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Welcome to our “Cool PC accessories you’ve never heard of” article, which is a follow up to our similarly themed PC components video that did really well. I love doing these compilations because you get to explore the weird and cool side of accessories for a particular category, and certain items that you wonder why they even exist.
Let’s begin with the first one: PC Panel. What you are looking at is a $60 USD audio controller with a pretty basic and simple maple wood construction. It feels solid with four aluminium wheels on the front, all of which have the dial functionality and a button functionality. The USB 2.0 cable is not braided, but it’s plenty long to connect to your PC. The whole idea behind PC Panel is to give you functionality for a lot of volume control, and also give you additional macro customization because of those buttons. Within the PC Panel driver software you can select what the button customization does per each volume knob, so either doing something with media controls, selecting different input devices, setting up different shortcuts per application. In the Dial tab you can control app volume, focus volume, or device volume. This gives you so much control from this PC Panel device when it comes to volume across your entire ecosystem of desktop, either devices, applications, or whatever.
For example, one dial can be in charge of your browser volume, a second one can be for your music player, a third one can adjust the gain of your microphone, and another one for whatever else you desire. This thing is so simple, but yet so powerful when it comes to volume and macro customization that you never knew you would actually want to use. My only complaint here is that the device is pretty lightweight and it doesn’t have any rubber adhesive at the bottom so it’s not very stationary. A lot of users are mounting this thing under the desk, so it’s stationary, but still in reach so you have all that full control and volume functionality.
Corsair iCUE LT100 Smart Lighting Towers Starter Kit
Moving on to the Corsair LT100 lighting towers, which is an accessory that has been on both sides of my monitor for a while now. In the package there is the light tower with only one-sided illumination, and that is because you can either have the light tower facing you the user or facing the wall for that ambient spill. On the other hand, the base has RGB illumination all around and you simply pop the light tower into the base. It is a tool-less assembly, so if you decide to want the light tower facing you it’s a really easy reconfiguration. Colour wise there are a ton of effects inside the iCUE software.
All the colours are very accurate and the actual spill is incredibly soft. You don’t see individual LEDs because the diffusion layer is super thick, and I really appreciate that. There is an adhesive headphone holder that you can attach to either tower. And we also have a button on the base so that if the iCUE software is not running in the background you will still have this RGB cycling effect, and you can turn the light towers on or off. Literally the only downside is the price at $130 USD, this is an expensive lighting solution, especially because there is absolutely no other function but for it to look pretty and holding your headphones.
ASUS AI Noise-Cancelling Mic Adapter
This next item is super relevant in today’s day and age where we are constantly on video calls and everything in the background is super noisy. This is the ASUS AI Noise-Cancelling Mic Adapter, which is a $40 USD dongle that allows you to run background noise cancellation to mute out unwanted noise from your microphone audio. It works with any 3.5mm headphones, as long as it has a 4-pole TRRS connector, or you can simply plug in a standalone microphone into it. And since this device comes with either a USB-C connection or USB-A adapter you can then connect it to your computer, to your smartphone, to your iPad, etc. The other element that helps with this universal compatibility is that its driverless, so it is a simple plug-and-play solution. The interesting thing is that even if you plug this in, it’s not going to recognize it in the driver software until you plug in the microphone or the headset into the jack, so that is pretty clever.
All the processing and noise cancellation is done on the actual USB adapter, and the result is pretty impressive. There is a lot of vocal compression, obviously it’s not the most natural sounding microphone, but it does an absolutely amazing job of removing background noise. Whether it be a loud mechanical keyboard or even a power tool all the background noise just disappears. Just keep in mind that this adapter tries to save all the voice and vocals in your environment, so if you have other people talking nearby they will be up picked up. Now I have plugged in the same headset into my Sound Blaster X3 external USB sound card with the most aggressive noise cancellation properties applied in the software, and it doesn’t do nearly as good a job at noise canceling as the ASUS AI Noise-Cancelling Mic Adapter. My voice sounds much better, but there is so much extra noise in the background that isn’t getting canceled. Overall, this little accessory from ASUS is a very good competitor to the RTX voice – you can check out our review here – but that was pretty taxing on the GPU, required additional software, and obviously required an NVIDIA RTX GPU. Now you can have basically the same effect with a small affordable USB adapter.
Keychron T10 USB Type-C Hub
This next one is a quick one, the Keychron T10 USB Type-C Hub. It has a USB-C connection on one end that is compatible with standard Windows Type-C notebooks, Apple Macbook’s and also a few smartphones. On the body there are multiple ports selections like SD and TF card readers, USB 3.0 Type-A ports (two on the front, two on the side), and on the back we have an RJ45 jack and both VGA and HDMI video outputs. Once you plug it in at tiny red LED shines so you know when it is powered and because of its triangular design you can place it standing up so certain ports are facing you.
You can also plug USB-C power into it and it will pass that charge into the notebook or mobile device you have the hub plugged to (device permitting). I never realized how useful these hubs were until I started traveling with my Razer Blade, where I can plug this hub into the USB Type-C connection and I have all this additional I/O. My only complaint with this hub is that the SD card reader is super slow, maxing out at 20MB/s.
