Build Your Own: The Customizable, Illuminated Dream Machine

We set out to build a PC with completely customizable LED lighting. And when we say the PC, we mean the whole thing. The mouse, keyboard, gamepad, enclosure, memory, fan controller, and even power supply are loaded with configurable color controls.

We’re typically resolute in our choices when it comes to the guts of our favorite PCs. But we can get downright fickle when you start talking about aesthetics. I'm pretty sure everyone here at Tom's Hardware has a different opinion on what looks good. Choosing an enclosure is difficult enough. Forget committing to any one color of lighting (that's if you can tolerate lighting at all). In ideal world, we'd like the freedom to change colors to suit our moods. And this has to be done right. The tenets of artistic design demand that all pieces fit together. We can’t have green lights in the chassis, a yellow mouse, and a keyboard that blasts out red.

A few years ago, it would have been unrealistic to expect components from different vendors to come together in an amalgamation of coordination. You would have had to spend hours modding your chassis and peripherals with custom LED lighting. This is no longer the case, though. Thanks to a number of enthusiast-friendly companies and good old fashioned capitalism, you can find a wide variety of cases, accessories, and peripherals armed with LEDs able to assume any color in the RGB spectrum.

So, we decided to construct a customizable illuminated dream build. Although it boasts some fantastic hardware, this system's real focus is  bright colors and exciting effects. We'll showcase each component, of course, explain why we picked each of them, and how we put everything together. In the end, you'll see just how well-coordinated (and luminous) a build can be using off-the-shelf parts.

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  • Shame on you.. How dare you copyright stuff (at least that's what the video says).

    The case does look awesome, but it would be nice to see the video lol.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • Shame on you.. How dare you copyright stuff (at least that's what the video says).

    The case does look awesome, but it would be nice to see the video lol.
    13
  • iunno looks pretty lame to me, its just a couple of leds, i have 15 fans in my haf 932 and theyre all green and it glows alot more than the pc you have made here, if u want to customize, get leds/cathodes/lighting kits, and light up not only your case but the environment, or get watercooling with neon liquid of a different colour or even UV colour, make a custom glass case etc, thats how a dream 'illuminated' mod should be. for example the guy who created a glass desk which had the pc in it and was fully illuminated, THAT is what this article should be about, not about how to install a fan.
    -14
  • nice build. :)
    imo custom illuminated water cooling woulda been nice too.
    the fan controller was kick-ass.
    8
  • reminds me of the combo beer holder & ash tray i had in my last comp's 5" bay

    edit: funny, that was thermaltake too
    1
  • I'm not usually a fan of lighted setups, most of them are really gaudy looking, but I actually like your setup. Maybe I'll try to make a tasteful lighted setup like this for my next build.
    5
  • BTW, when can we expect the Sub-$200 CPU comparison. Cleeve said we could expect it by the end of the month and it's now officially February (EST). Hope you guys post it tomorrow.
    1
  • I have the NZXT hue and its worth every dime i paid for it
    5
  • Stay away from blue lighting. It messes up your circadian rhythms. Blue light is how your brain knows that dawn is nearing. Whenever there's a blue LED on a device I use late at night, I put tape over it.
    -4
  • shikamaru31789BTW, when can we expect the Sub-$200 CPU comparison. Cleeve said we could expect it by the end of the month and it's now officially February (EST). Hope you guys post it tomorrow.


    I am looking forward to this as well... considering its been over two weeks since the best of Jan 2013 list that mentions this was posted.
    3
  • There is a CPU cooler you can adjust the colors on.. Its called the CM V6GT...
    4
  • Just get the NZXT Phantom 820. All-customizable RGB lighting integrated, plus that case is incredible.
    1
  • dream build....uses air cooling.... hang your head in shame whoever thought of that instead of a custom watercooling setup with water addetives for the colour
    -6
  • PC's seem to be more about peripherals these days than back in the day when all you wanted was a rig (case optional) that could play Unreal Tournament. It's not a bad thing though. This will always be where PCs rule. And it's great to see the quality options that are available.
    7
  • I'm so happy to see this article. I haven't quite finished getting the base components in my PC yet but LED lighting is definitely down the road, so this will be very helpful. Thanks guys!
    6
  • cool for kids....just think what you could do to your build instead of this useless crap..
    -7
  • Quote:
    This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

    Lol...
    3
  • Yeah, EMI Music Publishing and other organizations claim copyright infringement and basically block anything with any type of music on youtube, even if it's a piano piece you play yourself. You have to fight for a while in order to have almost any music whatsoever remain on youtube.

    While this sounds utterly ridiculous, unfortunately it's reality.
    7
  • I am of course referring to the video at the end of the article, here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X7kcXN5Vj0&feature=player_embedded
    1
  • I wouldn't buy Mad Catz anything. I tried out the R.A.T mouse and it worked fine for a while, but then one time I came back from lunch(I used it at work) and the tiny metal piece used to tighten the mouse on the side of it discharged on my finger. Ever since then the mouse would work very poorly, would have trouble moving and I had to click multiple times just to open something. 80 bucks down the drain. That Keyboard looks like a man or woman with carpet's nightmare, too!
    0
  • I can't believe I wasn't aware of the NZXT Hue before. I've been looking into getting some LED lighting for my case, and if I weren't broke I probably would've gone for single-color BitFenix Alchemies (which are horrifically over-priced) or Ozniums. But for the same price as 2 feet of 1-color Alchemies I can have 6 feet of full RGB with a controller? Color me interested.

    Anyway, great read. I always enjoy articles that are about building systems (especially fun ones like this).
    4