What good are monitor light bars? [Setups]

By

What good is a monitor light bar? Time to shed some light on the matter.
What good is a monitor light bar? Time to shed some light on the matter.
Photo: Strigga@Reddit

When you look at lots of computer setups people pimp out on social media, you see the same questions cropping up among the comments. One common query: What good are monitor light bars? And what are they for, exactly?

It came up again the other day when Redditor Strigga posted about their MacBook Pro-based setup. Almost at the same time, we saw it again in Maize-Calm’s post about finishing up a setup with, guess what, a light bar.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

And not one, not two, but three of our recent Setups articles have featured Reddit posts with comments on the matter.

What good are monitor light bars?

The wide rod of light that many folks clip to the top of displays and shine more or less downward tends to confuse people. Is it lighting the monitor’s screen? The desk? Both? Does it interfere with the screen’s brightness?

Both Strigga and Maize-Calm use the popular but pricey BenQ light bars. Some models feature a separate control knob to control the light’s brightness and warmth.

When a commenter in Maize’s post asked about the benefit of the light bar, other commenters were quick to answer.

“It’s a handy task light for my main desk area without having to have a bulky lamp sitting on the desk or hanging off of somewhere,” one commenter said. “Also, the room lighting in my office is usually bright enough but it’s kinda ‘shadowy’ (my head and arms cast shadows on my desk) and the light bar helps with that.”

On the question of glare on the screen, folks tend to agree it’s not an issue.

One person said he used a bar on an iMac and found the light made the computer’s light sensor max out the screen’s brightness. But using the bar with an external monitor worked fine.

Some light bar makers advertise that their products have no glare issues with iMacs.

Will an LED strip do the trick?

Another form of the common light bar question, from a commenter in Strigga’s post, went like this: “Where is the advantage of having a light bar on top of the monitor instead for example an LED strip on the bottom of the monitor? Never got the point, maybe I’m missing something…”

And the answer, from another commenter, went like this: “Mostly directional control and focus. If you’re writing on a notepad it’s better to have light directly hitting it vs ambient light unless you’re writing directly under the LED strip. If you’re just looking for ambient light though the strip is fine.”

When it comes to products offering focused light without taking up space, it’s hard to beat a monitor light bar.

A variety of price points

As mentioned above, BenQ makes nice light bars, but they tend to cost north of $100. As many setup fans on social media point out, there are many less-expensive options. The majority of them cost between $30 and $50, though you can find cheaper ones.

Some wallet-friendly monitor light bars we’ve seen recently come from makers like Baseus, LOFTer, Seenda and Quntis. Check out light bars at various prices in the gear link list below.

So anyway, desk lamps aren’t cool now? Yeah, kinda — unless it’s this guy’s Joel Nakamura “Mecha G” Sport Silver Lamp.

Shop these items now:

Computer and peripherals:

Monitor light bars:

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.