A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (2023)

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (1)

Updated 2/16/2017

Once you’ve put a little razzle-dazzle into your rig, it’s hard to go back. When we build PCs, we’re usually only thinking about one thing: gaming performance. Every so often we get fancy with watercooling or take pride in a compact build, but we don’t have the skills or ambitions of the incredible case modders who build amazing rigs for Computex every year. If you find those case mods as inspiring as we do, you might be wondering how to best start down the path of customizing your PC. RGB lighting is a great entry point, and theming your entire PC around a color scheme can be surprisingly fun.

RGB lighting your rig isn’t as simple as throwing a light strip into the case. Almost every component you choose for your PC has a part to play.

Case

For our example PC, we asked In-Win to send us the beautiful (opens in new tab), which is a perfect candidate for RGB lighting thanks to its tempered glass. If you’re RGB lighting your PC, consideration #1 is having a great frame to show off that lighting. The 805’s glass is tinted enough to cut down on RGB glare and provide a smooth distribution of lighting around the interior of the case. It’s also very open and spacious, which is nice for custom builds (especially if you go down the route of a custom watercooling solution).

Here are the main considerations for picking a case to light up with LEDs:

  • Case color: Theme your lights to match the exterior of the case. Black is easy to match with anything, while a red case like the (opens in new tab) might look best with white lighting instead of more red. A white case interior will better reflect your RGB lighting, so consider that if you want brighter lighting.
  • Side panel Window: A full glass panel like the In-Win 805’s is ideal. Glass requires more care than plastic, but makes for a classier final product. Make sure you like the shape of the window in the case you pick, and plan how you light the interior accordingly. A tinted glass or plastic panel will cut down on the glare from the lighting and provide a smoother, though darker, interior.
  • PSU shroud: Smart lighting means hiding the components you don’t want people to see. Cases with a shroud for the power supply help keep cables and the boxy power supply out of sight.
  • Cable management space: Like with the PSU shroud, having other places around the case to cram or tie off cables is a big benefit. Look for cases with space along the top rail where you can stash excess cable length, and you obviously want the bulk of your cables tied off completely out of sight around back.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (2)

Here are some cases we really like for showing off an RGB-lit PC:

(Video) A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC l Does RGB fans improve performance?

  • (opens in new tab) ($170 mid-tower ATX): One of our favorite tempered glass cases from In-Win, with enough space for an ATX build.
  • (opens in new tab) ($160, mini-ITX): A smaller (and much more affordable) version of In-Win’s gorgeous aluminum and glass full tower design.
  • NZXT S340 Elite (opens in new tab) ($85, mid-tower ATX) - A new version of the S340 case with a tempered glass side panel. It has a nice splash of color with a red cable management bar inside. There's also a variant with a completely white interior (opens in new tab), which is great for a bright RGB build.
  • (opens in new tab) ($300 ATX, includes RGB LED lighting built-in): A unique cube design that looks absolutely gorgeous when RGB lit and watercooled.
  • (opens in new tab) ($190 mid-tower ATX): This case comes with either tempered glass or plastic side panels.
  • Corsair Crystal Series 570X RGB (opens in new tab) ($180, mid-tower ATX) - Corsair's new top-of-the-line tempered glass case with glass panels all around and RGB LED fans included. Your cable management game better be on point, but this can give you a stunning build.
  • (opens in new tab) ($100, mid-tower ATX): A more budget friendly full window case with a nice door side panel and PSU shroud.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (3)

LED strips

While other components will all be helping accent your case, LED strips are going to be doing most of the hard work. You have a ton of options here. Do you want RGB strips that you can change with the press of a button on a remote? Do you run colored lighting or pure white for illumination? How do you attach them to your case?

We kept it super simple with our example build and used a single white . Some double-sided tape keeps it attached to the top of the case, where it’s out of sight, but illuminates the entire interior. We could’ve put another strip at the bottom of the window for more lighting, or along either side, but one gave us a nice, soft glow.

