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Best Gaming Keyboard

Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 Review

Cooler Master is a company that manufactures a wide range of computer hardware, with keyboards that do pretty well in the market. The MasterSet MS120 keyboard mouse combo is one of their most popular releases, having gotten rave reviews for its mechanical-membrane hybrid switch. We’re going to take a closer look at that in this Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 review, and establish whether or not this gaming keyboard measures up to the competition. Does it have what it takes to be dubbed the best gaming keyboard?

Why We Like It – Cooler Master MasterSet MS120

The MasterSet MS120 is a membrane keyboard that’s based on “mem-chanical switches”, which brings to it a level of tactile feedback and an audible click. If The keyboard, used alongside its included gaming mouse, makes the combo a great value buy. If you like these features, take a check out our HipShotDot first-person shooter red dot sight attachment review too.

Pros
  • Fairly priced
  • Great build quality
  • Mem-chanical hybrid design
Cons
  • Cumbersome RGB light setup

Performance

The Cooler Master MasterSet keyboard-mouse combo from a far looks pretty much like any other mechanical keyboard. Look closely though and you’ll notice the uniform membrane that lies beneath its keys. Granted, the keyboard may be a hybrid between a membrane and a mechanical one, but when pressed, the keys feel more familiar to what you’d feel when using mechanical keyboards. All in all, the MasterSet MS120 keyboard doesn’t have too much going on in terms of looks (compared to the Razer Huntsman Gaming Keyboard), but it’ll sit pretty on your desk without attracting too much attention.

Design

You might really have to search for a while to get another good quality keyboard mouse combo that’s not too heavy on your wallet. The PICTEK RGB Gaming Keyboard would have been a great choice if it came with a mouse, but now because it doesn’t, the Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 easily earns that praise, and also promises to be durable thanks to its good build quality. The MS120 mouse also comes with Omron switches that make it last as long as 10 million key presses, making it a very durable companion for the keyboard. If you need another companion for your keyboard, read our Elagato Game Capture HD review to capture your best gameplay.

Value

You might really have to search for a while to get another good quality keyboard mouse combo that’s not too heavy on your wallet. The PICTEK RGB Gaming Keyboard would have been a great choice if it came with a mouse, but now because it doesn’t, the Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 easily earns that praise, and also promises to be durable thanks to its good build quality. The MS120 mouse also comes with Omron switches that make it last as long as 10 million key presses, making it a very durable companion for the keyboard.

Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 Wrap Up

As we wrap up this review Cooler Master MasterSet, it’s important to note that even with its advancement from mechanical switches, it still doesn’t become too expensive to get, and this is great because you get a keyboard that gives you the best of both worlds (mechanical & membrane hybrid).

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo Review

If you are sure where to look for the best gaming keyboard, it’s time to stop and consider the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo. With its high quality durability and amazon switch bounce performance, the 120 Aimo is a keyboard built for gaming, and it looks good doing it too with RGB flair.

Why We Like It – Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo Review

The Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo aims to check off everything on the list that a gamer needs in a keyboard: durability, performance, and sweet RGB lighting.

Pros
  • Built for performance
  • Great durability
  • Beautiful design
Cons
  • Need large deskspace when using wrist rest
  • Slightly expensive

Performance

For gaming, the keys are what matter the most. You’ll notice that the keys are quite short. This is to reduce overall weight on the keys for a faster return time. To accomplish this, the Vulcan 120 Aimo makes use of Roccat’s proprietary mechanical switches technology, the Titan Switches. They are designed to resist dust build-up as well. And with debounced switches, keystrokes can be recognized up to 30 percent faster. These switches can compete with Razer’s optical switches found in the Razer Huntsman.

Design

The Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo keyboard doesn’t skip out in the design department either. It is beautifully designed for durability, sporting an anodized aluminum top plate, unlike the Rii RK100+. This gives it some considerable strength and next to no bending.

Tapping the keys sounds very much like a Cherry MX Brown, with slightly more amount of clicking; tactile switches, in other words. In the top-right corner are dedicated media keys. And along the button is a magnetic detachable palm rest. Unfortunately, the palm rest adds a lot to its dimension, so you’ll need a lot of deskspace to make use of it.

Value

Roccat is no pushover when it comes to quality gaming keyboards. Even Dr Disrespect is an official partner, so you know the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo mechanical keyboard is perfect for a gamer. And given how well it performs, and its awesome build quality, you’re getting an excellent deal. This is especially true with the added media functions and access to the Roccat Swarm software. It is a little on the pricier side, but you’re getting a premium keyboard. For a budget, the PICTEK RGB might be worth viewing.

Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo Review Wrap Up

There’s no doubt about it: the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo is an excellent gaming keyboard. Its durability increases its lifespan. And the keys themselves are built to increase their reaction time. Sure, the palm rest is a bit huge, and the price is a bit higher, but you’re still getting a high quality keyboard that’ll serve you well for the years to come.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

SteelSeries Apex Pro Review

If deep customization is what you’re in the market for, then the SteelSeries Apex Pro Keyboard ought to be at the top of your list. This keyboard can be set to keep up to 5 user profiles in memory, and for each, you get to choose things like key-specific RGB lighting, as well as key-specific omnipoint switches. If these terms sound foreign to you, not to worry; we’ll dive deeper into them during this SteelSeries Apex Pro Review as we find out whether or not this gaming keyboard is the best gaming keyboard there is.

Why We Like It – SteelSeries Apex Pro

Touted as the world’s fastest keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex pro illuminated keyboard is your best bet for super responsive gameplay. It comes with a magnetic wrist rest for palm support, and an OLED display for quick on-the-go adjustment of your settings. If you prefer to play on a controller, take a look at the Thrustmaster Limited Edition Ferarri PS3/PC Gamepad review.

Pros
  • Great level of customization
  • Key-specific adjustable actuation points
  • Up to 5 different user profiles
Cons
  • Expensive

Performance

Most of the settings and features that this mechanical gaming keyboard has are geared towards attaining a faster response rate during high speed gameplay. It’s omnipoint switch setting for example allows you to decide how far along you want your keys to be pressed for them to reach their actuation point, and you get to set this up using the OLED screen that’s at the top right of the keyboard. The fact that you won’t need to download the SteelSeries Engine software to manipulate a good number of these settings is another nice touch. The SteelSeries Apex Pro isn’t a membrane keyboard like the Rii RK100+, but it’s keys still feel pretty good to press.

Design

Not many mechanical keyboards are built on aluminium alloy frames. This makes the Apex Pro (and the Razer Huntsman Gaming Keyboard) stand very tall in terms of build quality, and that, coupled with its per-key RGB lighting makes for a sturdy keyboard that looks pretty good. The keys also have pretty linear switches, and if you’d like to have a base to rest your palms on, then you can opt for its magnetic wrist rest. To the top left of the keyboard there’s an illuminated USB passthrough port that you can use to avoid cables running underneath the keyboard, with three exit ports that you can also plug into.

Value

The value offered by this mechanical keyboard surpasses a lot of what you’ll get in the market especially if you play fast paced games. It’s not a budget buy like the PICTEK RGB Gaming keyboard, but you do get a mechanical switch that’s unique to the SteelSeries range. It’s omnipoint switch provides for adjustable actuation which allows you to fine tune exactly when a key-press gets registered, and with the ability to have up to 5 preset user profiles, you can switch between different settings for when you’re typing and when you’re gaming. If you’re a little pressed for space, you can go for the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL, which is 20% smaller because it doesn’t come with a numpad.

SteelSeries Apex Pro Wrap Up

If you want the absolute best you can get from a mechanical gaming keyboard, then the SteelSeries keyboard is the best one you could go for. Its mechanical switches are unique to the company, and its durability of up to 100 million key presses beats out any other gaming keyboards that you can think of. If you do get convinced to buy it through this keyboard review, be sure to check out Amazon com for any SteelSeries Apex Pro Deals to help you save some coins.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Redragon K552

Finding affordable mechanical keyboards is tough, ones that sound true to form. And finding a mechanical keyboard that’s also the best gaming keyboard is even tougher. That’s where the Redragon K552 brings that dream together with great performance and equally great durability. And the best part is: it’s affordable. Your wallet is safe.

Why We Like It – Redragon K552 Review

The Redragon K552 manages to provide a durable, compact mechanical keyboard that performs well in an office setting but, more importantly, when you’re gaming. Speaking of gaming, you might want to also read our SteelSeries Siberia 350 headset review too.

Pros
  • Feels and sounds like a mechanical keyboard
  • Perfect for budget builds
  • Compact and durable
Cons
  • Cable feels a little cheap

Performance

The Redragon K552 performs above what you’re paying, especially in tense gaming situations. Part of that reason is the use of rubber stoppers underneath, preventing slippage when you need it most. At the same time, it even offers Windows locking by pressing FN and the Windows key together.

On the other end, the keys is where the magic happens. These are some fairly chunky keys, but not too big nor small—just the right size, and with large printing. The mechanical switches feel and sound near identical to Cherry MX Blue switches.”

Design

The Redragon K552 has a very compact design, removing the number pad and shaving down the edges. You can easily place this keyboard just about anywhere. Its durability comes from its metal-abs construction with a plate mounting, unlike the flimsy Rii RK100+ made entirely of weak plastic.

While the Redragon K552 mechanical keyboard does not have dedicated media keys, unlike the PICTEK RGB, the Function keys have secondary media inputs when paired with the FN key. The RGB lighting is fair and rainbow colored, unlike the Redragon K552 Kumara that uses just a red LED.

Value

Considering how well the Redragon K552 mechanical gaming keyboard performs in high action situations, its build quality, and overall excellent durability, the K552 has superb value. This is especially true if you’re on a budget and want all the amenities popular brands have without sacrificing quality and performance, like the near unobtainable Razer Huntsman. The keys are chunky and sound great, and as far as gaming keyboards go, this one withstands gaming abuse.

Redragon K552 Review Wrap Up

Given how durable Redragon K552 is with its reinforced metal skeleton and great performance, this keyboard is going to last you many nights of gaming. Not to mention its compact design fits well on just about any desk. Its cable does feel a bit cheap, but it’s long. And honestly, its performance is way above its asking price.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Razer Huntsman Review

Razer is no stranger to amazing gaming keyboards, and they continue to prove their worth with one of the best gaming keyboards, the Huntsman. With superb performance and accuracy from optical actuation, and a bit of RGB lighting for style, this is the kind of keyboard that withstands long gaming sessions.

Why We Like It – Razer Huntsman Review

Razer makes another slam dunk with the Razer Huntsman, the younger brother to the Razer Huntsman Elite, but performs just as well and with high-quality durability to boot.

Pros
  • Awesome performance
  • Superb build quality
  • Reliable brand recognition
Cons
  • Lacking multimedia functions
  • Lacking USB passthrough

Performance

The Razer Huntsman isn’t your typical mechanical keyboard, nor does it use traditional mechanical switches. Razer uses what they call “opto-mechanical,” unlike other traditional mechanical keyboards. The optical switches inside make use of a light sensor to register keystrokes, while a stabilizer bar keeps the key level when you press the key at various angles.

Pressing the keys is a joy, provided you love the response of clicky keys. Actuation force feels similar to a Cherry MX Blue. With how loud the keys can get, you wouldn’t use this in an office setting among other colleagues—it’s strictly gaming.

Design

The Razer Huntsman keyboard oozes quality and durability, much higher than the Rii RK100+. Starting with the keyboard, its body is a very strong durable plastic, covered by an even stronger aluminum black matte top plate. You’ll have a tough time trying to bend this keyboard. The characters on the keys are more legible than the Redragon K552. However, it’s missing dedicated media keys—unlike the Pictek RGB—nor does it have a USB passthrough.

Its RGB lighting is rather hypnotizing. As it breathes through the various colors, it naturally transitions from one color to another. You can unlock advanced lighting options through Razer Synapse 3.

