The iCUE LT100 Smart Lighting Towers are the latest additions to the Corsair iCUE Smart Lighting Ecosystem. Corsair is well known for having high-end RGB accessories and peripherals such as keyboards, mice, RAM sticks, and PC fans. Now to add to Corsair’s arsenal of RGB-goodness comes the new Smart Lighting Towers. These towers provide ambient lighting that is as customizable as Corsair’s other accessories thanks to the iCUE software. They can even pair up to your other iCUE-compatible Corsair devices to provide a whole suite of customizable peripherals. But are these lighting towers worth it for the average consumer, or is this niche product only for the most diehard Corsair fans? Here are our thoughts.
- MSRP: $129.99
- Dimensions (L x W x H):
- Without Headset Holder: 422mm x 95mm x 95mm (16.6in x 3.7in x 3.7in)
- With Headset Holder: 423mm x 95mm x 106mm (16.7in x 3.7in x 4.1in)
- AC Adapter: 5V, 1800mm (70in)
- Towers, RGB LEDs: Up to 4 Towers, 46 LEDS each (Total 184 RGB LEDs)
- Micro USB to USB-A: 1500mm (59in)
- Reversible Tower 1 (w/ button): With controller, White diffuser silicone, Aluminum post and base, 46 RGB LEDs
- Reversible Tower 2 (w/o button): No controller, White diffuser silicone, Aluminum post and base, 46 RGB LEDs
- Preset Lighting Effects: 11 preset lighting effects with push-button control
- Straight RGB Cable: 1500mm (59in)
- Removable Headset Holder: Plastic
Expansion Towers Sold Separately
The Starting Kit comes with two lighting towers, but there is the option to add separate expansion towers for a total of up to four towers. These expansion towers are the exact same as the reversible tower 2 in the starter kit and have an MSRP of $59.99 for one tower. The only difference is that they come with an additional Y-RGB cable that splits so you can link the towers together. Otherwise, the size, build quality, lighting features, and the iCUE software compatibility are all exactly the same. It could even completely replace the second tower as part of the starter kit. So, if something unthinkable happens and the second tower gets broken or is otherwise out of commission, you could swap it out with an expansion kit tower.
Build Quality and Performance
As soon as I took it out of the box, I could tell the high-quality of the LT100 Lighting Towers. Both the base and the post are made from aluminum and feature a black matte finish. The bases also sport a stylish Corsair logo that's very minimalistic and a plastic diffuser around the bottom of the base that creates a nice accent. The bottom pad is a grippy yet smooth rubber that prevents the towers from sliding around on the desk. The lighting tower post has two prongs at the bottom that securely snap into the base and also connects into the electrical connectors that provide power to the LED strip. There is a white silicone layer that both protects the 46 RGB LEDs inside and diffuses it to provide a gentler lighting experience.
The construction is durable enough that I feel like I can take the post out of the base plenty of times and have it remain just as durable and secure as the day I opened it. I think the height of the tower is a little short for me personally at 16.6 inches tall, but this will depend on your setup and what works for you. Also included with the starter kit is a plastic headset holder that sticks onto the top of any tower and discreetly hides a small bar extending from the back of the tower to rest a headset on. Despite being made out of plastic it doesn't feel cheap or like it could break easily and is both thick and strong enough to hold even the heaviest of headsets.
The starter kit also comes with a flat, straight RGB cable that is 1.5 meters long. This was more than enough length to connect both towers from end to end on my desk. The straight RGB cable being flat is perfectly ideal for hiding it discreetly on your desk or being able to cover it up without it bulging. Also included with the starter kit is a braided micro USB to USB-A cable that connects to your PC in order to program it and a standard AC cable.
Why Bias Lighting Matters
What these Smart Lighting Towers are able to do is something called “bias lighting” or “ambient lighting.” Bias Lighting is a light behind either your TV or monitor that provides ambient light without directly hitting your eyes or casting a glare. It can help reduce eye strain and fatigue by reducing the perceived amount of contrast and by improving the perceived colors on the screen. It’s all about making your eyes relaxed while looking at an image, instead of straining it. A perfect example of how this works is simultaneous contrast illusion show below.
The middle gray bar is actually the same shade, but it appears as if it’s changing colors. On the left, it appears brighter because it’s being contrasted by a dark background while on the right it actually looks darker. This optical trickery lets our brains perceive a higher contrast even though the picture in the middle doesn’t change at all. The same principal can be applied to monitors and TVs, thus reducing our eye strain and making those prolonged gaming sessions even more relaxing.
The iCUE software is Corsair’s own customization software for their RGB accessories. Everything that is iCUE-compatible can be controlled in this software, including regular accessories like the keyboard and mouse as well as the new Lighting Towers. This let’s users design and customize the RGB lights and even sync them together.
I found the iCUE app pretty easy to use overall and only took a few minutes of messing around in the software to figure out where everything was. The profile selection on the left let me create new setups and customize existing ones. Once in a profile, you can go into Lighting Setup for the towers which allows you to let the app know the relative position of each tower. If a tower isn’t lighting up, you can also run an LED Detection that should find it.
