(Pocket-lint) - You've got an amazing gaming machine and a dedicated play space to enjoy it in, but if you've already upgraded your gaming PC to the max, what else can you do to improve your gaming area? Other than adding a beer fridge, a foot massager and a fancy gaming chair of course.
We've been on the lookout for ways to enhance our gaming experience to make it just that little bit snazzier. Turns out there are a number of pretty awesome bits of kit you can add to your system to make it even more incredible. Some of them are even just software updates too.
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Philips Hue Light Sync
A while ago, Philips announced a new update to its smart lighting range that allowed for the creation of "Entertainment Areas" in your home where lights could be synced with your TV if you had the right equipment.
Now, an update to Philips Hue Light Sync means you can easily setup Hue lights to respond to what's happening on your PC or Mac.
For gamers, this means immersive and reactive lighting which changes according to what's happening in the game you're playing.
If you already own Philips Hue lights then setup is a breeze. Simply download the Philips Hue Sync tool for your computer, connect it to your Hue bridge, setup and entertainment area to include the right lights and you're away.
The settings here allow you to do everything from getting the lights to respond to general screen use, games, music and video, as well as adjusting how the lights respond to each. If you have a multi-screen setup you can choose your preferred screen for the app to respond to and even set up keyboard shortcuts for quickly switching between modes.
This setup works with any colour Philips Hue lights you have in your gaming area, so it's an easy setup to get started with.
If you don't have any lights currently, we'd recommend purchasing a Philips Hue LightStrip and Bridge kit. This is an excellent way to add back-lighting to your gaming area and really enhance your gaming experience.
NZXT HUE 2 V2 Ambient RGB lighting kit
- Customisable RGB lighting strips for PC gaming
- Software controlled custom lighting options
- Up to 40 LEDs total
- Fits various size monitors
If you're the sort of person that loves bright, colourful backlighting for your gaming monitor, then NZXT has the solution for you.
The NZXT HUE 2 V2 Ambient RGB lighting kit includes right RGB capable LED strips that allow you to backlight your monitor with ease. These strips come in different lengths with up to 10 LEDs per strip. You can also purchase different kits for different sized monitors so HUE 2 caters to everything from 21-inch monitors to 35-inch ultra wides.
HUE 2 V2 is an upgraded version of a previous kit that's now even easier to install.
The kit comes with cleaning wipes, a handful of LED strips, a control box and power cables.
The installation process simply requires you to run the strips across the top and sides of the rear of your monitor. Those strips then connect to a control box that plugs into your PC and a power supply.
These sticky-backed RGB strips are, for the most part, a doddle to install. Easy to follow instructions show you where best to fit the varying length strips depending on your monitor size to get the most out of the lighting. We fitted the kit to a 34-inch ultra-wide monitor and used HUE 2 to fill our desk and surroundings with glorious RGB lighting.
Clever design features mean you can tidy the cables away mostly out of sight, including sticking the control box to the back of the monitor. The newly updated kit also includes 90-degree connection boxes which makes them far easier to install. There's no need to try to bend the cables into awkward angles to get it to fit and the whole thing is essentially a plug-and-play affair.
Once installed and plugged in, these lights can then be controlled via the CAM software.
The software gives access to a variety of customisation options which make this kit highly flexible. Lighting options include numerous colour presets that can be customised according to your liking. Including the ability to tweak it over two different channels and set to anything from fixed colours to breathing, fading, pulsing, or waving in a variety of colours that includes rainbow options.
More intelligent lighting options include setting the lights to change colour according to your PCs stats - adjusting to show temperature changes in your graphics card or CPU, for example.
If you're obsessed with frame rates, but don't want a counter constantly displaying while you game, you can even set the lights to change according to the FPS you're getting.
The HUE 2 V2 Ambient lighting kit also allows you to sync with music and audio according to levels, bass or gain. If that's not enough, you can also take advantage of settings to respond to in-game goings on. This is also our favourite feature. Known as "Ambient mode" this setting changes the colours along the edges of the monitor to match what's on your screen. That means if there's a bright sunny day in the game world, you get a nice blue hue on the top of your monitor and a green grass glow at the bottom. That ambient lighting then increases or decrease in brightness and colour to match your surroundings. This feature makes for a surprisingly more immersive experience in your favourite games and really lits up the room nicely too.
The ambient mode works in Windows too, so you can even stream Netflix with a pleasant synchronised backlit view.