Value

Considering how well the Razer Huntsman performs and its superb build quality, you’re getting your money’s worth. This is especially true if you’ve been begging for the Razer Huntsman Elite, but can’t shell out the cash. So long as you can look past the lack of media keys and wrist rest, the Huntsman performs on par with the Elite. It also helps that you are getting a keyboard from one of the leading manufacturers in gaming peripherals.

Razer Huntsman Review Wrap Up

The Razer Huntsman is gaming bliss, and should be a part of any gamer’s arsenal. Its opto-mechanical key switches work wonderfully, the build quality is phenomenal and will withstand a lot of abuse. By sacrificing media keys and USB passthrough, Razer has managed to place this excellent keyboard within reach of just about anyone.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Rii RK100+ Review

The Rii RK100+ is a rainbow LED backlit large size USB wired keyboard and perfect for anyone looking for the best gaming keyboard for a really tight budget. Its colorful backlighting is very reminiscent of popular gaming keyboards while still providing similar performance at a reduced price. It’s ready for any gaming experience, or late night office work.

Why We Like It – Rii RK100+

The Rii RK100+ gaming keyboard provides an excellent example of style and performance without the need of an insane price tag.

Pros
  • Performs well in a gaming setting
  • Excellent option for a tight budget
  • Supports multiple operating systems
Cons
  • Doesn’t feel like a mechanical keyboard
  • Build quality is slightly cheap

Performance

The Rii RK100+ works just as well as any keyboard in an office setting—typing, sending emails. Pressing the keys on this backlit keyboard feels pleasant. How the keys respond when you press them gives you every reason necessary to know for a fact you pressed them.

Of course, where the Rii RK100+ excels is in a gaming setting. It’s a backlit gaming keyboard after all, and the same feeling you get using it normally does translate well into gaming. And this naturally feeling multimedia gaming keyboard extends to other devices such as Smart TVs (TV Mac, for example), Chrome OS, and even Mac OS.

Design

The Rii RK100+ is supposedly a mechanical feeling multimedia keyboard, but that’s a bit of a stretch. It feels like a mechanical-membrane hybrid, though it’s more membrane than mechanical. Any lover of mechanical keyboards would be sorely disappointed. If you aren’t a keyboard snob, it isn’t a problem. But if you are, the Redragon K552 is more in line with a mechanical keyboard than the RK100.

With that said, the build quality feels slightly cheap. The Razer Huntsman’s build quality is superb compared to the Rii RK100+. The keyboard can twist quite a bit, but obviously that isn’t a normal maneuver. What is normal is pressing the keys. When you do, you can feel some bend—especially near the middle of the Rii RK100+.

Other than that, the Rii RK100+ is aesthetically pleasing. It looks like RGB, but it’s actually a backlight gaming keyboard, equipped with multiple color rainbow LED backlit goodness. For real RGB, look at the PICTEK RGB gaming keyboard.

Value

Considering the performance of the RK100’s performance, and the plethora of Rii RK100 multiple colors in the backlighting, you are getting a really great deal here. This is especially true when you’re building a new PC and need somewhere to cut corners for hardware that’s more important. After all, CPUs and GPUs aren’t exactly cheap. Sure, it might feel a little cheap, but it’s going to take a good beating in the most tense of gaming situations.

Rii RK100+ Wrap Up

This USB wired mechanical keyboard, the Rii RK100+, will serve you well in your gaming sessions. Pressing the keys feels natural and responsive, not to mention the keys have some solid girth to them. While the keyboard itself feels more membrane than mechanical, and the build quality isn’t the greatest, the Rii RK100+ serves as a shining example that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive gaming keyboard—especially on a tight budget.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Scorpion K10 Smart Gaming Keyboard

If you are looking for the best gaming keyboard, this is a good one. Gamers don’t just buy gaming keyboards because they light up in pretty colors, although that’s always a cool bonus. Gamers buy expensive peripherals because it helps them win gaming on their gaming laptops.

The Scorpion K10 from SmartGenius is no different. It may put on a nice light show, but this keyboard is all about upping your game.

What Makes the K10 Special

This gaming keyboard has a very mechanical feel to the keys, offering quick response times. When you hit a key to perform an action in the game, you know for sure that your command was given. There’s no doubt or guessing. Another great feature is that it has a 19 anti-ghosting key design, that allows you to press any of them simultaneously for better gaming performance.

If you like to carry a plethora of weapons in-game, you’ll love having up to 12 keys for your guns, because you can customize the F1 to F12 keys for different gaming weapons.

Switch between your Ak-47 and your Uzi with one key. Or maybe you need to ditch your rifle for a survival knife. Just hit the key. You can accomplish this through the SmartGenius App.

The keyboard includes a host of smart gaming settings as well. You can save your key settings as profiles and these can be swapped out automatically. Using Genius cloud, you can get a bunch of optimized gaming settings.

The K10 Software

The K10 uses the same SmartGenius software as all other Genius products, so it won’t provide a ton of extra options, but that’s okay because you are getting a great gaming keyboard for a great price.

Like I said, it’s not about a pretty light show, but cool visuals are always nice. This keyboard comes with multi-color options and brightness modes for a wide variety of RGB effects.

The Scorpion K10 Smart Gaming Keyboard is compatible with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 or later.  Naturally, you can use the K10 for non-gaming as well and it will serve as a perfectly adequate device for all of your work. I would consider this a great buy for any gamer who is just getting into buying accessories. It seems like a great first step toward more expensive options.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Logitech has a fabulous long-standing reputation with PC gamers for producing quality keyboards, mice and headphones. The love-love relationship really kicked off in the early turn of the century when the company launched some the first mice to feature—wait for it–side/thumb buttons for easier browser navigations. Gamers took to this new feature, mapping them for a variety of game controls and such. Fast forward 15 years:  you will be hard-pressed to find a dedicated gaming mouse without those now-ubiquitous thumb buttons.

Since then, the company continues to enjoy immense acclaim for their headphones and keyboards, some of which offer a dizzying number of features beyond audio and key presses. Their latest attempt to innovate is nothing short of ambitious.

