The best RGB lighting kit will make your boring and stale gaming PC explode in a rainbow of colors. However, it’s not as simple as putting any old RGB lighting strip on your PC, you need one that aligns with your existing color scheme and tastes. Here are the best RGB lighting strips and controllers that suit your look.
But don’t let the opaque BeQuiet cases and beige Noctua fans put you off. Shine like a goddamn arc of tesla, son. You do you.
Those who are only interested in RGB now, just set it up with the keyboard and mouse synced to the same color scheme, it’s another thing to completely envelop the PC case, gaming monitor and table in splendid unified brightness. It’s really a beautiful thing when you get it right. And if your desk is where you spend your time, it has the power to brighten your day.
We’ve tested several RGB lighting kits and put together a list of our favorites so you can decide which one fits your setup. They typically contain RGB LED strips and come with a base station that you can install to add some color to your gaming PC, and while you I can buy RGB LED strips virtually anywhere, the best RGB lighting will allow you to set lighting patterns and sync them to your components, usually via software or remote control.
When it comes to lighting, NZXT has never stopped offering it whenever possible. The company’s first cabinets offered accent lighting well before it was fashionable, so it’s no surprise that the company is leading the charge in cabinet lighting with its various HUE products. HUE+ was our first choice for this guide, but has been aptly dethroned by the recently released HUE 2.
The HUE 2 ecosystem consists of the central RGB lighting unit, Ambient, Underglow, LED strips, Cable Comb and various other products. Like its predecessor, the HUE 2 RGB lighting unit featured here is more than enough to start your RGB cabinet party.
The HUE 2 kit comes with 10 individually addressable LEDs on each of its four strips. With a total of 40 LEDs and multiple extension cables included, the kit is capable of lighting a wide range of build sizes out of the box. If you have a more significant case or want even more RGB lighting, the main lighting unit lets you expand things further.
An upgrade from its predecessor, the HUE 2, now has four individual channels (up from two) that support up to 40 LEDs or six HUE 2 accessories each. This allows you to create virtually endless combinations of lighting setups and configurations across dozens of HUE 2 RGB products. And everything is easily controlled by the company’s CAM software.
Considering the HUE+’s $60 price tag and the low cost of whole coils of addressable LED strips, the HUE 2’s $75 price tag might seem a bit high. But the natural expansion of the ecosystem and the simplicity of CAM make it worth it. Pair the HUE 2 kit with the HUE 2 Ambient, Cable Comb or Underglow accessories and you have an unforgettable smorgasbord of RGB.
Read the full NZXT HUE 2 review.
There are numerous variations of addressable RGB LED strips on the market today, but we’ve found the Alitove WS2812B strips to be the most cost-effective and versatile when it comes to lighting a PC. Each 16.4ft reel comes with an impressive 300 LEDs that can be cut to fit any size PC. However, in addition to the LED strip, you will have to buy a separate controller and power supply.
Cutting the LED strip to wrap the interior of the S340, we used less than half the spool, but we still ended up with more than twice as many LEDs included in the HUE 2. With 85 LEDs in total, our DIY solution was much brighter with smoother color effects than any of the other kits we’ve tested.
Several pre-programmed controllers are available that work like some of the other kits we’ve tested here, but with literally hundreds of lighting patterns and combinations. More advanced users can use Arduino boards or a Raspberry Pi to program their lighting effects. For our DIY setup, we decided to go the simple route and use a remote-controlled mini-controller.
After attaching the LEDs to the case, we connected the mini-controller using the JST connector included at the end of the strip. While a 5V Molex adapter may work in some situations, it may be necessary to power the controller and strip from an external power supply with a current of 3A or greater.
With over 100 unique lighting modes and the ability to adjust speed and brightness, we’ve found the pre-programmed solution to be more than enough. You’ll have to do without the smart lighting modes found in the HUE 2, but power users can replicate those modes and more with custom controllers and programming. The DIY route isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in a little effort, it can be rewarding and cost-effective.
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If you are looking for a single color LED strip or an RGB solution to light up your build, we recommend the DeepCool RGB350 LED Kit. Priced at around $20, it’s only a few dollars higher than most single-color LED kits, but it offers so much more.
With two included LED strips, each measuring twelve inches, the RGB350 is capable of lighting most small to medium-sized buildings. We used the mid-size NZXT S340 for our tests, and the build was easily lit with just a stripe on top and a stripe on the bottom. Installation was foolproof thanks to magnets built into the LED strips and an included extension cable.
The kit uses a wireless RGB controller that allows you to control the LED strips using an included remote. All we had to do was plug the Molex adapter into our power supply, daisy-chain the LED strips and connect them to the RGB controller, and we were up and running in minutes.
The only things you will be able to control with DeepCool RGB350 are brightness, color and various flash patterns. If you want a single color, you can choose from 15 colors in total on the remote. If you want multiple colors, you can switch between the three primary colors red, green and blue or a rainbow of seven colors with ‘breath’ or ‘jump’ effects between each color change.
The DeepCool RGB350 might not be as advanced as the mechanical RGB keyboards on the market today, but it inevitably gets the job done if you want to light up your build on a budget.