First Looks: ASUS ROG Front Base
ASUS ROG Front Base - All Your Bases Belong to ASUS
The ASUS ROG Front Base is a front panel control center, which fits into the 5.25-inch drive expansion bays of your PC chassis. Due to its large 4-inch display, it would require two such drive bays to house the unit. On first impressions, it felt like a stripped-down version of the bundled OC Panel of the ASUS Extreme VI motherboard.
Upon careful inspection, it pales in comparison to the OC Panel as its functions are relatively basic. So what does it do exactly? For starters, it features a 4-inch LCD that displays system information as listed below:-
- Operating frequency of the CPU
- Operating speeds of the cooling fans of the CPU and chassis
- Operating temperatures of the CPU and motherboard
- Audio EQ mode selection (music, shooting, fiction, sport, and racing)
During its operation, we found the 4-inch LCD bright and crisp, and its information display layout, rather clutter-free. There isn't an option to adjust the brightness of the display, but it has a LCD power button (nearest to the large, silver selection knob) for turning it on or off. The other buttons are as follows:-
- Escape mode button
Pressing this button allows the user to skip back to the Windows desktop to hide his active application from prying eyes.
- CPU level up button
With its activation, the system is overclocked with pre-set values of up to two overclocking profiles. Pressing the button once loads one profile; another press loads the second one, and a third press brings the system back to its original state.
Besides the two audio ports, there is only a single USB 2.0 port. When the system is powered down, in hiberation mode, or in sleep mode, the USB 2.0 still draws power from the PSU so that it can be used to charge supported devices. However, the USB charger needs to be turned on prior to use, using the selection knob.
With the same knob, the user is able to adjust the operating speeds of up to three chassis fans. For audio control, the user can toggle between the five audio EQ modes, and adjust the master volume of the system.
The ROG Front Base is compatible only with selected ASUS motherboards and it is attached to these boards via two connectors; the AAFP connector, and the ROG extension connector. Both of these connectors are exclusive to the specific ROG motherboards. The ROG extension connector is marked with the red frame in the photo below; to its right, we can see the AAFP connector. The ROG Front Base is powered by a SATA power connector to the left of the ROG extension connector.
From another angle, we can see the clutter-free rear space of the Front Base. This is because the proprietary connectors used on this control panel feed necessary system/control data directly from the supported ASUS ROG motherboards and this eliminates the myriad of data and power cables required in a conventional front panel fan controller, such as the recently-reviewed Aerocool Touch-2100 fan controller.
Currently, there isn't any information pertaining to the device's SRP or its local availability. However, due to limited number of supported ASUS motherboards, as well as its limited functionality, the ROG Front Base is most exclusively recommended for diehard fans who happen to possess an ASUS motherboard sporting a ROG extension connector.
Primarily, we can tell that the ROG Front Base was made to appeal to those who would prefer system information displayed in an aesthetic manner and is easy to set it up and running. It's only major drawback is the limited motherboard compatibility. ASUS could have opted for the usual mess of cabling that's associated with such front panel controllers to give it wide compatibility across all other DIY systems, but it's obvious that ASUS opted to carve a niche product to enhance the experience of its ROG motherboard supporters.
Based on our experience with the Aerocool Touch 2100 fan controller, the ROG Front Base would work best if the PC chassis is located on the desk. Therefore, in our opinion, the ROG Front Base's ideal configuration will be a SFF system based on the ASUS Maximus VI Impact mini-ITX motherboard that features a ROG extension connector. The said system can be placed on the desktop so that the user can access the buttons and selection knob with ease, not to mention view the LCD display without peering under his desk. At night, the LCD display can be turned off, and the cooling fans throttled down so that the user can slumber without disturbance. How's that for specifics?