Hands-on with Hyte's Nexus Link: Huge-screen AIO cooler takes center stage, plus simplified cables and fans that snap together with magnets, making for easier PC building

Hyte Nexus Link
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

 Last year, Corsair rolled out its iCue Link lineup, which simplifies the PC building process by integrating cooling and lighting connections into a single, daisy-chainable cable, letting you connect and control your AIO cooler, RGB fans, and other components via a single cable plugged into hub.

At the same time, upstart case, cooling, and peripheral rival, Hyte, was working on a very similar concept that it calls Nexus Link. Similar to iCue Link, Hyte's offering has fans that snap together magnetically, a proprietary connector for daisy chaining, as well as RGB strips that come in multiple lengths, to really give your setup that gamer glow.

Nexus Link also integrates an AIO cooler, the impressive Thicc Q60, which will soon be making its way to our best coolers list. But for Hyte's system, the cooler, with its 5-inch screen and 64-bit Arm processor, is also effectively the hub or the brain of the ecosystem, alongside the company's Nexus software.

As I did with Corsair's iCue Link, I wanted to build a PC around Hyte's Nexus link to get a sense of how easy and intuitive it is, as well as any unique features it brings to the PC building table (aka my testbench).

Overall, I found the Nexus Link build process to be fairly straightforward (barring some motherboard issues unrelated to Hyte, which I'll touch on), though it is slightly more complicated than Corsair's competing tech. All of the hardware and connectors feel solid, slick, and smartly designed (an impressive feat for a company that obviously has fewer resources than Corsair). And there's no question that Hyte's fans and AIO are better performers and, frankly, just more interesting than what Corsair offers with iCue Link. Nexus Link also feels more flashy (literally), with RGB stip accessories and a cooler with a big screen.

But Hyte's thick fans and, well, Thicc cooler, mean they won't fit in nearly as many  of the best PC cases as Corsair's more standard offerings. And while, yes, Corsair's iCue Link products are pricey, Hyte has the same issue. Its Thicc Q60 AIO, while it did outperform nearly every 360mm cooler we've tested in recent years, costs $299. So whether you opt for Nexus Link or iCue Link, you're going to be paying a hefty premium for simplifying the build process. That means most people are likely going to stick with more traditional (and much cheaper) cooling products and just live with having to connect a lot more cables. Perhaps that's not so bad now that you can also build a PC that makes it easy to hide those unsightly wires.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 US MSRPContents
Thicc Q60$299.99AIO Cooler, 3x 120mm fans
THICC FP12 (three-pack)$79.99 ($109.99 with NP50 hub)3x 120mm fans
LS30 qRGB Light Strips$44.99 (74.99 with NP50 hub)2x 1-meter magnetic RGB strips
LS 10 qRGB Light Strips$39.99 (69.99 with NP50 hub)3x 330mm magnetic RGB strips

The current Nexus Link lineup is technically made up of seven products, although three of them are the same, just with or without the NP50 hub. You can use the NP50 to connect Nexus Link fans and RGB strips to your system, with or without the $299 Q60 AIO cooler.

These are undoubtedly expensive accessories compared to traditional fans, AIOs, and light strips. But three of Corsair's iCue Link fans cost between $99 and $139 (with a hub, depending on the model). Note, though, that Corsair's fans integrate RGB lighting, while Hytes' fans do not.

Hyte's Thicc Q60 is also very expensive at $300. But Corsair's competing 360mm iCue Link H150i costs over $200 with no screen, or $255-$275 for the LCD model with a small 2.1-inch screen. Keep in mind that our testing shows the 240mm Hyte Cooler outperforms or ties the 360mm Corsair cooler in all metrics (while being quieter). But you will have to pay a bit more for that performance, plus the larger screen of the Q60. We'd love to see Hyte release a Q60 without the screen at a substantially lower price.

If you're building a Nexus Link system, it's at least somewhat likely that you'll also need to buy a new case. I used the Hyte Y70 (essentially the Y70 Touch, without the front screen) for this build. But because the Q60 cooler and its fans are so thick, your case options are limited, depending on how you want to mount it. The company lists just five cases that support top-mounting the cooler: Corsair's 7000D, 7000X, and the Obsidian 1000D; Lian Li's PC-O11 Dynmaic, and Phanteks Enthoo Elite. For front or side mounting, a much larger list of 60 current cases are supported. But several cases don't support the cooler, including models from Asus, Be Quiet, Cooler Master, Lian Li, NZXT, Thermaltake, and others. For the full list, which the company says it is still updating, you can check out the Hyte Q60 manual, which is linked at the bottom of its product page.

