A Tale of Two Form-Factors
HyperX (a division of Kingston) entered the mechanical keyboard market a year ago with the Alloy series, which began as a pair of 104-key designs with the Alloy Elite and Alloy FPS. Both keyboards feature Cherry MX keys, with the FPS sporting a minimalist design with a compact frame to save room on a desk. Now a TKL version of the FPS has arrived - the FPS Pro - to compliment the 104-key version already at the PC Perspective offices, and in this review we will test out both versions of this gaming keyboard.
Both keyboards feature adjustable red backlighting
Features from HyperX for the Alloy FPS:
- Compact design frees desktop space — waste less time reorienting the mouse
- Solid-steel frame for stability, giving you supreme confidence in your controls
- Ultra-portable design with detachable cable is great for LAN parties and tournaments
- Cherry MX mechanical keys for tactile feedback and reliable keypresses
- Convenient USB charge port allows you to charge other devices
- Game mode, 100-percent Anti-Ghosting and full N-key rollover features ensure your inputs are correct
- HyperX red backlit keys with customizable, dynamic lighting functions
- Additional colored, textured keycaps spotlight the most important keys
Now take virtually the same feature list (minus the additional keycaps) and subtract the number pad, and you have the Alloy FPS Pro, an “ultra-minimalistic tenkeyless design ideal for FPS pros”, according to HyperX. This reduction in size and number of keys is accompanied by a reduction in price, and the Alloy FPS Pro will be 20% less expensive than the 104-key FPS when it launches in late August. How do these mechanical keyboards stack up? Read on for our full review!
A Premium Mechanical Option Under $100
In the past year or two we have seen a number of sub-$100 mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, and several of these have passed through our hands here at the PC Perspective offices. The latest of these to garner our attention is the ZALMAN ZM-K900M, a premium gaming design featuring RGB lighting effects and Kailh Blue key switches, along with a 1000 Hz polling rate and full N-key rollover. It currently retails for $89.99, though it can be found for as little as $79.99 (currently, at least) with a little googling. How impressive is it in person? Read on to find out!
The ZM-K900M offers a variety of RGB effects
The ZM-K900M certainly checks the right boxes as a gaming keyboard, with the above-mentioned 1000 Hz polling rate (which ZALMAN calls 'Z-Engine') and customizable RGB lighting, supports simulanious key presses for the full 104 keys, and offers programmable macro keys. All of the keyboard features are controlled via hot keys on the ZM-K900M itself, eliminating the need for software.
“The ZM-K900M requires no software installation and is universally compatible with any operating system. The macros automatically remember the time interval between the inputs and run exactly as you typed. The keyboard stores the data inside the keyboard so you can instantly run your macros on any computer.”
Features and specifications from ZALMAN:
- Simple and minimal design
- Equipped with Z-Engine
- Supports USB and PS/2 connection
- Intelligent hardware macro with option to add mouse clicks
- Multimedia hotkeys
- 4-stage macro speed adjustment
- 6-key and N-Key rollover
- Option to lock Windows key or entire keyboard
- High quality laser-etched keycaps
- Model: ZM-K900M
- Keyboard Layout: 104-key
- Key Switch: Kailh Blue mechanical key switch
- Keyboard Matrix: USB & PS/2 N key rollover (anti-ghost function)
- Key cap type: Step Sculpture 2
- Interface: USB
- Cable length: 5.6 ft
- Dimensions: 17.32 x 5.51 x 1.34 inches, 2.75 lbs
- ZALMAN ZM-K900M Keyboard: $89.99 - Amazon.com
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2017 - 01:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical, magnesium, logitech, keyboard, gaming, aluminium
Logitech has announced the G413, a mechanical gaming keyboard with the company's exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches and premium construction (including an aluminum-magnesium upper panel).
"Engineered for precision and performance, the keyboard delivers unrivaled performance in a thoughtfully balanced, modern design. The Logitech G413 features Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches, offering 25 percent faster actuation than standard mechanical keys, as well as a brushed anodized aircraft-grade aluminum top case, USB passthrough port and precision key backlighting for an affordable price."
Logitech lists these features for the G413 mechanical gaming keyboard:
- Romer-G Mechanical Switches: Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches are purpose-built for professional-grade performance, responsiveness and durability. With a short-throw actuation point of 1.5 mm, Romer-G switches register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches, so you can get your shots off faster than your opponent. Designed to enhance gameplay, Romer-G switches offer the perfect blend of speed, precision and quiet performance.
- Precision Key Lighting: Romer-G mechanical switches are also purpose-designed for precise and clean lighting through the keycaps. This means keys are always visible and never distracting, especially during late night gaming sessions. The Logitech G413 Carbon features elemental red backlighting and the Logitech G413 Silver features iconic white backlighting, for a premium, focused look.
- Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Alloy: A brushed 5052 aluminum-magnesium alloy top case serves as the keyboard’s backbone. The result is a minimal design balanced with a full set of features. With a focus on high-end finish and performance, the Logitech G413 is crafted from the highest-grade materials.
