It’s been about seven months since I first had the opportunity to take a look at NZXT’s refresh of their RGB lineup, including RGB strips, under-glow lighting, and (what I was most excited for) ambient lighting for the back of my monitor. I really liked the ambient lighting but it did suffer from some issues. The connectors for attaching the strips together had a lot of leftover cable length which made them hard to manage, and, after a few months the adhesive that held the strips on started to lose… muster. I found that I was replacing double sided tape to keep the strips attached to my monitor. Fast forward to present day and NZXT has heard the complaints, taken the criticism to heart, and sent over version two of the much-beloved HUE 2 Ambient lighting kit.
- MSRP: $109.99
- Dimensions: 76 x 100 x 15mm
- Monitor Support: 21 - 25”, 34 - 35” (AC-HUEHU-A2), 26-32” (AC-HUEHU-B2)
- HUE 2 Controller: 3M Dual Lock
- LED strip - Double-sided tape
- Included Cables: 1x 2.5m Micro-USB cable, 2x 150mm connection Cable, 2x L-Shape Connector
- Included Accessories: Power Adapter Support (US/EU/AU/UK), Wet and Dry Wipes
- Input Connector: 12V DC, 2A
- Output Channels: 2
- Output Channel Voltage: 5V DC
LED Strip Length: Kits included suggested strip configuration for monitor sizes
- 21-25”, 34-35” UltraWide - 300mm x2, 250mm x4, 200mm x 2
- 26-32” - 300mm x4, 250mm x4
- LED Strip Width: 10mm
- Warranty: 2 years
So what did NZXT actually refresh on the ambient kit and does it make that much of a difference? To start with they’ve included wet and dry wipes for cleaning the back of your monitor. While this may seem like such a small thing it really is paying attention to detail and they worked fantastically. Coupled with a MUCH stronger adhesive. Monitors these days come with all sorts of different materials, textures and finishes on the back and the thicker and stronger adhesive is to ensure that the strips work properly across this array of variety.
UltraWide users can rejoice as well as the version two now supports UltraWide monitor configurations. While I don’t own an UltraWide so I didn’t touch on it, the first iteration didn’t officially support our crazier aspect ratio friends which, in retrospect, seems like quite the oversight considering they do make up a sizeable portion of the gaming community. Lastly, as far as improvements go, if you’re running CAM v3.7.5 or higher you’ll be taking advantage of an improved display algorithm that does a better job of defining RGB values from the edges of your screen to provide improved color fidelity to the LED strips. Aside from gaming immersion, I will tell you, it really makes your desktop wallpapers pop.
Before I get into installation, I want to touch on a detail that I absolutely love: international compatibility. As a member of the Armed Forces, I move quite a bit (in fact I will be moving to Korea in short order), which often means some electronics get shelved or replaced because they aren’t 220v compatible. Sure, I could run converters but if living in Germany for four years taught me anything it’s that converters are incredibly inefficient at converting said power, meaning you burn through a lot more on the intake than you get on the output. So with NZXT including a 110-220v variable power supply and the adapters for any plug you can imagine, it’s a welcome relief knowing that I won’t have to purchase replacement parts or get rid of the ambient kit altogether.
Moving on, installation of the HUE 2 Ambient V2 was really straight forward and easy. For me, the first step was removing the old kit - which was rather hasty and unceremonious, if I’m being honest. Using the included wipes I gave a once over on the back of my monitor with the wet wipe, then polished it out with the dry. Next, I consulted the manual to find out which layout to use for my 27” monitor, grabbed the appropriate strips, the controller and cables and set to work. The NZXT manual keep everything straight forward with where to place everything, including the controller which should be placed about two inches from the bottom and left edge (if you’re looking at the back of your monitor). The addition of the L-shaped connectors is an absolutely brilliant touch by NZXT in my opinion and makes the overall appearance of the ambient lighting super clean and much more manageable than before.
Software and Usage
As is a drawback with all NZXT pieces we have to use CAM. I’m not going to sit here and bash CAM - I don’t know what goes into designing a piece of software that has to control all these aspects of an RGB suite - but I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it. I’ll admit, however, that it has gotten better as time’s gone by. After updating to the latest version, v7.3.5 as of this article, it’s been smooth sailing with absolutely NO issues at all so I want to give NZXT props in that department. Setting up was easy peasy - just following the onscreen instructions to get everything calibrated. It was so easy a caveman could it.
Performance wise I noticed no perceivable difference between this version and the last. I want to say that color accuracy may be better, but that might be me falling victim to suggestibility in knowing that they updating the algorithm for better fidelity when choosing edge colors. What I do know, is that I loved it before and I continue to love it now. It’s more than just simple bias lighting - it’s an immersive experience that helps draw you into your content. I don’t always notice when it’s there, but I notice when it’s gone (when I’m playing on my laptop or someone else's computer, for example) and I miss it. To me, it is a game changer in how I experience gaming.
All in all, HUE 2 Ambient V2 is a great step forward in what was already a good, if not slightly tedious, product. The improvements do come at the disadvantage of a $10 markup from the previous MSRP from when we last reviewed it. NZXT is also going the extra mile for those that already purchased the v1 kit and will provide a free kit containing the replacement adhesive strips, cleaning wipes, and L-shaped corner brackets with proof of purchase. Classy move, NZXT, classy move.
- L-shaped Brackets give a clean look
- Comes with all the international power connectors!
- UltraWide Monitor Support
- A bit expensive
- Only seems to work properly with USB 2.0 ports
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.