Whether you like your PC to look like a rainbow unicorn or prefer something a little more subtle, there are many ways in which RGB lighting can augment your PC. From flashing cascades of colour, to nuanced pulses of muted tones, RGB lighting is a major component in any PC build where you care about the looks.
But when it comes to picking the right RGB gaming components, the choices can be overwhelming. Do you opt for RGB fans alone, or also use RGB strips? Are after market coolers with built-in RGB LEDs better, or should you choose components with lighting built in from the start? Do you need a hardware controller for it all?
These are all questions worth asking and we’re here to help.
Plan your lighting
Before you buy anything, the most important step you need to take is to plan out what you want your PC’s lighting to look like. That will give you an idea of the kind of components you need, and how much time and money you’ll need to invest to get the system you want. There’s no point in buying needless additional fans or RGB controllers, if you don’t really need them for what you want to design.
Likewise, you don’t want to be buying RGB fans and then putting them behind radiators, nor buying a fancy RGB lighting kit and realising your case doesn’t have the necessary glass or plastic side panel to show it all off
Ask Yourself These Questions
Whether you draw a detailed diagram or just make some notes in your head, there are several important factors to consider:
Does your case support the kind of lighting configuration you want? Plan around where your case will let your lighting shine through.
Do you want the lighting to be focused around the coolers and fans, or more dispersed throughout your PC? The former will mean using predominantly RGB fans, while the latter is better served by LED strips.
How much control do you want? If you are happy with the default configuration for your fans, or don’t feel like you’ll want to change your lighting after it’s been installed, you can probably do without a control hub. If you want to make your lighting adjustments regularly or in a more nuanced fashion, a controller of some sort will be a good idea.
Consider Corsair iCUE
If you like the idea of controlling the LEDs in your system for the best look, no matter what you’re doing, Corsair’s iCUE is a fantastic platform to consider adopting. There are hardware controllers like the Lighting Node Pro and Commander Pro, which let you hook up your LEDs and fans directly to a hardware control box, while the software backend gives you the actual control over your various RGB hardware.
You do need to have compatible RGB components in order to best take advantage of this, though generic RGB LED strips and fans will still be controllable to some extent with the hardware control hubs – just not so much in the iCUE software. But there are a wide range of supporting components to pick from.
There’s even an RGB headset stand that you can link up with all of your other RGB products under the iCUE banner.
Inside PCs there are Corsair AIO coolers and cooling fans, all with RGB and iCUE support, as well as power supplies, and even RGB memory modules
But you aren’t just limited to Corsair products with iCUE…
Aura Sync support
Another popular lighting system is Asus’ Aura Sync. In a similar manner to Corsair’s iCUE, it gives you complete control over the lighting on your internal components and peripherals; it offers custom animations, synchronised lighting, smart triggers that change lighting when your in-game health is low, or temperatures rise, and the option of having it all pulse to your music.
That’s just the tip of the lighting iceberg, and with a wide range of compatible products, it’s worth considering Asus’ lighting system… but it’s also worth considering Corsair’s iCUE with Aura Sync, because iCUE has full support for all of Asus’ Aura lighting products.
Announced during CES 2020, Corsair’s iCUE support for Aura Sync was a slow progression at first, but gradually ramped up to offer full support for Asus’ RGB products through its iCUE software. You do need a few things to make it work, namely an Aura Sync Compatible motherboard, and both the latest iCUE and Aura software, but with all of that installed, you should be able to enjoy the lighting of both Asus and Corsair products, all controlled through a singular interface.
Follow along with Corsair’s handy guide, if you want some help getting things set up:
You have control
With Corsair iCUE with Aura Sync support, you can now control all of your peripherals, and Corsair products, alongside your Asus Aura motherboard. That makes it easier than ever to unify lighting profiles, effects, and even have different aspects dynamically react to the changing state of your PC’s temperatures, or what you’re doing in various supporting games.
Corsair plans to better integrate third party lighting systems in the future, expanding beyond Asus’ own efforts to other manufacturers and component makers. It hasn’t made any firm announcements just yet, but we look forward to seeing who Corsair plans to work with next.
It works both ways
Amidst all the hype for Corsair’s iCUE and Asus’ Aura Sync integration, it is important to remember that there was support for Corsair RGB components in Aura Sync first. Corsair even released a handy guide for how to set it up.
All you need is a compatible Aura motherboard and one of Corsair’s various RGB memory kits. Together, they can be controlled through Aura Sync. Or now, through iCUE, depending on your preference.
With Corsair moving to integrate other lighting systems under its iCUE banner, we may not see it expand support for its RGB components under others in the future, so if you’re wondering whether to opt for one or the other, iCUE is probably more future-proof when it comes to integrating Corsair products.
Take control of your lighting
Whether you want your lighting muted and subtle, or a blazing, glorious display of bright light, there are plenty of hardware options for you to pick from. Corsair’s iCUE is one of the best ways to control it all though, and with ever expanding support for third-party controllers, hardware, and components, your RGB lighting rig of tomorrow could be the most impressive looking yet, with you controlling how it looks every step of the way.
If you want any help designing, building, or buying your next RGB-lit gaming rig, be sure to give our system building experts a call. They’ll be more than happy to dispense advice, or walk you through the process from start to finish.
Check out this article for a look at Corsair’s Hydro X RGB watercooling systems!
Want to know more? Check out this article about Corsair’s iCUE software!