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Corsair iCUE LS100 Smart Lighting Strips Review

By Christopher Coke on February 07, 2020 | Hardware Reviews | 0

Do you want to take the look of your setup to the next level? Light strips are one of the best ways to truly customize and elevate the look of your battlestation. Corsair, the reigning king of RGB with components and peripherals, has finally arrived with their own ambient lighting setup. If you’re looking for backlights that go beyond the cheap strips flooding Amazon, this might just be the kit for you. Read on for our full review.

Finally, Ambient Lighting From Corsair

I have a confession to make that will surprise absolutely no one: I’m a bit of an RGB nut. My system is currently decked out with RGB fans, an RGB motherboard, AIO, SSD, GPU and memory. I have an RGB keyboard, mouse, mouse pad, and even an RGB audio interface. Heck, I even keep an RGB headset stand on my second desk. For accent lighting, I have Philips Hue table lights, behind monitor play bars, generic RGB bulbs, and, before now, a Govee Dreamcolor RGB LED strip behind my desk.

The problem is that so many of these lights run through different systems. One thing I’ve learned in my time digging into the RGB world is that you want to keep as many things as possible under one system. Having tried almost all of them, I’ve found Corsair and iCUE to be the hands-down best for creating custom effects. iCUE allows you to do more, and more quickly, than any other system on the market today. Slowly but surely, I’ve been pulling more pieces of my setup under their banner.

Until now, Corsair operated strictly with components and peripherals. The LS100 changes finally changes that and expands Corsair’s RGB lighting into backlighting for your monitor and desk. The Starter Kit comes to market at $119 and includes a pair of 450mm and 250mm strips (4 total), as well as a control unit to for power and connecting to your PC over USB. The size of the strips clearly indicates that it’s first purpose is for monitor backlighting but put in a row extend 55 inches, which is perfect for a standard 55-60 inch desk. Expansion kits are also available for dual-monitor setups or simply to add lighting elsewhere. Each kit includes two additional strips with the 250mm version selling for $29.99 and the 450mm version selling for $39.99. This is perfect for dual-monitor setups or adding backlighting to your monitor and desk for the best effect.

What Sets the LS100s Apart

At $119 to start, these are some expensive LED strips, but they definitely stand apart from the average $15 spool you’ll find on Amazon. Let’s be real here: that’s what most of us have been using until now and what was on my desk until only a couple weeks ago. The LS100 is in a whole other class in smoothness, programmability, and the overall quality of lighting. There’s simply no competition between a normal strip and the LS100 in any of those areas.

First off, where cheap strips stick clear plastic over bare LEDs, the LS100 strips are very well diffused. Lighting from these is blended. There are no hot spots to project back onto your wall at all. It’s smooth, consistent lighting which makes every effect and even static colors look much better.

Second, and more importantly, the strips are per-LED addressable. That means that you have all the power of iCUE at your fingertips. Every single LED can have its own color or effect applied to it. Inside the software, you can even reorder the strips so it knows where to begin color sequences for rainbows or lighting effects that chase along the strips.

Since these are from Corsair, that also means a lot of effort has gone into adding extra functionality. My personal favorite effect when gaming is its media synchronization, which projects the colors on your screen back onto your wall through the lighting strips in real time. Check it out the example from Corsair (it’s a better example than the one I took and accurate to what you’ll see using them):

It’s the same kind of functionality we saw with the DreamScreen and is just as cool now.

When I’m not gaming, I was able to easily apply the same lighting scheme I use on my PC. It’s a mix of purple and light blue with the “Rain” preset to mimic flashes of lighting. On my old “dumb” light strip, I was only able to set a static color. Now, my whole desk amplifies this effect which is really, really cool for a customization nut like me.

Installation

Installation was mostly easy but I did find that it took quite a while. The strips come with built-in magnets and you’re given the choice to mouse them with included metal tabs for easy removal or normal double-sided tape. I went the magnet route because, in my work for IGN, I review a lot of monitors. Since I was installing the starter kit on my monitor and two expansion kits on my desk, it took a good 20 minutes of peeling and sticking to get all of the metal tabs mounted. When I did, I found that my current rats nest of cables made it hard to keep the strips on the back of my desk. The one nearest my computer would get pushed out of place and fall, which would cause the others to be pulled off as well. That’s no fault of Corsair’s, because I could have used the normal sticky tabs, but it’s worth mentioning if your cable management isn’t up to snuff. I really need to get on that again.

What you’re seeing here isn’t pretty, but it’s real, and I suspect there are a lot of us who could use some tidying up behind their PCs. If that describes you, definitely go with the normal sticky pad.

Once they were in place, however, it really is as simple as plugging them into the control box, plugging the box into the wall, and enjoying your new backlights.

Impressions and Conclusions

Once everything was in place, I was really able to get to having fun with my new lights. I love RGB, not just for the rainbows but for the options. I grew up without money to buy a PC of my own until I went to college. Now that I can afford it, I like to make my gaming rig my own in every way I can. Lighting is such an effective way to do that.

Getting everything customized really took no time at all. Since I already had my few color and effect layers for the my lighting storm aesthetic saved, it was literally a drag and drop process to synchronize my desk. Even if I hadn’t, however, Corsair has come a long way with iCUE and programming in custom, layered effects is easier than its ever been. Every RGB fan seems to have their favorite software, but I’ve never had major problems with iCUE and have really come to find it like the Adobe Photoshop of RGB lighting.

The one criticism I have is that the diffuser does significantly cut down on brightness. The lighting effect easily seen but it doesn’t wash the wall how I expected it to. You’ll benefit most from having your desk pushed close to a white wall. My walls are a very light grey. Here’s how it looks in a mostly dark room with the stock rainbow effect.

Overall, I’m very happy with these strips. They’re quite expensive compared to normal LED strips but are much, much more customizable. If you’re looking to take more control of the look of your desk setup, this is a great way to do it - if you have the cash.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

7.0Good
Pros
  • Setup is easy (but can be time consuming depending on amount of strips)
  • Good diffusers blend colors very well
  • Magnetic or adhesive mounting
  • Completely programmable down to the individual LED and easily synced with other Corsair products
Cons
  • Not as bright as I expected
  • Expensive
  • Magnetic attachment can be finicky


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight