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Colors used on personal computer hardwares

Chromatology is the study of colors which are seen and used in our everyday lives. Colors are seen with our eyes. Colors are used on almost everything that we see, from cars, furniture, food, the environment, animals, and so on. Even things like vapor or smoke has colors. [3]

Knowing how colors will perform in each material and how they will be seen on a store shelf or show room floor is vital. The color designer needs to better understand the world of the color formulator, and the formulator conversely needs to understand the needs of the designer. [2]

Colors are not just there to be seen. They have their own meaning. They can reflect our personalities, our interest or hobbies, and many more. Take an everyday product that we use, for example. Things like electronic products, such as Smartphones, Game Consoles, or even Personal computers.

Around this span of time, the personal computer scene have been really crowded. The cause of this uproar consists of mainly games and mining. Games have been more demanding in terms of performance requirements in order to achieve their full experience, which led to many players either sticking to console gaming or upgrading their personal computers (or even build a new one from scratch). Then there is also mining. Mining for digital currency like bitcoin or ethereum also requires top of the line hardware specifications or else those money you spent for building that personal computer would be a waste of investment.

Other than aiming for high specification machine, people tend to care about the aesthetic or appearance of their machine. This is where colors have a big role in terms of customizing your personal computer hardware. Back in the old days, personal computers would only come with neutral colors or monochrome colors, which consists of shades of grey and shades of white. As time progresses, personal computer hardware comes with various color combinations. These colors vary between warm and cool colors.

In the personal computer scene, there exist a unique way of color selection for almost all parts for upgrading your computer. The biggest trend in computer hardware when it comes to colors, is RGB (which stands for Red Green Blue). People chose RGB colored hardware to boost their personal computer’s looks and aesthetic. There also have been stereotypes that high performance parts comes with customizable RGB lighting.

The RGB trend started back in June 2014 at Computex, Taipei, Taiwan. At Computex, Corsair released their two new keyboards, which are K70 and K95. Both of these keyboards are fitted with Cherry MX RGB keys, which are customizable via software that can be installed in a computer. [4]

The hardware colors primarily consists of the color black, but their secondary colors are customizable RGB lights. This means we can make the hardware look the way we want it to look like. This RGB lighting technology is used in parts like RAM (Random Access Memory), PSU (Power Supply Unit), Motherboard, Liquid or Water Cooling Systems, GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), and the list goes on. Peripherals are not left out of the RGB trend, since there are RGB keyboards and mouse and even a RGB mousepad.

Take keyboards for example. Back around the early days of computer technology, keyboards comes with minimal color selection. They come in either white, cream, grey, or black. There are also color combinations on old keyboards, like the whole keyboard being white while some part of the keys are grey. Surprisingly, there’s also a keyboard with color combinations other than colors of white to black, which is Bloomberg’s keyboard.

Old Bloomberg keyboard uses either black or creamy white as their base (primary) color. The rest of the keyboard keycaps uses the same primary colors, while some keycaps uses red, green, or blue colors. In 1995, Bloomberg launched their new keyboard with an addition of yellow keycaps colors accompanied with the old red, green and blue combination. From this point onwards, Bloomberg stayed with the same design until this day, only with improved or simplified shape of the keyboard like how normal compact keyboard with number pads look like. [1]

In June 2014, Corsair launched the very first Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard, the K70 and K95. This led to the use of RGB lighting in almost every computer hardware you could find. This gaming keyboard includes customizable RGB backlit keyboards with Cherry MX keys. Along with the launch of K70 and K95, Corsair also launched their first RGB gaming mouse, the M65 RGB Gaming Mouse. This mouse also have customizable RGB light which could be seen around the middle mouse button area. [4]

Other than keyboards and mouse, RGB trend is also available for motherboards. MSi was the first brand to ever release RGB-lit Motherboard, which is the X99A GODLIKE Gaming. The motherboard comes in black as the primary color, with red surrounding the motherboard (in the form of shields). It also has the latest technology back when it was first released in 2015. [5]