Corsair iCUE NEXUS
Next up we have the Corsair iCUE NEXUS, which is a touchscreen keyboard/desktop accessory that you can either attach to a Corsair keyboard or simply put it in its own dock and have it on your desktop. As much as it is about the hardware it is the software that makes this thing really cool. Not only can you add different buttons for shortcuts, for media controls, for volume customization, for app macros, but you can also add system statistics that will display GPU temperature, CPU load, CPU temperature, memory usage, etc. If you have other iCUE devices plugged into your system you can the lighting so everything is cohesive without entering iCUE. You can create multiple pages with their own widgets and buttons, all of which can be customized in terms of text, colour, and size. The resolution is not too bad, especially when you are looking at it from an arm’s length distance. However, my complaint is with the viewing angles, when you are sitting in front of it there is no problem, but side-to-side viewing is absolutely terrible. At $99 USD it is a pretty expensive accessory, but a really cool one that gives us a bit of nostalgia, especially if you remember the Logitech G19 keyboard that had a cool built-in screen.
Phanteks NEON Digital-RGB LED Strips
The Phanteks’ NEON Digital-RGB LED strips are flexible and look great inside your PC. The really cool thing about these ones – aside from the beautiful soft illumination courtesy of the thick diffusion layer – is that you can route it around your motherboard or around certain components. There are included brackets that you can either attach to the case with adhesive or a mount underneath the motherboard standoffs. They are called strips neon strips for reason, none of them will be straight inside your PC, and that is actually the beauty behind it. I would say it’s one of the most unique ways to light up the interior of a PC, and if you have a Phanteks enclosure you can connect that directly to a case or simply reroute them to your motherboard’s 5V RGB header.
VIVIFY ARQUUS W73 RGB Fiber Optic HDMI Cable
Moving on to some questionable RGB accessories for your PC, here we have this HDMI 4K RGB cable that is Razer Chrome compatible. It is one of the most expensive cables I have ever owned, and you need that USB connection in order to have software control, otherwise it’s just an RGB loop. To be honest though, the illumination is just as soft as the LT100 towers and the neon strips are Phanteks, and it is only one-sided as well. I guess in certain situations it would be kind of cool, and controlling the illumination of an HDMI cable via software is pretty cool for 2020. However, there is no denying that it is a little bit pointless.
CableMod Anodized Aluminium Thumbscrews
Moving to a less pointless part, we have these coloured thumbscrews from CableMod. They are aluminium, they come with a variety of colours, and they are just a fun way to customize something in your system. You can use them to either secure PCIe slots or side panels. Now they have a flat head, meaning you cannot use a screwdriver and you can only tighten them with your thumb. Also, since they are aluminium they are not magnetic, so don’t try to catch one with your screwdriver.
Logitech Fun Mic Covers
Next up are these fun microphone covers from Logitech. They come with different shapes and colours, they can fit a microphone capsule anywhere between 6mm to 13mm, and they basically fit all of the microphones that I have in my collection. They replace the stock foam filter, so they do prevent a little bit of the popping noise and they are also quite fun. Bonus tip, I appreciate they do not smell.
Razer RESPAWN by 5 Gum
Did you know that Razer made gaming gum? We had so many laughs after the brief. They are continuing with consumables within the gaming market. They started with that gaming powder, and now with the Respawn by 5 gum. The thing here is that it’s basically the same ingredients as the powder but without the added caffeine. There are a bunch of vitamins in the gum and tea extract, which is the energy boosts element. I love the “Chew. Focus. React. Win.” slogan. It comes in three flavours: Pomegranate Watermelon, Tropical Punch, and Cool Mint. Pomegranate Watermelon is my favorite.
Oddly enough the gum itself is dark grey, and after you chew it it’s still dark grey. In terms of flavour intensity it is incredible for the first minute, and then the flavour dies to about 10%. What surprises me the most is that they are selling these in packs of 10, so you get 150 pieces of gum for $28 USD. And surprise #2 is that I actually find that it improves my focus, not just while gaming, but when I’m editing too. If I’m feeling a little bit tired I just pop in a piece of gum and I’m good for another hour. There is no sugar crash afterwards either. Basically, it’s pretty legit, but it is still “gaming gum”.
VIVIFY ACESO W10 Light-Up Fast Charging USB Cable
And lastly, speaking of pointless gaming things, we have another cable from Vivify. This is the W10 gaming USB Type-A to Type-C illuminated cable. It follows in the footsteps of that HDMI cable, where the illumination is only on the one side. It’s pretty even, pretty bright, and quite uniform throughout, but it’s not RGB. You have to choose the different colour variation when you ordered the cable. I was excited to use this with my keyboard, but it’s very stiff so positioning it the right way so that the lighting actually is visible is kind of difficult. Overall, this cable is almost pointless, it’s just really funny to see an illuminated gaming USB cable.
All right, so I think that concludes all of our cool PC accessories you have probably never heard of. Let me know if anything stood out as the most interesting in this roundup, and let us know if you have stumbled upon something totally crazy that we should cover.
Buy these items from from Amazon:
iCue LT100 – https://geni.us/LT100
Noise Canceling Dongle – https://geni.us/AINOISE
Phanteks NEON – https://geni.us/PHANEON
RGB HDMI – https://geni.us/RGBHDMI
USB-C RGB – https://geni.us/RGBUSB
Cablemod Thumbscrews – https://geni.us/COLORTHUMB
Buy items from our other partners below:
PCPanel – http://bit.ly/PCPANEL
iCue LT100 – https://go.corsair.com/dxOkj
iCue NEXUS – https://go.corsair.com/6vynq
Logitech Mic Covers – https://imp.i125364.net/miccover
Razer Respawn – https://razer.a9yw.net/RzGZN
Keychron T10 – https://bit.ly/3m4ok2l