RGB LED lighting has become a must-have for any gaming computer, so in this guide, we’ll take a look at how to light up your device, even if you’re not going to build one from scratch. We’ll also show you what to look for when choosing your gaming peripherals and desk lighting, and how to place RGB LED lighting throughout your player’s room.
RGB Led Lighting in the Player’s Room
An ordinary computer can provide a lot of entertainment – that’s clear. And an RGB LED computer can provide even more entertaining because you can control its lighting just like your favorite band’s light.
You have control over the lighting effects of RAM, cooling, or fans, which will delight you, as well as all guests visiting your room. RGB LED lighting leaves no doubt that they are in the player’s room.
In this tutorial, we’ll look at what RGB LED lighting is and how to illuminate a block of components with it. Of course, we will not be satisfied with what has already been achieved, as backlit peripherals can be a great replacement or addition to a gaming rack. The same goes for the table and room-wide lighting, so we’ll explain how to choose RGB LED lighting for the player’s room.
What Is RGB Led Backlighting?
RGB is a color model that got its name from words: red, green, blue. These 3 colors can be emitted with RGB LEDs, and mixing them allows the human eye to see different shades of colors. So RGB LED lighting is like mixing paints during a painting lesson in a light form. And without getting your hands dirty.
And, yes – it’s a gadget that you can play without, so some people will need a good excuse to “fire up their computer.” RGB LED lighting can be a stylish addition to the player’s room and an excellent entertainment and physics study for the smallest households.
So now that you have a convenient reason for installing RGB LED lighting on your desktop let’s think about a specific way to use it.
How the Player Uses RGB Led Lighting
This is all theory because practice is the coolest thing. And you’ve probably seen an RGB LED system in action on more than one occasion, although you may not have realized it. LCD TVs and projectors use it. However, in their case, this system is intended to help display the image. The RGB lighting is used to illuminate the player’s position.
RGB LED lighting for a gaming room can come in several different shapes depending on where you want to place it:
- In computer components – built into a power supply, chassis, processor cooling fan, or RAM.
- In computer peripherals – made into a mouse, keyboard, or speakers.
- In the gaming table – built into the table frame.
- On the wall or shelves – Smart LED strips or table lamps can be placed in various locations.
Energy Saving RGB LEDs
If your fantasy allows you, you can light up your entire playroom with RGB LEDs. At this point, a “red light” may come on, and you may wonder about the costs of such a decision. After all, if you light up all of the computer components and peripherals, as well as the desk and furniture, wouldn’t the power consumption be so high that your wallet will suffer?
Well, not necessarily, because LEDs and LED bulbs are much more energy-efficient and last longer than conventional halogen bulbs. This is because LEDs do not generate heat and minimize UV radiation and harmful substances in the atmosphere. Thus, this solution is not only more energy-efficient but also safer for the environment. So on your electricity bill, you shouldn’t feel like the mouse is purple, the keyboard is pink, and the fan is pulsing like a rainbow of colors.
Backlight Types – RGB or aRGB
LEDs used in computer components and peripherals are classified into RGB and aRGB (also known as addressable diodes). The main difference between the two is that all the LEDs along the entire length of the RGB LED strip light up in the same color of your choice, while each aRGB LED can light up in a different color.
As you may have guessed, the RGB LEDs provide the best visuals for your PC and all your peripherals. Thanks to them, you will get the popular rainbow effect or smooth color transitions, which in combination with, for example, a rotating fan, gives a phenomenon that will appeal to all guests looking into the room.
With your motherboard lighting control software, you can sync different aRGB LED lines and create various effects, patterns, and lighting styles to help you express your gaming personality.
However, if you don’t care about impressive color transitions, you can opt for RGB LED components and peripherals. Their uniform light will also create a gaming booth atmosphere and won’t be as tedious as the typical RGB effects. Plus, RGB LEDs are good for interior design.
Some devices use multi-zone RGB LED backlighting, which gives an effect similar to addressable diodes in the form of simultaneous displays of several different colors. However, such solutions will always be limited in design and will not fully reflect the popular rainbow or ripple effects.
Of course, you can also link both systems together. The most important thing is that you like the final effect – regardless of whether all the stand elements will glow like a Christmas tree, or you decide only for subtle light accents.
RGB Lighting in a Computer – What You Need to Remember
Unfortunately, the choice of backlighting computer components between RGB or aRGB LEDs does not only depend on your taste. The basis for creating a backlit desktop is a matching motherboard and case.
The connectors on the motherboard must match
For the backlight to work, the motherboard must have the appropriate connectors RGB or aRGB compatible. An RGB plug has a 4-pin input, while aRGB has a 3-pin input, so connecting an RGB system to a connector that supports aRGB (or vice versa) won’t work at best worst damage the backlight or even damage itself. Motherboard.
Another major issue is the motherboard software, which will allow you to control lighting effects easily. Each manufacturer offers slightly different software with similar capabilities. Still, the most important thing for inexperienced users is that it is intuitive and allows you to combine even the most complex effects easily.
RGB or aRGB lighting can be used simultaneously by multiple fans, computer power supply, or processor cooling systems. It is easy to guess that with such a large number of devices, there may not be enough connectors to which they could be connected. The solution to this problem is splitters that increase the number of available connectors. You can buy it separately or find it in the enclosures that are offered in the kit.
Is the motherboard missing a connector? There is a solution to this
The correct connectors are not always found on the motherboard. It may happen that they are not there at all. In such a situation, can you only dream of RGB LED lighting or build a new computer? Not necessary. You can always use RGB or aRGB LED strips, which can install inside the case.
