(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

If you're the type who builds computers from individual components, then you know all about the "RGB" craze that arguably enamors hardware manufacturers more than the people shopping for their next performance upgrade. But even as it gets increasingly difficult to avoid the price premium for purely cosmetic lighting inside and around your PC case, hardware makers are finding more ways to put the shiny bits in front of you.

Today, Razer, one of RGB's biggest fans, announced that you'll soon be able to use voice commands with Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant (download for Android or iOS) to control the colored lights on its products and those of a growing cohort of partners.

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The company says, "Within Q2 of 2019, Razer Synapse users in Canada and the U.S. who connect their compatible Razer devices to Amazon Alexa will notice a new module allowing them to transmit commands directly to Alexa or through Razer headsets, standalone microphones and laptop mics to change lighting or game settings."

Razer Synapse is a desktop app that you must log into to receive updates for your Razer products, a process that's never been popular among users who prefer the conventional ability to download the update files themselves.

While automated updates probably help less technical users, the absence of downloadable update files may wrankle you if you prefer not to be profiled or tracked for advertising purposes.

To be fair to Razer, there's at least more going on here than changing your computer's cosmetic lighting display. In its announcement, the company lists several voice command examples that have nothing to do with aesthetics, such as "Alexa, ask Chroma to start Overwatch" and "Alexa, ask Razer to change Audio settings to Movie mode."

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At the same time, though, it turns out that the Cortana virtual assistant built into Windows 10 can already adjust your PC's volume and launch apps using voice commands.

And Cortana's commands are shorter, which increases the chance that you'll be understood clearly. You can say, "Hey Cortana, launch Overwatch," or "Hey Cortana, lower the volume," and you'll get the same result as with Razer Synapse, more or less.

Granted, if you're using Windows 7 -- which depending on who you ask is still the most popular desktop OS in the world -- then you don't have Cortana. In which case, Razer Synapse may be an overall improvement. But with Microsoft planning to stop updating Windows 7 in January 2020, it's a pretty tight window of opportunity.


  • Razer has announced that its Chroma line of products will be able to use Amazon Alexa voice commands to control lighting and certain computer functions like launching apps and controlling volume.
  • However, the Cortana virtual assistant in Windows 10 can already perform many system functions using voice commands. Windows 7 does not have Cortana, but Microsoft is scheduled to end support for the older operating system just one year from now.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.