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Asus Motherboard Box Doubles As PC Case 243

itwbennett writes "Taiwan's Asus has a novel idea to cut down on shipping waste: What if the shipping container became the PC case? That's the idea behind a box the company will begin using to ship one of its Mini ATX motherboards. It holds the motherboard snug for shipping and is constructed so additional components required to make a PC can be added, said Debby Lee, a spokeswoman for the Taipei-based company. An example of the box is showing at this week's Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany."
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Asus Motherboard Box Doubles As PC Case

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:31PM (#35362004)
    But is this safe? I thought you needed to ground the mobo against metal... Still, a pre-mounted mobo that can be moved to a better case when you feel like it? Sign me up!
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:42PM (#35362142) Homepage

      I have run motherboards for the last 20 years without grounding them on a regular basis. It is kind'a safe from that perspective. It is better for the motherboard if it is grounded properly, but most work fine anyway. Same for cards, adapters, drives, etc - very few rely on getting a proper ground from the bracket fixings or the fixing bolts.

      I am more worried about the cardboard. Is this one properly treated with a flame retardant? If the MB or any of the components smokes for whatever reason is it going to burn merrily or fizzle out.

      • by Moryath ( 553296 )

        The connectors to the power supply are grounded, and there are ground pins all over the freaking place in the case. It's not as if the thing weren't pretty much grounded anyways. I've seen motherboards run inside cardboard boxes, on top of bubble wrap, packing foam, even on top of a pile of packing peanuts.

        What I'm worried about is: what happens if you get one of the usual USA-type drivers from FedEx/UPS who kicks the shit out of your package? The box'll be halfway useless for making a PC anyways then.

    • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:43PM (#35362168)

      Ground is handled by the power connections, which includes a ground pin, and is grounded to the mains. Grounding the power supply to the case is only needed because the case (normally) is metal, and you want to be sure it is at ground.

      But is a cardboard box safe for other reasons? Like FIRE?

      I've had more than a few PCs get hot enough in certain circumstances where fire is a serious danger, especially in enclosed spaces (shoved under desks), or maybe pushed up against resistive electrical baseboard heaters etc.

      This thing just cries out for the Slashdot "What could possibly go wrong" meme.

      • IF you box gets hot enough to catch this on fire, it would have failed before it got hot enough to set this on fire.

        You heard me.
        Corrugated cardboard ignites at over 400 C

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gewalker ( 57809 )

          I have seen the power supplies on running PCs catch on fire -- PC continues to operate while smoke is rolling out of the P/S. This condition does not last long though. The extra fuel of a cardboard case might be enough to get a more interesting fire going.

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          I have seen motherboards catch fire, actual fire with flames and smoke. Sure the machine failed, but the metal case sure seems to reduce the risk of that fire spreading. Would this case then have gone up as well?

        • For what it's worth, I've had a still-running (as in the monitor still had an image on it) motherboard with small parts sliding off because the solder had melted. Of course, solder melts way below 400C. However, I've also had the infamous Dell GX270 capacitor explosion, which blew actual flame out the back of my case -- clearly over 400C. As such I can imagine situations where the grandparent post's concern might be valid.

        • by IICV ( 652597 )

          Plant fibers are funny things - they technically ignite at ~400 C, but if you some oily, it'll go up in flames at ~120 C.

          Accidentally spill enough pizza grease on your cardboard computer over the years? That might be a merry bonfire just waiting to happen.

      • But is a cardboard box safe for other reasons? Like FIRE?

        I imagine some fire retardant would take care of this. After all, plastic is a petroleum product that is fairly combustible without fire retardant, and there have been no shortage of plastic computer cases through the years.

        RF noise could be a problem, but I imagine that a small amount of aluminum foil would take care of that. It won't be any worse than running a PC with the side cover off, or using one of the plastic see-through cases.

      • Paper catches fire around 230 C... []

        Your silicone should have melted well before the thing goes into combustion...
        • What would worry me would be a local heat/flame source (say a capacitor in a high power circuit failing spectacularly) igniting the case. Most of the system can still be relatively cool while a small area can be extremely hot.

