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What Is ARGB?

If you’ve been shopping around for new LEDs then you’ve probably seen quite a bit of ARGB options. ARGB fans, ARGB motherboards, and even ARGB PCUs are all over eBay and Amazon and they all look beautiful and colorful.

But what exactly is ARGB, and are ARGB components compatible with your current setup?

What Is ARGB?

ARGB stands for Addressable RGB. Unlike traditional RGB LED lights, ARGB lights can be controlled at the level of a single light. This means each light in an ARGB strip can have a different color or intensity than the lights around it.

Traditional LED and RGB strips are all connected and can only be controlled as a whole. This means that if you change the color or intensity of one light, you’ll be changing it for every light. ARGB is a lot more customizable because every light is “addressable”, which just means every light can behave independently of the lights around it.

Since each individual light can be controlled by software on your PC, you can create complex animations with ARGB lights. This is how some gamers and PC enthusiasts create eye-catching visual effects inside of their rigs.

What Are ARGB Headers?

ARGB Headers are 5V connectors located on your motherboard which allow you to connect ARGB devices to your PC. These headers will always be 5V, but the number of pins, usually 3 or 4, will vary depending on your motherboard.

For example, if you have an MSI motherboard, the ARGB Header will be named JRAINBOW. On the other hand, if you have an ASUS motherboard, the ARGB header will likely be named ADD GEN2.

Take a look at your motherboard and its manual and look around for a 3 or 4 pin slot. The motherboard itself will specify if the slot is 5V or 12V. The 5V slot is the ARGB Header while the 12V is the regular RGB Header.

What Do ARGB Fans Do?

ARGB fans cool down the inside of PC cases while also changing colors and playing animations. The basic function of ARGB fans are the same as regular fans, the difference is that they allow for extremely customizable color designs.

ARGB fans are very similar to RGB fans, in that they are used to spice up how the inside of a PC looks with color. The difference is that ARGB fans are a lot more customizable because you can change the color of every single LED light individually.

With traditional RGB, every light must be changed at once because the lights aren’t individually “addressable” like with ARGB. This addressability adds a whole new realm of possibilities as far as design patterns and animations go.

Can You Plug RGB Into ARGB?

You should never plug an RGB device into an ARGB slot (or vice versa) because the two LEDs run at very different voltages and this could have devastating results. The RGB slots on motherboards are 12V, while the ARGB slots are 5V, so plugging RGB into ARBG slots could fry your motherboard.

Plugging RGB into an ARGB is not as dangerous as plugging an ARGB device into an RGB slot but it is still not recommended. ARGB only sends 5V, so it wouldn’t be nearly enough for an RGB strip that requires 12V if you can even get your RGB strip to connect to the ARGB Header.

If you somehow got your RGB strip connected to the ARGB Header, chances are it would not change colors correctly and in the worst scenario it would fry your strip or mess up your motherboard.

Now, plugging in your ARGB strip to an RGB Header on your motherboard is practically a death sentence for your ARGB strip. ARGB devices expect 5V, so sending 12V through them via the RGB header will almost certainly fry them and fry them fast.

If you do not have an ARGB Header on your motherboard, there are some options out there. You will have to research what your motherboard is compatible with, but for example, the Razer Chroma can connect via USB Headers which every motherboard will have.

The Razer Chroma will allow you to connect up to 6 ARGB devices to your motherboard via your motherboard’s USB headers. The Razer Chroma ARGB controller also comes with software that helps you manage the ARGB lighting of your connected devices. This is a great solution if your motherboard does not have ARGB headers.

Does ARGB Need Power?

ARGB strips need power in order to function. ARGB strips are powered by your PC, so you’ll need to connect the ARGB strips directly to your motherboard. If your motherboard does not have 5V ARGB headers, then you may require an ARGB controller.

If your motherboard has ARGB Headers, then you don’t need to worry about getting an ARGB controller. ARGB Headers will be marked as 5V and have 3 or 4 pins on your motherboard. Most of the time, the ARGB Header will be 3 pins. Check your motherboard’s manual to be sure you’ve found the right Header.

If your motherboard doesn’t have this ARGB Header, you’ll need to get power to your ARGB strip another way. This will typically require an ARGB controller and a SATA cable. The SATA cable will connect the controller to the motherboard, while your ARGB devices will connect to the controller. Think of the controller as an ARGB adapter.

One last thing to know about ARGB fans specifically is that many times a case will have slots for these devices. These slots usually only power the lights while the fans still need to be connected to the motherboard to work. If you find your fans lighting up, but not spinning, chances are that you still need to plug something in.

Can ARGB Work With Any Motherboard?

ARGB can work with any motherboard, but if the motherboard doesn’t have a 5V ARGB Header, an adapter or controller will be necessary for the ARGB to work properly. Never plug your ARGB device into a regular RGB Header (12V, 4 pin).

If you end up needing to purchase a controller for your ARGB because your motherboard doesn’t have an ARGB header, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Some controllers will plug into the RGB Header on the motherboard, which will then allow you to plug your ARGB device into the controller.

This gives the advantage of being able to control your ARGB device through the regular RGB controls on your motherboard. The downside is that you will only have regular RGB control, meaning one color at a time.

There are other controllers, like the Razer Chroma, that plug into your motherboard’s USB Headers, which will allow you full ARGB control but through software instead of the motherboard. Which option you choose will depend on your current setup and preferences.

Best Motherboard For ARGB

The MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is an excellent motherboard with an easily accessible ARGB Header. Keep in mind that this is an AMD-compatible motherboard, so it will not work with Intel processors.

The ARGB header on this motherboard is marked as “JRAINBOW1”, which is typical with MSI motherboards. This motherboard also has extra USB Headers, which would allow for Razor ARGB controllers, or any other kind of adaption you may require.

Best ARGB Lights

The Phanteks NEON Digital-RGB LED Strip is the best ARGB light strip you’ll find, especially for ARGB beginners. Its very easy to set up, and can be easily routed however you need inside of your PC. On top of its ease-of-use, it’s also one of the best looking LED strips on the market.

The Phanteks Neon strips come with a decent length that will be able to run through just about any build. On top of this, the strips are built to easily connect with each other, so you can get just about any length you need out of them.

Where the Phanteks Neon strip really shines, is its lights. If you want a beautiful, crisp, classic RGB look, then these are the strips for you. These are among the best on the market when it comes to light diffusion and leave very little to be desired.

The only real downside with these strips are how thick they are. If you do not have a lot of wiggle room in your case, you may have an issue trying to squeeze them in.

If you want to know how ARGB compares to regular RGB then check out my article here or click here to see my complete list of the best ARGB lighting.

👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.