We have a guide to the best RGB LED lighting kits (opens in new tab) that gets into the right options for different kinds of builds. The most basic option, similar to our example above, is the DeepCool RGB 350 (opens in new tab), which comes with a pair of 12-inch RGB strips and a remote for controlling them for less than $20. The strips have magnets for easy mounting.

The go-to for smart RGB LED lighting is NZXT's Hue+ lighting kit (opens in new tab), which comes with a control box you mount inside your PC and four RGB strips to go along with it. Extension kits can add more to the mix, and you can do a ton of customization with this kit. You can create extensive custom lighting effects, and since the RGBs are individually addressable, that gives you the option to have rainbow effects and other fanciness. If you don't mind the higher price, this will give you tons of control over how you light your case—or your entire desk, if you want to.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (4)

(opens in new tab)

Motherboard

In the recent trend to make sure absolutely every PC component is outfitted with RGB LEDs, the major motherboard vendors have kitted out their boards with lighting. We built our example PC with the (opens in new tab), which has a fairly subtle LED line tracing around the board and an RGB zone along its right edge. The color is configurable with MSI’s software. It’s a minor lighting element compared to an LED strip, but it does help to illuminate the small details of the motherboard surface. And motherboards are cool!

MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte have all embraced the LED lighting craze, so your options here are good. If you’re building an expensive X99 system, you can even get a motherboard with an LED power header for plugging those RGB LED strips directly into the motherboard. That’s a great way to unify everything around a single color scheme.

(Video) How To PROPERLY RGB Your PC!

The newest round of Z270 motherboards for Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs are embracing the motherboard lighting trend, and recently motherboard makers have been changing their design language and color schemes a bit to freshen things up. It's a great time to pick up a new board that fits the look you want. Black is still the standard, but you now can choose colors like silver (opens in new tab) (or titanium, as they call it).

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (5)

(opens in new tab)

RAM

The RAM in our example build is some perfectly adequate Corsair DDR4. It’s a nice black that mostly disappears into the build. But you can add some RGB flash to your RAM, too. (opens in new tab) and (opens in new tab) are two of the go-to brands for RGB-lit memory sticks. As with the case, remember that color coordination is important. Pick a color scheme and RAM that fits it.

The flashiest of the bunch are (opens in new tab), which have a flickering fluorescent-esque tube mounted on top. The more subdued (opens in new tab) are lower profile and offer a nice, subtle glow.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (6)

(opens in new tab)

CPU coolers and fans

Yep, your cooler can join in the RGB party, too. For our build we used an (opens in new tab), which has an RGB LED built into its pump. The color of the LED was easily configurable with NZXT’s CAM software in Windows. (opens in new tab), too. Unless you go for a more specialized cooling setup, those are both great options, though we prefer the design of the Kraken.

Plenty of other cooler companies make coolers outfitted with LEDs (, for example) but with single-color LEDs. Remember if you buy one of those, you’ll need to plan your color scheme around it.

(Video) How to get started with PC RGB lighting - A beginners guide

Prefer air cooling? There are RGB air coolers, too. We recently tried out , which has a side-mounted RGB logo controllable via software. Most other CPU air coolers we’ve seen don’t have lighting built-in, or are paired with a single-color LED fan, (opens in new tab).

LED fans are a cheap addition that can add a lot more light to your case, and they come in plenty of colors. We threw a simple red LED fan into our case, but you can also buy (opens in new tab) if you want to be able to customize. That’s much more expensive than single color LEDs, though. Our advice is to figure out the color scheme of your case first, then (opens in new tab). Want a svelte purple and white setup? (opens in new tab)!

Now if you want to get real fancy, pair some of NZXT's Aer RGB fans (opens in new tab) with its Hue+ lighting kit. That will let you control and sync the lighting colors across your system.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (7)

(opens in new tab)

Graphics card

If you don’t plan carefully, a graphics card can be an obstacle to overcome. Nvidia’s reference card designs, for example, have lime green LEDs that do not pair well with a blue or red color scheme. Keep in mind the color of the LED on the GPU you own or plan to buy, and make sure your color scheme will work in harmony with it.

