The RGBeast PC: What We Learned Building an RGB Battlestation

The RGBeast Build

It’s been years now since RGB lighting began to innocently creep into the PC world. What started as another way for motherboards to stand out--both on store shelves and inside builds with windowed cases--has saturated just about every crevice of the component, gaming, and accessory market.

We know there are plenty of people who hate the incessant creep of RGB, and sometimes so do we—particularly when a case fan or other component light competes for attention with an HDR movie or a game that we’re trying to enjoy. But clearly RGB everything isn’t going away anytime soon. And there are two ways to tackle change: You can either hide in the darkness, pretending it isn’t happening, or embrace the rainbow to see where it takes you--and maybe learn something in the process. In case it wasn’t obvious by the photos and video sprinkled throughout this story, clearly we went the latter route with this build.

We weren’t aiming for the slickest collection of RGB parts with our “RGBeast,” and we definitely weren’t trying to keep things tasteful. Rather, we wanted to immerse ourselves completely in the world of RGB, to see what’s available, how it all works together (or more precisely, doesn’t), and what the craziest collection of RGB everything we could get shipped to our office would actually look like when assembled.

We also didn’t want to stop with just the PC. So we tracked down several RGB accessories, including input devices, a headset and headset stand, a mouse bungee, and even an RGB chair. When we decided to immerse ourselves in the world of RGB, no amount of unicorn vomit was spared. But that doesn’t mean we went light on the core components.

We wanted our RGBeast to be a colorful monster PC with enough CPU power and pixel-pushing might to stand up for itself--and then some. So at the core of our rig sits an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU (the only component here that doesn’t have any lights) and a liquid-cooled Gigabyte-made 2080 Ti that’s a rainbow world unto its own, with lights on both its cover, the backplate, and the fans that move air over the radiator.

We’re not saying our build is the most powerful collection of parts you could put together and load up with lights—there’s no AMD Threadripper CPU or Nvidia RTX Titan card here—but we’re confident that the RGBeast can tackle any modern PC game at 4K and high settings, or make quick work of any video editing task you could throw at it.

Let’s take a stroll through our parts list before we get to the build process.

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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.

  • bennie101
    DEEP DEEP Pockets this is for the 1% of people who afford such a build ...Follow the Rainbow and maybe the average Joe could build something close to this.
  • rvald005
    daaaaannng...I do like seeing a nice rgb build every once in a while. I haven't built an rgb specific build yet...I was going to but the Lian Li dynamic is sold out everywhere, so I am opting for a simpler build with less lights...thinking NZXT h700 red/black box with white components and a few red rgb lights (making a red/black as the primary colors and white as an accent)...not sure if the white inside would look better with the black/white or all black case though...still thinking it over...
  • rabbit4me1
    Common sense says it's more stuff than can go wrong and confuse you say save the money
  • Karadjgne
    RGB should be an accent, not a focus
  • NinjaNerd56
    Looking forward to the ‘stealth’ build.

    I don’t care for the lighting; I’m damned old, which means bifocals, which means some SUPER annoying ‘lens flares’ at times.

    So other than a dim backlight...white or blue...on a keyboard so my old ass can reposition, I like gaming in the dark.
  • AnimeMania
    Could you give a total cost for the build?
  • Cheeno76
    I hate being the grumpy old man, but I yearn for the day for this RBG fad to be over.
  • islandwalker
    @ANIMEMANIA, the components for the PC alone (not counting all the peripherals) tally up to very nearly $4500, although $1,000 of that is due to the current scarcity of the liquid-cooled RTX 2080 Ti. Its MSRP is $1349, but it's currently now often selling for above $2,000. :-(
  • Krazie_Ivan
    i don't mind RGB being an option avail for people (to each their own)... but it seems to me that this option, along with solid flat panels of glass, have somewhat taken-over the availability of more efficient designs. aesthetic design focus has left practicality & performance innovation stagnant, while increasing costs.

    i appreciate leaving the excessive garish Transformer cases behind for sleek & classy, but "Where's the Beef?!?" (*Wendy's - look it up)
  • g-unit1111
    RGB is like hot sauce - a little bit will bring out the subtle flavors, but too much and it will overpower the senses.