Regardless of how ASUS's TUF Sabertooth motherboard sold, the product definitely started a trend, of sorts, one that doesn't have many adopters but seems to slowly be gaining them, one at a time.
The IT player that chose this month to announce its plans for a shrouded platform is Elitegroup Computer Systems, ECS as it is more broadly known.
The name of its motherboard is X79R-AX Stealth and seeks to emulate the look and feel of stealth fighter aircraft like the F-117 Nighthawk.
The cooling shroud has few cutouts and perforations on the surface, but it does come with vents along the edges, so as not to restrict connectivity capabilities and ventilation.
It also required certain concessions, like perpendicular on-board headers (with openings along the edges of the board).
That said, the main specifications of the mainboard are, or will be, as follows: an LGA 2011 central processor socket, four DIMM RAM slots (random access memory), three PCI Express slots, two mini PCI Express slots and various networking and peripheral inputs and outputs.
The photo doesn't show the back panel, but we are quite sure Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and multi-channel audio, at the very least, are present.
ECS has revealed the X79R-AX Stealth design with the purpose of finding out if there would be buyers should a real product emerge. It is waiting for opinions on its Facebook page, where the picture first appeared.
So far, replies have been ambivalent. Setting aside the repeated comparisons to the aforementioned ASUS TUF Sabertooth, there are concerns that the shroud will interfere with cooler and AIB installation (Add-in-Board).
In the end, it will probably become a debate on whether or not the extra heat dissipation performance (owed to the hidden heatsinks and heatpipes) is enough to compensate for the narrower selection of compatible components.