NZXT HUE+ Advanced PC Illumination LED Controller Review

NZXT HUE+ Advanced PC Illumination LED Controller Review

Are you looking to add custom LED lighting to your PC build? Our testing is complete and so far we've found nothing better than NZXT's HUE+.

@chad_sebring
Published Tue, Jan 12 2016 2:48 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 99%Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 24 IMAGES

Most of us started lighting cases with random LED pucks or strings of LEDs much like what goes on a tree in December, and there was also the choice of CCLF lighting. While they were all just fine and dandy at the time, chassis lighting has come a long way since then. Of course, many companies are offering many color strips of LEDs you can tape or magnetically stick inside of the chassis (as long as they are steel) offering users a new and slimmer style of lighting.

The NZXT HUE name is nothing new, in fact, NZXT took that original product and offered users one of the first customizable RGB LED sets to allow users to change the LED colors on a whim. Of course, this was a bay style device that had to stick out of the front of the chassis, but for control, you had to use three dials to adjust the color to what you want. NZXT took this idea back to the drawing board, and has come up with something much cleverer and allows this new system to be completely hidden from view.

NZXT send us their new HUE+ Advanced PC Illumination kit to get out opinion on, and just by looking at the box we see this is a much better device than the original. First of all the unit is shrunk down to the size of an SSD, and, in fact, is made to be installed into any drive location sporting 2.5" drive mounting holes. What makes this kit super simple to use is that once this device is connected and installed, you never have to touch the actual device again. This is because everything we are about to show you that the NZXT HUE+ is capable of doing, is all just a few clicks away using their well-known CAM software. With everything made so easy on the user, even at this early stage, we cannot see how NZXT could have gone wrong here.

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The HUE+ we were sent offers two individual channels that can be controlled separately for the multi-zone lighting of your PC chassis. Each channel is capable of supporting four of the 10 LED strips for a total of 40 LEDs per side. The strips are 10mm wide and are standard to all the rest of the strips we have seen. Also, the HUE+ is 100mm long, 70mm wide, and stands 23.5mm thick, designed to fit right into a 2.5" drive bay. This design is comprised of parts made of plastic and steel, but they also include the PCB used in its makeup.

Along with the HUE+ hub of the system, you are also sent a lot of other goodies. It comes with four extension cables to be used between strips and come in 500mm, 300mm, and 100mm lengths. There are also screws provided that allows the hub to be screwed into a drive tray, and NZXT also supplies five cable ties to help tend the new wiring into the chassis. Using a Molex connection to power it and a Mini-USB to native USB 2.0 cable to control it allows this kit to offer the full gamut of the RGB LED spectrum.

The CUE software that is in control of the HUE+ has everything you need as presets, and even some you may not have pondered. There is static lighting where the LEDs stay lit one particular color. Breathing is pretty obvious; it slowly pulses the LEDs on and off. Marquee offers a few LEDs streaking across the strips while the other LEDs are not on. Covering Marquee offers the same streaking LEDs, but this time, you can choose a color to leave the others, as all lights are on in this mode.

Alternating groups the LEDs into twos, and then switches the groups back in forth. Spectrum offers a moving rainbow of LEDs, a wave is an individual color with movement to it, and there is also a pulse mode. Beyond that, though, you can make the LEDs denote CPU or GPU temperatures, or even change as the Frames Per Second do in-game. There is a custom mode that allows for each LED to be individually controlled, and one last mode that reads audio signal through the USB, and offers effects based on the music played at that time.

To get the NZXT HUE+ and all of its options to your door, including a five-year warranty, we see NZXT will sell it to you at their MSRP of $59.99. The only issue there is that this product is listed currently as out of stock. As we looked around to see if we could find a listing that has stock, we came to the conclusion that only Amazon has them at this time. It is listed there at the $59.99 pricing as well and even is offered with free shipping. While this may seem pricey, we have not physically had a kit yet that can do what the NZXT HUE+ brings to the table.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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Our HUE+ showed up in a box that has a rendering to the left turning into the full-fledged image that is covering most of the front panel. The bottom shows us the HUE+ Advanced PC Illumination naming, and to the right of it is an icon for the CAM software.

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Put forth in four languages on this side, we are given a list of features. This includes the amount of LEDs, modes and options, use of CAM software, ease of installation, and that that is just the tip of the iceberg of choices.

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At the top of the back panel we are given a brief description of the HUE+, and they we get right to the images. On the left is a look at one of the CAM software control windows, and the three smaller ones are used as they point out the modes and options again. Then across the bottom are icons, again covering the features we have addressed.

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Continuing where the other side panel left off, on this side of the packaging, we are delivered the features in four more languages.

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NZXT did not skimp on the inner packaging either. We find the device in its box accompanied by the LED strips wrapped around it. Below that is the hardware box where you find the wiring and other goodies sent along with the HUE+. In this instance, the packaging is perfect in and out, and out HUE+ showed up ready, willing, and able.

NZXT HUE+ Advanced PC Illumination

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Even though this is intended to be hidden away, the HUE+ still offers some styling. Flat at the front, and with an angle from corner to corner, we see a raised section that allows NZXT to put in an illuminated bar to show that this device is powered. It is tough to see, but right in the center is the HUE name molded into the case.

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All of the edges are just the two halved of the case coming together, except this end of it. On this side of the HUE+ we are given the 5V DC jack on the left, the Mini-USB jack for software control, and to the right are a pair of 4-pin connections to power the strips on each of the two channels.

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Flipping the HUE+ onto its top, we can see the product sticker in the center with the part number, power requirements, and the serial number. Near the corners, there are holes provided that match the mounting points of any 2.5" drive.