However, an RGB LED strip for a computer requires an external power supply and a controller in the form of remote control. It isn’t easy to install on the components themselves, and the controls will be less intuitive, but this design can still provide an amazing experience – especially when playing at night. And even greater pleasure is to assemble such a backlight with your own hands.
RGB Led Lighting Housing
The motherboard is the backbone of the backlight design, but without the proper computer case, the intricately planned effect will simply go unnoticed. Moreover, some boxes have backlit cooling fans, which are more open elements of a computer. Therefore, if you have at least one illuminated element in your computer, RGB or aRGB fans built into the case can be a great solution.
To admire the illuminated elements, you need a case with a window or a fully glazed case. Tempered glass is durable and scratch-resistant, so it is definitely the best but also the most expensive choice. Acrylic is a more economical choice and is difficult to destroy but may show signs of use over time. A useful addition is the sides of the case that opens to the side for easy access to the inside of the computer and relocation of components or cables.
Ultimately, cabling is essential. When choosing a backlight for a computer, the main thing is to get an aesthetic look, and hanging cables can destroy the whole effect, additionally obstructing the correct airflow in the case. Therefore, you need to remember how RGB LED lighting looks and how it indirectly affects the operation of the computer. Therefore, choose a case with an intelligent cable management system.
Other Backlit Computer Components
Since you already have the right base for your computer’s backlighting in the form of the motherboard and case, you can select additional components to complete the job.
What computer accessories can you buy with RGB or aRGB LED backlighting?
Memory bars go in pairs. And it’s not only about their performance, but also about aesthetics, because everything symmetrical looks better. Two or four strips of RAM will look much better than one, especially since the effects can be synced to each other using software provided by the memory or motherboard manufacturer, such as ASUS Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, or MSI Mystic Light.
Many RAM models today have RGB LED backlighting, but it doesn’t have to display just one color along the entire length of the bar. It is best to choose planks that use multiple RGB LED zones for a similar product to aRGB LEDs to enjoy various lighting effects.
The physical dimensions of the memory sticks are also essential. Depending on the needs, they should fit into these more compact cases or not be covered by the processor cooling system. There is no universal recipe for sizing RAM for the rest of the components, so pay attention to their sizes and the space they will be installed.
RGB LED lighting does not add extra frames per second in games, so in the case of a video card, of course, it is better to choose a more robust model than a prettier one. But if you have a graphics card with both qualities, you have to enjoy it.
In the case of VGA, the LEDs can be placed in different places. On the one hand, this gives you freedom of choice, but on the other hand, you must consider how the card will be installed and whether other components of the computer will block the lighting.
Some graphics cards also come with a bracket that protects the card from bending in the PCB caused by the card hanging loose in the case. Depending on the material and finish, such a bracket can also be a decorative element – especially if its color matches the light from the video card.
CPU cooling is divided into air and water cooling. An additional distinction is made between active and passive cooling in the first case, i.e., with and without a fan.
Of course, we are interested in active cooling because a fan with RGB or aRGB LEDs can be one of the most spectacular components of a computer. The illuminated upper part makes an additional visual impression of the radiator, becoming an element of the lighting structure. If the motherboard does not have aRGB connectors, CPU coolers will be an excellent solution, the backlight of which does not require connection to any controller.
Water cooling is spectacular even without RGB LED lighting. But, if you can use something that shines, so much the better, right? Moreover, it is one of the most visible components of a computer. The lighting of the fans and pumping unit (in AiO kits) combined with colored coolant flowing through the transparent pipes can have an imposing effect. You probably remember from physics that the color of a liquid under the influence of light can change?
If you are short on water cooling space and do not want it to overlap the RAM bars or other components, the AiO ready-made water cooling kit is worth opting for. Thanks to the closed system, this cooling takes up less space and is easier to install. Be sure, however, to make sure your case supports this cooling and that all cables run freely.
The built-in fans are usually not enough to adequately cool the computer. It is also an excellent opportunity to add more glowing elements to your computer tree. Backlit case fans can be found in a variety of configurations. The basis is, of course, RGB or aRGB LEDs, but some hobbyists also use single-color backlighting.
In addition, it is important not only how the fan shines but also where. You can choose from fans in which only one of the elements is illuminated: rotor blades, rim, half ring, or housing. But, you can also easily find fans in which all these elements are highlighted. Decide what you like best and what suits your computer better.
Computer power supplies
The power supply is one of the most significant components in a computer, but it is usually located at the back of the computer. If you are looking for a backlit PSU, choose a case that will help present it to the public.
A variety of lighting options for computer components can make you dizzy. Therefore, remember that RGB LED backlighting does not affect the performance of your computer and is used for aesthetic purposes only. Moreover, improperly selected components can adversely affect the airflow in the chassis and, as a result, the computer’s performance. When choosing backlit parts, consider not only their appearance but, above all, functionality.
RGB Gaming Peripherals – What to Choose
The RGB adventure in the player’s room does not naturally end with the lighting of the computer components. The next step is RGB LED peripheral lighting.
For some, this may be just the beginning of the fun. After all, not all motherboards are RGB compatible, and not all have enough desk space to put a computer on and admire its lighting. However, this does not mean that they should forget the fun because of it.
Choosing backlit gaming peripherals is a little easier than choosing components as there are fewer dependencies between them, but there are some important aspects to consider. First of all, it is peripheral software.
The ideal solution is to use devices from the same manufacturer because you can change the colors and lighting scheme on all connected devices with one application. You don’t need to install several different programs and run each one to change the light intensity. Fortunately, some motherboard manufacturers such as ASUS, Gigabyte, or MSI provide comprehensive lighting control in connected peripherals and computer components.