The Logitech G910 is the newest from the G-Line of peripherals targeting serious gamers. It wields a striking look, if not jaw-dropping in its design. A quick glance at the product shots reminds us of the Nighthawk X9 Full Custom Edition keyboard, we reviewed a couple years back, with its multi-color keys. But this one has more. Logitech has designed their own proprietary mechanical key switches that are super low-profile for quick actuation, yet still offers very slight tactile feedback for the user. These are dubbed “Romer-G” mechanical key switches. Each is laser etched and individually lit directly upward for clear visibility during late night gaming sessions. The precision not only creates a slick look in chromatic illuminated glory, but it also truly improves nighttime gaming sessions where the slightest glance is all that is needed to identify the particular glow for your desired key.

As we mentioned in our previous mechanical keyboard reviews, mechanical key switches do not require as much force to actuate as non-mechanical or membrane keyboard key switches. This is often a go-to choice for gamers looking to minimize fatigue and gain an extra competitive edge with speedier actuation and resulting responsiveness.

Logitech_Orion_Spark4
But the main draw for this one is the ARX app system. You can use your smart phone or tablet to display in-game info, vital system statistics and more. First you need to install the Logitech Gaming Software. This is the same set of utilities the company offers for virtually all their gaming devices. The Arx Control app can be found on the Apple App Store or the Android Play Marketplace. Once installed on your mobile device, Arx connects to the downloadable Logitech Gaming Software installed on your computer via your WiFi network. More on ARX in a bit.

Logitech_Orion_Spark7

Other key features you get with the G910 Orion Spark mechanical keyboard include 13 extra G-keys. These are primed for macros and custom commands, which you can set within the LGS utilities. They are found lining the left corner of the keyboard, making them handy and easy to reach. Plus mapping them with custom settings or intricate macros is surprisingly easy. You can also save your macros for simple drag-and-drop application to other keys on this board or other Logitech keys you may install, which use the same utilities.  The unit also comes with two swappable wrist rests, a slender one and a deep option. My hands are a bit meaty, so I opted for the deeper one. Each is made from hard plastic; yet they do yield added comfort. On the upper right side, we have the now-customary Windows button. Clicking this in will deactivate the Windows button to prevent inadvertent presses. Next to that is a simple illumination button toggle. You can also manage your movies and music with the dedicated media keys positioned in the upper right corner. You get play/pause and keys for track skipping forward and back. A volume dial is set just below the media keys. To the left of this is the mute/un-mute button

Logitech_Orion_Spark6

So how does it all come together when the bullets and magic missiles start flying? Its butter smooth with the fastest keys of any mechanical keyboard that I have ever tested—hands down. It’s incredible, but only when it works. My only real issue with the Orion Spark… It randomly dies on me. For some inexplicable reason the board will stop responding and will refuse to receive a single input. It has only happened a few times in the two weeks I’ve had the board up and running. Still, nothing short of unplugging the USB cable from the PC and re-inserting it. Beyond that, this is not the keyboard for those new to typing or keyboard and mouse gaming. I cannot stress enough how the slightest touch is all that is needed to actuate these custom-made Romer-G keys. But if you’re familiar with mechanical, especially Cherry Red MX and treasure super speedy light-touch keys, then you will love the Orion Spark. I can type faster on the Orion than any other mechanical. Plus the tactical is well-felt despite the immensely high actuation point. This is not a quite keyboard by any means. While not as loud and “clickety-clacky” as the Nighthawk and the CoolerMaster CM Storm Trigger mechanical, it assuredly not the choice is sleep roommates are within the same room.

Logitech_Orion_Spark3

Moreover, the ARX app makes this a truly unique keyboard. Other companies have teased similar functionality and mobile device pairing. Razer has a touchscreen display set into one of their premium $300 keyboard. Roccat teased a board with an iPhone dock. Hamstringing themselves to cater to iOS—and only a specific model, solely was probably why that one never saw the light of day. Logitech take a smarter more forward thinking. Arx is the app tha can be easily updated. Positioning of the companion device is settled with an adjustable dock found on the keyboard. This way you can use your device of choice.

ARX is great, but massively limited. Logitech promises that will change. Right now you get an informative system monitoring app that colorfully displays memory used, GPU usage, GPU temperature, CPU usage and more. You also get digital touchscreen control for your media device. So you have a handy remote control for movies and music. You can also assign and change G-key. Applications can also be launched via ARX, which is novel but not all too exciting. Logitech does have the SDK in the hands of a number of key developers. Hopefully something compelling will surface soon.

Logitech_G910_Orion_Spark_main

Right now the Logitech G910 Orion Spark holds enough design innovations, comfort options, features and dedicate functions to warrant the $180 price tag. The ARX app is completely free and hold a lot of promise. If that isn’t enough the illumination customization makes this lightning fast keyboard stand out like no other when sitting unattended. When it comes to gaming and typing, it has no equal at this price point.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G510s LCD Gaming Keyboard Review

We are always searching for the best gaming keyboard. We continue our foray into Logitech’s handsome G-Line of gaming peripherals. It’s interesting, Logitech’s main business is far from gaming. Yet they continue to one-up other companies, whose sole biz is the manufacturing of gaming hardware. As others delve into tablets, iPhone-controlled keyboards and swanky expensive laptops, Logitech stays focused on the simple things.

Enter the Logitech G510s gaming keyboard with embedded LCD screen. This is a larger non-mechanical keyboard with 18 dedicated programmable buttons, onboard playback and recording devices, monochrome LCD screen and a full host of dedicated media keys and related functions. It ships with the main board and instruction manual. To customize the programmable buttons, set profiles and record macros, you will need to download the Logitech gaming software.

Setup is easier than most. The keyboard connects via a single USB cable. That may not sound impressive. But the G510s features 3.5mm jacks for a headphone set and microphone. Typically, these ports are merely a pass-through for your motherboard’s onboard audio devices or that of an aftermarket sound card. You would plug your headset into the keyboard and plug the keyboard’s corresponding set of headphone and mic jacks into your PC. The Logitech G510s has its own set of playback and recording devices nestled within the keyboard. Plug your stereo headset/mic into the 3.5mm ports on the G510s and a new set of playback and recording devices will be available for you to choose in the general Windows audio devices. This is extremely handy and the stereo audio quality is great. It also frees up the headphones and mic ports on your PC.

