Lighting up your PC with RGB strips is an easy way to add personality to your rig without breaking the bank. As simple as sticking a strip of LED lights onto a tower might seem, choosing the right product for the right hardware is actually a more involved process than expected.
RGB lighting is a PC building luxury that can be a difficult field to navigate. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that RGB-focused builds are a relatively new trend that’s only become popular in the last decade, which leaves little precedent for consumers to consult when researching products. Simply understanding the marketing terms some of these products have can be a chore, let alone trying to come to a conclusion about their quality and reliability.
Knowing the number of pins a strip’s header requires, whether or not it’s addressable, and if it has support for motherboard control are some of the more technical considerations when looking for RGB strips on the market. Here’s a list of some of the best RGB products and their respective motherboard requirements and functionalities.
Best value RGB strips
If you’re an RGB novice who wants an easy setup process, Alitove has you covered. This product features four 15.7-inch RGB strips designed for a 12-volt four-pin header on your motherboard. The strips support common RGB-compatible motherboard technology, like Aura Sync, RGB Fusion, and Mystic Light, while allowing daisy-chaining for ease of use, all under a $20 price tag.
While not the most popular or most convenient, the Alitove RGB strips offer a reasonably priced lighting option that can be easily assembled for those who do a little planning beforehand.
Please note a couple of things before purchasing; Firstly, non-addressable RGB strips differ greatly from addressable RGB (ARGB) strips in that each LED light cannot be controlled independently from one another. Secondly, attempting to plug in RGB strips into an ARGB header, or vice versa, might cause damage to your motherboard and will definitely cause damage to your strips. Make sure your motherboard has the header required for the RGB or ARGB strips you choose.
Best value ARGB strips
These five-volt three-pin addressable RGB strips offer an attractive option for those who like the price range of the Alitove strips but want more customization in their rig for under $25. As mentioned, ARGB differs from traditional RGB in that individual LEDs can be set to different colors, allowing more personalization in a rig’s lighting than would be possible with RGB strips.
These strips are Gigabyte RGB Fusion, Asus Aura, and ASRock RGB compatible. Check to ensure your motherboard has one of these programs; otherwise, you may need to pick up a compatible RGB controller to power and manage your strips. Although any motherboard with the proper header will work with any respective RGB strip, the ability to customize the color schemes of the strip will be lost without one of the named RGB software or a proper controller, which can add a huge cost to an RGB strip.
Best budget RGB strips
For those trying to pinch as many pennies as possible, the Airgoo RGB Strip Kit is a shining offer for under $20 that comes with two 12-inch RGB strips that are compatible with Asus Aura, MSI Mystic Light, ASRock Aura RGB LED, and Gigabyte RGB Fusion.
The strips connect via a four-pin 12-volt header and come with a 20-inch extension cord. The strips are also magnetic, with an adhesive coating on the back for ease of installation. The strips aren’t notably lengthy, and only having access to two might seem a limiting factor. When trying to illuminate a large area with a small number of lights, these budget strips are the perfect tool for the job.
Best budget ARGB strips
Airgoo also produces ARBG strips of similar quality and price as their RGB versions. Almost everything that can be said about its RGB strips can be said about its ARGB strips, except that the addressable versions fit onto a three-pin five-volt header. Additionally, the strips are 13.8 inches long instead of 12 but retain that low sub-$20 price.
Best RGB strips
When it comes to recommending the best RGB strips available, there’s really no other option other than Corsair’s products. The quality isn’t much better than what its peers manufacture, and their prices aren’t anywhere near as low, but there is one caveat that makes the Corsair RGB strips well worth the steep cost: The Lighting Node Pro.
The same can be said for all of the Corsair RGB products, but their RGB controllers take the hassle out of trying to find RGB products that are compatible with your motherboard by localizing all of the power and header requirements straight to one spot.
All it takes is plugging Lighting Node Pro into any USB 2.0 port, and suddenly all Corsair RGB strips are powered, installed, and controlled through the free iCUE software.
The strips themselves aren’t addressable from LED to LED, but they are addressable from strip to strip, meaning variations of colors can still be achieved through the Node Pro. Each strip is 16.5 inches, has a magnetic backing, and comes with ten extension cables to ensure your PC is expertly customized.
The massive downside to all of this is the price point of just below $70 which, when put side by side with some of the other options, isn’t worth the convenience it brings for many people.
The quality, prices, and compatibility that come with each product vary wildly, so be sure to refer to this list when planning to upgrade a PC with the aesthetic goodness RGB LEDs provide. Doing so might aid in deciding what lighting you want and what other products you might need to make lighting possible. In a field like PC building, planning well ahead of time is the key to a job well done. Happy building.
This article includes affiliate links, which may provide small compensation to Dot Esports.