Hands-on: Corsair iCUE NEXUS and LT100 RGB towers
For no particular reason, gamers have had a lot more time to spend at their computers and consoles in 2020, and the world’s tech manufacturers have kept innovating to try to keep up with an increase in demand. Corsair has launched a couple of interesting products this summer, including the LT100 RGB LED tower and a small touch-screen device called the iCUE NEXUS.
The first product, the LT100, is about as straightforward as it can be. When set up, it’s a tower with bright RGBs along its length and at its base, and it can do all sorts of cool things and effects within Corsair’s iCUE software. The iCUE NEXUS, however, is a bit more complicated. It’s essentially Corsair’s own take on another popular product for streamers and gamers—the Elgato Stream Deck.
We were able to get our hands on both products, and after setting them up and using them ourselves for a while, we can tell you a bit about how they work and what they are. We’ll start with the iCUE NEXUS, because frankly it’s the more interesting product of the two.
iCUE NEXUS: Corsair’s take on a streamer’s favorite tech
A lot of you probably already know all about the Elgato Stream Deck, but just in case, it’s essentially a little (or not-so-little) tablet of physical buttons that you can program to do any number of things on your PC. It can open programs, do specific commands within those programs (like start a stream from OBS), alter system settings, and a whole lot more. Corsair’s iCUE NEXUS is essentially a tiny little touch-screen tablet that goes above your keyboard, or wherever on your desk if you want, that functions similarly to the Stream Deck.
The striking similarity to the Stream Deck is kind of odd, considering Elgato is a child company of Corsair’s, and especially because this new product may very well compete with the Stream Deck. Or it might raise some questions, such as “What happens to the Stream Deck now? Is Corsair replacing it with this?” We don’t have official answers to any of that, but we can tell you how the thing functions and what it’s good for.
Much like the Stream Deck, you can program custom commands, full macros, reroute keys, alter system settings, and a lot more. Unlike Elgato, which has its own program specifically for the Stream Deck, you don’t need a new program to control this one. It just works within Corsair’s iCUE software, so if you use iCUE for literally anything else, from RGB lights to headset controls, the NEXUS’ controls just exist within the same space.
Due to those similarities, this product just seems like it’s another option to include in the Stream Deck conversation, with slight differences from the original product. It’s smaller, it can be affixed to your keyboard with included adhesive strips, and it’s controlled with touch commands rather than actual physical buttons. If you like touch screens, you might like it. If you like the feedback of a button, you might not like it.
It can do a few things that are unique, too. For instance, it can work with in-game controls. Corsair uses Ubisoft’s Rainbow 6 Siege as an example, where you can actually do things like deploying drones, switching to monitor camera, crouching, and some other stuff. It’s neat, though pretty limited in application.
One might argue that the keys to do those things are nearer to your hand on the keyboard than a touch-screen panel could ever be, but if you need visual representation of those buttons that isn’t just on-screen, it can be nice. After using the NEXUS for a bit, it feels a bit more satisfying to use it on things that could use some extra buttons, rather than replacing too many default and accessible keybindings. MMOs and MOBAs in particular would be more useful.
So that's how you should think about the iCUE NEXUS: as a touch-screen Stream Deck with some slight differences, and a few unique features that can make it stand out.
LT100 RGB Towers: More RGBs… that’s it
The LT100 towers function exactly as you’d expect. They’re RGB LED towers. They look cool on your desk, and that's pretty much all they are trying to do. Each tower stands a little taller than a foot, and bright customizable RGBs run the length of them. The base is surrounded in its own lights, too. The starter kit comes with two towers—one that connects to your PC via USB, and one that connects to the main tower. There are expansion kits available that simply include another tower and the cables necessary to bridge it to your main tower.
Using these towers is simple. You plug them in, open iCUE, and you can change the light controls the same way you could change them on a Corsair keyboard or mouse. Want a strobelight? Cool. Rainbow shifting colors? Classic. Fireplace effect? Kinda neat, kinda unique. And of course they can be synced through iCUE with your Corsair peripherals, components, and lighting strips.
Are these effects necessary or even remotely useful for gaming or using your computer in general? Not in the slightest, but if you like RGBs shining all over your desk and PC, you’ll like the additional lighting in your arsenal.
There are a couple of effects that really stood out as perhaps a bit snazzier than the others. One, for instance, shows you the warmth of your hardware, like your CPU. Normally, you’d want the light to be green or yellow, but if they turn red, you know your PC is chugging. It’s not a new idea, but hey, it’s practical. The next effect to highlight is Video Lighting, which essentially changes the towers’ lighting to match the contents of your screen. An effect like that can help with immersion with your games, or... well, it just looks cool.
The starter kit also comes with a small extension you can attach to a tower that allows you to rest your headset on it, providing a little more value to the product (if you have the desk space for it). It’s not a complicated product, but it can be a fun one.