When I was at Computex and visited the NZXT booth, I couldn’t stop staring at the constantly changing rainbow light strip that was on a table tucked into the corner. I’m a sucker for colors, and the more blingy and rainbowtastic, the better. While NZXT’s marketing guru Irene patiently waited for me to stop gawking at the constantly shifting pretty, another rep showed me the knobs on the controller. “You control Red, Green, and Blue with these knobs. Every color is available”.
“Ooooooohhhh!” I went, as I started turning the knobs. I imagine poor Irene sighed as yet another nerdy journalist got sucked into playing with knobs and lights while she waited patiently.
The same setup that was there in a hotel room in Taipei is now in my PC, and I get to turn knobs to my heart’s content.
Let’s face it. This setup serves absolutely no practical purpose. Okay, an argument could be made that having bright lights inside your PC is useful if you’re… I don’t know, working on the inside of your case in the dark? With the power on? Sure. You can make that argument. In the meantime, the rest of us will just be happy knowing we like pink purple green blue yellow orange gold green blue red pink inside of our PCs.
The Hue comes with a 5.25″ front bay-mounted control unit that is dark brushed steel and mesh (and very pretty). There are three knobs, each serving a dual purpose as a rheostatic control and a button you can push. From left to right the knobs control red, green, and blue. Pushing the red knob lets you cycle through five brightness levels, pushing the green knob turns the whole system on or off, and pushing the blue knob lets you cycle through the running modes: normal (on, and colors are changeable), fading (they pulse), flashing (really obnoxious and hilarious), and an ever-shifting pulsating of colors (my favorite). Here’s a video of what the modes look like:
The LED strip itself is 6 feet long, which is very long. Even in my massive NZXT Switch 810SE case, they fit all the way around the interior. In a smaller case, there might actually be too much of the strip, and I’m reasonably sure it can’t be cut. It comes with a relatively strong adhesive back. I peeled it off a few times and reapplied it to test the tenacity of the adhesive. I think you could probably get 4-5 reapplications with the adhesive before you’d encounter degradation to the point where it wouldn’t stick upside down. The strip is extremely flexible and is coated with a rubbery plastic resin; the same material as domed case badge stickers.
The strip has plugs at both ends. Whichever end you don’t use has a rubber cap to cover the 4-pin contacts. The lead from the module is sufficiently long to reach anywhere in your case. I ran the lead through the back cable management tray, all the way to the bottom of the case (from the top), and there’s still slack.
The module (and in turn, the lights) are powered by a single SATA power lead; refreshing when many case accessories still rely on the old Molex 4-pin power adapters. It’s nice not to have to install a brand new power lead from my module PSU just to power this one device. I just plugged it into the SATA power chain and that was that.
The only problem I encountered with installation is that I didn’t read the instructions. When I got it all hooked up, the blue channel wasn’t working and the whole setup was very dim. I was concerned and emailed NZXT. The product manager reached out to me and before he even started asking questions I realized I had plugged the lead in backwards… something that the instructions mention (polarity is important, folks!) but that the cable setup allows you to do. I mentioned to the product manager that the cable should have a notch or something to prevent people from plugging it in incorrectly, and he agreed. Maybe in a future revision. In other words; read the manual (even though most enthusiasts don’t, especially with a product as seemingly simple as a light controller). When I flipped the plug around, everything worked perfectly.
The range of colors is, obviously, extraordinary, with full analog control over the RGB spectrum. You can probably color match any possible component in your system with enough tweaking.
That’s really all there is to say about the Hue. The best part of this awesome setup is the freaky low price. I understand that the strip is probably very cheap but the control module itself seems like it should cost more than it does. Either way, it’s $32.99 and should be available soon.
This is a really cool product for those looking to bling out or otherwise customize their PCs, and it comes with NZXT’s legacy of awesome industrial design and manufacturing expertise. I’m happy to award the NZXT Hue our Silver Outstanding Product award for being innovative and extremely competitive in its admittedly niche category.