Dotstar/Neopixel Digital LEDs Comparison

Publish: 2020-06-09  Views: 2334

Comparison LED Strips: WS2812B, SK6812, APA102, NS107S

All LEDs are SMD5050 to compare (they also have 3535/2020/1515 size). There are RGB and RGBW variants for some of them (W of RGBW is used for an additional white LED 3000k/4000k/6000k CCT).

These LEDs fall into two categories:

  • WS2812B, SK6812:
    • 3wires
    • One wire to control LED (asynchronous)
    • Refresh rate of 400Hz, restricted data rate of 800Hz
    • Not suitable for POV (Persistence of Vision) applications (too slow in refreshing)
    • Interrupt compatibility
  • APA102, NS107S
    • 4wires
    • 2 wire SPI pin (CLK & DAT) (synchronous)
    • No strict timing necessary, faster contol rate [Data & PWM], high (NS107S 27kHz / APA102 20Khz) refresh rates
    • Suitable for POV (Persistence of Vision) applications.
    • Color-independent brightness control
    • A little more expensive

Summary: If you need better timing, want to build POV application, need interrupts, go for APA102/NS107S, otherwise you can go for the WS2812B/SK6812

WS2812B vs SK6812 


The original members of this category were LED strips based on the WS2812B LED driver, but those have now been replaced with LED strips featuring the newer SK6812 LED driver. The SK6812 is very similar to the WS2812B, and can be used as a drop-in replacement in most applications because it features the same interface and color order (so LED strips based on the SK6812 and WS2812B can be chained together). The main difference between the two drivers is that the SK6812 has voltage-independent color and brightness over a wide voltage range, which means that the colors of the LEDs should not be affected by a drop in the supply voltage as much as they are on the WS2812B.


Summary: Go for the SK6812.

Note: APA105 is another clone of the WS2812b, with built-in capacitors, there are not many information yet. Claims to be cheaper. If oyu have tested them, contact us.

APA102 vs SK9822

Not that much information, NS107S is slightly different and a better clone, higher refresh rate than APA102,  and they are fully compatible, with same protocol, same controller, same PCB, all same. NS107S leds with much better IC(NS107S), lower voltage drop, better for many applications.


Summary: In case you are unsure, go with the NS107S


  • WS2813: Not compatible with WS2812b (though they are announced as successors), has 4wires etc. Main advantage: if one LED fails, the rest of the strip still works
  • WS2801: External (old) driver chip
  • WS2811: External driver chip to build own LED stripes, WS2811b = LEDs with WS2811 driver chip, predecessor of WS2812b
  • APA105: Clone of WS2812b, with built-in capacitors, there are not many information yet
  • APA107: 4wires Pixel LED, old type of NS107S, same protocol with APA102.