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The best RGB lighting kit

The best RGB lighting kit
(Image credit: NZXT)

The best RGB lighting kit can single-handedly turn a gaming PC into a PC gaming battlestation. It’s one thing to have a keyboard and mouse synced up to the same color scheme: it’s another to have lights all over your PC case, your gaming monitor, and your desk, all glowing in unison. Creating an aesthetic and caring for your PC space turns it into a point of pride. If this where you spend your time, it should look cool, right?

If you aren’t familiar, RGB lighting kits give you strips of RGB lighting, similar to what’s in your mouse and keyboard switches, giving you the ability to add similar lighting anywhere you want. While you can just buy strips of lights, these kits give you the ability to set patterns and, often, change them remotely. To do this, you need to buy a starter kit, which comes with a base station and a way to power the lights. Given that, the kits can get a bit expensive. However, I think you’ll find that, once you set it up and things look perfect, you’ll be happy with the decision.

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(Image credit: NZXT)
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(Image credit: NZXT)

1. NZXT HUE 2

The best RGB lighting kit for gaming PCs

RGB Type: Addressable | Control Method: CAM Software | Included LEDs: 40 | Expandable: Yes | Mounting: Magnets and screws

40 addressable RGB LEDs out of the box
Expandable with additional accessories
Easy to use software controls
Very expensive

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 into case lighting with its various HUE products. The HUE+ was our former top choice for this guide and it has been appropriately dethroned by the newly released HUE 2. 

The HUE 2 ecosystem is comprised of the main HUE 2 RGB lighting unit, the HUE 2 Ambient, HUE 2 Underglow, HUE 2 LED strips, HUE 2 Cable Comb and several other yet-to-be announced products. Like its predecessor, the HUE 2 RGB lighting unit featured here is more than enough to start your RGB case party. 

The HUE 2 kit comes with ten individually addressable LEDs on each of its four strips. With a total of 40 LEDs and multiple extension cords included, the kit is capable of lighting up a wide range of build sizes out of the box. If you have a larger case or want even more RGB lighting, the main lighting unit allows you to expand things even 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 configurations and settings across dozens of HUE 2 RGB products. And it's all easily controlled via the company’s CAM software. Considering the $60 price tag of the HUE+ and the low cost of entire reels of addressable LED strips, the $75 price tag on the HUE 2 may sound a bit steep. But the easy expandability and simplicity of CAM makes it more than worthwhile. Pair the HUE 2 kit with the HUE 2 Ambient, Cable Comb or Underglow accessories and you'll have yourself one unforgettable smorgasbord of RGB.

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(Image credit: Alitove)
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(Image credit: Alitove)
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2. Alitove WS2812B

The best DIY RGB lighting system

RGB Type: Addressable | Control Method: Digital Remote | Included LEDs: 300 | Expandable: Yes | Mounting: Double-sided tape

Offers much higher LED density
Advanced programming options
Cheapest addressable LED solution
Setup can be complicated

There are countless variations of addressable RGB LED strips on the market today, but we found the Alitove 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 2. With 85 total LEDs, our DIY solution was far brighter with smoother color effects than any of the other kits we’ve tested.

Several pre-programmed controllers are available that work just like some of the other kits we've tested here but with literally hundreds of patterns and lighting combinations. More advanced users can use Arduino boards or a Raspberry Pi to program their own lighting effects. For our DIY setup we decided to go with the simple route and used a remote controlled mini controller.

After we attached the LEDs to the case, we connected the mini controller using the included JST connector at the end of the strip. While a 5V molex adapter may work for some situations, you might need to power the controller and strip with an external power supply with a current of 3A or higher.

With well over 100 unique lighting modes and the ability to adjust speed and brightness, we found the pre-programmed solution to be more than sufficient. You’ll have to do without the smart lighting modes found in the HUE 2 but advanced users can replicate those modes and more with custom controllers and programming. The DIY route definitely isn't for everyone, but if you're willing to put in a bit of effort it can be very rewarding and cost effective.

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(Image credit: Deepcool)
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3. Deepcool RGB350

The best basic RGB lighting system

RGB Type: Non-addressable | Control Method: Wireless remote | Included LEDs: 36 | Expandable: Yes | Mounting: Magnets

36 total bright LEDs
Remote controlled RGB lighting
Very affordable
LEDs are not addressable

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 under $20, 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.

The kit uses a wireless RGB controller that allows you to control the LED strips using an included remote control. All we had to do was connect the molex adapter to our power supply, chain the LED strips together and plug them into the RGB controller, and we were up and running in minutes.

While the LED strips are technically RGB, it’s important to note that the LEDs are not addressable in a basic kit like this. This means data can only be transmitted to the entire strip at once rather than each individual LED on the strip. Therefore, every LED on the strip will be the same color at the same time.

The only things you’ll be able to control with the DeepCool RGB350 are the brightness, color and various flashing patterns. If you want a single color, you’ll be able to choose from 15 total colors on the remote. If you want multiple colors, you can cycle through the three basic red green and blue colors or a seven color rainbow with “breathing” or “skipping” effects in between each color change. The DeepCool RGB350 might not be advanced as the RGB mechanical keyboards on the market these days, but it surely gets the job done if you’re looking to light up your build on a budget.

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