One of the primary selling points of Corsair's iCue Link is that it uses a single connector type. With Nexus Link, there are two, which is technically double the complexity, but still pretty easy to grasp.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Nexus Link Type-M connector is fairly large and made up of pins and pads. It has built-in magnets and connects to fans. The same connector and magnets are built into the FP12 fans, allowing them to connect to one another without extra wires.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Then there's the Nexus Link Type-C connector, which is used to connect "nodes" (the Q60 cooler or the NP50) hub to one another, or to connect the RGB strips. This isn't a standard USB-C connector, so Hyte puts a specifically shaped plastic ring around the Type-C connectors so that you can only plug them into compatible devices and not a standard USB port.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Hyte includes cables of various lengths and with various connectors in the box with its fans and cooler. There is even a Nexus Type-C to four-pin fan header cable should you want to control your fans that more traditional way, rather than through a node and the company's software.

During the build process, I never found myself in need of a Nexus Link cable that wasn't included in the box – which is a good thing considering the company doesn't seem to sell these cables separately yet.

NP50 node

We've already covered the Hyte Thicc Q60 AIO cooler elsewhere, but the much-less-expensive way to hop onto the Nexus Link ecosystem is by picking up an NP50 hub. Confusingly, while Hyte calls these nodes, the product itself is labeled as a Nexus Portal. The NP50 isn't for sale by itself yet, but you can pick it up alongside a few of Hyte's fans or light strips for an extra $30. It has a nice steel frame with a white cover that attaches via magnets. There's a dual USB-C connector that leads to power, USB, and PWM connectors to control your devices and three ports on the bottom for connecting your Nexus Link devices.

At about 0.88 inches thick, the NP50 isn't going to fit in a 2.5-inch drive slot, but it does have 2.5-inch drive mounting holes on the back that will let you mount the hub conveniently behind the motherboard in many modern cases. It comes with similar cables and connections as the Q60 cooler, as well as some stick-on cable clips.

I'm not going to cover the entire build process here, because installing the core components is a pretty standard process – or it would have been had I not somehow bent a single pin on my Asus Prime Z690-A motherboard, causing the system not to boot once I thought I had done most of the work.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

I eventually swapped it out with a newer MSI Meg Z790 Ace Max, which is why you'll see a mix of both boards in the photos accompanying this story.

For more on what it's like to build in the the Hyte Y70 case, as well as its performance, see our review of the Hyte Y70 touch, which includes a large screen up front, but is otherwise the same case as the Y7-. And for details about the performance and installation of the Hyte Thicc Q60 AIO cooler, we have a review of that, too. Spoiler: It performs better than all but the top few 360mm AIOs on the market.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

One thing to consider, though, is that the Thicc Q60 (and the NP50 hub), like Corsair's iCue Link and Lian Li's Uni Fan controller (part of an ecosystem that's also similar to Nexus and iCUe Link), requires a spare six-pin PCIe power connector from your power supply, alongside the usual USB and PWM headers. This is needed to ensure adequate power, as the Q60 can run up to 34 devices and the NP50 up to 54. Clearly, Hyte has designs for Nexus Link to extend beyond the PC.

But if you're already using two PCIe connectors for your graphics card and your power supply isn't modular or doesn't have an extra PCIe connector to spare, you'll need to buy a new PSU. Yes, you might need to upgrade your power supply to run your expensive, fancy new AIO cooler. No one ever said making things "easier" wasn't going to be expensive.

Prepping the Hyte Y70 case

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Apart from removing panels from the rear and the top of the case so that I could attach my components, I also had to remove the pre-installed PCIe 4.0 riser cable for vertically mounting the graphics card. This involved removing a screw from the half-height bracket, as well as four screws from the bottom of the case that hold the other end of the connector in place. You could install a motherboard without completely removing the riser cable, but I didn't want to work around it while trying to plug things into the bottom of the motherboard.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Next, it was just a matter of popping the board into its place in the case, with the CPU and RAM pre-installed.

Around back, I mounted a white modular MSI MAG power supply (which perfectly matched the white-and-black case) on the bottom rear, and removed the pair of white drive sleds up above, since they would just get in the way during cooler installation and cable routing.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Next, I mounted the Hyte Thicc Q60 AIO cooler on the side of the case. Because this cooler and its fans are so wide, it's designed to be mounted in the front or side as an intake in most cases, and comes with its fans oriented accordingly. For more on how to install this cooler, see our Hyte Thicc Q60 review.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Next up, it was time to mount the top exhaust fans. This was exceedingly easy since they snap simply together via pogo pins and magnets. I held the three in place with one hand and screwed them in from the top of the case.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

After this, I thought I was more or less done with the primary components, so I re-installed the riser cable, plugged in all the usual power, audio, USB, and header cables, then installed our Gigabyte 7700 XT graphics card.

