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5 things that shouldn't have RGB LEDs (and one thing that should really have more)

Rows of LEDs in rainbow glory
(Image credit: Pixabay)

If you've clicked on this article, I'm going to assume you already have a strong opinion about RGB LEDs. For many they are a staple, an utter necessity for any gaming setup that gives myriad—easily editable—customisation options. For others, they are a scourge that incites unfettered rage due either to their lack of practical application, impact on the environment, price hikes for pretties, or the general distaste for everything being lit up like the Las Vegas Strip on steroids.

I'd love to say the discussion surrounding the subject isn't a heated one, but it seems those pushing for swathes of neon to light up the darkness have been met with a guarded vendetta from the residents of Vogsphere. Yes, those who aim to stamp out any kind of beautification and with a desire to either go back to beige potato aesthetics, or have everything painted black, with black LEDs that light up black causing their setups to reverse in on themselves creating a singularity. 

It's fair to say that plenty of RGB applications could be labeled 'unnecessary,' some are downright ominous, even dangerous. And sure, the utilitarian stance is fair and practical, but it is borderline puritan to simply shout down everyone with a lick of light on their setup. 

You're entitled to your opinion but stand down sunshine, there is yet one application that even the most stalwart anti-RGB evangelist might think twice about. 

Below, we've put together some of the silliest uses of RBG to illustrate that perhaps the trend needs to calm down a bit, as well as one example that might make you fall in love with RGB all over again. So whether you feel RGB LEDs should be slapped across every surface imaginable, or stamped out altogether, here's a little reminder that they do exist, and they're here to stay.

I'm going to steer clear of internal hardware components here—except for your goddam SSD does not need an LED strip—but I'll leave it up to you lot to fight over the rest of those. I'm already treading on eggshells as it is.

5 Things that shouldn't have RGB LEDs

RGB L.A. Lights

L.A. Lights featured LED lights in the back, but with a dark secret.

(Image credit: LA Gear)

I'm gonna go from zero to 100 straight off. You may remember L.A. Lights sneakers as an absolute must-have from your youth, but these LED laden novelty shoes had a darker side. Sure they looked rad, but before you send me a bunch of angry emails for talking smack about your childhood dreams, there's something you should know about this piece of wearable tech.

The real reason your parents took them away was to protect you, not because you left your Meccano set all over the living room floor. These lovable light-ups actually came with a fair amount of mercury inside their LED mechanism, which is not something you want your little ones traipsing around with at school discos, considering how toxic mercury is to humans. 

The subsequent legal battles resulted in LA Gear being forced to pay $70,000 (a fair bit of money back then) to help remove the shoes from circulation. For the better, I reckon. I think it's safe to say this is one thing that probably should've gone without LEDs—or at least had mechanisms that didn't involve distributing toxic metals to kids.


RGB Mousepads

The Reawul RGB Mousepad with RGB LED surround

(Image credit: Reawul)

Hear me out. These don't necessarily need RGB, but I can see the practicality—if only minor. Just think about it like this: you're in the heat of battle in a fast paced FPS, no time to check how much your arm's drifted from the center of your mousepad. Then, oh crap, you've dropped off the edge only to miss a headshot and get fragged. 

With an RGB mousepad, you can avoid such humiliation. The light's skirting it indicate where the edge is, so you don't fall off it. Still, this is a very niche complaint. It probably doesn't warrant spending triple the cost of a normal mousepad, does it? 

Let's let this one go. You're only going to cover most of it up with your arm anyway.


RGB Chromotherapy shower heads

A TenderRain chromatherapy showerhead glows up so you can shower yourself in fairy grotto ambience

(Image credit: TenderRain)

Ever been taking a shower, only to stop and think "Damn, I could go for some light therapy right about now"?

No? Didn't think so. Chromatherapy is one of those marketing ploys that tries to convince you that RGB is going to cure you of your depression and, as you stand there in your darkened shower feeling like you're back at a 90's rave, will clear your mind of all evil and baptize you. That's right, you can be born anew as one of the great RGB's chosen ones. Pull the other one.

Okay, for some there might be benefits to immersing yourself in a fairy grotto that spans every room in the house, but the likely outcome will involve a lot of cursing and grabbing at the wrong shower bottles. 

Don't even get me started on trying to shave with one of these barely lighting up the room.


RGB Toilet Seat Light 

The GreatGadgets RGB LED toilet light eminates from the bowl with an ominous air

(Image credit: GreatGadgets)

First off, what the hell did you ingest, dude? Nuka Cola Quantum is not for general household use, except as a drain cleaner. For real, I bought one of these for my Mum because she thought they were nifty and, for the next few weeks, peeing in the middle of the night was a wholly ominous experience.

You step into the bathroom and, in avoiding the standard retina-searing fluorescent lighting, you're instead greeted by this sinister glow emanating from the toilet bowl. Do you sit down, or are you going to fall into some pipe network nether-world of demented horrors?

Not the kind of decision you need to be making if you've just come back from a heavy night of partying. Right, Mum?


RGB Headsets

Some RGB lighting on an Onikuma headset

(Image credit: Onikuma)

Lets face it, unless you're a streamer or pro esports athlete, is there really any need for RGB on your headset? Sure you can ogle at it while its resting on it's stand but once you put it on it ceases to be in your line of sight. Thence why would you bother placing it on your bonce? 

Simply knowing you have RGB on your head might amuse some, but in general it just tends to hike up the price, and in the case of wireless cans just wantonly drains the battery. I just bought some pretty candles and placed them in a box never to be used—do ya see the irony here?


And one thing that should have more...

Gaming monitors

It's been a wild ride, for sure. But here we have the one application that makes sense with a little RGB accenting: Gaming monitors. This has been capably highlighted by the excellent Ambilight tech, especially that used on high-end TVs. This exclusive Philips tech adds another level of immersion to your gaming or cinema experience, and is the only thing I've seen anti-RGB peeps swoon over, even at the heights of their contrarian disdain for all things RGB.

Essentially it takes the colours at the edge of your screen and emits them as a gentle glow on the wall behind, in order to expand your sensory experience beyond the frame of your display. 

AmbiLux takes it a step further (see above vid) and actually projects part of the action out the back of the panel using an array of pico-projectors. This is exceptionally cool tech, although I feel the latter may be a little distracting at times. Still, it's something that actually adds to your gaming experience rather than just encrusting your setup with arbitrary colours.

This is something we'd love to see used in more gaming monitors, especially at the top end. There are imitators, with NZXT offering a kit to retro-fit your display with LED strips, but that doesn't react with the speed of Philips' tech. And that's key.

C'mon Asus, Alienware, Acer, LG, pull your fingers out and give us some shiny RGB LEDs that actually do something for us gamers. 

In the end though, while many of you still don't see the point of RGBs, you have to admit they at least succeed in one thing: giving you something to moan about on reddit.

Katie is a confessed logophile with a love of metaphor and an insatiable creative urge. She's also an RPG, sim and survival game enthusiast who harbours an overt disdain for MMOs, un-managed cables and software that doesn't include a dark mode.