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Nanoleaf Shapes Ultra Black Hexagons review

Nanoleaf's Limited Edition Hexagons Starter Kit is a great way to customize a gaming room or dark walls

The Nanoleaf Black shapes on the wall

Our Verdict

The Nanoleaf Shapes Ultra Black Hexagons are perfect for dark walls and gaming rooms where you want to add a splash of color. The LED panels give out a vibrant light, which you can easily change with presets, a physical tap or more advanced app control. They're not the cheapest option on the market, and could be brighter, but I'm still impressed at how much they brighten my room and my mood.

Reasons to buy
  • Light colors are vibrant
  • Magic Scene program is very good
  • Black panels make a statement when off
Reasons to avoid
  • Black power cord ugly on light walls
  • Connection sometimes buggy

As LED lighting technology has improved, become more efficient, and more intelligent with app connectivity, its price has decreased. There’s a huge range of LED lighting options to jazz up your gaming space or home, whether you stick the best LED strip lights around a monitor or desk, or adorn your walls with LED panels like the Nanoleaf Shapes series.

I’ve often found lighting for gamers to be on the plastic and tacky side – as if you can’t enjoy gaming and good design simultaneously. But Nanoleaf does things differently, creating lights and decor that feel right in a modern home, or a gaming setup. If you want to add colorful accents to your walls, and you want to be able to link them up to your smart devices for total control and customization, you might have been looking at Nanoleaf’s Shapes collection.

The Shapes Limited Edition Ultra Black Hexagons Starter Kit consists of 9 panels, which you can arrange in lots of different ways on your wall with sticky adhesive pads. You can also add to your setup later if you want a bigger panel. In this review, I’ll share my honest experiences of setting up the Ultra Black Hexagons panels, what they’re like to use, and importantly, what they look like in real life when the light is on and off.

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Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons Starter Kit specs:

Touch control Yes
Screen mirror Yes
Music Sync Yes
Dimmable Yes
Connectivity WiFi (2.4 GHz)
Control Nanoleaf App (Android/iOS), Desktop App (Windows/Mac)
Compatibility Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Nanoleaf Remote, SmartThings, Razer Chroma
Lifetime 25,000 hours

The Nanoleaf Shapes hexagons box


What makes the Ultra Black Shapes different from their standard white counterparts is that they’re a limited edition set. They offer all of the same features as the standard Shapes Hexagons in white. They’re ultra-thin, slot together, and stick on the wall to create a pattern of your choosing. Once fixed in place and plugged in, they can be controlled in a myriad of different ways. There’s a simple Nanoleaf smartphone app that works over WiFi (2.4 GHz only), Music Sync mode that reacts to sounds and sick tunes, and Screen Mirror to match what’s on your gaming monitor or TV.

What’s great about buying into a well-established ecosystem like the Nanoleaf Shapes is that you can customize your setup and make it bigger further down the line. For example, the Starter Kit I tested had nine panels, but expansion packs (three hexagons each) allow you to make it bigger further down the line. The white version of Nanoleaf’s Hexagons should also work with the Ultra Black versions, although aesthetically I struggle to see how they’d gel with their sleek, darker counterparts. That might just be my taste, though.

The Nanoleaf Black shapes in the box


You don’t need any tools to install the Ultra Black Hexagons on a wall. Sticky strips are provided in the box, and these are strong enough to hold each panel securely. You’ll want to plan what pattern you’re going with first, as it’s harder to remove a panel once you’ve stuck it down firmly. You also need to decide where to position the controller (this can support up to 500 panels) and power cable (this can power up to 21).

One method for planning your layout is to use a tape measure and lay the triangles flat in front of you, but Nanoleaf also has a layout assistant if you’re stuck for space. I found this fairly cooperative, and it made it easy to find a layout I was happy with. There are also preset designs you can copy. I decided to pop the power cable on the far right of my design so that I could tuck it behind a bookcase out of sight.

The Nanoleaf Black shapes controller


Once the panels are mounted, you might find a few fingerprints have made their way onto the surface. That’s because the matte black finish is naturally more of a fingerprint magnet than the white, but this isn’t a major problem unless you’re pressing down on them incredibly hard with the touch-reactive feature.

Being so thin at 0.24 inches (0.6 cm) means the panels sit flush to the wall and don’t protrude far out when viewed from the side. And at 9 inches (23 cm) across, I was surprisingly pleased with just how much wall my starter kit covered. Out of interest, the Shapes Triangles cover just as much ground, but I prefer the look of the blocky hexagons.

Given that I’m reviewing the limited edition Ultra Black version of Nanoleaf’s Shapes, it’s worth saying that this colorway comes with plus and minus points. The black matte coating covers the whole panel, and the mounting plates, controller, and wire are jet black too. You don’t get any stray bits of white paint around the back or edges, and it doesn’t seem likely that this coating will peel or flake off either. In short, the panels feel well-made and robust, yet light enough that I didn’t worry about them falling off the wall.


The Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes set a new standard of what wall hangings should look like when the lights go dark, but they’re not perfect. While the all-black aesthetic is very sophisticated, I found this somewhat hinders the LED coverage across the whole panel. There’s some inconsistency across the panel, and while this doesn’t ruin the effect, it is more noticeable than I’d have liked.

The original Nanoleaf Shapes are some of the brightest RGB LEDs I’ve used, but white is naturally better at reflecting light. I was concerned the Ultra Black model wouldn’t be able to match its predecessor, and they’re a little dimmer than the white version. That means lighter colors like pure white, yellow, and peach can appear slightly muddier than the white panels up close. I wasn’t disappointed with the vibrancy of bold colors like bright blue and pink.

There are many ways to control the Shape’s lighting, which are all quick and easy. First, there’s the built-in controller snapped onto the side of your panels. This works well for quick changes and taps on and off, but you can’t customize your scenes using it and it requires you to get out of your chair. Then there are the desktop apps for Windows and Mac, and the mobile apps for Android and iOS, the latter being the option I used most frequently. On the Basic tab, you can choose a color temperature (1200K – 6500K) or solid hue from an RGBw palette, but I loved being able to flick between presets on the Scenes tab instantly. The Shapes are also compatible with Apple Home, Google Home, Alexa, and – to the joy of Razer gamers, Razer Chroma. I used Apple Home alongside the Nanoleaf app and found the control more limited but reliable.

Smart lighting panels aren’t designed to illuminate a whole room, so don’t expect the Ultra Black shapes to do this either, even at full brightness (100 lumens per panel). There are some bold options on there, but Daylight and Reading Light were my most-used Scenes for setting a bit of ambiance. It’s further proof that the Ultra Black Shapes aren’t just for gamers, but a product that sits perfectly in the Smart Lighting space for general interior decorators.

Should you buy?

I’d recommend the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes if:

  • You’ve got dark walls: I mounted the Hexagons Starter Kit on a dark navy matte wall (Hague Blue if you were wondering). The matte black of the panels blends in beautifully, as does the power cord, but I think they’d look oppressive on a light wall.
  • You’re a gamer: The Nanoleaf Shapes work particularly well with the Razer Chroma RGB ecosystem, as well as every other smart home system out there.
  • You want ambient light: The Ultra Black shapes aren’t bright enough to light up a large room on their own. But they’re worth it for creatives who want something more bold than white panels.


If you’re unsure whether Nanoleaf’s Ultra Black Shapes are right for you, check out these alternatives.