NZXT HUE+ Review
Here at pcG we concentrate our efforts at looking a PC Gaming hardware only, this sees us look at everything from Cases through to Graphics Cards and Monitors through to Mice; but this next product doesn’t really fit into any of our existing categories! But I think it’s still pretty important to take a look at this, the NZXT HUE+.
Now the first question of course is what is the NZXT HUE+? But even that is hard to answer, but in short it’s a illumination system for PC cases or ‘Advanced PC Illumination’ in NZXT’s words. In fact it’s a kit of components that allows you to install an RGB lighting system into any PC Case, as long as you have power and a free 2.5″ drive bay, oh and a USB 2.0 header on your Motherboard! In fact (see below) we have NZXT’s own words that help describe the HUE+ in a little more detail…
The NZXT HUE+ arrived at pcG in a really rather small box, with an image on the front that doesn’t even seem to suggest that this product is all about PC illumination! Luckily the brand name, product name and description ‘Advanced PC Illumination’, come to the rescue, well a little anayway… In the far left corner we also find the symbol that’s associated with NZXT’s CAM software.
The back of the box does indeed provide more information, highlighting that the ‘HUE+ is an advanced digitally controlled lighting solution’. There’s also an image of the CAM software that’s used to control the system along with a few images and associated descriptions. At the base of the back of the box we find five further images highlighting the following:
Within the outer box we find two (rather unassuming) inner boxes that are held together with a simple cardboard strap, sounds a little basic but actually looks kind of cool…
One of the boxes contains all of the necessary cabling etc. While the other box houses the main (2.5″) HUE+ control box itself and the LED strips, four in total.
As you can see from the image above left, there’s a lot of cables included with the HUE+, but not all are required to make it work! In addition to the cabling we also find a simple What’s in the Box and Installation guide as well as the main control unit itself and the four LED lighting strips, as well as four screws for securing the unit to a spare 2.5″ drive bay.
At the time of writing the NZXT HUE+ is retailing for approximately £53 at Overclockers UK and comes with a 2 year warranty.
courtesy of NZXT
|Output LED Quantity||Up to 40 per channel|
|LED Strip Width||10mm|
|Output Channel Voltage||DC 5V|
|Dimensions||100mm x 70mm x 23.5mm|
|Included Accessories||1 x 500 mm Extension cable
1 x 300mm Extension cable
2 x 100mm Extension cable
4 x Screws
5 x Cable ties
|Material||Steel, Plastic, PCB|
|LED Color||Color changing RGB|
|Form Factor||2.5″ Drive Bay|
|Connections||4 x LED Strip
1 x Molex Power
1 x Internal micro-USB cable
2 x 500mm Connection cable
|Mounting||HUE+ Body: Screws
LED Strip: Magnets and 3M Tape
|LED Modes||Presets: Static, Fading, Breathing, Marquee, Covering Marquee, Alternating, Spectrum Wave, Pulse
Smart: CPU Temperature, GPU Temperature, FPS
Custom: Customize each LED
Audio (Beta): HUE+ reacts to the changing audio output from your PC
|LED Strip Length||300mm, 10-LED|
|Control Method||CAM Software|
|Input Connector||5V Molex 4-pin connector|
First impressions of the NZXT HUE+ are well a little boring to be honest, well for as long as there’s no illumination anyway! 😉 In all honesty the little box of tricks (the Controller) looks good enough to me and I rather like the fact that it’s designed to fit in a 2.5″ drive bay. All that wiring though does scare me a little, as none of us really like cables, right!? I’m guessing that the first task of the installation is going to be a planning stage…
As you may be able to see (above left) the control box actually has an illuminated section on its angular top, this lights up white when the system is powered up. The HUE+ comes with four 300mm LED lighting strips, each strip consists of ten LEDs, is equipped with four magnets and also has a sticky back (peel away film) just in case (haha) your Case isn’t made from metal.