Going even further, things get more interesting as there is also RGB RAM (Random Access Memory). The first RGB RAM is made by GeIL, named GeIL Evo X. With CPU cases that has transparent or see-through side panel, this will really look astonishing. However, there’s a catch on how to activate the RAM’s RGB function. There are two options – connecting the modules to a RGB memory controller which is included in some motherboards with included cables and splitters, or by using the included 3-pin fan header and power the lights separately while controlling the LEDs using large red sliders on top. [11]

For GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), RGB is implemented with DIY method (Do It Yourself). GPUs can be customized to have LED on their cooling fans, or we could install a RGB-lit backplate to boost the aesthetic. There are also GPUs which come pre-equipped with RGB LEDs, such as EVGA’s Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 FTW GAMING and MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1070. These two cards have their own individual software that can be installed to your computer so that you can control the RGB LEDs on the GPU.

This is where it gets kind of weird, since there also exists a RGB PSU (Power Supply Unit). RGB PSU is basically a normal PSU, but with LED fan design. Thermaltake is the first one out of the bunch to release a RGB PSU, which is named Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1250W Titanium. This PSU is pre-installed with a patented 256 colors RGB fan. Basically, Thermaltake placed LED strips on the fan’s outside frame. [7]

CPU (Central Processing Unit) cases are the most crucial part in order to build a RGB pc. In order to build a RGB PC, we need to consider that the CPU case we’re buying has at least a “window” to see through inside the CPU, else those RGB stuff inside would just be useless. A perfect example of a good CPU case is Thermaltake’s View 31. It has both tempered glass and RGB-lit fans which are built-in on the case. [8]

Things go even more weird when the RGB trend finally hit mousepads. Steelseries is the very first computer hardware manufacturer to release a dual-sided RGB Mousepad. Their RGB Mousepad is named the Steelseries QcK Prism. This mousepad is a dua-sided RGB mousepad, which means both of the mouse pad surface (top and bottom) can be used like a proper mousepad. The new mousepad provides gamers with dual-sided premium surfaces – the first of its kind, 360 degrees of continuous illumination in 12 separate zones, and interference-free USB cable placement. [6]

While we’re on the topic of RGB stuff for personal computer hardware, there is also a RGB kit for your monitor and inside your CPU case (other than the fans and other hardwares). To achieve this, all we need is a LED strip. This LED strip can be used to illuminate colors behind a personal computer’s monitor, and add some more of that RGB touch inside your CPU case. Not only does it provide aesthetic boost to your hardware, but it also helps light up your surrounding – especially when  you are using your personal computer in a dark room to watch a video or a movie.

Let’s settle down from RGB related topic for now, as there are also other application of colors in personal computer hardware other than RGB. Personal computers also have their own way of processing colors, which is taken care of by the monitor. There are 3 types of personal computer monitors, which are CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), and LED (Light Emitting Diodes). [10]

CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors are the type of monitors which are commonly used from the old days until the early 2000s. They have the shape like a cube, and also consume quite a size for a workspace. CRT monitors could display up to 2048 x 1536 pixels of screen resolution, which provides clear picture quality. There are quite some disadvantages with old CRT monitors, however. One of those disadvantages are the build up of electricity on the screen. [10]

Normally if your turn on an old CRT monitor, the monitor will make a zapping sound before properly turning on slowly. If you try to touch the monitor’s screen when it’s on, you can feel an electric field with your hands. This could lead to hazards such as electrocution, so it is best not to touch a CRT screen, or even stare at the screen very closely. CRT screen also emits UV light, which is bad for your eyes.

