PCToys Dual Cold Cathode Light Kit

Date: November 28th, 2002

URL: http://www.pctoys.com

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Rating: Excellent!

Review:

Introduction

For decades, computers have been inhabiting boring, ugly beige metal boxes. Over the last few years, however, a new trend has finally evolved where both manufacturers and even more so users have started to express their creativity by customizing (called “modding” in computer slang) their computer cases. Modifications range from rounded cables over unique fan grills to custom paint jobs. A popular mod is a plexiglas window on the business side of the case combined with special lighting inside the case to show off the goodies inside.

When case light kits first appeared on the market, they usually had one or more negative attributes, including weak light, emitting a considerable amount of heat, being somewhat bulky, expensive, and/or very fragile. The technology has evolved and improved quite a bit, though, and now there is a case light kit available that has none of the above mentioned downsides.

PCToys Dual Cold Cathode Light Kit

PCToys generously sent me a few of their dual cold cathode light kits to test. These kits come in four colors: Red, green, blue, and UV.

Each kit contains:

  • Two 11″ light tubes
  • Inverter with 4-pin Molex pass-through connector and light switch
  • Velcro with adhesive backing to mount inverter
  • Zip ties with adhesive base to mount tubes
  • Installation instructions

The components are well manufactured. There are no exposed wires, every connection is insulated. The tubes are straight and sturdy, and sealed on each end with a cube-shaped end piece for easier mounting. The switch feels sturdy and is designed to be mounted. The included mounting hardware is well chosen.

Installation is extremely easy. Using the provided mounting materials, mount the tubes inside the PC case. Make sure you install them neatly, keep the tubes and wires away from fans, and don’t block access to any other components. Connect the 4-pin Molex connector to a power lead. If you are comfortable with using a dremel tool, cut a hole in the case and mount the light switch so it is accessible from the outside.

One possible downside some users might experience is the fixed placement of the switch and inverter, and the fixed length of the wires. While it leaves plenty of possibilities where to mount everything, it does impose some limitations.

Once everything is installed, turn on the PC, flip the switch, and voila!

The first thing that catches your attention is the brightness of the tubes. The amount of light produced by this light kit is impressive, more illuminating power than other light kits I have seen. With two powerful tubes like these even a tall file server case can be nicely illuminated. To give you an idea how bright they are: These two pictures were taken in a completely dark room at night, without any light, without flash, without any special camera settings. Judge for yourself.

I’m pretty impressed with this light kit. Sturdy, bright, no heat, a breeze to install, and at $20 very affordable. The PCToys Dual Cold Cathode Light Kit is available at a number of retail stores as well as online retailers such as CoolerGuys.

Submitted by: Alex “crazygerman” Byron

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