Looking at the back of the NZXT HUE+ there’s very little to see, other than the fact that it can be mounted by way of the four screws holes, one in each corner, screws also provided. This allows the unit to be mounted in a 2.5″ drive bay, although it’s worth noting the control unit is significantly higher than an SSD at approximately 23mm.
All of the cables that come with the NXT HUE+ are shown above right and are broken down further below…
The cables can be broken down into three main types: The first (above left) are the two main power/control cables, there’s one Molex power connector cable and one USB control cable that needs to be connected to a Motherboard USB 2.0 header. I must admit I’m not a fan of Molex connectors (I see it as a blast from the past) and would have preferred to have seen a (modern) SATA power connector instead, as these are now more commonly used, and you’re already likely to be using one in your case.
The second set of cables are effectively nothing more than extension cables, these consist of x2 100mm, x1 300mm and x1 500mm lengths. These are supplied so you can position the LED strips themselves at the desired position around your case, otherwise you’d just end up with a single long line of LEDs! 😮
The last two cables (above right) are the two main control cables for the two channels that the HUE+ supports. These must be connected directly to the control unit and in-turn can then be connected to the LED strips (or the extension cables) themselves.
So far so good then everything supplied seems to be well made and there’s plenty of cables allowing you to position the LED strips where you want. As I will be installing the HUE+ in an NZXT H440 case (made from steel) the magnets on the LED strips should also prove most useful, we shall see shall we…
For installation purposes I will be using the latest edition of the award winning NZXT H440 case. I will be installing a full system into the case including a couple of Graphics Cards to really show off what a full illuminated system could look like. With just four LED strips supplied (which is actually plenty to be honest!) the first task was to decide where each strip was going to be placed. Obviously this will vary from Case to Case.
Obviously I spent some time with the side window on and off to best ascertain where to place the four 300mm LED strips. I ended up with one on the right hand side, effectively on the drive cage area, one in the floor at the base of the left panel and two in the roof. All strips were pre-fitted first and all were held in place by the magnets that are contained within the LED strips themselves. I was actually quite surprised how well the magnets bound to the body of the case, of course using the additional sticky backs would ensure a better fit. Although I have to admit, that I cannot give an opinion on how sticky, the sticky backs are (soz)…
With the four LED strips in place, and nothing else in the system I set about cabling up. The first task was to fit the four cables to the back of the main control unit. This consisted of the main power cable, the USB 2.0 control cable and the two main channel cables, one for each channel (see above left).
The unit was then mounted to one of the dedicated 2.5″/SSD mounts at the bottom of the NZXT H440’s motherboard area (above the PSU), in an attempt to at least show it off a little. Don’t forget that the top of the unit illuminates when powered on, although this can now be turned off, via the CAM software, if you so wish.
Cabling up was actually pretty easy, far easier than I thought anyway. I used just two extension cables to effectively split the lighting in the top of the case into two. I also used both channels, one channel powered the lower (in the bottom of the case) LED strip, while the other channel powered the other three strips (top and side).
PLEASE NOTE: Each cable has a small white arrow on it, which at first I ignored, that was until I powered the system on and had no illumination! 😮 Then I read the instructions, that informed me that the arrow on each cable needs to line up with the black strip (what black strip, I didn’t see no strip!) on the side of each cable! With that done my world was suddenly illuminated! As we all know it’s always good to read the instructions, even if you think you know better, James! 😉
By default when the PC is booted for the first time all of the LEDs illuminate white (as does the LED atop the control box) and assuming the CAM software is not installed you have no control either. Once the CAM software (get it here) is installed you get control and one of the first tasks of the installed software was to update the control unit’s firmware. This actually took almost 5 minutes, just so you know…
NZXT have no doubt been very busy beavering away with their CAM software and it now looks better than ever. Not only is there support for the new HUE+ system, but there’s a host of monitoring tools with an FPS overlay also, similar to MSI’s Afterburner. We are of course interested in the functionality of the HUE+ system. Buy default when selecting the HUE+ tab at the top of the window you’re greeted with the image above left. Here you can see that I have connected one LED strip to Channel 1 and three LED strips to Channel 2. You can also see that I have (via the CONFIGURE LEDS) options changed the single LED strip to yellow and the three to red and that the HUE+ Unit Light is On.