Next, the Lighting Effects is where the actual magic happens. From here, you can choose which preset effects should show up on which tower, and even mix-and-match different effects as well. Some of my favorite effects were the predefined ambient lighting options, like the ‘Borealis’ that shines light greens and blues and the ‘Fireplace’ that glowed orange and flickered white. When selecting any kind of lighting effect, you can select which LEDs in particular will show the effect. I often turned off the base of the tower because I often found it distracting.
There’s also Video and Audio ambient lighting as well. Audio ambient lighting will react to any music or sounds coming through the desktop. This makes it perfect for listening to music videos on YouTube or personal playlists on Spotify. It’s great for video games too, it’s just not as immersive. The Video ambient lighting though is immersive, and you can even customize which part of the screen you want the towers to mimic. This was probably the single most lighting effect I used.
During my time with the LT100 Smart Lighting Towers, I used them in as many different setups and configurations that I could think of. Although I started out with them all facing out to me, I quickly found that after sitting at my desk for several hours the lights started to hurt my eyes. Thankfully, you can also change the overall brightness settings through the iCUE app so that this won’t be as much of an issue. What I found worked best for me though was actually reversing the towers to where they’re facing away in order to go for the more ambient effects. It could be that my eyes are just sensitive to light, especially since I stare at a computer screen for no less than 10 hours a day, but I think the ambient bias lighting is a lot cooler anyways.
I love that the tower posts are reversible. At first, I was stupid, and I literally turned the towers around – which put the backside wiring facing towards me and it looked awful. Then I realized that what I was supposed to do was take off the metal post and turn that around in the base, which keeps the tower bases facing you. Once I figured this out, it was a lot easier to customize my space by choosing which towers I wanted to produce ambient light and which ones I wanted facing me.
I initially worried that repeatedly taking the posts out of the base to reverse them might scratch or damage the surface of the base, but I never noticed any issues during my testing. The posts are pretty hard to misalign, so I don’t foresee this actually becoming a problem. Which is good, because it took a lot of experimentation with several different layouts before I found my preferred set-up. For now, I really like having a lighting tower and either side of my monitor and a tower in the middle behind my monitor reversed so that it gives more ambient lighting to my desk space.
In this setup, I have three different modes or lighting profiles that I like to switch between. For my gaming profile, I called it ‘Destiny’ because I tested it out extensively by playing Destiny 2. I use the Video ambient lighting exclusive and the left and right towers are synced to the side edges of my monitor while my center tower is calibrated for the middle of my screen. This way, the color extends from my screen and gives me a greater feeling of immersion. This took a bit of trial and error because I had to calibrate which area of the screen I wanted to track.
I noticed that in the extreme edges of the screen, the lighting would rapidly change because of how fast I was moving. I learned to bring the calibration boxes inwards more so that they weren't touching the corners. This is also how I discovered that I don't really like having the bottom base lit up for these ambient immersive experiences. Since I can still see them, they were more distracting than not. Thankfully, in iCUE I could select the bases separately to leave blank.
My second profile is for watching movies and for when I feel like streaming to Twitch. It’s just an all-white static effect to give more contrast against my monitor. For streaming, I reverse the towers to face me so that I have the same effect that light rings provide. Although the towers don’t appear to get as bright as light rings, it still helped immensely to provide lighting. My third profile is the ‘Temperature’ effect that’s available through iCUE.
The ‘Temperature’ effect lets me sync up a tower – or part of one – to a specific PC component, like GPU or CPU, in order to report on the internal temperature of it. I thought this ability was not only extremely cool, but also incredibly helpful. I synced up each of the Towers to a separate peripheral to track. Usually, my towers all glow a nice green or light yellow but when I turn on a graphically-hoggin game like The Witcher III, I see that tower quickly go from yellow to orange to red since my GPU is working so hard. Both the colors and the temperature settings are customizable in iCUE as well, so you can adjust when a certain color would display at a temperature.
I noticed after only a few days of use, that the silicone on the outside of the towers have started to build up a small amount of my cat’s hair. The blame lies squarely on my cat for rubbing up against the towers, but since there is a constant electrical charge in the tower that produces static electricity it kept the cat hair stuck. So with pets (cats especially) you may need to occasionally clean the silicone strips. I just removed the post from the base and used a damp cloth too gently wipe away dust and pet hair from the silicone strip. Harsh chemicals can actually break down and deteriorate the silicone over time.
I think the LT100 iCUE Smart Lighting Towers from Corsair are a must have item for any of the Corsair faithful. With the ability to sync up all your Corsair products with the iCUE software, this is the perfect addition for that kind of desk space. Even if you don't own a lot of Corsair products, like me, it’s still worth it. I found the smart lighting towers enhanced my gaming immersion and provided bias lighting that worked for me. Now I wish that Corsair would make even bigger lighting towers in the future that I could have synced up to my TV as well.
Although I think the price maybe a little steep at $129.99 for the Starter Kit and $59.99 for each expansion, I think it’s worth every penny. That’s $249.97 total if you wanted a full four-towers (which I absolutely do now.) These towers are definitely a niche product, but for fans of RGB and Corsair both, the LT100 towers only bring more to the table. I think if it's within your budget, the LT100 iCUE Smart Lighting Towers should be the next big investment to enhance any player’s desk space.
The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.