After it’s connected and ready to use, you will need to grab the Gaming Software from the company website. It’s a robust set of tools. But don’t be intimidated. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. With a little playing around you can record some incredibly intricate macros to convert multiple button presses into a series of single-press functions and alleviate the knuckle cramping finger acrobatics needed in some games like Warframe–where the intricate parkour moves often require multiple button presses just a split second apart from each other. You can also program buttons to open programs or launch website bookmarks.

With the software you can also make some key changes to the LCD screen. First, this is a monochrome LCD so unfortunately background and text share the same color. that said you can still have some fun. The G510s comes with some supported applets built in. You get a time piece with clock and date, Countdown timer to help you track cooldowns for powers and the like, RSS Reader, performance monitor, media display and profile selector. The RSS Reader is cool but there is no way to cycle back through unread RSS feeds. You can only go forward and loop back around to the top. The performance monitor is nice and shows percentages of CPU and memory usage.  The media display is a total novelty and only shows a meter of remaining play time.

But the G510s does support some 3rd party applets like EVGA’s Precision X video card monitoring software. It throws up your GPU vitals, frame rate and more right on the LCD screen. This is great if you don’t want such cluttering your in-game screen. Teamspeak and Fraps are also supported. Sadly the Teamspeak integration is far from compelling. It can see channels and move between them with the buttons just underneath the LCD. But you can’t see who’s in a channel. So you definitely can’t see when someone is speaking. In comparison, this are features available on the Mad Cats S.T.R.I.K.E 7 we reviewed. Many will think the LCD is the main point of interest for this particular keyboard. It’s not!

It’s the little things that make general of G510s so awesome. The dedicated media keys are fantastic. There is a dial for volume, and buttons to play/pause and skip forward and back through tracks and/or your media playlists. The 18 programmable buttons offer wealth of customization options. But that can be tripled as each key can hold 3 different macros for a total of 54 functions in all. The board is well laid out, sturdy without being overly heavy and awkward like the massive S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 and typing on it is a treat. I often go on about the speed and lack of latency afforded users with mechanical key switches. Agian the G510s is not mechanical. But typing is no less speedy and responsive. Also these key switches are much quieter than the more audible variations of CherryMX key switches.

There really only a few niggling gripes of note for Logitech’s newest LCD keyboard. There is no USB hub. That single color monochrome sceen is one and the limited feature set on some of its supported applets. But I also found the colored backlighting (adjustable in the Gaming Software) to be much to dim with no brightness settings (on and off don’t count). Weigh that against what it does well and you have a one-sided argument favoring performance and ultimately the user.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 4/5]

Great

Bottom Line: The Logitech G510s LCD gaming keyboard is fantastic entry. It’s comfortable with more customization options than the competition. Some of the listed issues are addressed in the more expensive G19s keyboard. But if financing are in question, and the LCD screen is not a deciding factor, then you will be more than satisfied with the Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard.

Pros

·  Fantastic speed and comfort

·  18 dedicated programmable keys = 54 functions total

·  Dedicated media keys

·  Limited but useful LCD screen

·  Embedded audio devices

Cons

·  Monochrome LCD means limited color options

·  Backlighting on keys is dim

·  No USB hub.

The Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard is available at Amazon for $119.99.

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Best Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

The gaming world turned head over heels in 2011-2012 for mechanical keyboards. Going ga-ga for these bouncier, louder typing tools came and left abruptly after major game peripheral brands began producing high-end boards to meet the demand of clicky keys and all the traditional gaming needs, such as macro keys and plenty of controls.

In that sense, Logitech took a reserved approach with the G710+, its first mechanical gaming keyboard. This model looks on par with the G110, a short-lived low-end gaming keyboard, not to be confused with the much more powerful (and expensive) G19 or upcoming G19s. The G710+ is the start of a separate keyboard line, but it’s also experimental (thus the “+”).

Logitech focused the design on the typing experience, and made gaming secondary. Don’t misconstrue the meaning, hardcore gamers: a keyboard should always be type first, play second. All gaming features are placed in the G710+ with care and subtlety. Non-traditional keys are seated at the edges; macro keys are orange or delicately highlighted; lighting has multiple settings so the cold blue light isn’t bothersome; nearly every aspect of the G710+ is fine-tuned for an expert typing experience, down to the quiet type.

That’s not to insinuate that the G710+ lacks gaming and multimedia features. Logitech includes its famed “gaming” button, which just disables the Windows key but does have a light indicating when it is active. Four media keys, plus a mute and volume rocker sit on the top right of the keyboard. The backlight is adjustable with four brightness settings, and is split between the whole keyboard and the WASD keys. The biggest misstep is that the brightness does not adjust for lock commands (NumLock, CapsLock, ScrollLock); when active, the light indicators are obnoxiously bright.

Typing on the G710+ is excellent. Mid-profile keys provide solid bounce and don’t slow type speed with hard key pressing. The sound is also highly suppressed, a miracle for typist gamers. If you love the feel of mechanical keys but hate the noise, the G710+ is a great, still noisy, but very usable option.

Within a week of use I ran into a consistent problem with the space bar. It would get stuck on the right side because the activators on the right and left don’t have springs to push the key into place. In other words, the space bar springs back only from the middle, where it registers the keypress, and can get stuck. Removing the key and cleaning it helps, but it is not a permanent solution.

Outside of the space bar, the G710+ is a very impressive keyboard. Additional features like the USB pass through port, anti-ghosting keys, key layover (enter up to 26 keys and even if your computer isn’t receiving them the G710+ stores them so they aren’t lost), and an additional palm rest and tilt legs are just the delicious icing. The feel and usability matches the best mechanical keyboards while still fulfilling the needs gamers demand. The G710+ is very much worth the $150 price tag, which is low considering all the features included. Good luck finding a better typing experience on a gaming keyboard for the same price.

Editor’s Rating:

[Rating: 4/5]

Great

Bottom Line: A well-priced mechanical keyboard that’s great for typing and for gaming.

