Ambilight. Not only colleagues Nils and Maxe swear by it, this type of backlighting is also very popular in our survey about this proprietary technology (actually from Phillips).
I really like this idea: the background lighting – in the Govee Sync Box in the form of LED strips on the television or monitor – dynamically adapts to the screen content.
The goal: more immersion, immerse yourself even more in the game.
I’ve taken a closer look at Govee’s AI box and have been attaching it to my UWQHD (3440 x 1440) monitor for four weeks. The supposedly big advantage: There is no camera on the monitor in favor of an additional box and an AI sleeping inside that is supposed to precisely recognize the screen content.
Although I have learned to love it, I can only recommend it to a limited extent.
What have I tested?
Govee loaned me his Gaming AI Gaming Sync Box. There was no obligation to publish this article. Also no say in the published content.
I attached the box to my 34-inch monitor and used it primarily for gaming. The monitor supports a refresh rate of up to 175 Hertz and achieves a resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels.
Govee’s Ambilight alternative comes in quite compact packaging, which at first glance makes it difficult to imagine the impending tangle of cables. After all, in addition to the AI box, there are other components in the packaging that need to be placed on the desk:
- HDMI 2.0 Sync Box
- Two HDMI cables
- An LED strip for the screen
- Light-Bars and Cable
- Fastening clips
The installation is completed in just a few steps, but requires some fiddling, which is more pleasant with two people. In total it took me around 30 minutes including unpacking, installing and sorting.
- First I unpacked and sorted the components. Then I placed the two light bars in a suitable location on the desk. All cables from the light bars are connected to the box, as well as an HDMI cable from the graphics card and an HDMI cable from the box to the monitor.
- Now the real work happens: The continuous LED strip must be attached to the back of the monitor. At this point I got two helping hands to support me. While my helper held the strip in place, I was able to remove the adhesive strip and place the LED precisely on the back of the monitor.
- To prevent the cables from being visible on the sides of the monitor, Govee provides additional clips. These clips can be used to fix the protruding cables. This means you won’t notice any unsightly cables in the background while playing.
- Finally, the box must be connected to the smartphone app. The app is also required for firmware updates.
Up to three devices can be connected to the Govee box, with only one HDMI port supporting ARC. With one head on the box you can easily switch between the signals.
At the end of the installation, I sorted all the cables and the product could be subjected to an initial test. But first let’s take a look at the app and the software.
Govee AI Gaming Sync Box: Die Software
Anyone who is familiar with the app from the well-known manufacturer knows the procedure. The Ambilight alternative connects to a WiFi network. In my case, the app already recognized the new product and added it seamlessly with just a few simple steps.
The lights were then briefly calibrated. However, this only includes information in which direction the LED strip was attached to the back of the monitor.
The manufacturer offers an optional desktop app. However, the range of functions cannot be compared with the mobile app, which is why I advise against the Windows version.
So back to the mobile app: As with the brand’s other lights, the in-house app offers the typical setting options. You have the choice between fixed colors that illuminate the background, prefabricated scenes and you can even optionally create your own scenes.
You also have the option of adjusting the light depending on the music. With the DreamView 360 degree function, it is also possible to synchronize the lighting effects between the different Govee lights.
But the star of the box is clearly the AI function, which can also be used in “Film DreamView” to synchronize the color reproduction between selected Govee lights. As a test, I activated this function with the manufacturer’s “Glide Hexa” panels.
In principle, the synchronization between the two products works without any problems, even with AI activated. However, further adjustments in this area are necessary to equalize the color saturation of the two products.
Personally, the play of light in front of my nose and behind the screen is enough for me. Spread across the entire room it seems a bit “overkill” to me.
But how well does the AI function work now?? Very good! The colors on my screen are reliably recognized and the background colors synchronously with the content currently being played – as promised by the manufacturer.
In addition, the Sync Box offers additional atmospheric light explosions for supported game titles that are simply fun. For example in Teamfight Tactics, if you are currently looking for a new lobby or have achieved a victory during a round.
If we’re talking about League of Legends, the color box creates a real light show in your ears, whether it’s first blood, when the first tower falls or you as a team lay the hextech dragon. Almost every event in the game “rewards” you with a harmonious lighting display.