    • It's not unsafe, however without a grounded metal chassis, it will radiate a great deal of RF interference. You could not sell them assembled in this form because they would never pass FCC rules for RFI
      • RFI won't be as huge of a deal inside your house - may interfere with other devices you have but I can't imagine power levels being high enough to really be a concern. Folks get used to crappy EMI design these days anyhow. I've had Dell computers whose low-level humming in my headphones would change when I scrolled a page on screen. I'd also be worried about it's ESD susceptibility - if you walk across a carpet and touch a computer in a regular case, at least it has a metal case around it to reduce the impa
    • I ran full desktop components ( overclocked Athlon XP, Geforce 4 Ti 4200 etc) a few years back for several years, all mounted in a cardboard box. It worked just fine. The thing is, if your setup is so hot as to light cardboard up then you already have issues, a normal setup doesn't get that hot. And if you're smart you'll just attach a few small 'legs' to the cardboard box and mobo on those so that there's a centimeter or two of space between the mobo and the box.

      As for needing ground... well, as others hav

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:32PM (#35362012)

    Giving people the ability to get everything attached to their motherboard for testing reasons until they find a real enclosure.

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      Which might just end up being NEVER.

    • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *

      Sure it uses more cardboard than a basic box. So like most 'green' projects it is a fail, but as a useful selling feature it might be a win.

      Just as you say, testing. I'd suspect that box is at least as easy to work in as most small form factor cases. Just open the box, populate the slots, connect a power supply and fire it up. For those who still buy in shops it probably wouldn't be too much bother to plug everything together right in the place and smoke test. So you could carry it all home in one box

      • Sure it uses more cardboard than a basic box. So like most 'green' projects it is a fail

        Huh? How much more cardboard does it use? Now compare that to the resources to make a metal case, PLUS a box/foam to put that metal case in! I think it would be a win even if only 1/N boxes are actually used as cases even for rather large values of N.

        My HTPC runs in a closet (opposite the TV in my living room, through a hole in the wall) so I would be all over this, though more to save money on a case than to cons

    • This saves a great deal of packaging... unless someone wants to use the mobo outside of the ridiculously huge box that it ships in, in which case it's wasting huge amounts of paper.
    • A better justification would be "why the hell not". People keep mentioning fire risk as a reason, but I think I'd trust a cardboard case designed for it, with actual airholes and everything than some of the bodges I've come up with in the past. (Although I am a little proud of my meccano server tower at the mo).
    • People have been assembling PCs atop the mobo box for testing for many years. This is nicer, but the origin is obvious.

  • interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:32PM (#35362014) Journal

    I suppose it's ok, but the article even mentions that it is for interim use while the buyer shops for the perfect case, thus they will still buy a case. Since this uses *more* material then a normal box I'd say overall the effect is opposite what they claim. As a marketing gimmick it's great though.

  • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:32PM (#35362020) Homepage

    No way that a motherboard in a cardboard box is going to pass the various RF emission tests for FCC or CE certification.

    • Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that UL and Insurance Companies who cover the homes and offices that this would be going into would not approve of this, either. Cute idea, pseudo-engineers, now go back to making $50k/year for doing nothing.
    • What about fire resistance? Aside from the eye-sore aspect, the potential fire problem would make me wary.

      On another note, the new /. posting method doesn't work with IE6. I know, I know.... IE6.... That's the company standard and I know I'm not alone here.
      • IE6.... That's the company standard

        Then install, or get the company to install, the Google Chrome Frame plug-in on top of IE6. It's a browser helper object for IE that renders pages with Chrome's engine, but only if they opt in with an HTTP header or <meta> element. Other sites get IE6.

      • by Xtravar ( 725372 )

        You have access to the machine. It is your duty as a nerd to root the machine. None of this sissy nonsense.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        TFB. I guess you shouldn't be surfing the internet from work? OTOH, what should I expected from someone who thinks their computer could get over 400C?

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          You don't think a burning motherboard could get that hot?
          You don't believe that a PSU with flames coming out of it is that hot?

      • On another note, the new /. posting method doesn't work with IE6. I know, I know.... IE6.... That's the company standard and I know I'm not alone here.

        Which is one of the reasons Google decided to have Chrome install itself to the user profile; it doesn't require administrator access or installation privileges.

    • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:52PM (#35362288)

      The thing is, that Joe Hacker need not comply with those. They pretty much kick in only when a device is offered for sale, and
      certifications are summarily ignored in the home builder market in any event.

      Fire safety is a bigger issue. But I don't know of any regulations that would prevent them from selling this
      as long as they don't sell it as w working PC. Its a loop hole, and they know it.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The thing is, that Joe Hacker need not comply with those. They pretty much kick in only when a device is offered for sale, and
        certifications are summarily ignored in the home builder market in any event.

