If there’s one single feature PC hardware companies have beaten to a bloody pulp by now, it’s RGB lighting. Some purists argue that it’s an unnecessary gimmick, but others can’t help but be drawn to the appeal of having a 24/7 party on their desktop. Lucky for them, there’s also plenty of LED lighting options to bring the party to the PC too.
Lighting up the interior of a PC is nothing new. Cold cathode light tubes, basic LED strips and LED fans have been used to light up builds for well over a decade now. But with more and more users showing off the inside of their clean builds, it was only a matter of time before RGB hit the interior lighting space. We checked out a ton of LED kits available to find the best way for you to light up your build. Here’s our favorites.
Best basic LED kit
- Remote controlled RGB lighting
- 36 total bright LEDs
- LEDs are not addressable
- Only comes with two LED strips
Whether you’re looking for a single color LED strip or a RGB solution to light up your build, we highly recommend the DeepCool RGB350 LED Kit. Priced at just $16.99, it’s only a few dollars higher than most single color LED kits but offers so much more.
With two included LED strips each measuring twelve inches, the RGB350 is capable of lighting up most small to medium sized builds. We used the mid-sized NZXT S340 for our testing and the build was easily lit up with just one strip on the top and one strip on the bottom. Installation was foolproof thanks to magnets built into the LED strips and an included extension cord.
Best digital LED kit
- Software controlled RGB lighting
- Comes with four addressable LED strips
- Expandable to eight total LED strips
- Reactive lighting modes including thermal and audio
When it comes to lighting, NZXT has never been one to shy away from offering it wherever possible. The company’s earliest cases offered accent lighting well before it was popular so it really comes as no surprise that the company is leading the charge in RGB case lighting with the HUE+ Advanced PC Lighting Kit.
The HUE+ comes with ten individually addressable LEDs on each of its four strips. With a total of 40 LEDs and multiple extension cords included (2x 100mm, 1x 300mm and 1x 500mm), the HUE+ is capable of lighting up a wide range of build sizes. If you have a larger case or want even more RGB lighting, NZXT offers a HUE+ extension kit that has two additional LED strips.
Best custom LED kit
- Brightest available options
- Endless lighting possibilities
- Perfect for larger builds
- Can be difficult to install/setup
- Advanced lighting requires basic coding
There are plenty of addressable RGB LED strips on the market today, but we found the WS2812B strips to be the most cost effective and versatile when it comes to lighting up a PC. Each 16.4ft spool comes with a whopping 300 LEDs that can be cut down to fit any sized PC. However, in addition to the LED strip you’ll have to purchase a separate controller and power supply.
Cutting the LED strip to wrap around the interior of the S340, we used less than half of the spool but still ended up with more than double the included LEDs in the HUE+. With 85 total LEDs, our DIY solution was far brighter with smoother color effects than any of the other kits we’ve tested.
Others we tested
Launched in 2012, the original HUE is a great solution for RGB case lighting. Unlike kits like the DeepCool RGB350, the HUE allows you to adjust the tint of each RGB diode to create your own custom color. It uses an analog interface with three knobs installed into a 5.25” bay to easily adjust the color and lighting modes. However, since a lot of newer cases have ditched the 5.25” bay installation can be tricky.
Despite its marketing photos and high price tag suggesting otherwise, we were surprised to learn that the Thermaltake Lumi features non-addressable LED strips. Instead of a remote control, the Lumi uses buttons on top of the controller meaning you won’t be able to change the color or mode of the LED strips unless you open up the system or install it externally.
The BitFenix Alchemy 2.0 is definitely one of our favorite single color LED kits available with their magnetic strip and high LED density. Each kit packs 15 ultra-bright LEDs into a single 12” strip but the cost makes this hard to justify over the RGB350.
NZXT is currently the only PC hardware manufacturer that offers a simple, software controlled solution for addressable LEDs. But considering the skyrocketing popularity of RGB peripherals, we wouldn’t be surprised if more options become available.
As usual, we’ll continue to update this story with new developments as we continue testing. Your feedback and suggestions are always welcomed. One of the LED kits we’re hoping to test next is BlinkyTape from Blinkinlabs. The LED strip uses its own USB-powered controller and software which potentially makes it an easier solution for custom lighting effects.
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