Every PC is full of them, but hardly anyone likes them: cables. For many tweakers, neatly concealing cables is a sport in itself. Most cables run from the power supply, which is often hidden behind a tunnel these days, to the motherboard. The front of the motherboard that is, because… Yes, why? In any case, you can only change it if you adjust the case and the motherboard, and that is exactly what Gigabyte has done with its Aorus Project Stealth.
Let’s get straight to the point: the Aorus Project Stealth as you see it here and perhaps with a select number of other media, will not be on the market like this. Gigabyte is certainly planning to have this concept actually landed in the shops, but based on a different case. It is not yet entirely clear whether it will adapt the currently used case, or whether it will take the recently announced Aorus C500 Glass as a basis, for example. Anyway, the final version should cool a lot better than our prototype based on the outdated C300 case. You can read in this article why that is exactly what the Stealth needs, and why we think this should be the future of the desktop PC.
Why are connectors on the front of the motherboard?
It’s time for a bit of history first. The ATX standard, which describes roughly what a power supply, motherboard and housing should look like, dates back to 1995. Until about 2010 it was common for all components to be placed in one rectangular compartment, with the cables straight through the cabinet. Since that time, the motherboard tray, which is the panel on which the motherboard is mounted, has been moved a few inches further into the case, leaving room to route cables through the back. That means that your cables have to make a tight angle of 180 degrees. The way in which cabinets and motherboards are designed, with the connectors first, therefore no longer corresponds to the way in which cables run through the cabinet.
Cabinet manufacturers had quickly found a solution for one end of all those power cables, because in modern housings there is just a large cover for your power supply, so that you can no longer see it at all. The other end turned out to be a lot more difficult. The most expensive motherboards, such as those from EVGA, often have connectors placed at an angle, so that the bend the cables have to make is no longer 180 degrees, but only 90 degrees. That only partially solves the cable problem, and moreover, not every type of connection is equally suitable for an angled connector.
Aorus Project Stealth
In December last year, Gigabyte showed its Project Stealth for the first time, as a concept of a PC that is apparently completely cable-free. We often see crazy concepts from manufacturers, but Project Stealth is now really coming onto the market, through certain system vendors and as a separate do-it-yourself kit for self-builders. That kit consists of a case, a motherboard and a video card.
The video card
The video card is a modified version of the RTX 3070 Gaming OC. The only adjustment is that the power connectors are on the bottom so that they can disappear directly into the hole in the motherboard tray made for this purpose.
The motherboard is also based on an existing model, namely the Z690 Aorus Elite, a relatively affordable Intel Z690 motherboard with DDR5 slots. In our opinion, a great model to base this project on, because it is not too expensive, but certainly looks nice and sleek with the extra roofs installed. All connections are no longer on the front but on the back of the circuit board. This applies to both the large connectors, such as those for the power supply and the small ones, for example, the headers for fans and the front panel.
Of course, in a normal case, you can’t get to those connections on the back of the motherboard, so a modified housing had to be used. Like all other well-known manufacturers of motherboards and video cards, Gigabyte has expanded into quite a few new product categories in recent years, including cabinets. So the manufacturer had its own product, the Aorus C300 to be precise, to make it suitable for Project Stealth.
Actually, the only thing that has changed about that cabinet is that holes have been added to make all those connections accessible and to feed the cables of the video card. Moreover, all the cables of the cabinet itself are already connected in the factory, so you no longer have to do that.
The main problem with the Aorus case is that it wasn’t very good to begin with. The closed front ensures that it is nice and quiet, but can also suck in little air. It is therefore not very suitable for very thick hardware. Furthermore, you notice here and there that the original design is already quite old. We tested the first version of this cabinet almost five years ago, in 2017. Take the HDMI connection first, for example: it fit in well with the VR hype at the time, but is now pretty useless, because the supplied video card doesn’t even have the necessary video card. internal HDMI port.
Fortunately, Gigabyte recognizes that too, and the final version of Project Stealth will use a new housing. It may just be a modified C300, but we would bet our money on the recently announced C500. That cabinet has a front that consists largely of mesh and, unlike the C300, also has space for water cooling at the top. The cooling will therefore be much better, while you also have a more modern design as a basis on all other fronts.
How future-proof is ‘the future of the PC’?
Over time, we’ve had many initiatives that aim to change the way a PC looks inside. So far, almost all of them have one thing in common: it didn’t work out. Even the BTX standard, intended as a successor to ATX and pushed by major parties such as Intel and Dell, ultimately came to nothing.
So we can’t help but be a little skeptical. That Gigabyte is really going to bring this concept to the market is really cool, but it’s not even trying to be a standard, and there are no promises about support in the future. If we ask Gigabyte about it, it certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility that Stealth versions will come with the next generation of processors or video cards, but if this project flops, then the chance is small. In principle it is possible to upgrade, but if you do that to a ‘normal’ part, you naturally throw the whole concept of a PC without visible cables overboard. Moreover, the old parts are probably worth little, because who are you going to sell a motherboard or video card with the connectors on the wrong side?
On the other hand, if we’re going to yell here that you shouldn’t buy this for that reason, we’re sure it’s going to flop. That while the concept is really cool, not only because the end result looks a lot sleeker, but also because installation is easier if the connections are on the same side as where all the cables were already.
In short, we think it’s really cool what Gigabyte is doing here and are curious about the final version of Project Stealth, based on the new case. Either way, we’d like this concept to be the future of the desktop PC, but we can’t guarantee it at all. If you want to buy the Stealth in the future, do so with the idea of using this hardware until the end of its economic life, and also with a kind of Kickstarter mindset: you invest in it because you like the idea, but whether it really works what will be, you don’t know.