The keyboard is the player’s main tool, so aesthetics and functionality should be at the same high level. RGB LED backlighting further brings these two features together because a keyboard with this technology does not look beautiful and use the keyboard. How? Especially at night when you can’t see anything. But also during a typical St. Petersburg day, when it’s too early to turn on the lights, but it’s dark enough to lose your fingers on the keyboard.
It’s worth noting that the keyboard backlight will work for people who can use it without looking. Fast gameplay requires a lot of reflection when pressing the appropriate commands on the keyboard. On the other hand, backlighting helps to see even the least used key or key group out of the corner of the eye, which in multiplayer games can significantly affect the result of the match.
For this scenario to work, the keyboard must have a point or multi-zone backlight. The first one gives the greatest possibilities because each key has a separate backlight, thanks to which you can choose its layout from predefined settings for a given genre. Multi-zone lighting offers multiple lighting zones that can display different colors and effects independently of each other. The simplest type of keyboard backlighting is single-zone backlighting, which can be multi-colored and have different effects but cover the entire keyboard surface – no zoning.
RGB Backlit Mouse
The mouse is your proverbial “right hand.” This is why it is so important that it not only suits the hand and needs but also matches the aesthetic perception or arrangement of the room. After all, you are a gamer, so good design is important to you. You will find it in backlit gaming mice.
You may be wondering what the point of illuminating a mouse is if you hold it in your hand and block out most of the light is? First of all, in the design mentioned above. After all, you don’t have your hand on the mouse all the time, and even if you do, some models are illuminated in such a way that you can still see the light coming from the inside. Second, the backlit mouse is easier to find even out of the corner of your eye when you move your hand off the keyboard.
And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the mouse backlight can be of different shapes so that everyone will find something suitable for themselves. Do you prefer something with subtle details? Choose a mouse with an illuminated manufacturer’s logo, scroll wheel, or buttons, and you’ll love this minimalist design. Do you want something that expresses your character as a player? Then the obvious choice would be a rodent with maximum illumination.
RGB Light Bulb and Led Strip in the Room Works Wonders
This paragraph applies not only to gamers and the playroom but to anyone who wants to give their living space a little more color and atmosphere. Sure, lighting a room with LED strips and RGB bulbs has some advantages for players, but having a computer or console is not at all a prerequisite for installing colored lighting in a living room or bedroom. Where to begin?
First of all, think about the possibilities your room gives you. The table is usually well lit in a playroom, so additional LEDs are not needed there, and you can concentrate on lighting other walls. In a living room or bedroom, you should think about an asymmetrical arrangement of lighting that will come out from 2 or 4 sides. Lighting one area makes sense when it will illuminate the central part of the room, for example, a TV shelf or a headboard.
The shape of RGB LED lighting depends a lot on where you want to place it:
- Smart RGB LED strips- are the most versatile, available in various lengths. Some of them can be cut and adapted to suit your needs. Such a tape can be hung on a shelf, suspended ceiling, or hidden in a niche behind the TV so that a multi-colored light glow emanates from it.
- Smart RGB LED Bulbs- It is easier to install than LED strips because you only need to screw them into a standard socket, and you don’t need to plug in an additional power supply. These lamps can glow in the RGB color palette and in white or yellow light, which you can adjust depending on the time of day or use for reading.
- RGB Smart Table Lamps- Table lamps are best suited for room lighting, can be easily moved from place to place, and illuminate different areas of the room depending on your needs.
The intelligence of these types of lighting is closely related to the presence of an RGB LED system. This system must be controlled by software installed on a smartphone or computer. The first option is the most convenient because you can control the power supply, change the color of the lighting in the room or its intensity from the phone. In addition, depending on the selected device, you can set different lamp modes, for example, simulate the sunrise at the right time, which will make it easier for you to wake up when it is still dark outside.
Naturally, it’s best if your bright lighting comes from the same manufacturer because then you can control your bulbs, lamps, or ceiling lamp from the same app.
Illumination according to the events on the screen – possible and very effective
The real fun for the player begins when the light reacts to what is happening on the computer screen. Imagine that you can see all the movements and flashes of the lightsaber in a game from the Star Wars universe, not only on your computer screen but also on walls or curtains nearby. Choosing the color of your glowing sword has never mattered so much. This is an entirely different level of immersion and playful feeling that you can only achieve through the synthesis of light and technology.
This is possible when bright lighting is compatible with a gaming platform such as the Razer Chroma. RGB offers such compatibility with LED lamps and lamps from the Philips Hue series (they need a bridge to work) or Yeelight lights. To sync, download the Razer Synapse 3 software to your computer and connect it to your bright lighting. And then the magic begins.
What Is Aptx Audio Codec
The popularity of headphones raises the question for users of which models are better to choose and how they generally differ. Many people look at such a parameter of headphones as the supported codecs. The more of them or, the better they are, the better the model. However, additional nuances must be taken into account.
AptX HD is the most optimal Bluetooth codec that allows you to transfer sound in quality close to CD. This codec gives the optimal ratio of sound quality and communication stability in terms of the set of parameters. It significantly loads the Bluetooth transmission band but at the same time gives a very decent sound.
What is a codec
A codec is a program that compresses music or other content. It allows you to reduce the size of the original file without spoiling the quality.
The file size is not essential when listening to music from a smartphone with wired headphones since digital data is converted into an electric current inside the phone. Then the analog signal is sent through the wires.
