Inside an RGB gaming PC.
Alberto Garcia Guillen/

Have you ever heard a PC enthusiast talk about how important “RGB” is and wondered why? It’s all about colors. Read on to learn about the hottest tech design trend among gamers.

Red, Green, and Blue

RGB stands for “red, green, and blue.” It’s an additive color model that reproduces a broad array of colors by combining different intensities of red, green, and blue light.

A chart showing the red, green, and blue additive color system.
Iryna Behun/

RGB is the foundation for many colored display output devices such as computer monitors, televisions, and displays on mobile phones. For each pixel displayed on your computer monitor, your PC dictates the correct mix of red, green, and blue to show in that pixel. That’s why many applications allow you to select the color in terms of the RGB mix of a hue.

However, when a computer enthusiast refers to “RGB,” they’re normally referring to decorative RGB lighting. This type of colored LED light is present in an array of PC hardware and peripherals such as memory sticks, cooling fans, keyboards, and headphones. These devices usually use the RGB color model to create exciting lighting effects and enhance the aesthetics of a desk setup.

RGB Computer Gear

RGB gaming gear.
Ekkaphan Chimpalee/

RGB computer gear is especially popular among gamers and PC-building enthusiasts, many of whom post unique and aesthetically pleasing computer builds online. This has led many manufacturers to embrace it as a selling point. Many high-end computer components and peripherals have RGB features, with some companies charging extra for RGB-ready products. Even high-end gaming laptops often have this functionality.

Here’s a list of some of the components that offer RGB color options:

  • Memory Sticks
  • Motherboards
  • Graphics Cards
  • Fans and Cooling Devices
  • Solid State Drives
  • Power Supply Units
  • Computer Casing
  • Keyboards
  • Mice and Mouse Pads
  • Headphones and Speakers
  • Monitors

Additionally, there are many RGB strips and light fixtures, giving you the flexibility to design your own RGB layout. These are normally placed inside a PC case or stuck around or underneath a desk, adding more to a desk layout.

While RGB components often offer no additional performance over their standard counterparts, RGB has become such a common part of builds that non-RGB builds are often considered more cost-effective.

RELATED: How to Build Your Own Computer, Part One: Choosing Hardware

How RGB Works

A common feature among RGB devices is their ability to be controlled by the end-user. Some RGB device manufacturers provide a controller that you can use with several different devices, such as fans and coolers. This controller allows you to set the color, brightness, and effect of every device connected to it.

Many motherboards from modern manufacturers such as MSI, Asus, and Asrock have a port called an RGB header. You normally connect an RGB device or a controller to this header. Using the manufacturer’s software, you can control different connected RGB devices, create custom effect profiles, fine-tune colors, and sync these light effects between devices.

There are two kinds of RGB headers: addressable, which allows you to control each LED individually, and non-addressable, which doesn’t allow for fine control. Different devices are compatible with each header. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s information to find out which header your device has.

Alternatively, some devices provide the option to control RGB effects straight from the device or through a custom piece of software that you need to install. Some keyboards will allow you to use the keys to scroll through an assortment of RGB effects or even configure each key to have its own color. We advise checking out the manufacturer’s website for information on their own RGB settings.

The Value of RGB

RGB wheels

The main reason why RGB has become so huge is that people like the way it looks. RGB has become strongly associated with a “gamer aesthetic” that has emerged in the last decade. That’s a big reason why companies continue to create new RGB products and push them heavily in marketing.

In some ways, RGB lighting can also be a signifier of price and quality. Because many cases have transparent side panels nowadays, RGB components can often be seen through the glass. RGB lighting brings attention to the quality of these components, such as high-quality RAM, a top-end graphics card, and an expensive cooling solution.

Another thing to note is that RGB has become somewhat of a meme. Many people on the internet, such as those on Reddit and Twitter, often jokingly refer to RGB as a barometer for performance. Watch out for sarcastic comments like this, and remember that you can often save a buck by going with a non-RGB option.

RELATED: How to Make Your RGB Gaming Gear Actually Useful

Profile Photo for Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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