- USB Passthrough: Convenience and speed are directly within reach. The additional, dedicated USB cable connects the USB passthrough port to its own input for full power throughput and data speed.
- Full Function Keys: Media control is built-in so you can use the FN key to control volume, play and pause, mute, game mode, lighting, etc. The FN toggle feature in the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) configure the keys to perform media commands by default.
- Programmable Macros: Use LGS to program custom functions and macro commands on F1-F12 buttons. Execute complex commands, or unleash a timed series of actions or spells with the press of a button.
- Performance Keycaps: Laser-etched cylindrical keycaps come standard plus a set of 12 optional performance faceted keycaps designed by esports pros are included.
With an MSRP of $89.99 the G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard goes on sale this month in two versions, with a black finish (shown here) and a silver finish that is exclusive to Best Buy.
Das Keyboard describes their products as "the ultimate experience for badasses", and the Austin, TX based company has delivered premium designs since their initial (completely blank) keyboard in 2005. The Prime 13 is a traditional 104-key design (with labeled keys), and features Cherry MX Brown switches and simple white LED backlighting. So it is a truly "badass" product? Read on to find out!
"Das Keyboard Prime 13 is a minimalist mechanical keyboard designed to take productivity to the next level. Free of fancy features, the Prime 13 delivers an awesome typing experience by focusing on premium material and simple design. Featuring an anodized aluminum top panel, Cherry MX switches with white LEDs, USB pass-through and an extra-long braided cable, the Prime 13 is the ideal mechanical keyboard for overachievers who want get the job done."
I don't need to tell prospective mechanical keyboard buyers that the market is very crowded, and it seems to grow every month. Just about PC accessory maker offers at least one option, and many have tried to distinguish themselves with RGB lighting effects and software with game-specific profiles and the like. So is there still room for a simple, non-RGB keyboard with no special software involved? I think so, but it will need to be quite a premium design to justify a $149 price tag, and that's what the Prime 13 will run at retail. First impressions are very good, but I'll try to cover the experience as well as I can in text and photos in this review.
A close look at the MX Brown switches within the Prime 13
The Professional Typist MK1 from Penclic is a compact, tenkeyless (TKL) mechanical keyboard with Kailh Brown switches that the Swedish company has designed "for the professional typist that wants to type fast, really fast."
"Whether you are an engineer writing reports, journalist writing articles, or anyone else who uses a keyboard a lot, you require the best tool for the job. The brown mechanical keys give a distinct feel for when you have pressed far enough and are more responsive than membrane alternatives and the keystroke sound is also suitable for the office environment. These features enable users with extra nimble fingers to type superfast."
A relative newcomer to the PC industry (and one I had not heard of before now), Penclic was founded in 2011 and specializes in ergonomics and "smart, clean Scandinavian design". I can certainly appreciate the clean design aesthetic, which is refreshing after mainly covering products in an industry that thinks PC enthusiasts want RGB lighting on everything and Batmobile-inspired industrial design.
This keyboard may not be targeted specifically at "gamers", (it is called the "Professional Typist MK1" after all) but it could certainly be used in that capacity. Key switches are a personal thing - as is standard vs. TKL (and 60%, etc.) - but Penclic may just have produced a product that can appeal to just about any user.
A mix of styles
Logitech continues its push and re-entry into the gaming peripherals market in 2016, this time adding another keyboard under the Orion brand to the mix. The Logitech G G810 Orion Spectrum is, as the name implies, an RGB mechanical keyboard using the company's proprietary Romer-G switches. But despite the similarity in model numbers to the G910 Orion Spark announced in late 2014, the G810 has some significant design and functionality changes.
This new offering is cleaner, less faceted (both in key caps and design) but comes much closer to the feel and function than the tenkeyless G410 from last year. Let's take a look at how the G810 changes things up for Logitech G.
The G810 Orion Spectrum is a full size keyboard with tenkey (also known as the numeric keypad) that has sleeker lines and more professional lines that its big brother. The black finish is matte on the keys and framing but the outside edges of the keyboard have a gloss to them. It's a very minimal part of the design though so you shouldn't have to worry about fingerprints.
At first glance, you can see that Logitech toned down some of the gamer-centric accents when compared to either the G910 or the G410. There is no wrist rest, no PCB-trace inspired lines, no curves and no sharp edges. What you get instead is a keyboard that is equally well placed in modern office or in an enthusiasts gaming den. To me, there are a lot of touches that remind me of the Das Keyboard - understated design that somehow makes it more appealing to the educated consumer.
This marks the first keyboard with the new Logitech G logo on it, though you are likely more concerned about the lack of G-Keys, the company's name for its macro-capable buttons on the G910. For users that still want that capability, Logitech G allows you to reprogram the function keys along the top for macro capability, and has a pretty simple switch in software to enable or disable those macros. This means you can maintain the F-row of keys for Windows applications but still use macros for gaming.