Of course, I still had to connect the fans on the cooler and the top of the case to each other for power and data. This involved plugging a Nexus Link Type-C to Type-M cable from the Type-C port on the top left of the cooler to the Type-M port on the top-front fan. Because the cable was several inches longer than necessary for this, I routed the slack behind the motherboard area.

I then double-checked my connections, powered the system on, and everything fired up as expected – at least at first. The board lights, fans, and cooler screen powered on as expected, and all looked good. But nothing showed up on the screen and the system wouldn't boot. According to the lit LED on the motherboard, there was a memory issue. I had just used this Aorus RAM in our Phanteks' XT Pro Ultra case story without issue, but I swapped in another DDR5 set from Corsair, powered on the system and got the same result. It was hanging with a RAM error message.

Eventually, after pulling the CPU, I figured out the Asus board had what appeared to be a single bent pin, which was causing the memory issue. Annoying, but thankfully I had an MSI Meg Z790 Ace MAX board within reach, so I pulled the Asus motherboard and finished the build with MSI. While I did have to pull the GPU and riser cable once again, the board swapping process was surprisingly easy, both because the Y70 is a fairly large case, and because the Nexus Link cables are easy to remove and install and don't get in the way like a bunch of traditional fan and RGB connectors would.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

With the new MSI board in place and everything plugged back in, I powered the system up and it booted without any further issues. But, I soon realized, I hadn't installed any RGB strips – Hyte sent me five of them for this story, so I felt compelled to use at least one. The Q60's screen does have RGB lights behind it that give off what's probably enough RGB for most builders.

At first, I was a bit confused about where I could plug the light strips in. There were no unused Nexus Type-C ports on the cooler or the fans. But looking at the various cables that were lying around after unboxing most of Hyte's accessories, I saw there was a Type-M-to-Type-C cable. This would let me connect a cable to the side of either the bottom fan on the cooler or the fan at the top rear of the case, and then plug one of the RGB strips into the other end of that cable. 

I decided the top of the case was the best place to run an RGB strip, so I plugged one of the meter-long strips into the fan at the top rear and routed it toward the front of the case and down along the front edge. This was fairly easy to do in this steel-framed case because of the strip's built-in magnets. But this is the one area where I wished that either the magnets were stronger or there were more of them. They work better than sticky tape, but when trying to get one end of the strip exactly where I wanted it, some part near the other end would often pop off from the case and / or move slightly.

It would also be nice if Hyte would create and include some right-angle adapters for connecting multiple light strips. I would have used more strips in the Y70 case if it were easier to get the lights to bend around corners in a visually pleasing way.

One more fan

In the process of running the RGB strip I noticed that, if I moved the radiator up slightly, there was just room enough for one more fan under the radiator. Clearly, more intake can't hurt since the case has no front ventilation. So I raised the radiator by loosening and removing some screws, and shoved an additional fan in place below the radiator. It snapped onto the magnetic connectors at the bottom of the radiator fan like it was born to be there. With the fan and RGB strip in place, I powered up the system, installed Windows, and then grabbed Hyte's Nexus Link Software to see.

Of course, no cooling / RGB ecosystem is complete without software that lets you change the lighting modes, adjust fan speeds, and monitor your system's temps. And I've spent enough frustrating hours with Corsair's iCue, Razer's Chroma, MSI Center, and Asus' Armoury Crate over the years that my expectations for Hyte's Nexus Link program were pretty low. But while there's definitely room for expansion and improvement, I found controlling the screen on the Q60 cooler, the RGB lights, and Hyte's fans a refreshingly intuitive experience. That said, some of the functionality is limited at the moment. So perhaps that's partially why I didn't struggle much doing the things that the software currently lets you do.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The main Nexus page is a simple presentation of several modules for controlling and monitoring components in your PC. The software loaded most of the above automatically, which is mostly good. But it also included a module for Hyte's Keeb keyboard, which I don't have, making it feel like an ad. And the module for the MSI Meg Z790 motherboard wasn't there at all at first. But when I clicked the Add a Widget button in the upper right, it popped up and prompted me to install the widget.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

I was hoping the motherboard module would let me control the board's lighting, but it only offered up board sensor details. So I had to run MSI Center on top of the Nexus software to get the board lighting to match the Nexus lighting – I decided to just set the board lights to white, as a compromise, so I didn't have to keep fiddling with two programs.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

When it comes to lighting controls, Hyte goes the extra mile, with Nexus settings that offer up fairly standard animated presets, static colors, and settings that respond to music or mimic the colors in images – you can even load a video and have your lighting mimic that. 