If you want a fully customisable lighting system that won't break the bank, this is it. At around $99.99/£89.99 this is an affordable system that's a great addition to your gaming space.
Corsair iCUE LS100 Smart Lighting Strips
- Starter kit includes 2 x 450 mm strips and 2 x 250 mm light strips with 84 total RGB LEDs
- Built-in light diffusers
- iCue compatible with lighting link syncing across Corsair products
- Simple installation and expansion
If you're invested in the Corsair RGB ecosystem or even if you just want some awesomely atmospheric RGB lighting for the back of your monitor, the iCue LS100 kit may be the solution for you.
This kit is different from other monitor backlighting systems on this list in a number of ways. Firstly the strips are not the traditional LED strips you're used to seeing but instead are diffused ambient lighting strips that are crammed full of LED lights.
These strips fit on the back of your monitor using a mix of 3M stickers and magnets and are (by far) the easiest we've used. Though the installation process is a bit fiddly at first it's easy to adjust the strips and the location of the magnets to ensure a secure fit on the rear of your monitor so they're not constantly falling off.
Two large 450mm strips run across the top and bottom of your monitor, with two shorter 250mm strips along the sides. These then all loop into a control box that then connects to your gaming machine.
The kit is also expandable with additional purchases to get it to fit across dual monitor setups and larger monitors too. We tested it out on a 49-inch Samsung super ultra-wide monitor and managed to use the standard starter kit and a 450mm expansion kit to fill our gaming area with fantastic backlighting.
This lighting kit is also compatible with Corsair's iCue software, meaning you can sync it with other Corsair peripherals, fans, RGB strips and more. Within the software, you can also set the lighting to respond to the lights and colours on your screen (thus syncing with your games) or to visualise audio of music or game sounds.
Our favourite part of this system is the built-in diffusers which spread the light out and fill your desk, walls and room with a satisfying glow.
Corsair light syncing
- RGB lighting across various gaming peripherals
- Lighting sync via Corsair iCue software
- Fully customisable lighting settings
- Dynamic lighting based on in-game events
If you've seen our guide to building your own gaming PC, then you know that Corsair offers a number of RGB fans and lighting options for your machine. These work as brilliant upgrades to your gaming rig or as part of the build when you're initially putting it all together.
Like other gaming peripheral manufacturers, Corsair also sells gaming mice, headsets and keyboards that support RGB lighting. Now, with a recent update to the company's software, you can synchronise lighting across all these devices.
The new Corsair iCue software allows you to create lighting effects that work across each of your devices. Whether that's ensuring all the colours match or watching as lights move across the keyboard and mouse into your case and then back out again.
There are a variety of different settings and effects available here and we have to say, they're all pretty awesome. Especially if you're a fan of RGB lighting customisation. A mass of customisation options means you can program your setup just the way you like it and even change it depending on what you're doing.
These updates also include compatibility with certain games, which mean the game can change your lighting to affect your experience as you play.
In Far Cry 5, for example, the lighting initially glow in the colours of the Stars and Stripes when you load up the game, but turn a haze of red when you've been spotted by enemies or are in danger. Subtle or not, this lighting syncing and dynamic adjustment are impressive, incredible and a brilliant upgrade to any gaming setup.
We were running the Corsair K95 Platinum, Corsair Glaive mouse and the LL120 RGB fans and RGB lighting strips for testing and the results are certainly spectacular. If you already have Corsair hardware, it's easy enough to download the new software - which replaces the previous Corsair Cue and Corsair Link software and puts all the controls in one place.
Nanoleaf light panels
- Customisable RGB lighting panels
- Google Home, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT compatible
- Works with Apple HomeKit
If custom lighting appeals, then Nanoleaf is another excellent option for upgrading your gaming area. Nanoleaf is a fully customisable lighting system which is consists of triangular lighting panels which snap together in various different configurations. The limitations of which are mostly your imagination and the size of your wallet.
These panels are app-controlled via Apple or Android smartphones but are also compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT meaning there's plenty of flexibility options. This gives you the power not only to customise the lighting the way you want it via your phone, but also to control it with your voice or setup actions for the lights to react in certain ways - turning on at certain hours, turning off when you go to bed, etc.
Not only can these lighting panels improve your gaming area with enhanced lighting options, but they can also add to your gaming experience too. The Nanoleaf starter kit includes the Rhythm upgrade module which plugs into any of the panels and changes the lighting according to the sounds it picks up - whether that's music playing in the room or gaming sounds blasting out of your speakers.