Or in Apex Legends, when you revive one of your team members and the background glows green in a circle, just to name a few examples of many. After four weeks it just didn’t get boring.
Apart from that, you have the option within the application to freely adapt the individual lighting effects for the game scenarios. However, there is also the famous catch here.
There are currently only a select number of game titles available to you:
- League of Legends
- Apex Legends
- Overwatch 2
- Call of Duty Warzone 2
- Counter Strike Go 2
- DOTA 2
- Genshin Impact
- Teamfight Tactics
- Forza Horizon 5
- Hell: Bladepoint
- Battlefield 5
The good news: The manufacturer is constantly expanding the list of supported games. At the beginning of 2023, the list only made it to three game titles.
Unfortunately, the greatest strength of the AI Sync Box is also its greatest weakness. If you switch from a game title like League of Legends, which curates every action with great color gimmicks, to a game without Ai-Sync Box integration, it sometimes seems sobering.
Because here you “only” benefit from the dominant color scheme of the title. Games with static backgrounds can be disappointing here.
Bonus: The box can be integrated into the smart home ecosystem, either with Google Home or Amazon Alexa. For example, the device can be switched on and off or the color of the lighting can be changed using a voice command.
Performance of the Ambilight alternative
All that glitters is not gold. Unfortunately, this also applies to the AI Gaming Sync Box from Govee. Despite the atmospheric and precise lighting, there is sometimes a big negative point:
The box only supports HDMI 2.0.
What does that mean for you? For example, if you have a 4K monitor or television, you will get a maximum of 60 Hertz. If you play on a FullHD monitor, it is at least 240 Hertz, with 2K it is 144 Hertz.
True, there are only a few systems that can achieve more than 60 frames per second with 4K content, and consoles are perfect for that. However, my ultrawide monitor with a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels is in the same vein and supports a maximum of 60 Hertz in combination with the Govee box, although in theory the monitor can reach up to 175 Hertz.
A frame rate of 60 Hertz may be sufficient for many games, even for someone like me who wants high FPS, but not for competitive games like League of Legends, Apex Legends and Co.
I therefore recommend the box primarily to people with a 16:9 setup who can do without DisplayPort and variable refresh rates (G-Sync, AMD Freesync). These features are completely irrelevant.
There is another problem with ultrawide monitors and game titles, which do not support this resolution. For example, if you play Elden Ring, which does not natively support a 21:9 aspect ratio, you will see large black bars on the left and right, which in turn means that the colors are not reproduced accurately by the Gaming Sync Box.
HDR is still possible, as is Dolby Vision. However, with HDR turned on, my monitor briefly loses signal when I start a game or return to the desktop from full screen mode.
A problem that does not occur without the HDR option activated in the Windows settings. Furthermore, I was unable to measure a significantly higher input latency when using the Sync Box.
|Monitor: 27 inches, 34 inches
TV: 55 inches, 65 inches
|4K: 60 Hertz
2K: 144 Hertz
1080p: 240 Hertz
|WiFi (2,4 GHz), Bluetooth
|2x USB-C IN (for the light bars)
1x HDMI OUT
3x HDMI 2.0 IN (1x mit ARC)
1x power connector
|10 x 23 x 45 Zentimeter
|App, box, voice control
The Ambilight alternative from Govee for retrofitting is not the right choice for me personally, which is particularly unfortunate. Because the box itself does a lot of things damn right and gave me some entertaining and often amazed hours.
If you have an ultrawide monitor like me, I can unfortunately only recommend the Sync Box to a limited extent. If, on the other hand, you use a 16:9 setup and can do without DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1 and variable refresh rates such as G-Sync and AMD Freesync, then take a closer look at the box if you are interested.
It can be worth it if you don’t want to run away from the high price of 299 euros (RRP).
Also note that light strips are currently only supported for 27″ and 34″ monitors and 55″ and 65″ TVs.
Personally, I’m waiting for a possible successor with HDMI 2.1 supportin order to get above the 60 Hertz mark in competitive games and to be able to benefit from the lighting effects.
Because for me they are the biggest highlight of the box, next to the reliable AI.