In the latest generation of graphics cards, with Nvidia’s GTX 1070 and 1080, several GPU models come outfitted with RGB LEDs. (opens in new tab) and (opens in new tab) card are two examples. Those have LEDs you can control through software.

Keep in mind other GPUs outfitted with LED logos won’t necessarily give you that sort of control. The Asus Matrix 980 Ti in our example rig is a hell of a graphics card, but its LED display changes colors based on the GPU load, cycling through blue, yellow, green and red. No color scheme you concoct for your PC will pair well with all of those colors, so it’s the kind of minor imperfection you’ll have to live with or plan around.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (8)

(Video) Adding RGB to a PC and other RGB Basics!

(opens in new tab)

Wrapping up

If you’re diving into RGB lighting for the first time, look online for inspiration. See what colors work well together. Aim for something simple to start—pair a red or blue with white and you really can’t go wrong.

Later on you can get into the complicated stuff. Play around with case modding with custom painting. You can paint LEDs with glass paint to adjust their color. Outfit a shielded motherboard with custom LEDs. Match the colors of a closed loop watercooling setup with your LEDs. Just have fun—even if your PC mostly sits under your desk and runs games, you can still take pride in its appearance.

A beginner's guide to RGB lighting your PC (9)

Wes Fenlon

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter (opens in new tab) and Tested (opens in new tab) 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).

(Video) TRANSFORM your GAMING SETUP with RGB Lighting! 🌈 How I light my Gaming Room!

FAQs

How do I control RGB lights on my PC? ›

How do I control the RGB lighting on my system?
  1. Use the remote control. If the remote is not responsive then you will need to switch the RGB controller from motherboard controlled to remote controlled. ...
  2. Use the RGB control software that corresponds with the manufacturer of your motherboard.
23 Apr 2021

Does RGB lighting affect PC performance? ›

Little know fact: RGB does improve performance but only when set to red. If set to blue, it lowers temperatures. If set to green, it is more power efficient.

What is RGB lighting PC? ›

(2) (Red Green Blue) The computer's native color space and the system for capturing and displaying color images electronically. All TV, computer and electronic display screens create color by generating red, green and blue (RGB) lights.

How many RGB headers do I need? ›

How many RGB headers do I need? Two is the number most recommended RGB motherboards will come with but as far as RGB customization on PCs goes, the more, the merrier. That said, two to four RGB headers should be more than enough in most instances—one for your led strips and one for extra RGB fans and RGB cases.

What does RGB stand for? ›

RGB LED means red, blue and green LEDs. RGB LED products combine these three colors to produce over 16 million hues of light. Note that not all colors are possible.

Can I change my RGB fan color? ›

you should be able to manipulate a button or other type of controller on the hub to change the color\patterns of the fans. this hub may even have an aRGB cable leading out that can be connected to a motherboard header that would allow manual control of the aRGB LEDs through a motherboard control software.

Why do gamers love RGB? ›

As simple and obvious as it might seem and sound, most gamers probably like RGB lighting because it gives them a say. The opportunity to turn something mass produced into an object that looks more unique or bespoke. RGB lighting allows a gaming keyboard to be more than just the function it serves.

Does RGB decrease FPS? ›

There are several factors that can increase or decrease the FPS during your games, but definitely saying that RGB causes more FPS is just a joke. This is because the colored LEDs have no influence on the computer's performance, and are for aesthetic purposes only.

Is RGB good for gaming? ›

While a backlit RGB gaming monitor is primarily a cosmetic effect, it can also have an effect on the gaming experience in unexpected ways. From improving contrast to reducing eye strain, the RGB LEDs on the back of gaming monitors have a practical function.

Is RGB lighting worth it? ›

Nowadays, most people are willing to choose RGB light bulbs for home decoration because it is cost-effective, energy-saving and can be widely used in our home. Maybe you don't know much about RGB bulbs, but it is worth trying it because it has all the benefits of LED lights in addition to its advantages.