Pros:

  • Excellent type experience
  • Quiet-ish keys that belie the “mechanical” part
  • Long list of useful features for gamers and non-gamers alike
  • Great price considering all the included features and the excellent type

Cons:

  • Brightness settings do not apply to Lock functions
  • The space bar is poorly designed and needs regular maintenance
Categories
Best Gaming Keyboard

SteelSeries Apex [RAW] Gaming Keyboard Review

At the start of the year, during CES,  SteelSeries announced a couple dapper input solutions, which offer up a slightly different take on how gamers might take control of their games. We couldn’t wait to get our greedy mitts on the boards and the first of that ilk is here. Today we’re reviewing the SteelSeries Apex [RAW]. This is the feature-trimmed little brother of the upcoming and brightly illuminated Apex gaming keyboard.

The [RAW], like it’s bigger brother, comes in a very sleek design with handsome contours and glossy sci-fi appeal. The wrist rest is built into the design with a matte surface. It’s hard plastic but sufficient. The spacebar is twice the width but half the length of a traditional spacebar. It doesn’t seem enhance or detract from general use at all. But it does look cool. This is a membrane keyboard and a departure from the many mechanicals we’ve reviewed. The key switches actuate on rubber domes. All the keys illuminate with a white glow with 8 level adjustments. There are 17 programmable macro keys. You can also use the SteelSeries Engine software to double that by giving each macro key a dual function across 2 layers. That’s a total of 34 macros. Pretty slick. By comparison, big bro will offer 22 macro buttons and 4 layers for a total of 88 macros. Whoa!

Unfortunately the Apex [RAW] is hit with a dearth of USB ports. Not a single one is anywhere to be found. This is yet another feature found on the flagship Apex still yet to ship to retailers. There are also no dedicated media keys. Keys F9-F12 will control your media just fine with the FN key as a modifier. But I hate performing finger acrobatics just to mute the volume on a YouTube video.

Despite its weighted bag of omissions, the Apex [RAW] is a really good keyboard. The keys are raised for easy access and spaced apart well. But the actuation point is low profile so a single key press bottoms out quicker than the raised key appearance would suggest. The result is great speedy response that most users could easily mistake for the work of a mechanical. Also, there are a couple slight bumps on the W-key to help gamers find their default movement keys (WASD).

The Apex [RAW] is one of the only keyboards better suited for flying or racing games. There are 6-direction keys. Most boards feature, up, down, left and right. But the Apex adds two additional directional keys. There is one for diagonal-right and diagonal-left. It’s a simple addition I’m surprised more manufactures have not implemented. It makes movement so much more intuitive.

The Apex [RAW] is a very good keyboard. I can’t wait to see what big bro has to offer. But as it stands, the Apex [RAW] is comparable to the Razer Black Widow Ultimate we reviewed a few months back. It’s performance and features set is similar. Where the Blackwidow offers USB, headphone and mic ports the Apex [RAW] showers you with macro options galore.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Very Good

Bottom Line: The SteelSeries Apex [RAW] puts up quite a fight for such a low-cost keyboard and still manages a few new tricks to enhance gaming sessions.

Pros

·  Sleek and elegant

·  17 macro + 2-layers = 34 possible macro configurations

·  Enhanced direction key setup

·  Works plug and play or SteelSeries Engine software

·  Adjustable illumination

Cons

·  No USB port

·  No audio jacks

·  No dedicated media keys

The SteelSeries Apex [RAW] gaming keyboard is available at Amazon for $69.99

Categories
Best Gaming Keyboard

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

A new arachnid has loving relieved its spouse of the burdens of life. Resting peacefully in the belly of its supposed lover, the 8-legged creature’s demise, by definition, has now elevated the ravenous female to new prominence in the animal kingdom, thus a new Blackwidow is born.

The new Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 mechanical gaming keyboard is Razer’s newest flagship keyboard. This latest entry makes use of Cherry MX Blue mechanical key switches for low actuating force and high-speed typing and gaming performance. This is another elegant looking board from Razer. It’s not as stylish as the uniquely designed Deathstalker, but it’s smaller, more responsive, fully mechanical and ditches the low-profile Chiclet keys for mechanical key switches that are much quieter than most mechanical boards.

The Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 is packaged with the main keyboard, quick start manual, full length instruction manual–one in English and one in French. It features full button programmability with 5 extra “gaming” buttons for on-the-fly macro recording, a single USB pass through port and audio jacks for headphones and mic. As a mechanical you can expect some amount of key rollover. On the Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 you can hit up to 10 keys for accepted rollover, where all 10 keys are recognized by your system. Each key is individually backlit and illuminates with familiar Razer jade green. There is a Game Mode option and a button to put your Windows system to sleep. Pressing Fn+F9 disables the Windows key to prevent inadvertent presses. This can also be extended to disable Alt+Tab and Alt+F4 but Razer Synapse 2.0 is required for that.

The board works great straight out of the box. But if you want to write macros, create profiles (10 supported), expand the Game Mode options, adjust the jade illumination brightness, and configure the keyboard to launch programs, then Synapse 2.0 utility suite is essential for all that. The utility is running better now than it ever has. So far no bugs, restarts or random crashes that have plagued Synapse 2.0 in the past. Creating profiles and programming buttons is quick and easy. Again, you can write macros on the fly right on the board. But if you want to write macros to more than just the dedicated M1-M5 gaming keys then Synapse 2.0 is required. With it you can write incredibly precise and detailed macros that include specific timings in between button presses, which can also include keyboard and mouse button functions. It’s really as powerful or as prosaic as you want.

The new widowed keyboard from Razer is nice looking, exhibits a small footprint to save space on your desk and feels great. I prefer mechanical keys with no tactile bump. But these Cherry MX Blue keys make a strong case for themselves. It’s not the bump that’s impressive, it’s the low audibility of keys when typing. Mechanical keys are notorious for their loud clickety-clack sound. But these on the Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 are surprisingly quiet, easy to reach and responsive.

