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ASRock demos waterproof motherboard

ASRock demos waterproof motherboard

ASRock's next-generation motherboards will come with A-Style Conformal Coating, making them waterproof - for certain values thereof.

Motherboard maker ASRock has shown off another of its upcoming A-Style features to appear on its Haswell-compatible next-generation boards, with a live demo of the waterproof coating selected models are to receive.

Dubbed A-Style Conformal Coating, ASRock's latest gimmick allows the motherboard to survive getting splashed with water - making it a feature the company hopes will appeal to watercooling enthusiasts worried about a leak, or extreme overclockers who are concerned about the inevitable condensation that comes from the use of below-ambient cooling products like liquid nitrogen towers.

The technology isn't exclusive to ASRock: the process of protecting circuits from damage using a conformal coating material is well established. ASRock, however, is claiming its coating goes above and beyond those offered by its competitors.

A demonstration video released by the company shows the Conformal Coating in action. An ASRock motherboard is suspended above a a container full of water at an angle while water is poured over the top, running down the length of the board and pouring from the bottom. While that's something most computer owners would be reluctant to do with their products even while they're switched off, a quick pan upwards reveals that the board is fully operational at the time.

It's an impressive demonstration, but one that uses a little bit of trickery: the Conformal Coating is electrically insulative, which is why the demonstration works without anything releasing the magic smoke, but as a result it cannot be applied to anything that needs to be conductive.This means the exposed headers on the motherboard, its power connectors, PCI Express sockets - anything where you could be reasonably expected to connect a cable or jumper - must stay dry at all times to avoid a damaging short.

To be fair, it's not a limitation ASRock is trying to hide: the company clearly states in its video description that 'the pins need to stay conductive therefore they are not covered by Conformal Coating [and] the water in this video is designed to avoid the pins which still risks [a] short circuit.' Knowing that, however, the demonstration becomes significantly less impressive.

As mentioned, it's very rare for a modern mass-produced and complex circuit board to have exposed traces; instead, the entire board is covered in a protective coating designed to prevent corrosion and damage to what are often hair-fine copper tracks. While ASRock's A-Style Conformal Coating is likely a thicker and more robust example of this, most modern motherboards could equally survive a quick splash of water - providing, as in ASRock's demonstration, the water avoids any exposed contacts on the board - thanks to their own non-A-Style conformal coatings.

The A-Style Conformal Coating is one of the methods by which ASRock is hoping to rise above its competitors when people start looking for Haswell compatible motherboards, along with other A-Style features including HDMI input for pass-through video, on-board 802.11ac WI-Fi, a Home Cloud storage system and A-Style Purity Sound on-board audio.

If you're curious as to how ASRock's Conformal Coating stands up, the company's demonstration video is reproduced below.

18 Comments

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Stanley Tweedle 24th May 2013, 11:08 Quote
Would have been great back in the days when I had 250w Peltier and waterblock on CPU.
mi1ez 24th May 2013, 11:58 Quote
"This is amazing"
Marquee 24th May 2013, 13:01 Quote
Yes this is amazing. Maybe Peltier is making a comeback.
Corky42 24th May 2013, 13:15 Quote
Sweet, now i can take my MoBo swimming with me J/K :)
Ripitup121 24th May 2013, 13:19 Quote
i wonder did they just give it a good spray with the stuff they use to waterproof phones :P
wuyanxu 24th May 2013, 13:20 Quote
Quote:
To be fair, it's not a limitation ASRock is trying to hide: the company clearly states in its video description that 'the pins need to stay conductive therefore they are not covered by Conformal Coating [and] the water in this video is designed to avoid the pins which still risks [a] short circuit.' Knowing that, however, the demonstration becomes significantly less impressive.

I'm more impressed by their ability to design pin avoiding water. :o
law99 24th May 2013, 14:01 Quote
lol at that. This is amazing. Try explain that outburst to an office full of people.
Edwards 24th May 2013, 14:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
"This is amazing"

Lilith?
Lance 24th May 2013, 14:09 Quote
I love the idea of this being used for a water cooling setup.

Have the cooler shaped like a water slide, and have the water being pumped directly onto it and down to the board to trickle off.

So when the waterproof graphics card coming?
Necrow 24th May 2013, 14:26 Quote
They must have sprayed it with Ultra Ever Dry - this stuff IS amazing.
http://youtu.be/IfUaKXasdD4
AiA 24th May 2013, 17:39 Quote
i bet they just sprayed it with a bit of silicon spray ;)
google its uses :)
Phil Rhodes 24th May 2013, 20:28 Quote
Quote:
A-style conformal coating

In English we say "Araldite."
abezors 25th May 2013, 11:40 Quote
So a niche product for a niche that will never want it? Nice try. If you were that terrified about splashing water on your build you wouldn't attempt watercooling in the first place (or you'd get an all-in-one Hydro cooler).

And I suspect the few LN2 benchmarkers would be using Ultra-durable, ROG and Sabertooth boards and other top-tier parts.
Tulatin 26th May 2013, 04:38 Quote
I don't actually care much for the "Waterproof" feature itself. What I'm more excited about is the black-on-yellow colorsceme. It really harkens back to DFI's heyday.
Gradius 26th May 2013, 06:56 Quote
Nice, but pretty useless w/o periphericals doing the same thing.
Ljs 27th May 2013, 01:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
I don't actually care much for the "Waterproof" feature itself. What I'm more excited about is the black-on-yellow colorsceme. It really harkens back to DFI's heyday.

ASRock have been using the black and yellow colour scheme for a good few years now...
nakchak 27th May 2013, 19:18 Quote
Sure there was a guide on the very original bit-tech site (same vintage as macromans fan controller guides) about conformal coating ur mobo with a £4 spray from maplins to protect it from condensation if you used a peltier, back in the day when water cooling was all aquarium pumps and oil cooler radiators cobbled together, none of this off the shelf kit ;)
bagman 27th May 2013, 21:30 Quote
This is perfect for me and my scuba diving habits.
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