RGB LEDs are all over motherboards at Computex 2016

The single most reliable trend in the PC market for the past two years: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it--stick an RGB LED on it, instead. That trend is alive and well at Computex 2016, and it’s finally making its way into the motherboard space. We’ve seen motherboards prettied up with RGB LEDs before, but now MSI, Gigabyte and Asus are all introducing a number of new motherboards with LED lighting spread across the PCB.

In most cases, these are new X99 boards launching alongside Intel’s Broadwell-E processors. Gigabyte is calling its new high-end motherboard series “Designare” boards, with the X99 Designare EX being their prestige high-end board. They look nice, with white shielding and blue highlights changing things up from the tried-and-true red and black we’ve seen on motherboards so many times. Gigabyte’s LEDs are placed around the PCIe and RAM slots and follow a trace pattern around the edges of the board.

The Designare EX has a couple other nice touches, like an LED header on the motherboard for connecting your case LED strips--sure to be popular with case modders--and a DisplayPort input among the I/O so you can route a signal into the PC and back out the graphics card. There’s also dual U.2 support for Intel’s very fast 750 SSD, nice metal shielding for the PCIe slots, and a ton of other features--it’s a high-end X99 board, after all. Gigabyte’s also giving its Ambient LED treatment to the Z170X-UD3 Ultra and X99 Ultra Gaming. Along with Gigabyte’s existing LED-equipped boards, there’s now quite a range to choose from.

One of the LED-equipped boards MSI had to show off was the gorgeous white B150M Mortar Arctic, which could make a great budget buy. Unfortunately, you can’t overclock on the B-series Intel motherboards, but this one’s a beauty.

MSI’s showpiece board for Computex was the X99 Gaming Pro Carbon, with lights built into the motherboard’s shielding. Seeing different components glowing different colors was a cool effect. It’s controllable with Windows software, with a mobile app version on the way, and there’s an LED header for hooking up more lights.

X99 Gaming Pro Carbon

Asus’ new ROG Rampage V Edition 10 motherboards feature some similar lighting to the Gaming Pro Carbon, with a busier trace pattern on the PCB. The same goes for the new Strix X99 Gaming, which also has an LED header onboard. Both MSI and Asus tout the same suite of LED programming options, like syncing the lights to pulse with your music or change according to CPU temperature. 

The takeaway, if you haven’t picked up on it by now, is that all the big motherboard players tend to follow the same trends. Any new advancements are likely to show up on competitor’s boards before long. And if you don’t care about LEDs, well, there’s not much new in motherboards to be excited for this year. We’ll have to wait for Intel’s Kaby lake processors, due out later in 2016, to see what chipset changes will be appearing on new boards.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).