CASE LIGHT­ING SYS­TEM NZXT HUE+

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Custom PC - - REVIEWS / NEW KIT -

If you’re keen on light­ing up your PC, you prob­a­bly have a few sets of LED strips or cold cath­odes in a drawer some­where. The trou­ble is that as soon as you change PC cases or hard­ware, th­ese lights in­vari­ably end up clash­ing with your new parts’ colours. Sim­i­larly, stand­alone kits usu­ally have lim­ited light­ing func­tions. How­ever, NZXT reck­ons it has the an­swer with an up­date to its HUE pro­gram­mable light­ing sys­tem, called the HUE+.

The sys­tem con­sists of a 2-chan­nel hub that can con­nect via a moth­er­board USB 2 header us­ing an in­cluded ca­ble, or ex­ter­nally us­ing a stan­dard mi­cro–USB ca­ble, and it’s pow­ered by a sin­gle Molex con­nec­tor. Four 11cm LED strips are in­cluded; th­ese can be daisy-chained into one con­tin­u­ous strip in sin­gle-chan­nel mode, thanks to male and fe­male con­nec­tors on ei­ther end, and they con­nect to the hub us­ing 50cm pro­pri­etary con­nec­tor ca­bles – one for each chan­nel port on the hub. What’s more, the strips have self-ad­he­sive pads for alu­minium or plas­tic sur­faces, but also sport built-in mag­netic strips for clean and easy mount­ing to mag­netic sur­faces.

There are also two 10cm, one 30cm and one 50cm ex­ten­sion ca­bles, which can ei­ther sit be­tween sets of LEDs strips to space them around cor­ners, or they can sim­ply pro­vide fur­ther reach and help hide ca­bles out of sight. Mount­ing the hub is easy; four screws are in­cluded that en­able you to in­stall it in a spare 2.5in bay, as long as the bot­tom mount­ing points are ac­ces­si­ble, but it’s light enough to mount with dou­ble-sided sticky pads or Vel­cro. Once pow­ered, the hub emits a sub­tle white light but oth­er­wise, it’s very in­con­spic­u­ous.

The key to the HUE+, how­ever, is NZXT’s CAM soft­ware suite, which gives you con­trol over the light­ing of both chan­nels. Use­fully, the LED strips are hot-swap­pable and de­tected in the soft­ware as soon as you con­nect them, which makes fit­ting them into your case in the right po­si­tion a sim­ple task. You can se­lect from the usual fixed, breath­ing, mar­quee or RGB spec­trum wave modes, or have each chan­nel re­spond to CPU or GPU tem­per­a­ture, with colours for the lat­ter con­fig­urable in 10°C steps be­tween 20°C and 100°C. There’s even the op­tion to have them re­spond to your frame rate in games.

You can also set spe­cific LEDs to cer­tain colours and fiddle with the colour cy­cle in the pre­set modes. There’s an au­dio mode too, al­though it’s cur­rently still in beta sta­tus, which may ex­plain why it wasn’t par­tic­u­larly re­spon­sive, even when thump­ing out some AC/ DC. You can also set the lights to a sin­gle colour, in­clud­ing white, if you’re not fussed about any of

Four 11cm strips, mag­netic and self-ad­he­sive the ef­fects. Most im­por­tantly, the LEDs are su­per-bright, and with four strips, it’s easy to il­lu­mi­nate a large case.

Con­clu­sion

With 30cm LED strips re­tail­ing for be­tween £5-10 each, in­clud­ing four of th­ese strips as stan­dard, along with sev­eral ex­ten­sion ca­bles, this al­ready means the HUE+ isn’t bad value. How­ever, the in­clu­sion of a fully pro­gram­mable hub and soft­ware suite with per-RGB LED tweak­ing all for un­der than £50 inc VAT is quite a feat.

It’s a niche prod­uct, of course, and we’d make like to see more pre­sets – it would be easy to im­ple­ment a Knight Rider, for ex­am­ple. If you want to pimp out your pride and joy at the next LAN event, though, or sim­ply want to own a sin­gle set of LED strips that you can colour-match to cur­rent and fu­ture sys­tems, the HUE+ is ex­actly what you need.

The strips have self-ad­he­sive pads and built-in mag­netic strips

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