Why is RGB lighting so popular? ›

RGB lights are highly popular because they're: Safe. RGB lights are free of harmful ultraviolet and infrared light. You can look at them for extended periods, or use them for hours at a time, without worrying about your eyesight.

What colour light is best for gaming? ›

A LED or a CFL (compact fluorescent bulb) with a daylight white temperature is the best option.

Can I plug RGB into fan header? ›

Can You Connect Fan to RGB Header? If you have an ARGB fan, you can connect the fan to the RGB header. However, the RGB header needs to be a 3-pin 5V header and not the 4-pin 12V header. If you are trying to insert a normal case fan to the RGB header, it is not recommended.

How many LEDs are in ARGB fan? ›

Each of the 12 RGB LEDs, built directly into the fan frame, are fully customizable, unlocking nearly endless customization and lighting effects.

How do I know if my motherboard supports RGB? ›

The best way to tell if your RGB components will work together is to simply consult your preferred motherboard-maker's compatibility page, like Asus Aura.

What devices use RGB? ›

Typical RGB input devices are color TV and video cameras, image scanners, and digital cameras.

When should you use RGB? ›

Graphic designers and print providers use the RGB color model for any type of media that transmits light, such as computer screens. RGB is ideal for digital media designs because these mediums emit color as red, green, or blue light.

Can RGB lights make white? ›

Although, RGB LEDs create a color close to white, it cannot create a pure white tone. An extra white LED chip allows to obtain more real and more bright white light.

How do I know what fan my computer has? ›

Open the PC's case by removing its side panel. Find the motherboard and the CPU. If your CPU has an air cooler with a heatsink fan, it should be sitting right on top of the CPU. If you have a water cooler, its main radiator should be attached to the case wall.

How do I change the RGB color on my keyboard? ›

Simply pressing FN + Right Arrow key will change RGB on the keyboard. Press FN + Down Arrow key to decrease brightness. Press FN + Caps Lock to turn off the lighting.

What is the difference between Argb and RGB? ›

The difference between ARGB and RGB lights is that each individual light in an ARGB strip can have its color and intensity changed, while an entire RGB strip has to have the exact same color and intensity. This means ARGB is a lot more customizable than RGB. RGB, as you probably know, stands for Red, Green, Blue.

Does RGB give more FPS? ›

Little know fact: RGB does improve performance but only when set to red. If set to blue, it lowers temperatures. If set to green, it is more power efficient.

Does RGB use more power? ›

The actual power draw for an RGB LED strip is minimal. We're talking less than 3W here — EKWB published a post that details exactly how much power its RGB products draw. To put that into perspective, your CPU and GPU can draw 150W and 200W, respectively.

What is RGB range? ›

Full RGB means the ability to show 0-255, or the full range. That's what PC monitors have been using for years. Limited RGB has a range of 16-235.

Does RGB slow down RAM? ›

RGB doesn't impact the performance of your RAM. It's just there for visuals.

Will a better GPU increase FPS? ›

NVIDIA RTX 3080 a dedicated GPU that is many factors more powerful than weak iGPUs. It can drastically improve the FPS but is also very expensive.

Does RGB use CPU? ›

No, lighting has no affect on the CPU or motherboard. It draws power from the motherboard, but since it will be drawing an insignificant amount of power, you don't need to worry about it. It will not affect CPU performance at all.

Which brand has the best RGB? ›

For other options, see our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards and the best keyboards overall.
  • Best RGB Keyboard. Corsair K100 RGB. ...
  • Best Upper Mid-Range RGB Keyboard. HyperX Alloy Elite 2. ...
  • Best Mid-Range RGB Keyboard. ROCCAT Vulcan TKL. ...
  • Best Budget RGB Keyboard. EVGA Z20. ...
  • Best Cheap RGB Keyboard. Razer Cynosa V2.
23 Sept 2022

Which brand RGB keyboard is best? ›

Oct 03, 2022: Replaced the Corsair K100 RGB with the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless as the Best Gaming Keyboard, replaced the BlackWidow V3 Pro with the Corsair K70 RGB TKL, and added the Logitech G715 as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range' pick.