All of the really good stuff though is in the CONFIGURE LEDS option, selecting this takes you to the screen above right and this is where all the magic happens. Here you can change the colour of any of the Channels, note you cannot change the colour of different LED strips on the same Channel. And yes more Channels would be nice! You can also choose from a variety of effects such as Breathing, Marquee and Spectrum Wave (see images/video below). There’s also options for Smart control (lighting controlled by CPU/GPU temp etc), Custom control and even an Audio control where the LEDs react to sound! All very cool stuff indeed… 🙂 The CAM software is also easy to use and well laid out and nicely presented, the only thing I would say is that by default creating Profiles seems a little confusing so it’s best to rename any Profile you create, so you can keep track of what’s what.
It’s difficult to ascertain the level of hardware performance for the NZXT HUE+, but simply put it does exactly what it says on the tin. That’s as long as you read the instructions and ensure that the white arrow on the plugs line up with the black strip on the cables… 😉
|The images above are showing off the Spectrum Wave setting that’s simply one of the plethora of options available. As you can see the effect is pretty good, but to get the full effect it’s best to take a quick look at this video as it gives you a better idea! Please accept my apologies for the quality, but LED lighting is a hard thing to capture, well it was for me anyway! 😉 Also note that this simply shows off one of the more impressive effects and there are many more options available…|
The NZXT HUE+ can be summed up with simply one word, and that word is wow! If you like a bit of LED lighting (and who doesn’t!) in your case then the HUE+ is exactly what you’re looking for; it’s easy to install, easy to setup and looks fantastic!
The NZXT HUE+ arrived at pcG in a small, somewhat unassuming box that gave little away as to what was inside. Within we found the main 2.5″ control unit and a its array of cables (inc four LED strips) to be both well packaged and nicely presented. Out of the box the unit allows you to control up to two channels and NZXT provides a total of four LED strips. Each LED strip can be simply daisy-chained together either with more LED strips or by way of any of the supplied extension cables.
At first there seems a lot of cabling and I guess there is and none of us really like adding more cables to our beautifully built Gaming systems, but I guess this is simply the nature of this beast. The fact that the LED strips have magnets is a real boon for steel Cases (such as the NXT H440 we used), if your case is made from aluminium/plastic then you’ll have to use the sticky backs I’m afraid. Once I had decided where to place the control unit, the LED strips and how to channel them up (I went for one strip on one channel and three on the other, see main review) it was time to wire everything up! 😮
This was actually far easier than I thought, helped by the fact that I installed the HUE+ lighting system into the H440 Case before I installed anything else. I used just a couple of extension cables to install (and separate) the three LED strips in the top/side of the case. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to read the instructions and ‘align the edge with the white arrow on extension cable to the edge with black line on the LED strips’. 😉 With this done you can then go ahead and install the CAM software.
The CAM software is both easy to use and well laid out and there’s also a host of in-built options and effects for you to choose from, there’s even one that allows the LED strips to react to sound (although it claims to be in Beta, but it does work!). The end result is simply dazzling and if you like LED lighting (and who doesn’t!?) then you are going to be pretty happy with this setup. In fact the CAM software also brings a host of useful monitoring to the table along with a useful FPS overlay too.
There’s very little to dislike about of the NZXT HUE+ other than that pesky Molex connector (sorry just don’t like them) that really should be a SATA power connector IMHO! And maybe the price… But simply put there’s nothing else quite like the NZXT HUE+ and I for one will definitely be using it in my own personal Rig from now on. So if you fancy a little more light in your life, then the NZXT HUE+ may just be exactly what you’re looking for, even my wife approves… 😉
Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…
Many thanks to NZXT for providing this sample for review