iBuyPower at CES 2018: Putting a Monitor Inside A Snowblind PCby Dr. Ian Cutress on January 22, 2018 8:15 AM EST
One of the most esoteric elements to CES this year was in the iBuyPower booth. iBuyPower is a system integrator rather than a components manufacturer, so it comes across as surprising when they have an ultimate hardware exclusive, and their Project Snowblind is it. Last year at CES iBP demonstrated the Snowblind concept: using a transparent LCD panel on the side of a PC case as a window into seeing the components, but also with the ability to run a set of moving images and video while the machine is on. It is the ultimate RGB add-on. For 2018, the latest version was on display.
The latest version comes in at a resolution of 1024x1280, which is similar to last year but with better clarity and response. Through speaking with iBP, they do have the ability to fashion it into any ‘regular’ sized panel environment. It turns out that this technology was co-developed with Intel on board, so it’s unlikely to be an option on an AMD system.
iBP only provides this feature on its Snowblind systems, rather than as an individual add-on. The reason is that the Snowblind system is so-called because it focuses on white components, and adds in the high-power white LEDs around the edge of the transparent display in order to actually see the LCD screen. Without this in place, it would almost be unreadable, hence the limitation of its availability. When discussing with iBP, the full overall cost of the feature does add around $150-$200 to the system.
One of the key points that got me here was around how the chassis industry has evolved over the last 10-20 years. We have had features such as dual-chamber designs, tool-less design, mini-ITX through massive tower systems, tempered glass, and the glut of recent RGB that can be perceived as a vomit disco. How many truly innovative elements to the chassis industry has there been in that time? In Win is usually a good call for cases that open themselves, but these tend to be limited in scope. So it amazes me when it falls to a system integrator to come up with something so entirely different. It’s also fun to look at.
Of course, the scope of such a system means that showing it off at a LAN event is what it is really for, or for businesses to help reinforce a company logo on PCs on the desks of their employees. While it is plugged into the graphics card, the system can be used to play games, but doesn't work that well as a monitor because of how much can be seen through. It is designed more to show off both moving images and the components inside, and it certainly does that.
iBuyPower currently offers Snowblind under its Signature PC series, with Snowblind, Snowblind Pro and Snowblind Extreme versions. All systems use Intel Coffee Lake 8th Gen K-series processors, and NVIDIA graphics cards. For any GPU that doesn’t already have an appropriate backplate, iBP creates one to help with the lighting.
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jtd871 - Monday, January 22, 2018 - link"iBuyPower at CES 2018: Putting a Monitor Inside A Snowblind PC"
"The system is not designed to actually be a monitor, and to play games on, but to show off. It certainly does that."
Nice fake news clickbait title. Got me. Maybe "iBP shows off improved Snowblind panel" instead?
IdBuRnS - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkWho cares, they suck anyway. I made the mistake of buying one of their computers for my dad. It was a complete POS, the SATA drives were disconnected on delivery and it BSOD'd constantly right out of the box. Their support was rude and difficult to get a hold of. They sent replacement RAM, still BSODs. They said they would completely replace the computer but they sent the exact same computer back (all the component serial numbers were the same) and it still BSOD'd. We had to fight to get the money back.
I also know a couple who bought 2 laptops from them, they were also crap.
Ian Cutress - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkI've reworded that paragraph. It is a monitor, and it is connected into the graphics card, so if you really wanted, you could play games on it, but it would be a terrible experience because of how much you can see behind the screen. That's where the 'not designed' bit comes in. If they wanted to put a full monitor in, that's relatively easy.
As for the clickbait title - your title suggestion leaves a lot to be desired for anyone that doesn't know much about Snowblind already: what is Snowblind, and why do I care it has a panel? Putting a monitor on a PC isn't new: either stick a visa mount on away you go, or something like we've seen Silverstone do in the past with their mobile VR system at Computex. Or heck, even a laptop, if we're going down that route, is a monitor inside a PC.
I disagree that the headline is false/fake. It really is a monitor inside a PC - it displays an image that can be seen, and it's interesting technology. I didn't allude to the quality or utility of the display, because of only having so many characters to play with. There's also a substantial reason I didn't say 'gaming', which might have been automatically interpreted with 'iBuyPower' in the title.
lazarpandar - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkYou don't need to validate your actions to jtd871. Clearly 99.99% of people that read the article didn't feel the need to voice the same opinions.
johnnycanadian - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkIt's safe to assume you meant "VESA mount"? :-) And yes, I agree, autocorrect can be a PITA at times.
PeachNCream - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkThe reporting on CES this year makes it seem like lots of companies are standing relatively still when it comes to technological improvement/advancement. It just looks like there was instead a lot of effort invested in case lighting and other superficial stuff. Has it always been like that or is this year sort of the exception?
Ian Cutress - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkThe whole show was product iterations, rather than product evolution/revolution. 2017 was so jam-packed, everyone is off-cycle in Q1 2018 right now. The big noise for 2018 might be in Q3, so we'll see
PeachNCream - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkThanks for the thoughts, Ian. I've been put into sort of an unexpected waiting game anyway for new tech purchasing while waiting for revised chips that aren't as vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre anyway. Maybe it's optimistic to hope for that issue to get addressed by Q3 of this year, but hopefully new releases around that time are relatively better about that issue.
WatcherCK - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkHopefully IBP or someone else (IP wars commence) sells them as replaceable kits for case side panels or even front panels? RGB is lower on my list than acoustics and efficient cooling but this sort of case fixture would be cool displaying system telemetry or mining rates whatever really...
Im curious what if anything (beyond built in apps) people use for monitoring their system heath, fir the snowblind panel it would need to be something fairly contrasty since you dont have black as part of the palate for the display...
cool idea and appreciate the coverage Ian :)
Samus - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkI'm not one to usually veer away from enterprise styling, like LED lighting and shit like that, but this is actually really cool. I mean, there are a lot of awesome applications for transparent LCD's in the consumer and appliance market.