASUS. :)
bodkin 15th December 2009, 10:53 Quote
Is it just chance they are called PEGatron and ASUS, or is it meant to be a play on Pegasus?
-VK- 15th December 2009, 10:54 Quote
It's meant to be a play on the word Pegasus. :)
bodkin 15th December 2009, 10:55 Quote
Cool, useful little factoid
bodkin 15th December 2009, 11:00 Quote
Any chance we could hear about the prize for just joining in? :P
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 11:03 Quote
Makes sense. I like the whole Goldilocks angle as well :P
andrew8200m 15th December 2009, 11:13 Quote
Rather patronising but hey its all fun :D

Andy
skunkmunkey 15th December 2009, 11:20 Quote
Good analogy there vk :)
-VK- 15th December 2009, 11:26 Quote
It wasn't meant to be patronising, sorry if that's how it comes across. It was meant to be just a light-hearted way of looking at it.

Can anyone guess my favourite childhood story? :P
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 11:44 Quote
Little Red Ridinghood? :P
andrew8200m 15th December 2009, 11:56 Quote
Dr Zues... Green eggs and ham :|

Andy
skunkmunkey 15th December 2009, 14:53 Quote
Cue nursery ryhme themed boards. Asus little red ridinghood extreme anyone?
Skiddywinks 15th December 2009, 14:57 Quote
Sounds kinky! :/
andrew8200m 15th December 2009, 14:58 Quote
FAIL!

:D


Andy


Anyway... Can we have some really really good news either today or some time VERY soon ie this side of xmas (without trying to sound rude lol)... Ive had a bad day which ultimately will follow with many many others until things sort them selves out (I have a thread titled "obsolete" under prefix "LOL". Check it out).
Rocket_Knight64 15th December 2009, 20:15 Quote
Good lord you went and quoted me! I would not quote me! You must be looking for filler. :o

Well done all! There is some great blogging going on. Kind of makes me wish I paid attention in English all those years ago.

While we are at it, is there any more news on the VGA summit?
flibblesan 16th December 2009, 01:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by -VK-
Nah, that's nothing to worry about at all. Somebody's taken the story from a site and got it lost in translation.

It won't affect ASUS in any way at all.

That's what they said about Abit ;) lol

Seriously, it's a shame that they misunderstood exactly what ASUS are doing. You explained it pretty much as easy as possible, VK.

Engadget suck. I read the original article at Xbit... how the hell can engadget read it so wrong :s
flibblesan 16th December 2009, 01:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by skunkmunkey
Cue nursery ryhme themed boards. Asus little red ridinghood extreme anyone?

Not related to nursery rhymes but I read somewhere (here?) or somebodies suggestion of an ASUS branded music studio motherboard called ASUS-SUS-STUDIO which I thought was pretty amusing ;)
-VK- 16th December 2009, 08:43 Quote
That's going to form part of our special "Phil Collins" range. :D

Thanks for the comments Flibblesan - It's a shame it's been miscommunicated.
skunkmunkey 16th December 2009, 09:01 Quote
Id love to see an asus board with built in essence stx. Id say i have music on 90 % when using my pc.
crash32953295@msn. 16th December 2009, 17:29 Quote
Yea I must say I am a little dissapointed seing as I use them them for all my tech news, now I might follow links more rather than beleiving what i read
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