Corsair is generally perceived as a pioneer of RGB lighting in PCs – it was the first manufacturer to develop, in coordination with Cherry MX, a mechanical keyboard with a rainbow glow through the keycaps.
It wasn’t easy because a special LED had to be designed, to fit in the keyboard PCB, yet it gave a start kick to the growth of this technology.
Today, RGB lighting is available in practically every hardware piece, from motherboards, cooling or fans to cases or even SSDs. Peripherals such as headsets, mice or keyboards are often illuminated today, too, but the new era has come with new standards.
Today, we no longer ask ‘Does this have RGB?’, but rather ‘What kind of RGB does it have?’. This is because the LED technology has progressed, and now in addition to continuously lit, simply controlled LEDs, we have addressable systems (ARGB), capable of delivering extra effects corresponding to what is happening in the game or in the components themselves, through the motherboard or advanced drivers.
You can also align the lighting with music and set up customized effects, flowing across the entire workstation, from the PC components through your mouse, keyboard, headset, sometimes even up to the monitor. In this material, I will show you how to build such a system, how it should be software synced, and which item numbers to pick for a nice integration.
Step one – PC components
Based on observation of the PC market, you can clearly see that people in Poland would most commonly look for PCs priced at max. PLN 3000. Is it possible to get a combination of an interesting look with competitive performance for that price? Of course it is, you just need to design all of it carefully.
The most prominent PC components are RAM sticks, fans, cooling, motherboard, and graphics card. Sometimes there is also the case on the list, which may have a separate lighting system, e.g. integrated in the front panel.
If your budget is limited to PLN 3000, you will have to make some sacrifices for a good performance/visual balance. After all, everyone wants to keep playing new titles as long as possible, at the maximum available graphics settings, without having to continuously pay more money.
Therefore, you should choose RAM with integrated RGB, as a central part of the whole PC, together with illuminated fans delivered together with the case. The latter is nice in that when you buy it, you will ultimately pay less than for an ordinary case with fans additionally selected off the shelf.
As regards the graphics card, you should focus on performance first, and therefore you will need a more balanced design in terms of visual impression, with good sound and cooling qualities. If you pick more expensive models just for their looks, for the sake of performance, it’s like a shot in the foot in this price range: here, a 20% price difference can give you more than 40% performance boost if you pick a simpler model with a better chip on board.
Your motherboard will not be particularly trendy in terms of RGB, either – it’s a better idea to pick a simpler model capable of supporting a 6-core CPU than to pay more for colors and worry about a lagging PC for the years ahead.
Cutting costs on a system SSD will have bad consequences as well: 256 GB is a decent minimum, combined with a classic 1 TB HDD for games and other data resources. It is probably the most popular setup in the Polish market, particularly in the perspective of the approaching RAM price raises as a consequence of the Wuhan virus.
This kind of approach to building an affordable, visually attractive PC is very well demonstrated by the Actina PBM, priced at PLN 2800, featuring AMD Ryzen 5 2600 and GTX 1650 S, based on MSI components.
If you still have some PLN 200 to spare, you can order extra cooling for your illuminated CPU, such as the SilentiumPC Fera 3 RGB, which will be a good contribution to your PC’s attractive look.
If you sum up the costs of a similar configuration from a competitor, you will find that you can save almost PLN 180 on a ready-made machine from Actina, which will be a truly functional machine and not just a heap of parts stacked in a box.
This is quite acceptable, yet only RAM lighting can be combined with MSI peripherals in this case. It is still not bad – your PC will make a much more gaming impression than with the boring ordinary RAM sticks, so your ultimate goal is achieved.
As soon as a higher price range is reached, there is a major improvement in the PC’s visual quality. If you have PLN 6300 at your disposal, you can afford some illuminated madness, and side and front glass panels.
In this model, fan lighting is already addressable, meaning that you can use it to generate the effects I discussed earlier. The watercooling block pump is also encircled by a colorful glow, forming a nice visual effect together with the RAM sticks and the flashing logo panel.
You can see this is not a demo PC, designed for desktop expo instead of actual work. No wonder – this model was built for the purpose of esports events and more!
Step 2 – software and peripherals
Here, we operate on the basis of the Dragon team’s ecosystem. So we need to start with choosing peripherals compatible with MSI Mystic Light. I am well aware of the fact that the RGB models are not in the lowest price range, yet many users tend to pick them just because of such user-friendly, simple integration.
These products are also competitive in terms of quality when compared to leading market vendors.
The MSI Clutch GM50 features a precise sensor and ergonomic shape; the MSI GK50 Low Profile mechanical keyboard delivers a lot of fun with its speedy and resistant keys; and the MSI GM50 headset is large and comfortable, capable of playing full-ranged sound with its 40mm transducers.
The only thing you need for a full RGB splendor is an illuminated pad, which is where the MSI AGILITY GD60 comes in. It cannot be software synced, yet you can set the preferred mode with a switch.
Let us now proceed to using the MSI Mystic Light software, delivered with the MSI Dragon Centre pack.
As you can see, it is extremely easy to create an integrated lighting effect for all the Dragon team’s hardware units – you just need to click the large icon to the right. Then you just pick your favorite effect and color from the list.
When you have set all the visual aspects, you can create a customized profile on this basis and save it for the future, to keep experimenting with lighting in the future, with unlimited options at stake.
RGB lighting synchronization – summary
In 2020, RGB lighting is practically at every user’s reach, provided that the user can spend +3000 PLN on the whole PC set. This technology’s entrance threshold used to be much higher, because such pioneers as Corsair or Razer have never cut their prices to a level acceptable for most consumers.
This is why I picked the Dragon team’s hardware units for this user guide – I just know you will be able to gradually build a complete pack without ruining your household budget. RGB sync is not just for very rich buyers any more, which I find really satisfying.