Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC RGB Expander 11

Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC RGB Expander

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Introduction


The modern era of enthusiast PC hardware can be defined with three simple letters: RGB. The proliferation of user customizable RGB LED lighting has led to a design revolution in every facet of computer hardware, from cases and motherboards all the way to mouse pads and headsets. While the trend of more and more lighting is not universally popular, it is an evolution of the desire to put more choice in the hands of the end user. Gone are the days when changing your color scheme meant buying all new case fans, or completely changing out hardware. In this new era, a fresh look is just a few clicks away.

The latest revolution in this trend is the push towards addressable RGB LEDs. Rather than having a single channel for an entire LED strip, memory stick, or case fan, each LED is given its own data channel, allowing for exponentially greater diversity and control. These days, just about every mainstream motherboard has an addressable RGB header along side the traditional "dumb" headers. Similarly, more and more components are arriving to market with similarly finite control. However, the saturation of addressable components is still in its early stages, and many RGB accessories rely on traditional control. Thus, to design a build that has true control over every LED and accessory can require numerous expensive RGB controllers and be a nightmare to coordinate.



This is exactly the problem one RGB enthusiast was faced with, and rather than settle for a less perfect RGB setup or wait out the slow release of more addressable RGB hardware, he decided to brew up his own solution. The brainchild of Solarity, the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is a digital to analog RGB converter that can onboard any traditional RGB accessory or strip it into an addressable signal. A Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC has four outputs that each take the place of one LED in the addressable signal, along with a passthrough to stack more boards or continue the addressable strip. Let's take a closer look to see how this specialized one of a kind tool works.

Packaging and Contents


The Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC comes in a plain white cardboard box that is sealed with a label. The label reads "12v ArrRGB DAC" with smaller print that reads "RGB Digital to Analog Converter Solarity Technology". The packaging is clean and to the point, and more than enough to protect the board within.

Inside the box, the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is encased in an anti-static bag that is then wrapped in bubble wrap. A short user guide with links to further information at the bottom is included.


The Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is designed to be mounted like a 2.5 inch drive and is sized accordingly. Its profile is virtually identical to a standard SATA SSD. There are connections all along the two longer sides of the board.


The bottom has the input and passthrough headers. On the right is a standard 3-pin addressable RGB input common to most motherboards, as well as a Corsair-style input. Note that only one of these inputs can be active at a time. On the left are outputs in the same two styles. This means the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC can be daisy chained to more boards like it or as a continuation of an addressable strip.


The top of the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC has the power input, which uses a floppy-style connector, and the four outputs. The outputs follow the most common RGB pin layout. Note that it is not recommended to power more than 150 LEDs through this board (only 50 LEDs for the 5 V version).


The standoffs for mounting the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC are designed so that boards can be stacked rather than taking up multiple drive slots. Build quality is excellent; these boards are all hand soldered by Solarity himself, and the care he takes with them is obvious.


I tested the ArrRGB DAC with four dumb LED strips that are a fixed color and don't support the addressing capability of modern motherboards. Once hooked up, the ArrRGB would show up as an addressable RGB device with four separately adjustable inputs, and the LED strips could be controlled accordingly.

Value and Conclusion

  • The Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is available for US$39.99.
  • Flexible, driverless solution
  • Easy to use
  • Great attention to detail
  • Price
The Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC has a very simple goal: integrate RGB strips and components into an addressable signal for easier control of the entire RGB ecosystem. The implementation is simple, accomplished entirely in hardware, which makes it compatible with all RGB LED control software without modification. It follows a common form factor that is easy to mount into any modern system, and the ability to stack multiple boards minimizes its footprint in the completed system. Installation and operation are simple and intuitive, and the included instructions don't leave out any details.

The US$40 price tag may seem steep at first glance, but taking into account these are hand produced in extremely low volume and mass produced RGB controllers aren't cheap in their own right, it is understandable. The Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is a specialized tool, but one with a broad spread of uses. If you are struggling to get fine control of the RGB in your system, constantly hitting a wall looking for more integration options, and want to help support a fellow RGB enthusiast, the Solarity Technology ArrRGB DAC is well worth checking out.
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