TUF, the ultimate force, is one of ASUS’s gaming line that focuses on durable and reliable entry-level gaming products. TUF gaming products draws inspirations from the futuristic military theme. There are many challenging design constraints involved in the designing of the TUF series motherboard, which requires a mix of creative problem-solving thinking and design methodology to create quality products held to the highest standards at a significantly lower cost. Today, we have two TUF designers from ADC, Wong Ding Chuen and Chia Yong Qing to share with us some of the challenges they face during the design process and how they overcome these with innovative problem-solving methods.
“When we design, we normally think of the most cost-effective and efficient method to produce the effects we want to achieve without adding too many new parts or colours” – Yong Qing
Mixing and matching components To create a product (motherboard) equipped with powerful specs at a low-cost sound like a pretty challenging and impossible task, but our designers at ADC are always up for the challenge! Through the use of various CMF finishing techniques, designing common parts that can be mix and matched and working around challenging production method, this seemingly impossible task can be overcome by thinking out of the box.
Sharing mould for the armour plates is one of the ways to help drive down the manufacturing cost. By tweaking the Colour Material finishing (CMF), graphic artwork or modifying the cutting lines the armour plates can take on a completely new look. As seen on the bottom right row, the overall shape of the different plates (used in different models) may look the same. However, by making small tweaks to the printed graphic, colours and nameplate the same base could be designed in various ways in order to suit the requirements across different MB models.
Another strategy to cut down on production cost is to reduce the type of colours used in the overall design. Unlike other gaming MBs, the TUF gaming series MB relies on using only three iconic colours to convey it’s brand to the consumers while keeping production cost to a minimal. Some may say that having only three colours on an MB makes it look dull in comparison to other MBs. But for TUF, reducing the colours used help to strengthen the overall ruggedness and stealth image of the military-inspired series. Camo patterns are used to hide the various components on the MB giving it a cleaner look and the iconic yellow are used as functional highlights to draw attention to the various uses of the components on the board.
However, things are not always smooth sailing, during the early phase of the project, colour matching was a big issue, as different components appeared to have different shades of yellow due to the different type of treatments they underwent during the manufacturing process. This requires the designer to look through each batch of samples and verify the quality and colour of the components produced. This was made even more challenging due to geographical limitations as the factories are mostly located in Taiwan and China, thus ADC designers established a close working relationship with their overseas counterparts in these countries, relying on their expertise in the area of CMF to check and verify the samples.
“ One of the challenges we face at the start of manufacturing was the colour calibration of the TUF motherboard. Due to the material, surface and temperature, the final result of the motherboard differs a lot from what we had in mind. With the help of our colleagues in the production line, we have tie down the process and we are now able to produce the motherboards colours with great precision.” – DingChuen
The more powerful the board the harder it is to design
Over the years, with more increasingly more and more powerful chipsets on the motherboard, the number of components on the board also increases. This resulted in the problem of limited space and overlapping problems during the design phase. Using the components as part of the design, highlighting important features or even designing features to segment and group the components are what allow the designers to workaround the issue of an overcrowded motherboard and find the delicate balance to continue producing beautiful yet functional motherboard.
“The irony of motherboard design is that the lower the specs, the nicer the motherboard will be as the are more spaces for the designers to play around, but the higher the specs, the printing and design get lesser as there is limited space to put the design components” – Ding Chuen
TUF DesignersUsing various innovative design techniques and out of the box solutions, the TUF gaming design team will strive to continue this legacy of a durable and reliable entry gaming product for years to come. Check out the latest TUF gaming motherboards here