Obviously, the more Nexus Link lighting you have plugged in, the more nuanced and complex the media mimicking can be. The complexity involved here feels like it was designed for controlling more than just your PC. And with the Nexus nodes supporting dozens of devices at once, it's clear that Hyte has ambitious plans for its ecosystem and software.

Ambition and reality are often far apart, though, and I found the options for controlling the 5-inch screen on the Thicc Q60 cooler to be pretty limiting, at least for now.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

I was using the latest beta version of the software, which let me drop the usual system stats, clock, or media details on the display – Hyte calls these Faces. I do particularly like the animated weather widget, and could imagine myself glancing at it a few times a day before going outside. But an App Focus tab that promises to change what's on screen depending on what program you're using is grayed out, with a message up top promising the feature is "Coming very soon."

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

It's great that Hyte is continuing to add new features, but if I'd just spent $299 on a cooler with a large 5-inch display and found out the most interesting thing I could do with it was show the weather, I don't think I'd be particularly happy, no matter how well the cooler performs (and it performs extremely well).

In my time using Hyte's Nexus software, I never felt lost or particularly confused (issues I've often had with Corsair's iCue before) when trying to do something. And even the beta build of the software was extremely stable. I saw no glitching and experienced no crashes. There just isn't a whole lot you can do here yet – unless you like endlessly playing with RGB settings, because there are a lot of those. I came away with a positive feeling about Hyte's Nexus software. I hope when I come back to it to check out future products, it's more feature-packed while remaining as intuitive and stable as it is today.

Final Thoughts

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

When I first got hands-on time with Hyte's nearly finished Nexus Link ecosystem at the beginning of 2024 at CES, I came away very impressed that a comparatively small company like Hyte seemed to be developing a lineup of products that rivaled, and in some ways seemed to surpass what Corsair delivered with its iCue Link products. Several months later, after getting to spend much more time with Nexus Link and build a system with it, I'm even more impressed. The fans and cooler are impressive from a performance standpoint, everything feels slickly designed and solid, and the products are frankly just more interesting than Corsair's competing offerings.

That said, the cost of Nexus Link is, more or less, on par with iCue Link – both are much pricier than traditional components. That, plus the fact that the Thicc Q60 cooler and 32mm-thick FP12 fans will limit case compatibility, means Nexus Link will likely remain a fairly niche product in the PC building community. Still, it's a great visually focused ecosystem that pairs well with the company's visually focused PC cases.

And if the company delivers on its "coming very soon…" promises for app-specific scenes for the Q60's 5-inch screen, that niche could widen somewhat as people get excited about useful and fun things they could do with a large screen inside their PC case. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the cooler that screen is attached to is also one of the best performers we've ever tested. 

I'll be curious to see what Hyte does next with Nexus Link. Between the Nexus Link, competing ecosystems from Corsair and Lian Li (including fans with their own built-in LCD screens), and the MG-RC 5rear-connector motherboards like MSI's Project Zero, this is perhaps the most interesting time to build a PC in decades. I've been building systems since the AMD K6-2 days, 25 years ago, and I can't think of another time when there have been so many intriguing build options.

Matt Safford

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.

  • husker
    I get the idea behind a large screen on the AIO cooler, but astatically it doesn't look good at all for some reason. Probably because the screen is obviously proportioned for a mobile phone and just looks out of place. I have the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD XT and although the screen is smaller, in my opinion it just looks better. I also have the Hyte Y70 Touch case and the built-in screen eliminates the need for any large screen inside the case. :smirk:
  • pixelpusher220
    I just don't see the draw. Maybe some data points, temps, fan speed, etc but 99% of the time you aren't looking at the case.

    Of course I don't even want RGB so, safe to say I'm not the target market lol
  • expunged
    looks like someone strapped a iphone3 to the cpu, fugly.
  • sfergy27
    husker said:
    I get the idea behind a large screen on the AIO cooler, but astatically it doesn't look good at all for some reason. Probably because the screen is obviously proportioned for a mobile phone and just looks out of place. I have the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD XT and although the screen is smaller, in my opinion it just looks better. I also have the Hyte Y70 Touch case and the built-in screen eliminates the need for any large screen inside the case. :smirk:
    Yup, it looks like an iPhone sitting on top of your CPU...

    Rofl... expunged beat me to the post button...