Gaming accessories such as keyboards, headsets, and controllers have changed a lot over the past few decades, not only to provide better ergonomics and functionality, but also to keep up with current style trends.
One of the most common phrases you might see is “RGB lighting” because having colored LED lights in your setup has become more popular, but there are some unfortunate pitfalls you could fall into. if you’re not careful.
Let me explain. “RGB” stands for “Red Green Blue”, a type of color space used in additive color synthesis on displays to create a wide spectrum of other colors using a mixture of red, green and blue LED lights. LEDs first appeared in the 1960s in red, followed by green and then orange/yellow, but it was not until much later that the ability to create other colors was developed.
The inventor of the blue LED (which finally arrived in the 1990s) received a Nobel Prize in 2014 because blue was the final color required to manufacture almost any color when mixed with other LEDs. This technology has revolutionized things like TVs and computer monitors, but we can also see it applied in other areas, such as color-changing bulbs from brands like Philips Hue.
In the world of gaming peripherals and accessories, RGB has also become associated with flashy rainbow lights which can sometimes be customized to match your existing setup. If your gaming keyboard has a backlight that switches between a specific shade of green and blue, you can also extend it to other RGB compatible peripherals like your gaming mouse or even in the build of the PC itself.
This customization is prevalent in many well-known gaming brands such as Razer, MSI, and Asus, all of which have software available such as Razer Chroma, MSI Mystic Light, and Asus Aura that can be used to sync your choice of lighting style and effects on the rest of your devices, provided they are compatible with the same software.
What to pay attention to when buying RGB products
Thing is, just because something is labeled as an RGB-enabled product doesn’t mean you get that customization ability, and it’s possible that some manufacturers and retailers are using it as a loophole to nab unsuspecting consumers.
In most cases, you still get the recognizable rainbow lights, but without proper software to control them or change the color beyond the presets built into the product itself. If you bought, say, a new headset stand with built-in RGB lighting, you might not be able to configure it to match the rest of your gaming PC.
In the case of the above image taken from an IFYOO RGB gaming headset support list, the brand has been very advanced with product limitations, and the information is also clear on the product description, with only four color presets available. If you wanted the headphone stand to show a pink or orange light, it doesn’t have that capability.
However, there are many a lot more online ads where this information is not clearly available, either hidden in the fine print or in the product description, or in some cases not available on the ad at all.
There are also cases where a product will be listed with the phrase “customizable RGB” when in reality this customization is limited to switching between manual presets. You might feel lied to if a product arrived and didn’t have the features you expected, but as long as the purchase uses the RGB color model, the seller is doing nothing wrong.
How not to get caught
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to avoid disappointment. If you already have a branded device from one of the brands we mentioned earlier like Razer and Asus, chances are other devices from that company that are labeled as RGB will also follow the same customization, so if you want a new gaming mouse that has lighting that can sync with your existing Razer keyboard, just looking to buy a Razer mouse.
That said, these brands can be quite expensive, so if you’re low on funds and want the same customization features, you might not want to waste a stack of cash on a premium branded gaming accessory. Luckily, there are other brand name accessories that might work with your existing hardware.
On the listings, look for phrases such as “works with MSI Mystic Light” or any other software you use to manage your RGB lighting. This feature is unlikely to be hidden given its marketing potential, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
Likewise, keep an eye out for the actual lighting capabilities of the product you are looking to purchase. In many cases, you get the standard fluid rainbow setting and then a handful of solid color options, which should be clearly available on the page. If the product is advertised as “RGB” but does not mention the available color presets OR the customization and management software it is compatible with, we suggest you stay away.
We also have to mention that just because some of these products don’t allow full customization doesn’t mean they evil. If you’ve set everything to the usual rainbow vomit or it comes with a preset color that you’d default to anyway, there’s no reason for you to avoid them. Just be sure to carefully read all the information available to you before making a purchase and avoid assumptions about what RGB lighting on gaming accessories actually means.