RGB? Area we’re going, we don’t charge no RGB. That’s the appearance of the $299 Snowblind Element, a altered PC case from iBuyPower. The Snowblind Element is the aboriginal of its kind, a PC anatomy that uses a transparent, programmable LCD awning as its ancillary panel, acceptance you to adapt your rig in agency that abandoned the boldest PC builders out there could dream of. (We’ve apparent the abstraction in iBuyPower systems before, but never as a PC case awash stand-alone.) As a PC case, it’s appealing vanilla—in blush and function—but the console has absolute wow factor. Aloof two big caveats: Its price—and, added important, the charge to baddest absolute specific apparatus to appearance off the bright LCD to its best effect—may be disincentives for anyone who isn’t dead-set on architecture the absolute edgiest custom PC possible.
If the side-panel-LCD abstraction of the midtower Snowblind Element looks accustomed to you, you may bethink a altered adaptation of the above abstraction from our analysis of the prebuilt iBuyPower Snowblind Pro gaming PC aback in 2017. (That system’s anatomy was based on the Snowblind’s beyond cousin, the NZXT Noctix 450 tower.)
It ability additionally attending apparent to anyone who recalls the NZXT S340 Elite case we advised in 2016 that, as abundant as I can tell, is the skeleton on which the Snowblind Element is congenital (with a few upgrades to the bottle advanced panel). The Snowblind Element can abutment ATX, MicroATX, and mini-ITX motherboards, measures 18.7 by 8.3 by 17.2 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 20.1 pounds.
Apart from the cellophane LCD console on the ancillary (which is acutely the capital draw here), I was additionally afflicted by the altered advanced panel, which offsets the two front-facing, white-LED-lit 120mm cooling admirers abaft a slab of choleric glass. The recessed architecture leaves a 1-inch gap that allows a bit added amplitude for air intake. The case additionally has a rear-facing 120mm bankrupt fan (not LED-lit), admitting the fan arise there will abutment admirers as ample as 140mm.
On the top of the case, appropriate abaft that assimilation gap, the Snowblind Element appearance a right-offset top anchorage console with two USB 3.0 ports, as able-bodied as a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack combo. There is no USB Type-C anchorage or Type-C attack cable.
While the appropriate ancillary of the case is about as apparent as they appear (a simple animate console keeps your balance cabling and the lighting ambassador hidden), the added ancillary of the assemblage is area the Snowblind Element comes into its own.
Featuring a see-through, TN-based display, the Snowblind Element is a one-of-a-kind agreement in demography PC-case technology to new places. It’s a 19-inch console with an abnormal built-in resolution of 1,024 by 1,280 pixels. The affectation is powered by a loopback bore installed in the case (visible in the angel below, beneath the GeForce card), which uses a DVI or VGA cable to bung into a detached cartoon card. This interface lets the side-panel “monitor” act as your primary or accessory (or tertiary, for that matter) display, depending on your accurate desktop setup.
Thankfully for those of you active in 2019, who larboard both of those display-output types in the dust as anon as HDMI and DisplayPort came along, iBuyPower has included a DVI-D-to-DisplayPort adapter in the case’s accessories package. That’s important accustomed that abounding contempo high-end video cards acquire abandoned VGA and DVI ports altogether.
You can adapt the ancillary affectation to the admeasurement that you can any accustomed adviser (tweak the wallpaper, comedy a video in a video player, affectation changeless images or slideshows, and the like). If you’re adventurous enough, you could even, theoretically, use the case’s ancillary console as your primary display. Not recommended, though! The built-in resolution is an odd vertical one that’s not accessory to best programs, and the awning accuracy is awful abased on what’s abaft it (more on that in a moment). I wouldn’t acclaim aggravating to do annihilation on it, alfresco of abacus air-conditioned animations and widgets.
The acumen for this? Because the console is transparent, the affectation is choosy about what colors, images, and animations will or won’t appearance up appropriately adjoin the case interior, which acts as a backdrop. iBuyPower recommends in its artefact walkthrough video that you install as abounding white apparatus as you can, because those will advice to accommodate a contrast-effective accomplishments for the images on the display. To that end, the predecessors of the Snowblind Element case were accessible abandoned in abounding iBuyPower Snowblind Pro systems abounding with mostly white components. The accurate basic alternative helped the ancillary console appearance off images and videos bigger than a abetment of non-white genitalia would.
When we congenital the arrangement out, we acclimated a alternation of apparatus that had no centralized RGB lighting or the advantage to adapt the colors displayed by the few lighting elements that did exist. For one, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition cartoon agenda we acclimated displays abandoned a blooming ablaze through the company’s logo on the ancillary of the shroud. We didn’t acquire a white motherboard, and acclimated a primarily atramentous Gigabyte AMD AM4 board. The after-effects were absolute abundant mixed, depending on what was assuming on the screen.
iBuyPower recommends appliance apparatus such as white cabling, motherboards with white artificial shrouds on top of the board, alike activity so far as to advance custom-painting your heatsinks white aloof to accord the affectation as abounding allegory centralized elements as possible. To us, this is a above admonition to affairs the case as its own unit, because you’ll charge to accomplish abiding the blow of your PC apparatus bout this hyper-specific requirement.
Think about it. Best of us, back PC building, acquire genitalia to recycle from earlier builds, and, unless you acquire an Imperial Stormtrooper fetish, the affairs that they are white are slim. If they aren’t white, the console will ache from a alternation of aphotic patches, area you can’t absolutely accomplish out what’s accident on the awning with no white abetment elements to comedy off of.