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The other half of the kit is comprised of these four LED strips. They are white strips with a black line running down the 5V lead side of the strips. The ends are shipped with caps on them to protect the sockets. These also work when installed so that the end of the run does not have the power points exposed. If you look closely, you can see the four magnets in each strip, but these are also backed with 3M tape for those using cases made of something other than steel.

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Jumping way ahead in the game, we took all of the wiring out of the box we needed to get this device ready for our needs. For testing, we decided to run all four strips on one channel, but we could have split them, or can even buy another four strips to add to that second channel.

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This is the way the HUE+ illuminates out of the box without software in use. It is a slightly blue-tinted white light that is the default, and this is the brightest illumination this kit can offer. Hiding the strips is pretty easy, and the amount of light inside of this chassis now puts every component on full display even in the darkest of room. Keep in mind too, this is just the beginning, there is so much more yet to be played with.

Hardware & Documentation

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In the hardware box, we pulled out some of the things provided by NZXT. In this image, to the left, are a pair of 300mm cables that connect from the HUE+ to the first LED strip, and next to it is the Molex 5V DC power lead for the system. To the right is a Mini-USB to native USB cable to control it, and we also received a set of five zip-tie straps.

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The cables in this images are made to go between each of the strips after powering the first. Notice they all have white arrows on the ends, these will line up with the 5V black stripe on the LED strips. In this set, you are offered a pair of 100mm extensions, a 300mm extension in the middle, and the 500mm long cable at the right.

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They also send long screws specifically for mounting the hub into the drive tray. These are not the typical M3 screws, but rather aggressively threaded self-threading screws. Do not screw them in like a brute or you will strip them out.

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The manual offered in the kit is thorough and covers everything from A to Z. It starts with a checklist to be sure all of your goodies are in the box and takes you through every connection needing to be made to use the HUE+. Even the most novice of users can install this kit and within minutes of opening the box, you too can have unlimited LED lighting potential, after downloading the CUE software of course.

CAM Software

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Once installed, the first window you are given asks that you log into the software. This will allow you to use apps with your phone and control and monitor the PC from a distance. If you do not wish to do this, you can click at the bottom where is says "continue as a guest."

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After entering the software as a guest, we were first greeted with an update notice. We decided it is best to try the latest software, so we went ahead and updated CAM before we started to play around.

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After the update had been completed, we noticed this window had opened when we signed in as a guest. So on top of the app potential for the phone, signing in also sends a server the readings of temperatures and such so that you can compare notes at a later date.

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At this point, we finally are allowed into the CAM software and are delivered to the main window where you can monitor all sort of things the PC is doing. Temperatures, of all the components, usage information, even network traffic and an FPS counter.

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Opening the tab at the top specific to the HUE+, we start to see what is possible. Under the tabs, we see that all four strips are shown on channel one, and had we split them it would show two on either channel. Below that we are on the presets tab, and here you can choose a mode on the left, and on the right you can change speed, the color or colors used, and can save the profile once it is set.

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The Smart Tab offers a few more options to use. Here you can set a color scale so that the PC will tell you if the CPU or GPU is hot, and can even scale to the FPS of the game being played. Again all of the colors can be changed, what you see are just the defaults.

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Under the custom tab, this is where you can set the lights to an individual color that is on all the time, or you can even pick the individual LED being set, and have all forty LEDs on the strip be different. This mode is offered with fixed lighting, or on all the time, and also in a breathing mode.

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The Audio (Beta) tab offers some cool ideas as well. Via the USB cable for control, it also picks up on the audio sent through the PC. This allows them to use said input to change the LEDs as well. The level works like an EQ across the whole channel while sync will repeat the EQ look on each strip. Gain works by colors changing on the strip.

Final Thoughts

We would consider ourselves pretty versed in chassis lighting, and we have to say that the NZXT HUE+ is the best system in one box we have seen yet. Low power draw, an amazing amount of brightness, and once CAM is in use, the doors blow open with options and funky ways of lighting your chassis.

While we do realize that most users will eventually pick a mode and stick with it, unless showing off the capabilities to a friend. We were stuck in CAM playing around with all the lighting options and being mesmerized by motion, color options, patterns, and with trying the audio options as well, it had to be three or four hours of playing before we set it and left it alone.

Of course, you can buy strips online, and they even come with controllers or remotes. While they may be a cheaper option, you have none of the ease this kit offers, and all of the cutting, soldering, and connectivity is given to you right out of the box with NZXT's solution. We liked how easy everything was to install, and with all the various cable lengths for the extensions, it is easy to keep any and all wiring hidden from view. Being 10mm wide allows the lights to tuck nicely inside the edge, and the only places we had slight issues were along the top as tabs from that panel are where the strips are, and we also had a hard time passing the AIO. Other than that, with some planning, you can eventually win and get some serious lighting installed in your PC.

The NZXT HUE+ is going to cost you $60, and right now there isn't much shopping around for a better deal. Even so, we feel it is worth every single penny that you have to invest. The options are nearly endless, the preset modes will keep you busy for days, we actually cannot find a single reason that anyone would not choose this over more antiquated solutions to chassis lighting. We have not seen a kit that is so comprehensive in components and connectivity, and nothing we have tested comes close to what NZXT offers in the HUE+. Put simply, if you have plans to illuminate your chassis, you need HUE+ in your life.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance100%
Quality including Design and Build98%
General Features100%
Bundle and Packaging99%
Value for Money96%
Overall99%

The Bottom Line: NZXT and its HUE+ are about to dominate the chassis lighting game! Plenty of options, millions of colors, no dials, and nothing to see but the glow of LEDs. Until we see something amazingly better, when it comes to chassis illumination, our recommendation is this product; there is nothing better currently.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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