        Actually, Joe Hacker may have to care - if his computer emits enough RFI that a licensed user complains about it. The FCC will force the owner of said equipment to make it compliant (at owner's expense), whilst not operating said equipment until it is fixed. (And I'm not sure, but the FCC might also bill the

        • by bug1 ( 96678 )

          Joe hacker probably doesnt have the lid on his current case anyway, so its not going to change.

          And what are the chances a "licensed user" tracking you down and calling the RFI POLICE anyway.

          Maybe the RFI police could team up with the FASHION police and form a new department.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Fire safety is a bigger issue.

        By the looks of it the PSU is not in the box. In any testing lab you're already running motherboards on top of motherboard boxes, personally I've done this for years. I dont think there's a significant fire risk especially since the PSU looks to be external.

        This box wont replace metal/plastic cases, its designed for the few cases where "I need a PC right now". I can see this kind of thing becoming popular in testing labs and people who regularly mess with their HW, I.E. no

        • by icebike ( 68054 )

          In any testing lab you're already running motherboards on top of motherboard boxes,

          Yeah, right. Good luck getting this certified by UL, or CSA or any certification lab.
          Even if you tinfoil the box for emissions, this could never be certified.

    • I have my computer running out of a desk drawer. The neither the FCC or CE has bothered me
    • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex AT ... trograde DOT com> on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @06:06PM (#35362432)

      No way that a motherboard in a cardboard box is going to pass the various RF emission tests for FCC or CE certification.

      1) Fortunately they are selling the Motherboard, not the entire PC (the PC assemblers would have to pass the FCC or CE certs).

      2) The FCC or CE (and possibly NFPA) would really flip out if they saw my "computer room" which has several computers sans cases mounted across 4x8 plexiglass sheets. They're so much easier to upgrade & clean, they're more functional than paintings/posters (and more aesthetic (to me) ). Wallputers give the room a cosy, cyber-punk feel...

      Who needs cases? Also: the cardboard case is fairly bulky, ugh.

      P.S. I use Synergy [] for my Multi-screen/Multi OS/Multi Computer command and control center.

    • You could always line it with material similar to microwave food heating sleeves / some kind of foil. That may make a significant impact.

      As for heat: Paper burns at what... 451? I don't think we have a huge problem here. Most PCs will self-preserve shutdown waaaaaay before that. The only time you have a potential problem is for a bad build/short causing a component to go up in flames, taking the rest of the box/case.

    • That's OK, it's not going to get those tests. And anyone who wants to use it anyway can just wrap it in tinfoil and then wrap it in shrink wrap, then re-poke the holes. Maybe there's some solution slicker than shrink wrap, but it came to mind immediately. I have some black UV-resistant stuff around here somewhere...

    • Actually, there are metallized films that would serve just as well as a metal case in terms of blocking RF. If they're laminated onto one of the board layers or in lieu of fluting, it would probably do it.

      That box is damned ugly, and it wouldn't take much effort or cost to make it look a little less like some crappy cardboard box someone didn't want.

  • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:34PM (#35362032)

    Now we need to pack the box in another box to protect it during shipping/

    Given the state most packages I receive come in this seems somewhat impractical.

    Also.. who orders a motherboard before the case? That seems kind of backwards to me.

    I tend to order the case, power supply, and various fans/controllers/anything else I’m cramming into it first as I tend to do a little light modding. This gives me time to play without the “just want to get it running” jitters. Also I don’t like having too much stuff floating around “out there” makes me nervous. I usually order things in batches.. and wait for each batch to arrive before ordering the next.

    • Now we need to pack the box in another box to protect it during shipping

      In my experiance the "retail boxes" for motherboards are not designed for shipping without further protection. Most customers probablly buy more than just a motherboard anyway. So whether you buy this or a standard motherboard if you buy online you will probablly get a box in a box.

      IMO this is a gimmick, a bit wasteful but probably less so than many other gimmicks that are used to sell products.

    • Also.. who orders a motherboard before the case? That seems kind of backwards to me.


      That would be me... My selection process is:
      1) processor
      2) motherboard (supported RAM, PCIx slots)
      3) number USB2/3
      4) video
      5) power supply
      6) case

      At any one time I have four or five systems running compute-intensive operations.. Cases don't matter so much.. They're there really just to hold the pieces together and keep them cool.. My main concern for a case is that the baffles move air properly and that they are built to appropriate tolerances so my pieces fit.

      • How do you operate without RAM or storage? :) I always bring that stuff forward, then end up building another PC when I upgrade them... except that has become impossible with RAM lately. I went SDR, DDR, DDR2, and now DDR3 in sequence, so I had to keep buying.

        • Heh.. :)

          Actually, I really don't worry about storage. I boot them off the network and they get an iscsi disk as the root volume.