So what’s not quite up to snuff? I do wish it had a color palette saved, so I could choose the illumination shade. I miss that feature on the Deathstalker. There are also a dearth of cleanly dedicated media keys. I would appreciate at least a set for volume and mute. Keys F1-F7  (minus F4) pull double duty when paired with the FN key to handle media controls. You can also write macros for this and save them to one of the 5-gaming keys to left of the board. So there are options.

That’s really splitting hairs. Razer has a great board in the Blackwidow Ultimate 2013. It’s similar in function to the Gigabyte Osmium mechanical we reviewed last year. The new widow from Razer is about $10 more, but still very much inline with similarly stellar mechanicals.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Excellent

Bottom Line: I highly recommend the Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 for speedy gaming, responsive performance, extensive comfort and dapper good looks.

Pros

  • Fully mechanical infrastructure (Cherry MX Blue key switches)
  • Fully programmable keys
  • 5 dedicated gaming keys
  • Extensive macro recording
  • Game mode safely disables non-gaming functions
  • Comfortable, responsive and quiet

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No dedicated media keys
  • A single USB 2.0 port

The Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 mechanical gaming keyboard is available at Amazon for $115.00

Categories
Best Gaming Keyboard

Razer Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad Review

The lines between PC gaming and console gaming have become horribly or delightfully blurred (depending on your stance) to the point of  myopia.  Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games use patches and updates the likes of which PC gamers have always been made to juggle. PC games are now taking advantage of more intuitive console-style control schemes than they have before.  These include various game pads, racing wheels, this thing and all sorts of tech made to embrace more hybrids setups. Steam’s Big Picture mode has shown us quite nicely what a console experience in the living can be like via your PC.

Controls like this hyrbid from Razer, the Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad, are not entirely new. But this one offers more buttons, comfort adjustability and full mechanical design.  An eternal proponent for PC gaming, Razer is tireless in its efforts to service the growing number of diverse gamers and the play styles they naturally gravitate to. Their new Sabertooth gamepad was a praiseworthy replacement to the Onza. Let’s see if the Orbweaver is a viable successor to their similar Nostromo.

The Orbweaver package is a modest one. It contains the main Orbweaver keypad, an installation manual and a couple Razer logo stickers. Those are in every Razer package and always go to my daughter, who loves them. Razer’s Synapse 2.0 utility suite is not included and requires a download from the company website. A full instruction manual would be nice–something detailed each button’s default function. In Razer’s favor, a nice handy diagram for such is available when you load up the Synapse 2.0 software. Plus a detailed instruction manual is available here and in several languages; so you’re not completely in the lurch. But still, what if a user cannot access the internet? It’s a bit of tedious trial and error to figure it all out.

But Razer wants you to use their software and report on its bugs and shortcomings, which are much fewer than in previous versions. The Synapse 2.0 customization allows you fully customize every input function on the Orbweaver. This includes the main 20 mechanical buttons, the thumb button above the 4-way hat switch and the one below. The hat switch can be used as a directional thumb control or made  to take on 4-different keyboard functions. You can also write expansive macros with the Synapse 2.0 utility, adjust the brightness of the green illumination on the keys or set them to pulse. But the ability to set an unlimited number of profiles across 8-different keymap configurations is pretty sweet.

I should note, the Synapse 2.0 software is only required if you wish to customize the setting from their default state. Just plug the device in via USB and Windows 7/8 will find drivers for it (MAC also supported). Buttons 08, 12, 13 and 14 are WASD on a standard keyboard. And the buttons surrounding those are also the same found on a garden variety keyboard. This includes, Shift and Cap Locks. The flat thumb button is Spacebar and the upper thumb button is Alt.  Hopefully this will dispell the myth that Razer is rendering devices inoperable unless user install Synapse 2.0.

I think the Orbweaver could be a great addition to your digital arsenal. It adequately comfortable, albeit a little large. But it’s virtual immovable–feet keep it in place nicely. It offers more of just about everything that the Nostromo delivered. You get more buttons, more profiles, more keymaps and a mechanical infrastructure that provides a nice tactile feeback bump to indicate a button has been actuated. The price is also nearly twice that of the Nostromo. The form factor is slightly larger than I want, even after fiddling with each of the 3-adjustable parts. The 3-buttons that mimick WASD are larger than the rest making the unit unnecessarily bigger than it needs to be.


It’s not a deal breaker and gaming with Orbweaver is much like gaming with a keyboard. Although  I’ll admit, it does feel a bit cooler–like you’re taking command of some futuristic control scheme. If you’re looking to inject more familiar control with loads of freedom, then check out the Orbweaver. It’s pricey but empowering.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Very Good

Bottom Line: The Orbweaver keypad from Razer is solid tech. It serves up all your main keyboard gaming functions plus several additional functions all on a diminutive form factor! If you can get a grip on the price the Orbweaver could become an essential tool.

Pros

  • 20 fully programmable buttons
  • Mechanical infrastructure
  • Unlimited profiles
  • Familiar and intuitive control scheme

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Manual is severely lacking in details

 

Categories
Best Gaming Keyboard

Thermaltake eSports Level 10 M Laser Gaming Mouse Review

After several delays and a rather crucial design change, Thermaltake has finally kicked out the highly anticipated Level 10 M laser gaming mouse, designed by BMW Designworks (yes that BMW). The Level 10 M is meant to enhance and compliment the Level 10 line of peripherals and accessories. This is a premium series of products, which you might find a higher end boutique PC manufacturer (Origin, Maingear, Digital Storm) using to construct their premium wares.

Just look at this thing. It’s truly a work of art, in its black-on-chrome motif. You can also get the Level 10 mouse in army green and white, with a limited Edition candy red coming soon. The styling includes a relative open-air design so air flows underneath your hands to prevent perspiring. The base is aluminum and quite sturdy. It offers up 7 programmable buttons and a 4-way HAT switch (quad-directional switch), an amazing and totally useless super high 8200dpi and an option to customize the LED lighting in 4-different locations on the mouse.  Plus the unit comes with an Allen wrench to make adjustments to both the height at the palm and tilt orientation (more on that in a bit). On the laser side of the things, the Level 10 uses the new Avago 9800 laser sensor. The same sensor is also used in the impressive Gigabyte Aivia Krypton mouse. This is an updated version of the Avago 9500 used in the SteelSeries Sensei Fnatic mouse we reviewed at the beginning of the year.

