Preorders are now open for the iBUYPOWER “Snowblind” system we’ve been covering for the past few months, most recently at CES 2017. The most notable aspect of Project Snowblind is the modified NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure, which uses an LCD side panel in place of a traditional clear window.

To be clear: although the buzz surrounding Project Snowblind is generally about the side panel, Snowblind systems are complete prebuilt machines and their enclosures are not available separately at this time (see our Noctis 450 review for details on the non-LCD version). As such, there are three SKUs available for preorder: Snowblind, Snowblind Pro, and Snowblind Extreme, for $1500, $1800, and $2500 respectively, with monthly payment plans optional. Additional components can be added for additional cost, but only white or silver varieties are allowed in order to give the panel maximum contrast.

We just published our final video walkthrough of iBUYPOWER’s ongoing “Project Snowblind” enclosure, which uses an NZXT Noctis 450 and custom LCD side panel assemblage. The setup has been in our coverage for several months now, starting with PAX Prime in September, followed by an office visit in October (with several upgrades), and now concluding with CES 2017.

In its simplest form, the Snowblind enclosure offers an LCD side panel (rather than traditional case side panel) which is capable of graphics playback or Rainmeter overlay. Really, it can do anything that an extra monitor could do, it’s just limited by visibility and contrast. The Snowblind uses all white/black internals to ensure the side panel’s output remains as legible as possible, and further uses ultra-bright LEDs along the inside wall of the side panel to provide the effective “backlight” for the display. iBUYPOWER is using an expansion slot in the case to host a small card that bridges comms between a DVI link (from the GPU), but the card does not use any motherboard slots. A simple DVI pass-through runs from the video card to the expansion card, which then runs the wiring to the LCD side panel.

The Intel booth at PAX West hosted iBUYPOWER's Snowblind case mod, an early mock-up made to integrate an LCD panel into an NZXT Noctis 450 side panel. The team has since improved its mod by adding a light guide, useful for darkening the black colors and reducing “fuzziness” of the output, increasing contrast overall. The side of the case has also now moved the LCD PCB and wiring to the top of the panel, nearer the CPU, as an effort to improve viewing angles and reduce the discoloration observed from non-oblique angles. As a side effect, this improves cable management by rerouting the monitor wiring through the top of the case, more concealable with an N450, rather than through the PSU shroud.

The goal of this revisit was to get a better understanding of how the Snowblind works, since our PAX coverage was entirely based on a quick study on the show floor. The enclosure mounts a 5:4 (1280x1024) resolution LCD to the side of an NZXT Noctis 450, which has its left side panel manually punched by NZXT's factory that we previously toured. You can actually see some of the machines responsible for this process in our video tour of the Shenzhen-based God Speed Casing factory. This is a one-off punch done by the factory team, but could be tooled-up for mass production if the Snowblind ends up as an actual product.

The NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure was modified for display at Intel's booth for PAX West 2016, featuring an LCD panel for the side “window” in place of the usual acrylic. The display was built by iBUYPOWER as a prototype, and is effectively a 4:3 screen slapped onto the side of the case, then backlit (because there is no normal LCD LED backlight) by the internal case LEDs. White components are specifically used to create a high-contrast viewing port, meshing with the LCD panel in a way that allows video playback on the side of the case.

For the show, iBUYPOWER loaded a splash/advert video onto the side panel that scrolled through Intel and IBP logos. The future may permit more dynamic integrations with the panel, like loading PC monitoring software (e.g. NZXT CAM) with high contrast onto the display, then extending through usual Windows functionality. That's not possible yet, but is one of the considerations made by the team.

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