You can adjust the colours of the lights easily within the app and even choose from a selection of different shades to cycle through in rhythm mode. The results are pretty spectacular.
We love how easy this system is to use too. The light triangles have a port on each side where a small cardboard circuit slots into. These then slot together allowing you to create the various shapes. The panels stick to your wall with 3M stickers, so installation and mounting is a breeze. The system comes with an instruction book with suggested shapes, depending on how many panels you've purchased and you can also get suggestions from the app itself.
You can use the company's own layout generator tool to suggest patterns for your wall if you're stuck for ideas. We'd certainly recommend planning out the shape you want to use first, as the panels aren't easy to take down or move once they're stuck up on the wall.
You can also purchase various mounting accessories for a more secure fit or even allow for angled mounting, which is a nice addition if you want to go from wall-to-wall. An expansion kit is available to buy if the nine panels in the starter kit aren't enough or you can combine multiple starter kits for a magnificent multi-panel design.
These light panels offer support 16.7 million colours including a number of whites to mimic sunrise, sunset and brilliant daylight. You can fill them with one colour or choose from a selection of colours. User-submitted colour palettes are also available to easily download within the app and we loved simple designs like the twinkling of stars at night.
- Six-inch square touch-sensitive lighting panels
- Compatible with up to 500 panels
- Capable of 16.4 million colours
If you like the look of Nanoleaf light panels, then you'll also get excited by Nanoleaf Canvas. These are the new smart lighting panels from Nanoleaf which offer improved functionality with a slightly different design.
Canvas is made up of edge-to-edge light squares that, like the original panels, can be connected together to create all sorts of shapes and designs. The difference is you can use up to 500 Canvas panels and potentially fill an entire wall (or more) with brilliant smart lighting.
These smart lights are the perfect way to snazz-up your gaming area and add some really cool lighting that makes it stand out. With built-in microphones, Nanoleaf Canvas can also be set to react to sound in the room too, so you can make the lights dance to the sound of your games which really makes for interesting gaming sessions.
Nanoleaf Canvas is currently available to purchase directly from Nanoleaf here.
Razer and Nanoleaf Chroma compatibility
- Razer Synapse compatible
- Lighting sync across multiple devices
- Dynamic lighting across various games
If you're interested in Nanoleaf light panels and you're also a fan of Razer's gaming gear, then there's some good news as recent updates to both companies tech means these devices are now compatible in terms of the light syncing.
Within the Razer Synapse software, you have the ability to select Nanoleaf as a compatible "module" once that's done you can then sync the lighting within Chroma Studio. This means you can make the Canvas light panels match the lighting on your keyboard, choosing from the various lighting effects and even customising on a panel-by-panel basis.
You can also opt to sync that lighting with Razer Chroma compatible games (the list of which is constantly growing) for a more immersive and interesting gaming experience.
Another interesting highlight of this integration is if you have Nanoleaf Canvas panels, you can also customise the touch functionality to carry out actions on your PC - launching programs, skipping/pausing/playing music, activating a button on your keyboard, etc.
Razer and Philips Hue compatibility
- Razer Synapse compatible
- Lighting sync across multiple devices
- Dynamic lighting across various games
When Philips Hue Light Sync first arrived, Philips partnered with Razer to tie the lighting into the Razer Chroma ecosystem.
This means if you own Razer gaming mice, headsets or keyboards that are Chroma compatible then you can pair these up with Philips Hue lighting in your gaming area. We did this with the Philips Hue light strip and a number of spotlights and the results were pretty impressive.
Setup is pretty simple too. Firstly you need to add an "entertainment group" within the Philips Hue app, then connect the Philips Hue module within Razer's Synpase 3 software. The software then talks you through pairing with your Philips Hue bridge and then you're pretty much ready to go.
Once it's all setup, you can adjust the lighting to your liking. More importantly, when it's turned on your Razer gear and Philips Hue lighting will respond dynamically depending on what Razer Chroma compatible games you're playing.
Playing Worms W.M.D, for example, the Razer gear we were using turned a nice shade of red when we were blown up by enemy worms while during normal play the main keys were highlighted in different colours to make them easily accessible.
This system not only allows for a lot of lighting customisation, but allows for brilliant syncing across a number of devices. Razer also offers an RGB lighting system in the form of the Chroma Hardware Development Kit. This can be installed on your desk, inside your gaming machine or on the rear of monitors to offer some more synchronised lighting that's easily customisable within the Synapse software.