In the case of wireless audio, you need to send the music digitally to your headphones. At the same time, the channel for data transmission via Bluetooth is minimal. Usually, you can’t send music at speeds over 1 Mbps, and the “reference” CD quality requires 1.4 Mbps. That is why it is necessary to compress the file using a unique algorithm – a codec – and send it to headphones that “understand” this algorithm to decode the compressed file.
Both devices – smartphones and headphones – must support a specific codec. For example, if a smartphone does not support the aptX codec, headphones are meaningless.
When reading anything about Bluetooth, you invariably come across many numbers, letters, and other obscure characteristics. One such technology is aptX HD, which adds “HD” to the mysterious attributes of the previous version of the codec. We all know “High Definition” behind this acronym, but what about “aptX”? And what is the difference between aptX (in fact, also an HD codec) from its successor?
AptX technology is increasingly mentioned, which is necessary for high-quality wireless sound, but it is still not the most widespread and affordable.
AptX is a licensed Qualcomm technology that requires bi-directional support from both the host device and wireless headphones.
Types of Codecs
There are several codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC.
- SBC ← standardized in A2DP, supported by all devices
- MPEG-1/2 Layer 1/2/3 ← standardized in A2DP: the well-known MP3 used in digital TV MP2, and the unknown MP1
- MPEG-2/4 AAC ← standardized in A2DP
- ATRAC ← old codec from Sony, standardized in A2DP
- LDAC ← new codec from Sony
- aptX ← codec from 1988
- aptX HD ← same as aptX, only with different encoding parameters
- aptX Low Latency ← completely different codec, no software implementation of aptX with reduced buffer
- aptX Adaptive ← another codec from Qualcomm
- FastStream ← Pseudo codec, bidirectional SBC modification
- HWA LHDC ← new codec from Huawei
- Samsung HD ← supported by 2 devices
- Samsung Scalable ← Supported by 2 devices
- Samsung UHQ-BT ← Supported by 3 devices
It may seem as if aptX is some kind of ultra-modern development, but it appeared back in 1988. Then it was only patented, and in technology, it began to be used only in the 2000s, but even then, it cannot be said that aptX was widespread.
The popularity came only in 2015 when Qualcomm acquired the codec and began to license it. The codec uses its compression algorithms, which allow you to keep much more of the original frequency range of the composition.
The SBC codec, a standard part of the A2DP profile, can transmit audio at bit rates up to 328 kbps at 48 kHz. But aptX can already output up to 384 kbps.
In the case of SBC, any music will sound like MP3 of average quality, but aptX is capable of producing the maximum sound quality for MP3. In addition, aptX has a lower latency: 120ms compared to 170-270ms for the SBC.
But aptX is not the king of the party yet. A year after Qualcomm took aptX under its wing, the company developed a “doped” aptX HD codec, which already allows you to listen to music at a bit rate higher than standard MP3.
It should be noted that only those devices that have a specialized chip have aptX support. It is not possible to implement support for this codec at the software level. AptX has different versions.
LDAC: Sony’s Hi-Res codec, which, unfortunately, is not good at all. It is marketed as an audiophile alternative to all existing Bluetooth audio codecs (bitrate – 990 kbps). It uses 12- and 16-band audio separation at 48 kHz and 96 kHz, respectively.
It is somewhat similar to an audiophile “prelude”, except that the primary bitrate consumption goes to the transmission of frequencies that the human ear simply does not hear.
Because of this, the audible spectrum is not properly worked out, and in many of the final characteristics, LDAC is no better than aptX HD. However, the result in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio of the codec is outstanding.
Almost all Android devices that ship with Android 8.0 and higher out of the box have LDAC support. LDAC-enabled headphones are only available from Sony, so the codec is not that widespread. In addition, there are no software decoders in the public domain, which does not allow us to analyze DACs with its support fully.
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is another computationally complex codec with various psychoacoustic masking. Many people mistakenly believe that AAC belongs to Apple but in fact the Cupertino’s use their own modified version of this codec. Apple AACs are licensed, but only to manufacturers of certified equipment for the company’s technology. Fraunhofer FDK AAC is used for Android.
Compared to Apple AAC, it is inferior in quality to Fraunhofer FDK AAC. However, funny enough, the quality of the Fraunhofer FDK AAC encoding is still quite different.
AAC has native tools for mixing multiple audio streams across different channels. This is used to reduce latency while simultaneously transmitting system sounds (notifications) and playing music.
As for music, here AAC “drives” music at 256 kbps, but thanks to more gentle compression algorithms, the sound quality is comparable to 320 kbps for MP3. Also, various psychoacoustic “tricks” are used to improve the auditory sound of the entire frequency range.
They differ in baud rate. For example, aptX-enabled devices can communicate at up to 384 kbps and LDAC at 990 kbps. Thus, the higher the value, the less the original file needs to be compressed, which affects the sound quality.
The more you have to reduce the file; the more information is lost. At the same time, the maximum data transfer rate requires a connection between devices of high quality. Any interference in the radio broadcast or physical obstacles between headphones and smartphones (clothes, body parts, walls) will lead to stuttering and cutoffs.
A codec is a trade-off between connection quality and sound quality. However, this is not true for all algorithms. Some codecs support dynamic bit rates. They can automatically decrease the speed indicator when the signal quality drops and vice versa. These codecs include Samsung Scalable, aptX Adaptive, and SBC.
The codecs also differ in the compression algorithm. Some codecs use psychoacoustics; that is, they remove those sounds from the original that a person cannot hear anyway. For example, all quiet ones are drowned out by louder frequencies. All sounds above a specific frequency are also removed. They are mainly able to hear only children since the hearing threshold decreases with age.
