Sometimes it can feel like if you have seen one all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooler, then you've seen them all, with only minor variations in appearance from one to the next. Barrowch, a cooling product maker in China, found a way to stand out from the crowd: Put a high resolution display on a series of modular CPU water blocks, each complete with an HDMI port.
Having an LCD display on water blocks is not a new concept, but an HDMI port? That has not been done before, at least that I am aware of. And for a water block, these are fairly large displays, measuring 2.9 inches. That's more than 21% bigger than the 2.36-inch display on NZXT's Kraken Z series (opens in new tab), though smaller than the comparatively enormous 3.5-inch full-color display on the Asus ROG Ryujin II 360 (opens in new tab).
The real comparison, though, is the resolution. It's here that Barrowch's water blocks really stand out. Whereas those Z series water blocks feature 320x320 resolution displays and the Ryiujin II checks in at 340x340, Barrowch's coolers crank the resolution dial all the way to 1440x1440. That's along with a 60Hz refresh rate and 1,100:1 contrast ratio, too.
That works out to 702 pixels per inch (PPI), a staggering pixel density that bests most smartphones. To put it into perspective, the gorgeous OLED screen on Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 515 PPI, while Apple's flagship iPhone 12 Pro Max boasts a 458 PPI.
Pixel density isn't the end-all-be-all, of course. For example, LG's 27GN950-B is one of the best gaming monitors (opens in new tab), but the pixel density on its 4K panel works out to 'just' 163 PPI. But it underscores just how wild it is to have a 1440p resolution on such a tiny (by gaming monitor standards) screen.
As to how you could make use of all those pixels crammed onto a 2.9-inch screen that resides inside your PC, Barrowch has some suggestions (opens in new tab). The obvious one is displaying system vitals. Barrowch says the block's display is equipped with a variety of dynamic and static templates, and can also sync with AIDA64, a popular system diagnostic utility that rose from the ashes of Everest. Which, by the way, *fist-bump* if you remember Everest (the utility, not the mountain).
More templates are coming, Barrowch says. Additionally, users can tap into the HDMI input to display a PC screen. To what purpose, I'm not really sure, but it's a nifty capability (I'm sure someone can think of a clever way to leverage the feature). There's also a micro-USB 5V interface, which is required for using it as a secondary display.
Navigating Barrowch's website is a bit of a challenge (the manufacturer really likes slow-loading images in place of text), but it looks like there will be different water blocks sold as standalone units, and as part of AIO kits, like the CPI-T (opens in new tab). The idea is to support various platforms, with one of the pictures showing a rectangular block that is probably aimed at Alder Lake.
Users can choose between a 240mm radiator with two 120mm fans, or a 360mm radiator with three 120mm fans, both with addressable RGB lighting and an aluminum frame. The radiators are rather thick and sport a 17W pump, as well as an acrylic window to monitor coolant levels at a glance.
There's no mention of pricing or exact availability, only that these neat water blocks are "coming soon."