What is RGB software? ›

With the GIGABYTE RGB Fusion mobile app users can watch as they control the lighting within their gaming PC. This gives users ease of access as they try and adjust colors and speeds for different modes, all this can be done away from the keyboard and monitor of their PC.

How do you change the LED color on your computer? ›

Change colors in Light mode
  1. Select Start > Settings .
  2. Select Personalization > Colors. Open Colors setting.
  3. Under Choose your color, select Light.
  4. To manually select an accent color, choose one under Recent colors or Windows colors, or select Custom color for an even more detailed option.

How do I change the LED light on my computer? ›

Open your file explorer and go to Program Files (x86), then go to GIGABYTE, click on RGB Fusion, then scroll down until you find the RGB Fusion application. Run it, (click YES to allow changes,) and you can change it to whatever color you want, several different modes, etc. Hope this helps.

How do I change the RGB light on my keyboard? ›

Simply pressing FN + Right Arrow key will change RGB on the keyboard. Press FN + Down Arrow key to decrease brightness. Press FN + Caps Lock to turn off the lighting.

Why won't my RGB lights work PC? ›

The first thing you should check when the RGB on your fans does not work is if the motherboard supports RGB. Static RGB light will work on any motherboard, whereas the Addressable RGB light will not work on all motherboards unless it has a 3-pin 5V RGB header.

How do I customize RGB fans? ›

How To Customize Fan Lighting Layout in CORSAIR iCUE 3.27+

How do you use RGB lights? ›

The Ultimate Guide to RGB LED Strips! - YouTube

Where do LED strips go in PC case? ›

Have the LED strips mounted to the top of the case and aim it downward towards your components/motherboard like so: If the strip is long enough, you can also have the strip skirt the periphery of the chassis and add more illumination for the components in your chassis.

How do I turn off Ram RGB? ›

Open iCUE. Hover your mouse over your RGB memory on the home screen and select Hardware Lighting. Delete the default lighting option. Save your changes by moving to a different tab, such as DIMM Setup or Lighting Effects.

How do I turn off RGB? ›

There are also more options to turn off the RGB keyboard.
...
You can turn off the keyboard by following these steps:
  1. Open iCUE. ...
  2. Hover the mouse pointer to your keyboard and click on Lighting effects.
  3. From the list click on Device settings.
  4. Reduce the brightness bar to the lowest to turn off the keyboard backlight.
15 Jul 2022

How do I turn off RGB when computer is off? ›

How to Turn Off RGB Lights That Stay On After Shut Down - YouTube

What is Fn key? ›

(FuNction key) A keyboard modifier key that works like a Shift key to activate a second function on a dual-purpose key. Commonly found on laptop keyboards, the Fn key is used to control hardware functions such as screen brightness and speaker volume.

Is there a universal RGB software? ›

JackNet RGB Sync is a free piece of software that lets you manage all your RGB components.

How do you program a RGB keyboard? ›

How to Program the Redragon K551 RGB Keyboard - YouTube

Why are my RGB fans flickering? ›

Why are my RGB Fans Flickering? RGB fans are mainly flickering when having a driver issue which can be fixed by uninstalling and reinstalling the Bus Controller driver.

Why is my PC fan blinking red? ›

The flashing red response is a controller reaction to the CPU boot error message. This may be a problem, but it's too soon to tell. It is normal for the fans not to show in the BIOS because they are running through a separate controller, not the motherboard.

How do you control RGB lights on a fan? ›

The RGB for the fans and AIO is wired to a controller with a few preset patterns that's controlled by the button on top of the case, next to the USB ports. There is no software control they way they're set up. If you have an ASUS MB, you can reroute them to the ARGB header and use Aura Sync in Armoury Crate.

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