Legend on a Budget
In the world of gaming peripherals, there are few pieces of gear more well-known than the Razer BlackWidow mechanical keyboard. Since the launch of the original in 2010, it’s haunted department stores and professional eSports tournaments alike. As part of their 2019 product launch, Razer has refreshed this classic, stripping it down to the essentials to put it within the grasp of gamers on a budget. At $119, it enters the market at a crowded price point. Is a “core” Blackwidow do enough to stand out from the competition in 2019? Join us as we find out.
"Since its inception, the Razer BlackWidow name has been synonymous not just with precision but also the tactile and clicky feel of its switches that gamers love. We’ve fine-tuned our mechanical switches to unlock the highest level of gaming performance yet with the latest edition of the Razer Green Mechanical Switch. Game on with total clicky satisfaction and Razer Chroma lighting with the new Razer BlackWidow."
- Razer Green Mechanical Switches designed for gaming
- 80 million keystroke lifespan
- Razer Chroma™ customizable backlighting with 16.8 million color options
- Hybrid On-Board Memory and Cloud Storage – up to 5 profiles
- Razer Synapse 3 enabled
- Cable routing
- N-key roll-over anti-ghosting
- Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
- Gaming mode option
- 1000 Hz Ultrapolling
- Instant Trigger Technology
Pricing and Availability: $119.99, Amazon.com
The Pint-Sized Flagship
In November 2017, Cooler Master released their flagship keyboard, the MasterKeys MK750. With its successor, the MK850, just around the corner, they’ve released its little brother, the MK730. It’s a tenkeyless version of the original, but when I saw that, one, it was only $119.99, and two, we’d never reviewed the original MK750, I knew that we had to take a look. Is this the small form factor keyboard you’ve been waiting for? Let’s dig in and find out.
- Switch Type: CHERRY MX Red, Blue (reviewed), Brown
- Material: Plastic / Aluminum / PU Leather
- Color: Smoky Gunmetal Aluminum Brush
- LED Color: RGB, 16.7 million colors
- Polling Rate: 1000Hz
- Response Rate: 1ms / 1000Hz
- MCU: 32bit ARM Cortex M3
- On board Memory: 512KB
- On-the-fly system: Yes, for Multimedia, Macro Recording and Lighting Control
- Multi-media Keys: Through Function (FN) Key
- Smart cable manager: Yes, 3 Ways
- Wrist rest: Removable magnetic with soft PU Leather
- Cable: Detachable braided USB Type-C
- Software Support: Yes, Portal
- Connector Cable: USB 2.0
- Cable Length: 1.8m
- Dimensions: 360 x 192 x 41.5 mm, 360 x 183.5 x 41.5 mm (Without Wrist Rest)
- Product Weight (without cable): 698g
- Warranty: 2 years
- Current Pricing: $119.99, Amazon.com
A Unique Blend of Lighting and Customization
The ROG Strix Flair is a mechanical gaming keyboard from the ASUS Republic of Gamers division that offers Cherry MX RGB switches, customizable lighting with underglow effects, a unique pop-out badge that can be swapped for a custom logo or text, dedicated media keys, USB passthrough, and programmable macro support. All of these features carry a premium price tag, and with a list price of $179.99 (though our Cherry MX Red version has been selling for quite a bit less) it sits in the upper range for gaming keyboards. Is it worth it? That is always the question, and we will try to answer it here.
“Flare up your game with ROG Strix Flare – a mechanical gaming keyboard that's got everything you want and more. Feel the satisfaction of every keystroke with world-renowned Cherry MX switches. Enjoy instant access to dedicated media keys on the upper left while gaming. And experience an unparalleled level of personalization with a customizable badge illuminated by Aura Sync RGB lighting. Boast your gaming flair as you dominate the battlefield.”
Features from ASUS ROG:
- German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches that deliver satisfying mechanical feel with optimal actuation – The choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts
- Customizable illuminated badge – Boast your ROG pride or show your flair with a personal or team insignia
- Dedicated media keys and volume wheel positioned on the left for instant in-game audio control, a USB passthrough for easy connection and a detachable soft-touch wrist rest
- Individually backlit keys and vibrant underglow powered by Aura Sync RGB lighting technology
- Map macros on-the-fly to our fully programmable keys, adjust settings with enhanced ROG Armoury II software, and store profiles on the keyboard’s onboard memory
The clear insert with the ROG badge can be swapped for additonal customization
The Cherry MX Low Profile Difference
The market for mechanical gaming keyboards is exploding. Everyone, even companies you would never expect (I’m looking at you Creative Labs!), seems to have their own line of PC gaming accessories. But what really sets them apart? The answer is, sadly, not much; the existence of media keys or a volume roller, how good the software is, the occasional quirky layout.
Then there are the unique keyboards. We’ve looked at a few of them here. Today we’re adding another one to the list with the Cooler Master SK630 Low Profile Gaming Keyboard.
The SK630 features a flat, slimmed down design that could make any Apple fan feel right at home. Add to that full RGB backlighting, brand new Cherry MX RGB Low Profile Red switches, and massive amounts of software-free programmability and you can begin to see why this might catch more than a few eyes. With a list price of $119.99 this is not exactly a budget option, so let’s dive in and see if it’s worth the cost of entry.
- Switch Type: Cherry MX RGB Low Profile Switch
- Actuation Point: 1.2mm
- Travel Distance: 3.2mm
- Switch Lifespan: 50M actuations
- Material: Aluminum/Plastic
- Color: Gunmetal Black
- LED Color: RGB
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
- Response Rate: 1ms / 1000Hz
- MCU: 32-bit ARM Cortex M3
- Onboard Memory: 512KB
- On-the-fly System: Yes, for multimedia, Macro recording, and lighting control
- Multimedia Keys: Through Function Key (FN)
- Cable: 1.8m, USB Type-C Detachable & Braided
- Software Support: Yes, through Portal
- Dimensions: 353.5 x 125.5 x 29.8 mm (L*W*H)
- Product Weight (without cable): 552g
- Weight: 593g
- Warranty: 2 years
- List Price: $119.99
Razer’s Blackwidow might be the most iconic mechanical gaming keyboard ever made. It’s dominated electronics store displays since it was first introduced and, as a result, few gamers don’t know the Blackwidow by name alone. Understandably, the Blackwidow series has been Razer’s flagship keyboard line since its debut with everything else coming second. All of that changes this week as the company introduces a second flagship keyboard. Today, we’re looking at the Razer Huntsman Elite, a premium keyboard with an exciting set of features and a brand new in-house key switch. But is it worth the ultra-premium $199 price tag? Let’s find out.
- MSRP: $199.99 (Huntsman Elite, reviewed), $149.99 (Huntsman)
- Switch Type: Razer Opto-Mechanical Switch
- Actuation Force: 45g
- Actuation Point: 1.5mm
- Travel Distance: 3.5mm
- Lifespan: 100 million clicks
- Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
- 10 key rollover with anti-ghosting
- Gaming mode
- Braided fiber cable
- Aluminum matte black top cover
- 4-sided underglow lighting with 38 customization zones
- Ergonomic wrist rest with 24 underglow lighting customization zones
- Dedicated media controls
- Multi-functional digital dial
- Chroma game integration
Beginning with packaging, Razer continues their long tradition of over-delivering. When you open the box, you’ll find the keyboard well presented with a nice plastic cover to keep it dust free. You also find a letter from Min-Liang Tan, telling you what an amazing buying choice you’ve made and welcoming you to the Cult of Razer. Behind the letter, you’ll find the instruction manual, warranty information, and a sticker sheet with a handful of case badges.
Do You Have a Need for Kailh Silver Speed?
HyperX has launched the Alloy FPS RGB mechanical keyboard, featuring Kailh Silver Speed switches. The keyboard has a more compact design than the Alloy Elite RGB keyboard I reviewed back in June, and carries a price tag $50 lower than that model thanks in part to the lower-cost Kailh switches employed. Is the quality of this new keyboard up to the high standards of previous HyperX designs? How do these Kailh Silver Speed key switches feel compared to Cherry MX switches? I will try to answer both of these questions in this review, so let's get started!
- Type: Mechanical
- Keyswitches: Kailh Silver Speed, Linear, 40cN actuation force
- Backlight: RGB (16,777,216 colors)
- Light effects: Per key RGB lighting and 5 brightness levels.
- On board memory: 3 profiles
- Connection type: USB 2.0 (2 USB connectors)
- USB 2.0 Pass-through: Yes (mobile phone charging only)
- Polling rate: 1000Hz
- Anti-ghosting: 100% anti-ghosting
- Key Rollover: N-key mode
- Media control: Yes
- Game Mode: Yes
- Cable Type: Detachable, braided. Length: 1.8m
- Dimensions Width 442.26 Depth 129.81 Height 35.59 mm
- Weight (with cable): 1100g
- OS compatibility: Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7
Pricing and Availability: $109.99 MSRP (currently available direct from HyperX)
Previously all HyperX keyboards were built with Cherry MX keyswitches, so the move to Kailh with this new keyboard is interesting - though it does allow for a lower MSRP with the same per-key RGB lighting of the Elite model. And while Kailh switches are less expensive to buy (about a third of the cost of a Cherry MX key switches), that does not mean the performance is inferior - though I have previously found Kailh switches to feel a little different.
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2018 - 09:31 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X50Q, smart keyboard, RGB, q series, Omron, mechanical, keyboard, key switches, iot, das keyboard, connected, cloud, 5Q
Das Keyboard has introduced their Q-series of "smart, cloud-connected keyboards" which use the company's Q-software to bring notifications directly to key backlighting. It's an interesting concept, and the software connects to both IFTTT and Zapier services "to light up the 5Q and X50Q keyboards with notifications - all color-coded and displayed on keys determined by the user", according to Das Keyboard.
The first of the two announced models is the 5Q, shown here with its silicon-padded wrist rest attached:
"The Das Keyboard 5Q is a cloud-enabled, open API, RGB mechanical keyboard that helps boost productivity through dazzling performance and the industry’s fastest electronics."
What are these fast electronics? Exclusive to the 5Q is 'Real-Time One' (or RTO) which is an analog technology that Das Keyboard states "detects key presses in 0.4 milliseconds and reports it to the computer within 1 millisecond—up to 45 times faster than other keyboards". RGB lighting is onboard, naturally, and here Das Keyboard is offering what they call "RGB+", which is a ultra-bright solution they claim to be "many times" as bright as other keyboards:
"Extra-bright RGB backlighting electronics called Das Keyboard RGB+, along with custom surface-mount LEDs, optimized lens and ultra-clear light guide—making the 5Q keyboard many times brighter than any other RGB keyboard currently on the market."
These are mechanical keyboards, both of which offer Omron Gamma Zulu switches, as the company describes:
"A modern best-in-class, soft tactile key switch that provides users with faster, effortless typing and gaming sessions. Das Keyboard’s Gamma Zulu switches have a 1.5mm actuation point, a total travel of 3.5mm and can withstand an unsurpassed 100 million actuations..."
Next we have the X50Q:
The X50Q adds a swappable top plate design (and includes alternate textured WASD keys), but does not have the RTO analog system - and costs $50 less than the 5Q. Pricing for these keyboards is at the high end of the premium keyboard market, with MSRPs of $249 for the 5Q and $199 for the X50Q. Both models are available now.
Full press release after the break.
Built Like a Tank
HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston, entered the mechanical keyboard market in 2016 with the Alloy FPS - which this reviewer found to be well constructed and a great value relative to the market when I reviewed both versions last year. Enter the Alloy Elite, an impressive-looking keyboard that boasts a high level of build quality and the option of full RGB lighting (a single color variant is also available). Does the Elite live up to its name in everyday use? I will share my findings with the RGB version reviewed here.
Features (from HyperX):
- Unique light bar and dynamic lighting effects
- Solid steel frame
- CHERRY® MX mechanical keyswitches
- Dedicated media buttons and large volume wheel
- Quick access buttons for brightness, lighting effects and Game Mode
- Conveniently connect devices via USB 2.0 pass-through
- 100% Anti-ghosting and N-Key Rollover functionality
- Comfortable, detachable wrist rest with soft-touch coating
- Additional titanium-colored textured keycaps and HyperX keycap removal tool
Pricing and Availability:
First a quick look at packaging and included accessories:
Takes a lickin' and keeps on clickin'
Over the years, Corsair has developed a name for itself as one of the premiere manufacturers of mechanical gaming keyboards in the market. One could argue that their K70 series is the leading inspiration for gaming keyboard design to today. Their dominance isn’t just limited to physical design, however. RGB illumination and powerful software programming have also defined their keyboards and set them apart from the competition.
Today, we’re looking at a newer entry in the mechanical keys catalog with the K68 RGB. The K68 is more of a budget-entry, but still packs a suite of premium features to please gaming fans. It’s also water and dust resistant with an IP32 rating. We put that to the test. Without further ado, let’s take a close look.
Specifications and Design
- MSRP: $119.99
- Keyboard Size: Standard
- Key Switches: Cherry MX Red
- Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
- Switch Lifespan: 50-million actuations
- Report Rate: 1000Hz
- Matrix: Full Key (NKRO), 100% anti-ghosting
- Water/Dust Resistance: IP32
- Media Keys: Dedicated
- Wrist Rest: Yes
- Cable Type: Tangle-free rubber
- WIN Lock: Yes
- Software: CUE Enabled
- Dimensions: 455mm x 170mm x 39mm
- Weight: 1.41kg
- Warranty: Two years
The K68 arrives in standard Corsair keyboard packaging. The box is rich with feature-highlights and definitely plays up the RGB illumination. This is 2018 and a Corsair product, so that should come as no surprise.
Everything is well packed inside the box. The keyboard ships with the usual plastic dust-sleeves on both the keyboard, cable, and plastic wrist-rest. We also get a pair of small documentation inserts that describe the warranty and unlabeled hotkeys.
Taking it out of the box, it’s here we get the first indicators of how Corsair managed to cut $50 off the price of the K70 RGB. The cable, rather than coming braided, is standard rubber. Likewise, the included wrist-rest is a more lightweight plastic, felt especially in the more flexible arms attaching it to the keyboard’s body. Neither of these are bad, especially when many gaming keyboards don’t include a wrist-rest at all.
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2018 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: speakers, romer-g, mechanical, logitech, keyboard, key switches
Logitech has announced a pair of devices featuring the company’s “LIGHTSYNC” technology, with the new G560 gaming speaker and G513 gaming keyboard. What is LIGHTSYNC? According to Logitech, the technology synchronizes audio and RGB lighting with gameplay, to create a more immersive experience. We have seen a similar concept with the Philips Ambilight TVs, which project lighting onto a rear wall, synchronized with on-screen content to enhance immersion.
How is this new lighting tech implemented with gaming peripherals, exactly? We begin with the G560, which offers plenty of power with a 120W (240W peak) amplifier, and 3D audio effects courtesy of DTS:X Ultra 1.0. As to the LIGHTSYNC implementation, Logitech explains:
“Powered by advanced LIGHTSYNC technology, the Logitech G560 synchronizes brilliant RGB lighting and powerful audio in real time to match on-screen gameplay action. Light and animation effects can be customized across approximately 16.8 million colors, with four lighting zones.”
The G560 offers USB and 3.5mm connectivity, as well as Bluetooth, and Logitech's "Easy-Switch" technology allows for switching between any four connected devices. The included LIGHTSYNC technology works with both video and music.
Next we have the G513 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, which combines Romer-G switches (your choice of either Romer-G Tactile or Linear), and support for LIGHTSYNC. The Logitech G513 offers a brushed aluminum top case and USB passthrough port, and includes an optional palm rest.
As to pricing, the Logitech G560 PC Gaming Speaker will carry an MSRP of $199.99, with a $149.99 MSRP for the G513 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Availability is set for April 2018.