If, on the added hand, you’re appliance the Snowblind Element as a abject for an all-new PC with all-new parts, you can acquire your genitalia to clothing the blush scheme. Again, though, “white” rather than “price” or “performance” will be your aboriginal criterion, which will absolute what you can get and use.
Given that the Snowblind Element’s console works like a additional monitor, technically you can affectation annihilation on it that would run on Windows (or Linux, if that’s your adopted operating-system flavor). But iBuyPower recommends abacus two specific pieces of software to let the console assignment its best.
The aboriginal is Rainmeter. Rainmeter is open-source software that displays axiological arrangement advice such as the time, or your CPU or GPU temperatures, as widgets that blanket over your desktop. It could use some addition and greater flexibility, admitting it is accomplished for what it is. The added is Wallpaper Engine, a $5 appliance purchased through Steam. It animates the Windows accomplishments with hundreds of altered wallpapers accessible through the Steam Workshop.
As you can see from the photos throughout this commodity (and in our video examination of the case), some of the added affectionate pre-built wallpapers fabricated accurately with the Snowblind Element in apperception can advertise the allowances of the LCD ancillary panel. However, best of those accessible in Wallpaper Engine artlessly done out with our mostly atramentous centralized components, due to the ultra-specific attributes of what you can and can’t see on the affectation adjoin the aphotic apparatus inside.
One baby note: We asked a rep from iBuyPower whether or not a chargeless archetype of Wallpaper Engine would be included in the $299 amount of the case. The response: “We will absolutely be alms WP Engine codes with Snowblind cases on our amount site. It will not be included at all times, but it will be acutely apparent at the time of acquirement if it’s actuality included. Best likely, it will abandoned be a advance on our amount website, and will not administer to third-party retailers.”
All of this is to say: If you buy the case anon from iBuyPower (i.e., not through, say, Newegg or Amazon), there is a adventitious you ability get Wallpaper Engine included. But, at this writing, it seems to depend on back you buy, and whether it’s during a promotional aeon or not.
Enough with the blatant distractions. How does the Snowblind Element assemblage up as, you know, an absolute PC case?
Our acquaintance architecture out the arrangement was smooth, admitting a few quibbles buck mentioning. The aboriginal is the bound cardinal of 2.5-inch-drive ascent options: aloof two aloft the power-supply shroud, with a two-bay 3.5-inch drive cage central that abutting on the added ancillary of the unit. The 3.5-inch adamantine drive accolade don’t use disposable trays. You acquire to draw the advanced console to install a spiral or two from the advanced to arise a drive in place. The 3.5-inch accolade are not advised to booty SSDs, in the way best adamantine drive accolade with trays are.
Second, while the Snowblind N450 and the Snowblind Element cases both acquire a cable that connects the Snowblind-specific affectation agenda to the ancillary panel, the Snowblind S (the aboriginal Snowblind case on offer) is the abandoned archetypal of the three that uses a alluring connector. This agency on the S (and the S alone), you can abolish the console absolutely after active the accident of affairs afar any basic electronics.
You additionally acquire to be added accurate back you accessible the case while it’s empty, because the added weight of the LCD console unbalances the accomplished unit. If the aperture is open, it will bomb bottomward on its ancillary if you’re not there to authority it steady. This botheration goes abroad already you body out the case; a motherboard and ability accumulation amend things.
Finally, there’s the bound fan outputs. Anyone who has a liquid-cooling bureaucracy with a radiator best than 120mm (say, of the common-enough 240mm size), won’t acquisition anywhere to arise their fan bureaucracy unless they acquire the front-facing fan mounts, removing the two admirers up there.
Those complaints aside, the case was ample abundant to fit our Gigabyte GA-AB350 Gaming 3 ATX motherboard with ease, as able-bodied as the above Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (a 9-inch-long cartoon card). The case is rated to acquire cards as continued as 13.1 inches if you’ve got article bigger in your basic loadout.
I ran into few issues with the absolute install process; the autogenous is clean, and a band bottomward the appropriate ancillary of the motherboard helps adumbrate cabling. Already aggregate was installed and the arrangement posted, the aboriginal affair I noticed was how quiet it was. Actuality fabricated from animate and glass, the weight of those abstracts seems to keeps the arrangement absolute ashore and muted.
Cable administration was additionally a cinch, acknowledgment to the strip, as able-bodied as a alternation of clips that run abaft the appropriate ancillary console of the unit. Abundant of the case cabling was already in place, the clips captivation the pre-installed cables that advance to the assorted admirers and white lighting elements throughout.
If you’re addition who prides himself or herself on continuing out from the crowd, and appetite a PC case that sets you afar from the added arid “merely” RGB-laden builds you ability see at your bounded LAN tournament, the $299 amount of the Snowblind Element may complete like a steal. There’s a big caveat, though: the charge for primarily white centralized components, commutual with the actuality that wallpapers and animations don’t appearance up able-bodied on the affectation after a well-coordinated backdrop. Together, that makes this anatomy so deeply angry to baddest apparatus that it may accomplish added faculty to aloof buy a abounding Snowblind Pro arrangement instead.
As a accepted PC case, the Snowblind Element works accomplished abundant on its own—save for the SSD ascent limitations and the absolute on liquid-cooling radiator size. But if you’ve got the appropriate white apparatus and the patience, you won’t acquisition annihilation abroad on the bazaar that comes abutting to what the Snowblind Element and its cellophane LCD console serve up.
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