The complex the compression algorithm, the better the sound will be at the same bit rate since one codec will remove any information, and the other will remove what is already inaudible, which means it will leave audible information without strong distortion.
How is AptX different from other audio codecs?
Conventional audio codecs are based on a technology called psychoacoustics, whereby fragments of musical notes that may not be heard by the human ear are removed to compress the file.
Since a precise technical explanation is beyond the scope of this article, let’s briefly describe the process.
AptX works very differently in this regard. It processes the difference in sound notes between a specific time interval and transmits it, resulting in clearer and cleaner sound quality.
Benefits of AptX
- High-quality wireless sound
- Low latency (minimum latency) music playback
- Drains less battery
- Clear and crisp hands-free voice calling
Does AptX work with iOS devices?
Unfortunately no. AptX is licensed technology from Qualcomm and currently only works with Android devices.
Apple uses the AAC codec for Bluetooth streaming and is significantly less efficient than AptX for audio processing.
How aptX, aptX HD and aptX Adaptive codecs differ
aptX, aptX HD and aptX Adaptive are popular codecs from Qualcomm. Many smartphones support them, but they are rarely used in headphones since manufacturers pay for the codec.
Codecs do not use psychoacoustics but do support high bit rates. For aptX, the figure reaches 384 kbps, aptX HD – 576 kbps, and aptX Adaptive – 276-420 kbps.
Dynamic bit rate is supported only by the newest and highest quality codec: aptX Adaptive. Thanks to its state-of-the-art compression algorithm at 420 kbps, it delivers the same quality as aptX HD at 576 kbps. If the connection is poor, the speed will automatically drop to ensure a good connection.
How To Bluetooth Works
Bluetooth or bluetooth (translated as blue tooth) is a technology for wireless data transmission . Bluetooth enables the exchange of information between devices such as personal computers (desktops, handhelds, laptops), mobile phones, printers, digital cameras, mice, keyboards, joysticks, headphones, headsets on a reliable, inexpensive, ubiquitous radio frequency for short-range communication.
Bluetooth translates as “Blue Tooth,” the author of this device had an extraordinary association. This standard allows data to be transmitted over a short distance using radio waves. In this case, both devices must have a particular module, which acts as both a transmitter and a sender.
So we got to the question and what Bluetooth is for. In the very early days, it was used to transfer data. For example, it was possible to transfer photos from one phone to another. Now the possibilities have expanded, and all wireless headphones work on this technology.
The principle is quite simple, Bluetooth is turned on on the phone and the headphones, and then there is pairing when two devices are connected. After that, the user turns on the music and listens to it on his headphones. But also “Blue Tooth” is often used to download videos, pictures, photos from a phone or other device to a computer or laptop. By the way, most laptop models have Bluetooth, and it is also used.
We started talking about radio waves, but something got distracted. This same technology operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Strange as it may seem, but mobile communications, Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, and much more work at the same frequency.
First saw the light of “Blue Tooth” in 1989, when the first version 1.0 was released. After that, more and more new versions were released: 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc. The main feature of the version improvement is to increase the data transfer rate, reduce interference and power.
Bluetooth is an open standard that was described in the IEEE 802.15.1 specification. It includes three main power classes with ranges of 1 meter, 10 meters, and 100 meters.
The development of the Bluetooth standard was initiated by Ericsson, which, together with IBM , Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba, formed the SIG (Special Interest Group) in 1994 to develop a universal short-range wireless communication standard. The idea of getting rid of wires quickly evolved to the LAN and evolved into the WLAN (Wi-Fi) network we know today.
The first version of the Bluetooth 1.0 standard was introduced in 1989.
The current standard is Bluetooth 5.0 (+ new Bluetooth 5.1 ), as well as the popular old Bluetooth 4.2 standard .
Bluetooth connects two devices, such as a smartphone with a headset in a passenger car. The connection is created using a PAN (Personal Area Network), which has one point-to-point connection. Any device with Bluetooth has a unique AMA (Active Member Address), i.e. an identifier that makes it easy to recognize the device. Manufacturers can also refer to their devices with friendly names, making it easier to find the selected equipment in a list of nearby Bluetooth devices. The user can often change this name to something else.
Bluetooth also allows you to connect more devices (up to 8) on the same network. In this case, a point-to-multipoint connection is used, with one device acting as a server and the rest as nodes.
In addition, Bluetooth devices have standby functions so that the user does not need to connect devices each time. For example, a mouse associated with a device will automatically reconnect after a reboot. The hands-free kit in the vehicle’s infotainment system will connect to the last paired smartphone every time the engine is started.
The theoretical Bluetooth specification provides for the use of up to 256 devices in standby mode. This is possible thanks to the PMA (Passive Member Adres) addressing, which is 8 bits wide (2 8 = 256 devices).
Bluetooth Classes and Ranges
On the web, you can find information about three classes of Bluetooth. Their main task is to determine the maximum transmission range and power of the wireless connection.
- Class 1 allows 100 milliwatts (mW) wireless connections. This means maximum coverage of up to 100 meters (with no obstacles such as walls between the connected devices). It is a long-range and powerful class. Bluetooth modules of this kind are used in computers and hands-free systems in cars.
- Class 2 has a maximum transmit power of 10 milliwatts (mW). Limiting the power by 10 times reduces the maximum transmission distance to 50 meters (with no obstacles such as walls between the connected devices). This type of adapter is used in Bluetooth to USB modules.
- Class 3 is used for data transmission with a minimum power set at 1 milliwatt ( mW ). Bluetooth Class 3 allows data transmission over a distance of 10 meters.
