We declared the War on Cables the hottest PC trend of 2023 after Computex last summer and at CES 2024, the concept got real. Asus was busy showing off its vision for desktop PC without visible internal cabling – dubbed “BTF” for “Back to the Future” – and hot damn is it slick. Better yet, this wire-free initiative is kicking off in mere months, with most of the major PC case vendors pledged to support it.
The Asus BTF concept moves all the major cable and power connections for your components to the back of the motherboard (get the BTF name now?) for a pristine design aesthetic in the main part of your case. MSI and Maingear are promoting a similar concept dubbed “Project Zero,” but a key difference between that and Asus BTF is the way they handle graphics card cabling.
Project Zero still has you routing those big, beefy GPU cables directly to the standard position on your graphics card, somewhat blemishing the no-wires aesthetic. Asus BTF, on the other hand, adds a proprietary, smaller 600 watt PCIe slot to both compatible graphics cards as well as compatible motherboards, eliminating even GPU wires. It’s deliciously sleek while also helping combat GPU sag. (BTF motherboards will also work just fine with standard GPUs if you prefer.)
BTF motherboards will be price a little higher than their traditional counterparts – they need more, thicker shrouds on the front to account for extra soldering points necessitated by moving the power connectors to the back – but it shouldn’t be too bad. Asus representatives told me the company is targeting roughly a $30 price premium for a BTF mobo. The company is also releasing new cases that are compatible with BTF builds as well as traditional ATX motherboards.
Asus plans to roll BTF out to the masses via kits at first, so unsuspecting buyers don’t accidentally purchase graphics cards and motherboards that can’t be used with traditional components. First up is an all-white Asus TUF-branded kit with the specialized TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Super BTF White Edition, targeting a roughly $1,500-$2,000 total system price when it rolls out sometime around February.
For the ballers among us, Asus is also planning on releasing a high-end, black-and-RGB’d out ROG Strix kit close to the end of the quarter, powered by the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 BTF Edition with that special 600W connector. Both kits will have motherboards and cases matching their respective GPU’s aesthetic, which you can read all about on Asus’ Edge Up blog.
But wait! That’s not all.
While these initial sales will focus on pre-bundled kits, Asus hopes the BTF initiative will spur a new revolution in custom PC building. To that effect, it’s already teamed up with most of the major PC case vendors to create the BTF Alliance. “Through this partnership, you’ll have your choice from a wide range of PC cases that are fully compatible with our BTF motherboards,” Asus says.
Aerocool, be quiet!, Cooler Master, Corsair, Inwin, Lian Li, Phanteks, Silverstone, and Thermaltake all have BTF cases in the works, with the first models expected to be announced later in the first quarter.
That’s an impressive sign of support for the exciting, yet fledgling BTF concept. Will Asus also be able to rally other motherboard and graphics card makers to their side or will rivals be more inclined to toss their lot in with MSI’s Project Zero campaign? Or will other PC makers and consumers even care at all?
One thing’s for certain: It’s exciting to see innovation coming to the traditional PC desktop experience and the War on Cables is just getting started in earnest.
Stayed tuned to PCWorld for all the latest and greatest PC gear from the CES 2024 floor, all week long!
Brad Chacos spends his days digging through desktop PCs and tweeting too much. He specializes in graphics cards and gaming, but covers everything from security to Windows tips and all manner of PC hardware.