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Build Your Own: The Customizable, Illuminated Dream Machine

Fan Controller, Memory, And Power Supply

Fan Controller with LED Touchscreen : Aerocool Touch-2100

While you might be surprised to see a fan controller listed as one of the most visually striking components on a build's parts list, one look at Aerocool's Touch-2100 LCD display should make it pretty clear why we picked it. Equipped with an illuminated LCD touchscreen the size of two 5.25" drive bays, the Touch-2100 looks like something out of Star Trek. The controller's color can be set to red, green, yellow, blue, purple, teal, white, or turned off entirely.

But the Touch-2100 isn’t just for show. This unit can handle five fans, each with an accompanying temperature sensor. Fan speed can be set manually. However, if a user-configurable temperature threshold is exceeded, the Touch-2100 automatically increases cooling to help bring it back under control. Underneath the screen itself, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports and headphone/mic jacks that can be used instead of your case's front-panel connections.

For $64 on Newegg, Aerocool's Touch-2100 is the crown jewel in our illuminated dream PC.

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tracer

Crucial's Ballistix Tracer kit is a great example of how a common and visually bland PC component can be spruced up with simple lighting effects. These modules are available an orange/blue or red/green lighting combo. Each stick has LED running lights near its contacts, which illuminate your chosen motherboard's memory area. The top of the modules also have activity lights that change based on memory utilization.

Activity lights can be set to one of four patterns: stereo, inside out, lava, and streamer. Their visual impact on whole machine's overall look is actually more dramatic than you might otherwise guess. The intricate light patterns generated by Crucial's kit are pretty spectacular, and easy to see through the case's side window.

Lighting color and effects are controlled by the Ballistix MOD utility. Each module can be modified with an independent color and pattern, or all of them can be linked to use the same settings. We used four sticks of orange/blue memory. But, in retrospect, a combination of two orange/blue and two red/green would have allowed us to apply four distinct colors instead of two, yielding an even wider range of customization. Regardless, we're still able to use these modules with a variety of color schemes, since orange and blue can complement a wide range of hues.

Although we were originally skeptical about the impact light-up memory would make, now that the whole machine is put together, we don't think this build would have ended up nearly as appealing without it. You’ll see it for yourselves in the video at the end of this piece.

Crucial offers a wide range of Ballistix Tracer memory on Newegg, starting as low as $10.

Power Supply: Rosewill Lightning

Rosewill sells the only power supplies with adjustable lighting that we could find. The LED on the large intake fan can be set to red, blue, or turned off entirely. The modular power receptacles also light up when cables are connected. The four-pin Molex and SATA plugs light up blue, two of the four six- and eight-pin auxiliary connectors for graphics cards light up green, and the other two light up orange.  

Since the intake fan is pointed downward, the light-up effect is much more dramatic in cases with top-mounted power supplies. Unfortunately, our build has its PSU on the bottom of the enclosure. There's a lot less impact from its illuminated fan, though the cable connectors remain quite visible.

The modular cables and ties are stored in a classy zippered pouch.

The Rosewill Lightning series is available from Newegg in 800, 1,000, and 1,300 W flavors for $150, $170, and $220, respectively. All three SKUs are equipped with active PFC and share the same 80 PLUS Gold certification.