Most Popular Bluetooth Versions
It isn’t easy to find devices with Bluetooth 1-2.1 on the market these days. Devices available on the market use one of the following Bluetooth versions:
- Bluetooth 3 – In the case of Bluetooth 3.0, we are dealing with version 3.0 HS Bluetooth. The abbreviation HS stands for High Speed, which means increased data transfer rate. This solution allows you to send data at a speed of 24 Mbps. The new version of Bluetooth 3.1 TH increased this speed to 40 Mbps.
- Bluetooth 4 – The first version of Bluetooth 4.0 had the addition LE in its name. This label stands for Low Energy. When developing this standard, the creators paid special attention to reducing energy consumption and increasing the range of up to 100 meters – all this came at a cost due to the bandwidth, which dropped to 1 Mb / s. Power-saving transmission is even slower and has a range of up to 10 meters.
- Bluetooth 4.1 is a modification of Bluetooth 4.0 designed for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Allows direct connection of these devices to the internet using Bluetooth.
- Bluetooth 4.2 offers even greater energy efficiency while enhancing security and ensuring fast data transport. In addition, the pairing process has been fixed.
- Bluetooth 5.0 focuses on combining the capabilities of Bluetooth 4.2 as well as Bluetooth 3.0. In BLE mode, the throughput is increased to 2 Mbps. With this solution, you can quickly update your fitness bracelet and smartwatch without Wi-Fi.
If the manufacturer decides to limit the transmission to 125 KB / s, then the range can be increased to 200 meters (in open spaces). They can also improve speed through energy efficiency or slower but make data transmission more energy efficient.
Bluetooth technology supports various profiles. They are responsible for how and whether devices can communicate with each other using Bluetooth.
Many different profiles are tailored for specific applications. Below are the most popular ones:
- A2DP – Advanced Stereo Sound Distribution Profile.
- AVCTP – Audio / Video Control Transport is used to transmit sound and image.
- AVRCP is an audio-video remote control profile that performs the function of a control panel that uses Bluetooth communication for communication.
- BPP – Basic Printing Profile, used to print documents from a mobile phone using Bluetooth, is currently not used; Wi-Fi took over its role.
- BIP – Basic Image Profile transfers, displays, and prints files in JPEG (photo) format.
- GAVDP – Generic AV Distribution Profile – controls the transmission of data, audio, and video.
- HSP – Handset Profile, used to work with headphone media control keys.
- HFP – Hands-Free Profile is designed for hands-free phone calls.
- PBAP – Phonebook Access Profile – is used to access the phone book on the connected device, for example, a hands-free kit.
- SYNC – Synchronization, used for data synchronization, provides data transfer to/from PC.
How is data transmitted using Bluetooth?
Bluetooth uses the ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical Band) frequency band, ranging from 2.402 to 2.480 GHz. Up to 79 channels are available in this interval. Each of them has a bandwidth of 1 MHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency band, very close to 2.402 GHz, uses a Wi-Fi connection compliant with the IEEE 802.11 standard.
Bluetooth supports on-the-fly frequency change (FHSS) functions, thanks to which channels can be changed 1600 times within a second. These changes and the transmission of small data packets lead to the fact that Bluetooth connections remain stable.
Bluetooth and WLAN (Wi-Fi) – What’s the differences?
Bluetooth and WLAN come from the same idea and work similarly but are used for entirely different actions.
Bluetooth uses two different communication methods: SCO – Synchronous Connection-Oriented and ACL – Asynchronous Connectionless Link. SCO is used for real-time voice transmission at a maximum speed of 64 kbps. The rest of the data is transmitted using ACLs and requires the sending device to have built-in memory to store the data.
The WLAN (Wi-Fi) network can transmit data only in asynchronous mode. In addition, Wi-Fi operates on other frequencies and has much higher bandwidth.
Where to find Bluetooth settings on your device
The location in which the settings for Bluetooth are located depends only and exclusively on the manufacturer of a particular device. Fortunately, nowadays, smartphones and computers use multiple operating systems with the settings in one place.
In Android, you need to launch the Settings application and find the Connections → Bluetooth section. Alternatively, you can use the search engine inside Settings or go to Bluetooth settings by long-pressing the Bluetooth icon in the notification bar.
On iOS, launch the Settings app and select the Bluetooth section, which is almost at the very top.
In Windows 10, launch the Settings app → Devices → Bluetooth. Alternatively, you can navigate to Bluetooth settings using quick actions in the notification center of the Windows 10 operating system.
On macOS, you need to launch the System Preferences → Bluetooth application.
How to determine the Bluetooth version on a device
Over 20 years, several versions of Bluetooth have entered the market, which, although they are compatible with each other, have different capabilities and technical parameters. In mobile devices, due to their small size, the Bluetooth module is integrated with the processor within a single SoC (System on a Chip).
In the case of smartphones with Android, you can install the application, such as Aida64 or the CPU-the Z, which informs about the version of Bluetooth.
In the case of Windows computers, you need to launch the Device manager (it can be found through the system search) and go to the Bluetooth menu. When choosing a module, go to the “Additional” section. There you will see an LMP line with a number.
Below is information about which number corresponds to which Bluetooth standard:
- LMP 9.x – Bluetooth 5.0
- LMP 8.x – Bluetooth 4.2
- LMP 7.x – Bluetooth 4.1
- LMP 6.x – Bluetooth 4.0
- LMP 5.x – Bluetooth 3.0 + HS
- LMP 4.x – Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- LMP 3.x – Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
- LMP 2.x – Bluetooth 1.2
- LMP 1.x – Bluetooth 1.1
- LMP 0.x – Bluetooth 1.0 b
On Mac computers, go to Finder → About This Mac → System Report → Bluetooth. The Bluetooth Core Spec parameter shows what version of Bluetooth the computer has.
