Understanding RGB Ecosystems

by Author: James D.T.J. July 28, 2018

What is RGB and How can it Add to Your Gaming Experience

Nowadays, if your gaming setup doesn’t have some sort of RGB integration—from fans, keyboards, to even your mousepad—it’s probably intentional. RGB lighting is nearly unavoidable, that’s how common it has become.

But if you are just getting into the RGB craze, don’t worry, you aren’t too late. With a little guidance, you too can experience the immersive feeling you get from the in-game lighting alerts, screen follower modes, and the pride from creating your own unique RGB atmosphere.

So if we are looking to add RGB for the first time, where do we get started? 

Can I add RGB to the hardware I already have? Or, do I need to start fresh and buy “RGB-ready” components?

What kind of software do I need to install?

Luckily for us, it’s now easier than ever to get your RGB project rolling, and I’m here to help you through it all.

But first, let’s dive in by first talking about what RGB lighting is.

AN OVERVIEW OF RGB LIGHTING


RGB LEDs

A single RGB LED light is capable of producing virtually any color. It’s able to accomplish this because an RGB LED is actually a combination of three smaller LEDs: 1 Red, 1 Green, and 1 Blue (hence the name “RGB”).

If you want your light to display the color blue, it simply activates the smaller blue light while fully dimming the other two. The same goes for when you want to display red or green.

If you want to display a different color from those three, then the three lights are combined at different intensities to create one overall color.

Since the tiny lights are so close together, when we perceive a single LED light, all we see is the overall color, as opposed to its three individual components.

Pretty straightforward, right?

When it comes to controlling the lights, your exact setup will determine how that’s accomplished. Typically, if an RGB ecosystem doesn’t require the installation of new drivers, then you’re instead required to download a specific controller app or software.

“This can be partially attributed to manufacturers gearing more towards gamers”

Either way, you’re then able to control the lights manually or program specific colors to display in specific patterns.

But before we discuss hardware and software, let’s get a better understanding of the difference between RGB and ARGB.

RGB & ARGB

To get exactly what you want out of your RGB ecosystem, it's important to know the difference between an RGB LED system and an ARGB one.

Standard RGBs only display one color at a time. For example, on an LED strip, if the colors are programmed to shift from red to blue and back again, every light on the strip will change from red to blue at once. No matter what effect you program in (transitions, pulses, etc.), every light will always be the exact same color at the exact same time—changing at the exact same time, too. It's been described as an "all-or-nothing" set-up.

However, nowadays ARGB (Addressable RGB) is more commonly found in components and peripherals. With ARGBs, each LED section of lights can differ in color, intensity, or pattern. They don't need to light, dim, and transition as one, like standard, non-addressable RGBs. Essentially, ARGBs provide all the same effects of RGBs but with infinitely more options for customization. The trade-off, however, is that they're generally more expensive and complex, hardware-wise (and they can use up more electrical power).

So, if you're a beginner to RGB lighting, it may be a good idea to get your feet wet with standard RGBs first. Then, if you're happy with it but you find yourself wanting more, give an ARGB system a shot.

RGB HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE

It used to be that adding lighting features to a PC case took far more work than it does today—this can be partially attributed to manufacturers gearing more towards gamers’ demands.

Some manufacturers even offer parts that come with RGB LEDs preinstalled, saving you the trouble of setting up an RGB ecosystem yourself. Even some components that don’t have LEDs preinstalled will still come with the hardware capabilities to add them later. This gives you the option to add an RGB system yourself and will make your job easier than if you were using a component without these features (for example, a motherboard may come with integrated lines for future RGB systems).

You can also acquire special kits to install the lights, depending on what components you are looking to add or replace—simply install the kit and necessary drivers and control apps to control the RGB lights, and you’re good to go.

Basically, these kits make it easier for you to set up your RGB ecosystem by doing a lot of the work for you. The types of kits vary greatly and will depend on exactly what sort of lighting system you’re looking for—taking into consideration whether you want to control it via hardware or software, and how creative you want your lighting array to be.

After reading through this article and making some decisions on exactly the kind of RGB ecosystem you’re looking for, you’ll know what type of kit is best for you.