Modern monitors uses LCD and LED as their screen. Typically, an LCD monitor consists of a layer of color or monochrome pixels arranged schematically between a couple of transparent electrodes and two polarizing filters. Optical effect is achieved by polarizing the light in varied amounts and making it pass through the liquid crystal layer. [10]

LCD monitors are known to be compact or slim in size, and also lightweight. They also consume a minimum amount of electricity when operated. You can even power a LCD monitor with batteries. [10]

LED monitors are kind of similar to LCD, but there are quite a few differences. LED monitors rely on using light-emitting diodes for backlighting. They also consume even less power than a LCD monitor, which could be considered that this monitor is more environmental friendly than the others. LED monitor image quality is considered excellent, since LED monitors can produce images with higher contrast. [10]

There are also sub-types of monitors, which branched off from LCD and LED monitors. Those are TN (Twisted Nematic) and IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panel. TN is the most common technology and also the oldest. The main advantage is that it provides the shortest response times, making them good for gaming. In combination with LED backlighting, TN monitors also offer high brightness and draw less power than competing technologies. Another important factor is that they are cheap to manufacture, resulting in low prices for end users. [9]

The drawbacks to the technology is the color shifts that occur at wider viewing angles. There are large differences in quality between different products, but the lower-end ones will exhibit color shift even at moderate angle changes. A TN-based display can usually be identified through these color distortions when viewing the picture from above or from the sides. [9]

IPS panel are normally seen as normal smooth glass that reflects its surrounding, while TN panel is more like a matte screen that hardly reflects its surrounding. IPS panel has better viewing angles than a TN panel, but it has one disadvantage. That disadvantage is the problem with contrast. Since the screen reflects its surrounding, black colors are kind of hard to see, especially when there is a bright light surrounding the screen. [9]

In conclusion, computer hardware rely heavily on colors. Without the right colors, customers might not like the product since they also require the perfect fit for their personal computer’s aesthetic. There are also differences on how colors are handled with different types of monitor screens, which is a very big deal.

 

Written By: Reginald (2001612462) – BINUS ASO, Product Design Engineering

REFERENCES

  • A look back: The Bloomberg Keyboard. (2017). Retrieved 6 November 2017 from https://www.bloomberg.com/professional/blog/look-back-bloomberg-keyboard/
  • Becker, D. (2016). Color Trends and Selection for Product Design. Every Color Sells a Story. Oxford: William Andrew.
  • Chromatology. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. Retrieved November 5 2017 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/chromatology
  • Corsair Launches World’s First Cherry MX RGB Gaming Keyboards (n.d.). Retrieved November 5 2017 from http://www.corsair.com/en-us/company/press-release/corsair-launches-worlds-first-cherry-mx-rgb-gaming-keyboards
  • Niels, B. (2015). MSI Announces First RGB-Lit Motherboard, ‘X99A Godlike Gaming’. Retrieved 6 November 2017 from http://www.tomshardware.com/news/msi-x99a-godlike-gaming-motherboard,29533.html
  • SteelSeries Brings Gamers the World’s First Dual-Surface RGB Illuminated Mousepad – Introducing The QcK Prism. (2017). Retrieved 6 November 2017 from https://steelseries.com/press/33-steelseries-brings-gamers-worlds-first-dual-surface-rgb-illuminated-mousepad
  • Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1250W Titanium. (n.d.). Retrieved 6 November 2017 from http://www.thermaltake.com/Power_Supply/Toughpower_Series_/Toughpower_DPS_G/C_00002785/Toughpower_DPS_G_RGB_1250W_Titanium/design.htm
  • Thermaltake View 31 Tempered Glass RGB Edition Mid Tower Chassis. (n.d.). Retrieved 6 November 2017 from http://www.thermaltake.com/products-model.aspx?id=C_00003012
  • TN Vs. IPS Vs. VA. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 November 2017 from http://www.tnpanel.com/tn-vs-ips-va/
  • Types of Computer Monitors. (2016). Retrieved 6 November 2017 from http://www.tech-faq.com/types-of-computer-monitors.html
  • Antony, L. (2016). GeiL Evo X: The World’s First RGB PC Memory And It Looks Fantastic. Retrieved from 6 November 2017 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/antonyleather/2016/10/31/geil-evo-x-the-worlds-first-rgb-pc-memory-and-it-looks-fantastic/#3730f97c1d71

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