Transparent plastic and tempered glass have been the standard for PC cases for over a decade now. So if you’re going to be constantly looking at your PC’s guts, why not just end the pretense and stick a whole-ass monitor in there? That’s the idea behind the Side Panel Kit, a full 13.3-inch, 1080p monitor that sits behind the transparent panel of your PC case and connects directly to your motherboard. The screen acts as a standard monitor in Windows, displaying whatever you want.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen massive screens mounted directly onto a desktop PC. In addition to novelties like smaller LCDs attached to CPU AIO pumps, RAM, graphics cards, and probably the backside of the motherboard by now, you might recall iBuyPower’s Project Snowblind. It also turned the entire side of a PC case into a display, albeit a transparent one designed more to show supplementary data. In comparison, Asrock’s screen is relatively basic. It’s just a nice little IPS LCD that sticks to the inside of your PC case with the included mounting brackets.
While the screen should be installable into any case that can physically house it (you’ll need a clear area on the side panel 300mm by 193mm, horizontal or vertical), there’s one little foible to the design that might be a dealbreaker. The screen connects directly to the motherboard via an Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) cable for both data and power, as noted by Tom’s Hardware. eDP is a standard connection often seen in laptop screen panels, but it’s rarely seen in consumer-facing electronics…and Asrock is the only company making motherboards with an eDP connection built-in. There’s no easy way to make an adapter, either, since unlike regular DisplayPort it includes electrical power as well.
At the time of writing only a handful of Asrock motherboards support the screen, mostly in the Z790 series (Intel 1700, with one B650 option for Ryzen fans). You can expect more high-end boards from Asrock to include the connection in the near future. Maybe by then the company will actually have an option to buy the Side Panel Kit, because it doesn’t appear to have a shipping date or price at the moment.
In the meantime, you can always just buy a USB portable monitor and stick it to the side of your case. You won’t even need a motherboard upgrade.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.