For the type of Bluetooth version you are using, refer to the technical specification for this device. In addition, all Bluetooth equipment has a special certification.
How to connect devices using Bluetooth
Connecting devices using Bluetooth itself is seemingly simple, but in practice, users have considerable problems with it.
To connect two devices, they must have an active Bluetooth module. Bluetooth settings are usually found in the connection settings. For Android smartphones, you can launch Bluetooth using quick settings on the notification panel. Users of devices with iOS / iPadOS can use the “Control Center.”
The equipment to which we want to connect another device, for example, a hands-free kit, must be in pairing mode. Unfortunately, each manufacturer often “hides” the function of activating the pairing mode in its place in the menu. Sometimes the equipment can be connected immediately after turning on Bluetooth, others after some time, and the third only after turning on the corresponding option. In this case, it is best to check the operating instructions for the equipment.
When trying to connect, both devices display a four-digit PIN code (usually 0000 or 1234), which makes sure that we are pairing the selected devices only after confirmation with the PIN code does the pairing process starts.
Bluetooth connection using NFC
A significant part of new smartphones and tablets have a built-in NFC – Near Field Communication module. This solution is used to pay using Google Pay, Apple Pay, and other payment systems.
Few people know that NFC can also be used to pair two devices quickly. If you have an NFC-enabled smartphone and another NFC-enabled device, such as a soundbar or headphones, bring the devices close to each other, and automatic pairing will start. In this case, you do not need to enter the PIN code or additionally confirm the connection.
Why doesn’t my smartphone detect all devices?
As we wrote earlier, not all devices are discoverable even when the Bluetooth module is active. The operating system used in this equipment has a significant impact on the operation of this technology.
Currently, the problem with identifying available devices is the most significant “curse” of Bluetooth technology. Some manufacturers, such as Samsung, modify the Bluetooth drivers and the settings menu to make access to them more understandable about regular Android.
Unfortunately, there are companies on the opposite side that prevent access to the Bluetooth menu. Here we are mainly talking about the manufacturers of cars and hands-free kits. While in the case of smartphones and computers, it is possible to learn how to use Bluetooth on several systems (Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS). Each car manufacturer uses an entirely different system, in which the Bluetooth functions are sometimes profoundly hidden.
The device was found but cannot connect.
Sometimes the device may be correctly detected but cannot connect. Unfortunately, there is no universal solution to this problem, but fortunately, it mainly affects older devices.
A smartphone or other device may be already connected to other equipment using Bluetooth (such as a smartwatch), and when trying to connect to a home theater, the Bluetooth will reject the call. This is because not all devices support multiple Bluetooth connections.
Earlier versions of the Android operating system (4.4 Kitkat inclusive) have problems if many entries are in the list of connected devices. In this case, it is best to remove devices that you are not using.
When transferring data from an old Android smartphone to a new one, paired devices can also be transferred. This solution rarely works as it should. After purchasing a new phone, we advise you to clear the list of paired Bluetooth devices and proceed with the reinstallation.
Sometimes a connection problem occurs due to the significant distance between the devices. Make sure the equipment is nearby.
Bluetooth connection drops after a while
Unfortunately, disconnection is still an issue, even in the latest smartphones. Bluetooth connectivity problems are a big problem for owners of fitness bracelets and smartwatches, which must be constantly connected to the phone throughout the day. In this case, the solution to the problem may be to remove unused equipment from the list of paired devices, but we have other, more effective solutions.
The new smartphones running Android have complex algorithms used to conserve battery power. Phone makers and Google have introduced aggressive process management. This leads to the fact that when the phone goes into sleep mode – the so-called Deep Sleep, the process responsible for the Bluetooth connection also “falls asleep” . As a result, the smartwatch informs us that there is no connection with the phone.
The solution to this problem is to disable power saving for fitness bracelets or smartwatch control apps. This can be done in the settings in the “Applications” section. The exact position of the parameter depends on the interface used. For Samsung Gear / Galaxy watches, you need to disable Economy Mode in Samsung Gear, Gear Plugin (optional – if displayed in the list), and Samsung Health.
Connectivity problems may also be responsible for launching power-saving modes in the smartwatch or fitness bracelet itself.
Pairing Wearable Devices Using Bluetooth
In the case of wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness bracelets, it is not necessary to connect the device via Bluetooth. To use the capabilities of this type of device, you must install the client application on the mobile device. In the case of Android watches, it’s Wear OS, Samsung smartwatches and wristbands use Samsung Gear, and Xiaomi devices use Mi Fit.
Pairing is done using the app and differs depending on the device used. All this is carefully described in the user manual of the device and the client application.
Is it possible to update via Bluetooth?
Yes, updating via Bluetooth is possible. Most often, this is how you can update devices that do not have Wi-Fi. We are talking about wearable devices, smartwatches, speakerphone sets, receivers, and smart speakers. In their case, the firmware is downloaded to the mobile device and transmitted via Bluetooth to the memory of the connected equipment.
Play audio on two Bluetooth devices
Bluetooth for an extended period did not allow maintaining a connection with two devices at the same time, much less the simultaneous transfer of data between all connected devices.
The situation has changed with the advent of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard. He introduced a dual-mode (Dual Mode), which allows you to transmit audio to two devices simultaneously. All three devices must support Bluetooth version 4.0, and the transmitting device must be additionally compatible with the Dual Mode function.
In this case, one of the connected devices uses Bluetooth Classic, while the other uses Bluetooth Low Energy.
The Dual Audio feature debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 +. Since its launch in early 2017, other phone models have appeared in stores with the ability to stream audio to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.
Bluetooth problem on Windows
When using a PC, sometimes there is a problem with the activation of the Bluetooth module. In the system settings of Windows 10, there is an option to turn Bluetooth on and off, but it is purely software.
First, we recommend that you check the Bluetooth module in the Windows Device Manager. If it is not listed, restart your computer – the drivers may have been updated. When the Bluetooth module is still invisible after a reboot, it may have been disabled from the BIOS / UEFI level or a physical switch on the case (mostly older laptop models). If these solutions do not work, it is possible that your computer does not have a Bluetooth module or it has been damaged.
Updating the Bluetooth driver in Windows
Drivers on Windows 10 are automatically updated with Windows Update, but you can manually force the check for updates and install the latest driver. This is a helpful solution when, for some reason, after an update, the module stops working.
To update the drivers for the Bluetooth module, go to Device Manager → Bluetooth and select the Bluetooth device (for example, Intel Wireless Bluetooth). The next step is to go to the Driver tab and choose Update Driver. In the next step, you can choose to update online or specify the folder with the drivers.
If the Bluetooth module still causes problems after updating the drivers, you can remove the device using Device Manager and reinstall it. Doing this will reinstall the drivers.
The system does not recognize Bluetooth USB or PCI adapter
Most branded and branded Bluetooth adapters use a USB or PCI interface, for which Windows finds drivers themselves. Despite this, there are still Bluetooth adapters on the market for which Windows itself cannot find drivers.
In this case, go to Device Manager and select the item for local driver update. An unknown Bluetooth module is defined as an Unknown device. Drivers are usually included with the device. Alternatively, you can find them on the manufacturer’s support site on the Internet.
What Is the Difference Between RGB and ARGB
Building a PC is one of the most enjoyable hobbies of our time. If you’re a technology enthusiast, there is little that can make you feel better than building and customizing your hardware. Customizing a gaming machine has become a fairly popular hobby with the advent of high-performance yet relatively expensive PC components.
Personalization is a big part of the appeal of a custom gaming machine compared to something like a ready-made console.
More and more computer components have lighting, and in turn, each time, this lighting is increasingly complex or has more options.
Previously, there were few opportunities to customize a gaming machine to your liking. In the best-case scenario, you can get colored components like graphics cards, memory modules, or motherboard heat sinks. Designing a PC to fit a particular theme was extremely difficult, and even if you did manage to do it, you were stuck with the same color combination and theme until you built an entirely new machine.
This was rather inconvenient, as even the most beautiful color themes became boring over time and required changes. Discover RGB lighting that has changed the whole game when personalizing and customizing your gaming PC.
In addition to having typical RGB components, we also have ARGB components, also called DRGB. Let’s see what they consist of and what the differences are.
RGB vs ARGB
Well, everyone knows the typical RGB lighting that can get up to 16.8 million colors (if the LEDs are of quality). Of course, all the LEDs on the same LED strip light up the same color. The color can change, but all the LEDs change at the same time.
The ARGB lighting (Addressable RGB) is almost equal but has the advantage that not all LEDs have to be in the same color at a time; this way, we can get wave effects, gradients, etc.
This has led to motherboard manufacturers adding the ability to control lighting directly from the motherboard. Of course, each brand uses a different name for it:
- MSI Mystic Light
- ASUS Aura Sync
- ASRock Polychrome
- GIGABYTE RGB Fusion
How to tell if a component uses ARGB or RGB lighting
The easiest way to tell what type of lighting a component has is to see what connector it uses. Current motherboards use two types of power connectors for LEDs:
- 4-pin connector: traditional RGB LEDs
- 3-pin connector: ARGB LEDs
RGB devices are compatible with 12V connectors, which have 4 pins and are currently found on many motherboards. More motherboards have 4-pin RGB 12V headers than newer aRGB headers due to their lower cost. RGB 12V devices are NOT compatible with aRGB 5V connectors. Since 5V aRGB connectors can only supply 5V power, lighting on 12V RGB devices will likely not show up or be very dim. The power channel of the 5V connector will match one of the color channels on the RGB plug, and therefore you can get one color to display on the device.
Each color pin receives a certain amount of energy that illuminates that particular connector. It is clear that the more power on the pins, the brighter the corresponding color will be. Mixing and matching different power combinations and different light levels of colors results in three colors combined into one final color.
So, in the end, you need to decide if you want to use the RGB ecosystem or the newer aRGB. Standard 4-pin RGB devices still exist in significant numbers and tend to be cheaper as well. They are also slightly safer to work with, as there is no way to accidentally damage the LEDs inside the device by inserting the plug. You can also make more extended stubs and install longer LED strips with 12V plugs versus 5V plugs due to the difference in wattage. This means the RGB standard is a great way to keep your desktop lighting in sync with your PC lighting without using an external controller like this.
On the other hand, most manufacturers quickly replaced RGB devices in the market with newer aRGB devices, and aRGB headers on motherboards are becoming more common. They offer more natural whites, brighter colors, wider effects, and more customization than traditional 12V RGB. They’re a little more expensive now, and you risk damaging the LEDs if you accidentally plug a device into the wrong connector, but these trade-offs don’t really matter if we look at it objectively. However, aRGB is the standard until it is replaced by something even better, which is a general trend in the computer hardware industry.
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