    • I have never understood the point of buying a PC in batches. Even for a complete twit, it takes less than a day to assemble your first PC. For most tech-minded people, it's an hour or two. My current rig is an epeen showpiece, with peltiers, water, dual Xeons and SLI graphics, and it took maybe 4 hours to put together, including all the drilling and dremeling to make things fit. If you can't restrain your "get it running jitters" for a few hours without jumping out of your skin, um... well then I'm glad

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        It really does take me a while to build a computer. If I really had to then yeah, I could build one fairly quickly.. but I tend to take my time.

        I tend to spend most of the time on the case and power supply (which is of course why I order these first). I'm more into functional(ish) mods than appearance mods. The thing that takes me the most time is the wiring. I tend to shorten/lengthen the various PSU wires as necessary.. building a custom "wiring harness" of sorts... and connect it up through junction boxe

  • I'm sure you could design and build a PC case out of some inexpensive non-metal/plastic material, but this one just seems wrong in pretty much every possible way.


  • OK, I have often thought making an ad-hoc case for a mini-itx board with no cards would be easy (think a small sheet of plywood, some glue, blocks, and some of those brass-coloured screw-posts), but I've been worried about the RF interference the system would put out. This cardboard solution seems to provide nothing at all for shielding.

    How much RF do these motherboards put out? What would it interfere with? What do you need to surround the thing with to block those wavelengths? Would chicken wire do?

    • You shouldn't be worried about the RF that is coming out of the board, you should be worried about what is giong INto the board. RF interference can cause random problems, like unexplained crashing, but I haven't ever had any issues with it. You can assemble a computer and just have the loose pieces laying on a table, and the computer will run fine. In practice, comptuers are pretty resiliant to RF.
  • If I keep the boxes dry, U-Haul boxes can last for 10 years in storage. Why wouldn't this thing last for 2-3 years or however long a PC lasts? This would be great for datacenters and stuff where all you need is processing power. Just pop out the box, fill with RAM and CPU, hook up to a 12/5V power tree, network and stack it in a rack. The flashpoint of cardboard is high enough that I don't think it will be a problem.

    • by CFTM ( 513264 )

      Sure 10 years in dry conditions and probably at 70 degrees. Though the flash point of cardboard probably won't be reached, I would imagine that the operating temperature will be closer to 90 - 95 degree Fahrenheit. I don't know this factually, but I would imagine that a 33% increase of heat over a long period of time would cause an increased rate at which the boxes breakdown.

      Just to say that thier estimate may not be quite as inaccurate as you estimate...

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      because storage is protected from the general humidity. You livingroom is not, usually.

      Modern cloud datacenters just have all the parts laid out on a rubber mat. Cheaper to cool, easy to maintain.

      • Just how much moisture do you think there is in a pc tower? Unless you are leaving it off for extended periods of time, the temperature in that thing is going to dry it out rather quickly.
  • than the spent Budweiser case I've been using.
  • Knew it! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Octopuscabbage ( 1932234 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:39PM (#35362108)
    .I knew my cardboard box fort making skills would come in handy some day!
  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @05:48PM (#35362226) Homepage
    I once built a "stealth" computer with an old ATX motherboard in a FedEx shipping box. It's more of a sit-in-the-corner novelty than a useful machine, though.
  • They don't already?!

    I've had my computer, "Cardboardbox," up and running for 3 years now!

    It even started out running in the MSI box it came in with a couple modifications (i.e. Duct Tape) to the box.
  • I'm going to light that carboard box up faster than Charlie Sheen on a triple-barreled crack pipe.

  • I had a spare PC, sans-chassis, that lived on my desk just under the monitor riser for about a year. The mobo box was cut up into hard drive standoffs and fan shrouds, and the PCI cards were held up with a strip of slotted foam.

    Bestest damn VM server I ever had :)

  • In the quest to cut down on shipping waste ... What if the shipping container became the PC case?

    I looked at the sample photo []. So. To cut down on shipping waste, they made the box way bigger than it needs to be, to ship a motherboard, to make it useful as a PC case. Smooth.

  • Set the power supply on the ground, fold back the box top so that the top of box covers top of the PSU (if needed, put a book under the box to get height correct), mobo goes in the box, hard drive sits on cardboard over PSU. It works and stuff stays in one place. I've run boxes like this for years. I've never noticed any RF interference. Never had overheating either-- even when gaming.

    Cases are just bent metal. Also, you don't need all those fans. As long as you're within the rated operating temperature, y

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission