Bloody Gaming B975 Optical Gaming Keyboard Review
Bloody Gaming is no newcomer to the world of PC gaming peripherals. As a subsidiary of A4Tech, they’re one of the few peripheral manufacturers to own their own assembly lines. Controlling their own manufacturing allows them to take risks and attempt new approaches the competition may not. Coming from a rich heritage of innovation at A4Tech, it comes as no surprise that Bloody has consistently sought to push the boundaries of the technology we use to game.
At the same time, the brand has taken a uniquely aggressive approach from name to design. Today, we’re looking at the company’s next generation of keyboard with the B975. With this release, we find a more restrained design coupled with the freshly redesigned Light Strike 3 optical switches and full RGB backlighting.
But is it enough for Bloody to challenge the heavy hitters like Logitech, Razer, and Corsair? Let’s find out.
Specifications & Design
The key specifications for the Bloody Gaming B975:
- MSRP: $149.99
- Connector: USB
- Key Switches: LK Libra Switch, LK Libra Orange Switch (tested)
- Key Style: Optical switch
- Key Lifetime: Up to 100 million keystrokes
- Key Response: 0.2ms
- Activation Force: 40cN
- Actuation Point: 1.5mm
- Anti-Ghosting Key: 100% Anti-ghosting key
- Gaming Keycaps: 8 convex silicon keys
- Hotkey: Multimedia Hotkey
- Backlight: Customizable RGB Animation
- Backlight Brightness: Adjustable
- Space-Bar: Screw enhanced space-bar
- Memory Backlight: 6 Free driver RGB lighting modes
- Report Rate: 1000Hz/1ms
- Warranty: 3-year
As always, let’s begin with the physical design of the keyboard.
The B975 adopts the full 104-key layout we’ve become so familiar with. The top plate is aluminum and finished in a black powder coat, accented with silver lines around the different key areas. We also have an exposed hex screw above the Num Lock, giving the keyboard a slightly industrial aesthetic but remaining toned down from some of the company’s previous designs. Were it not for the Bloody handprint logo above the arrow keys and the slightly gamer-ish font, you could even use it in an office setting.
One interesting change is the shifting of the indicator lights to the navigation area, offsetting Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause to above the number pad. Unless you had trouble viewing the indicators in their prior position, this functionally serves no purpose other than to give the B975 a unique look.
Along the function row, we find our media controls, windows lock, and lighting preset selector bound as secondary functions. Without the driver, the lighting preset switch allows you to choose from a rainbow wave animation, a dancing bird, and a breathe effect, as well as two static multi-color layouts, and seven full-key static colors. With the driver, Fn+0-9 allows you to choose from more custom lighting profiles, but the real potential is in creating your own with the included Key Dominator 2 software, which we’ll get to soon.
On the bottom of the keyboard we have a removable aluminum wrist rest. It comes with both red and black swappable plates, combining gloss and matte finishes. These wrist rests serve their purpose well enough but pale in comparison to the padded rests we’ve seen from Razer or even the swappable rubber on Corsair’s K95 RGB Platinum.
Both the wrist rest and swappable plates screw into place. Depending on your use case, this can be a plus or a minus. It makes them more durable -- no more plastic clips or popping out of place when you move the keyboard -- but it also makes a chore of putting it on or removing it. If you’re stationary, it’s a safe bet but if you’ll be putting it in the box here and there, it’s going to be irritating.
There's nothing special to report along the back and sides. The body provides a slight angle but the tilt feet give it a necessary boost, especially with the wrist rest attached. They’re tipped in red rubber, which I wish could be swapped out like the insert on the rest, but works well with the two lower rubber pads on the rear to keep the keyboard from sliding around on your desk.
The rear of the keyboard is likewise simple. No cable routing options, just four rubber pads to prevent movement and two horizontal tilt feet.
The B975 comes with a nicely braided cable that’s the perfect thickness to prevent kinks while also remaining easy to route for cable management. It connects to your PC with a single header, also red. I do wish they’d opted to make this cable removable, preventing the need to replace the entire board should it ever break. However, it’s not uncommon to see that feature omitted at this price point and overall I’m happy with what they’ve delivered here.
The unit also comes with two sets of replaceable keycaps, as well as a ring-type keycap puller. These keys cover the bases for your average FPS or MOBA and definitely bring out the gamer aesthetic. The clear keycaps look great and seem to be intended to show off how vibrant the RGB backlighting can be. The red keycaps, on the other hand, feature an angular profile to help keep your fingers in place mid-match. They’re also doubleshot to prevent the legends from ever wearing through. The standard keycaps are similarly doubleshot ABS plastic.
Now we come to the real star of the show: Bloody’s new Light Strike Libra optical switch. This switch is a remarkable improvement from the company’s prior LK switch. In August of last year, I reviewed the left-handed/macro-ready B845R which featured that prior generation of switch. Although I enjoyed the keyboard overall, I couldn’t quite get over how loose and wobbly the keys felt under the finger. As a result, the keyboard was also much louder than any other keyboard I’d used - even without typing. Key noise from simply moving your fingers across the keys was louder than the worst Cherry MX Blue I’d ever used.
The new Light Strike Libras completely solve that issue thanks to the new stabilizer bar socketed into each switch. Stabilizer bars are common on mechanical keyboards but often only on the largest keys. By applying stabilization to every key, wobble is a thing of the past and key noise may even be a touch quieter than the average mechanical gaming keyboard.
Their long-term reliability is another matter. The switches themselves I don’t doubt will be fine, and optical switches are a great long-term investment, but stabilized switches have a nasty tendency to squeak over time. This didn’t happen at all during our review period but then we wouldn’t expect it to for at least six months to a year of dedicated use. Solving stab-squeak requires small touches of dielectric grease and with all 104 keys now featuring stabilizer bars… that’s a whole lotta stab’ lubin’.
The B975 comes in two switch types that don’t line up to standard color conventions. The orange style switch I tested for this review is clicky and tactile; Bloody’s optical answer to Cherry MX Blue. Bloody’s brown switch is linear, not unlike a Cherry MX Red. In both cases, the switches are quieter than their Cherry counterparts. They also offer some substantial benefits in responsiveness and reliability.
Optical switches stand apart from traditional mechanical keyswitches in that they don’t use metal-on-metal contact to trigger a key press. Instead, they use a beam of infrared light: when the key is depressed, the beam is broken, initiating a key press. Without contact, debounce isn’t a mitigating factor to responsiveness allowing Bloody to claim a 0.2ms response time. Likewise, without contact, there’s less degradation occurring inside the switch itself, allowing for an incredible 100 million keystroke expected lifespan.
Bloody’s Libra switches are designed for gamers seeking a competitive edge. They’re lighter to the touch, with both switches requiring an actuation force of only 40 cN, a full 10 cN lighter than a standard Cherry MX Blue. They also have a reduced travel distance of 3.5mm and a higher actuation point of 1.5mm instead of 4.0mm and 2.0mm respectively. For gamers, this provides a tangible, physical advantage over a traditional mechanical keyboard. If your response time is up to snuff, the B975 is a full 25% faster than a standard switch and in cases where milliseconds count, it could make the difference between a win or a loss.
That said, the average gamer probably won’t be in that situation. Is it still worth it? Ab-so-lutely. These switches feel incredibly nice to type on. With their light activation pressure and fast bounce-back due to that reduced travel, on top of their relative quiet operation, the B975 is just sublime to use.
Software & Programmability
The Bloody B975 is a full-RGB backlit gaming keyboard and with that comes certain expectations. Key remapping and macro recording are standard gaming features users should be on the lookout for and per-key RGB illumination means per key customization. The B975 not only delivers this functionality but does so in unique and powerful ways. Upon opening the software, this screen greets you.
Bloody has dubbed their programming software “ultra-core technology.” Every key can be remapped on the “Button” tab, but as the welcome text indicates, the Key Dominator 2 goes beyond standard macro programming into something resembling automation, if you’re keen to program it.
Heading over to the Oscar Macro II tab, the window is split into three areas: a command zone to select what type of input you’d like to output, a simulation zone to manually program each step or even create logic chains to control how Key Dominator 2 outputs your recorded sequences, and the Macro Zone which allows to simply record your inputs and edit them, right down to millisecond timings.
It doesn’t sound that different from other programming suites on the surface but when you dig in…
...it gets intense. Swapping to the Super Combo tab takes it a step further, chaining the above macros and individual key commands together into cycling strings of commands.
As a keyboard enthusiast, I’ve tested dozens of gaming keyboards and Bloody’s are the only models I’ve found capable of this kind of advanced automation. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I would encourage users to exercise caution when using these advanced features in any kind of multiplayer setting. Several MMORPGs, including World of Warcraft, explicitly disallow this kind of programming for fear of cheating or circumventing the design intentions of core game systems.
On the other hand, this kind of functionality could easily be a boon in grindy single-player games or even in automating repetitive tasks in day-to-day use -- if you can learn how to use it. Though powerful, Key Dominator 2 isn’t user friendly and provides very limited instructions on how to make the most of it. The design aesthetic also feels dated and in need of a UI refresh.
Turning to the RGB front, the B975 has a handful of built-in effects, including your standard rainbow wave, ripple, and breathe effects, but also a unique “Swallow” effect that causes a bird to dance across your keys. These advanced lighting schemes are all put together in an extremely unique way utilizing actual frames of animation. Above, you can see the frames of the standard Wave.
Here we can see the construction of the Swallow effect.
I’m familiar with the system from my prior review of the B845R and have had months to play around with it. It takes time to learn and even more time to compose pixel-by-pixel frames of animation, but it’s possible to create very advanced lighting effects without having to dive into the minutiae of dozens of layers of compounding effects as seen in Corsair’s CUE 2.0 software. There, I find it almost impossible to create animated pixel art. On the B975, anyone can if they’re willing to invest the time.
Even with the standard effects, at maximum brightness, it looks quite good.
The B975 represents a remarkable improvement for Bloody Gaming. With the new Light Strike Libra switches, they’ve not only addressed every issue I personally had with the prior generation of optical switches but they’ve also made them one of my favorite switch types ever. The software is incredibly powerful, if unintuitive when it comes to advanced macros, but users willing to take the time will be rewarded with more advanced automation functions than you’ll find anywhere else in the mainstream. Thanks to much more intuitive frame-style lighting options, advanced animations are now within reach of even novice users willing to take the time. Still, that software needs an update.
Ultimately, the B975 is a win for Bloody Gaming that leaves me excited for the rest of their product line refresh coming later this year.
The Blood B975 is available now in both Brown and Orange switch options:
- Bloody B975 Orange Switch (Tactile & Clicky) -- $149.99 @ Amazon
- Bloody B975 Brown Switch (Linear & Smooth) -- $149.99 @ Amazon
|Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
|How product was obtained:||The product is on loan from Bloody for the purpose of this review.|
|What happens to the product after review:||The product remains the property of Bloody but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.|
|Company involvement:||Bloody had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.|
|PC Perspective Compensation:||Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Bloody for this review.|
|Advertising Disclosure:||Bloody has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.|
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|Consulting Disclosure:||Bloody is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review.|