If you’re building your PC, then you may find yourself with LED-compatible parts from different manufacturers.

Now, being able to control your RGB lights is important—you want to be able to determine the color, the flashing pattern, and so on.

However, if you’re building your PC, then you may find yourself with LED-compatible parts from different manufacturers. If that’s the case, then coordinating the lights may prove to be a challenge (especially if each LED-equipped component comes with its own control app). So you want to be aware of what components are compatible for the software or driver you are using so you can synchronize your hardware.

Thankfully, you can now find third-party components (such as those being developed for Razer Chroma lighting [https://www.razer.com/chroma]) which are able to synchronize with all of your integrated LEDs, allowing you to control all of them at once. These are not hard to find and are a must if your LED-compatible components do in fact come with a variety of methods for controlling them.

It’s an effective way of incorporating RGB LEDs into your PC.

So if you’re building your own PC, you have lots of options—but what if you’re interested in RGB lighting but you’re not necessarily looking to build your own PC right now? Well, luckily, you have the option of purchasing and installing modular LED strips—cuttable, peel and stick lights that allow you to design you RGB whichever way your imagination may lead you.

These light strips (available from a variety of manufacturers) can be installed on the inside of a PC case fairly easily.
At that point, all you need to do is connect them to a USB header on the motherboard (or anywhere, really—your preference!), and download/install supporting power and software control (which is also readily available). It’s an effective way of incorporating RGB LEDs into your PC if simplicity is a priority for you.

A physical lighting controller will allow you the same control.

OK, so we’ve covered the option of controlling your LEDs with software (with drivers and control apps/software).

Now let’s take a look at the hardware approach.

To both power and synchronize your PC’s LED components, you’ll need a dedicated lighting controller (in the same way that your PC’s fan requires a fan controller to regulate its power, spin speeds, etc). A physical lighting controller will allow you the same control as the previously explored software options.

Since LED lighting makes use of your motherboard’s USB header, you’ll need to ensure that you have space for your new lighting controller. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a workaround (thankfully, there are plenty of them out there). Fortunately, installing a light controller is a fairly easy process, and shouldn’t cause you much trouble—even if you’re a stranger to these sorts of projects.

WHAT HAS VIEWSONIC BEEN DOING WITH RGB?

Well, since you asked…ViewSonic ELITE, the parent companies gaming sub-brand, started off the 2019 year by releasing two new gaming monitors—the 24-inch full HD, XG240R gaming monitor, which features a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time; and the 35-inch UltraWide XG350R-C curved gaming monitor.

(You can find full descriptions of these latest additions on the product page, here.)


XG240R

XG250R-C

Both of these gaming monitors are integrated with RGB accent lighting on the back panel that can be synched with other peripherals and when using our partner’s software, gives users the ability to create custom RGB lighting—allowing YOU take full control over your RGB gaming environment.

Explore the many features, customize lighting effects, and optimize your gaming experience with screen follower modes and in-game alerts, along with much, much more. The possibilities for creating your own unique gaming station are endless.

With more partnerships coming soon, so far ViewSonic Elite RGB monitors are compatible with the following partner’s software and products:

Follow the links above to learn more about our partner’s software features and capabilities.

Oh, and check out this video to see the new XG240R in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnmzR4ZHjtw     

WELL, IS THAT ALL?

Taking everything we’ve talked about thus far into consideration, there are only a few questions we have left to answer.

When it comes down to it, here's the simple truth about RGB ecosystems:

Are they necessary? No, not at all.
But are they cool? YES.
Can they be a great addition to your gaming atmosphere? Absolutely!

Seeing a PC set-up (especially a custom-built one) with an RGB ecosystem in full display is immediately impressive. It's a way to showcase your pride in the work you've put into your PC.

And as we've learned today, an RGB ecosystem really isn't difficult to acquire.

The fact of the matter is, you can take your PC from just "functional" to "functional AND beautiful" with ease!

So if you're looking to show off your pride in your PC, or even if you just want to create a beautiful external custom display, then an RGB ecosystem seems right for you!

Be sure to check out ViewSonic ELITE’s latest RGB advancements, too!

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