No room for another monitor? Use the side panel of your desk instead

ASRock 13.3

Adding a secondary monitor to your setup is a snap office hack to increase productivity. But not every office or desk has room for another screen, even a small one. portable monitor. That’s why we’re intrigued by a new ASRock kit, no matter how niche.

ASRock’s 13.3 inch side panel kitspotted by Tom’s gear on Tuesday, includes a 13.3 inch IPS screen intended to be fixed inside the side panel of a desktop computer. This is a practical design for people who are short on space but still keep their tower on a desk. The kit provides a 1920×1080 display with a 60Hz refresh rate, 300 nits brightness, and 800:1 contrast ratio, making its specs comparable to dedicated portable monitors in the $200 range, such that Lenovo ThinkVision M14 (although, when we tested the M14, we recorded a significantly higher contrast ratio, 1,064:1, than ASRock’s panel claims).

The installation kit comes with two long brackets and two short brackets, as well as strips of double-sided tape and five cable ties.

The installation kit comes with two long brackets and two short brackets, as well as strips of double-sided tape and five cable ties.

There are, however, some major caveats.

First, ASRock’s product page says you need to attach the screen to a clear glass side panel.

The Taiwanese company, known for selling DIY PC parts, also claims that the 13.3-inch side panel kit will work on “most” ATX, Mini-ITX, and Micro-ATX PC cases. As any PC manufacturer will assure you, compatibility with “most” PC cases does not mean compatibility with all.

Additionally, for power and data, ASRock’s display must connect to a motherboard via Embedded DisplayPort (eDP), a rarity among desktop computers, given that it was designed for displays. built-in, such as those in laptops. According to Tom’s Hardware, this limits the display to people with an ASRock motherboard, and there are less than 10 ASRock motherboards with eDP. And because the connector also includes the power supply, there are no readily available adapters either.

Chances are that your desktop computer does not have the eDP connector required by the kit.
Enlarge / Chances are that your desktop computer does not have the eDP connector required by the kit.

Those are enough caveats to make this product impractical for most users, but it’s still a good idea. The kit provides a secondary monitor without requiring additional space, providing a convenient place to display things like a Slack chat or stream video while you work. On its product page, ASRock says the screen could be used for watching video guides or streaming for gamers.

The kit also offers flexibility. Theoretically you can use it on multiple monitors, assuming everything is still compatible. It’s different from iBuyPower’s Snowblind S PC case, which has a 19-inch, 1280×1024 transparent LCD side display. However, the transparent panel doesn’t seem to have the best image quality and is also meant to showcase the PC components, which are encouraged to be white or silver, to help the images on the screen show through.

iBuypower's Snowblind S PC case has a built-in transparent screen.
Enlarge / iBuypower’s Snowblind S PC case has a built-in transparent screen.

Today, the options for desktop side screens are limited, and the products available come with many caveats. ASRock’s 13.3 inch panel kit will not fit most. But it’s nice to see companies exploring creative ways to bring more pixels into cramped spaces.

Laptop users already have more options. Take the NexPad, for example. Announced in October, it’s a 12-inch IPS display meant to sit above a laptop screen for more vertical screen space. While ASRock’s kit isn’t as simple as the NexPad, it may help pave the way for more versatile solutions for desktop users.

We contacted ASRock about availability and pricing.

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