The Level 10 M seems to be hitting on all cylinders: great looks, original design, choice materials used, high performance laser sensor… The unit also ships with a robust software suite that offers nearly identical features that most other gaming mice offer. You can adjust dpi sensitivity settings (4-setting options per profiles), record macros, save 4-different profile. I don’t particularly care for the look of the software. The main page is very busy and confusingly clutterd. It comes off, lacking refinement and care. SteelSeries, Razer, Mad Catz and Gigabyte all have this down. TteSports and Thermaltake should take some pointers.

Comfort and performance are similar let downs. Let me stress, I love the way this mouse looks. Plus the main left and right buttons feel better than most mice on the market. Beyond that…hmm… Well, again, the look…?! It’s HOT! But it’s just no fun to use. It caters to claw style mouse grip only. There are no ergonomics in the slightest. There seems to be plenty room for a thumb rest, but it didn’t make the cut. That’s too bad. I have tried endlessly to like the feel and performance. But it’s not enjoyable. My thumbs keep hitting the overly sensitive side buttons. Moreover, its not a good idea to place DPI setting switches next to thumb buttons. Not smart!

Additionally, the laser sensor may be one of the best. But when paired with an uncomfortable rodent, all you get is sexy looking vermin. The Avago 9800 is a super precise laser sensor. But if the lack of comfort hampers control, then all that precision is useless. The Gigabyte Aivia Krypton mouse makes much better use of the same sensor, as does the new SteelSeries MLG Sensei (review pending).

Thermaltake does make a few stabs at innovation. I mentioned the included Allen wrench for making comfort adjustments. This is similar to the included Allen wrench in the Mad Catz R.A.T. line of mice. But it doesn’t compare to the work the mad felines have skillfully pioneered. The R.A.T.s house the wrench on the mouse. The Level 10 is kept in a foam mold making it real easy to misplace. The wrench is only used to make adjustments in two places and neither are useful. You can make the mouse talleer/shorter or lean more to the left or right.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in this product. I had such high hopes. My Level 10 PC case is one of the best and most innovative PC products to hit the enthusiast market in quite some time. It was ridiculously expensive and niche , sure. But it was and is awesome. The Level 10 M laser gaming mouse is priced right–so that’s an improvement in the in line. But everything else is well below the “10th level”.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 2.5/5]

Fair

Bottom Line: I wanted so badly to like the Level 10 mouse. I love the the PC cases in this line. But the new BMW designed gaming mouse is a unworthy lemon. If it were a car I’d be on the phone 7 On Your Side.

Pros

  • Looks fantastic!!
  • Avago 9800 laser sensor
  • Buttons feel great

Cons

  • Uncomfortable
  • Poorly placed buttons
  • Overly sensitive buttons
  • Cluttered utility suite
Categories
Best Gaming Keyboard

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Gaming Keyboard Review

How many different products can modern manufacturers incorporate a touch screen? You know, with that question now out in the open air, I’m not sure I want the answer. Touch screens are popping up like mad. I have one on my phone of course, a digital video recorder, a fan controller for my PC and now I have one on two different keyboards.

Thanks to our recent Mad Catz keyboard review, you should all be experts on the multifaceted S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 modular gaming keyboard and it’s resistive V.E.N.O.M. touch screen display. But Razer demands equal recognition for their new Deathstalker Ultimate gaming keyboard with its “Switchblade” touch screen UI. It ‘s similarly fully-featured with a slew of apps and functions baked right in for use on the touch screen. This is the exact same capacitive user interface found on Razer’s BLADE 2 gaming laptop and surprisingly, nothing is compromised. Despite the glitz and elegance, a few things need attention. Let’s begin!

The main feature list is nothing particularly noteworthy, until you get to the touch screen. The chiclet style keys are fully programmable, the backlighting is tri-color and can be customize via Synapse 2.0 software. We have 1000Hz ultrapolling with a 1ms response time. A dedicated game mode can be set so you can disable certain keys, which tend to get accidentally pressed while gaming. These include Alt, the Windows key and others. Also while in Gaming mode or logged in to Synapse 2.0, users get a 10-key rollover, where 10 keys can be pressed simultaneously and all are recognized. Yet the features that set the Deathstalker Ultimate apart from the rabble are the aforementioned multi-touch LCD track-panel and the sophisticated 10 dynamic display keys (80Hz response time)

Unboxing the Deathstalker Ultimate is as simple as removing the board from the packaging and briefly flipping though the small bundle of stickers, product brochure and user manual. There  is no assembly required. This is the complete opposite of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7. There are an assortment of plugs, wrist rests and so much more, which all requires some form of assembly. The down side of that setup ease…?  The Deathstalker Ultimate does not break down. It’s one solid unit from the left macro keys all the way to the touch screen. You can’t even remove the wrist rest. So if some form of modular customization is what you seek, the Deathstalker Ultimate is not for you.

How about “elegance” is that for you? Because this one radiates it like a high fashion GQ model.  From the solid, less-modular look to the lowered chiclet style keys to the 800×600 capacitive multi-touch screen interface. The Razer Deathstalker Ultimate is a showstopper! You can even display your favorite images on the touch screen for a more tailored appeal. These can be pulled right from your computer directories. I should note this feature is untested as I could not get my images to appear on-screen. But that’s a minor crumb from a very rich table.

Getting things up and running is not quite as cut and dry as the unboxing. You must download Razer’s patented Synapse 2.0 software. Run the installer and follow the instruction prompts. Now register for an account, plug in the Deathstalker Ultimate to your computer, run the Synapse 2.0 application and then log in. From there Synapse 2.0 will begin downloading all the most recent components of which there are usually no less than 18 upon your initial installation. The installation process took more than half-hour. Something must be done about that. But if you’re an existing Synapse 2.0 user, then you should be very used to the frequent updates and such.

It’s a nuisance for sure, but Synapse 2.0 seems …better. Stonger. Faster”. In the past it was plagued with freezing and crashing. There is no sign of that. Bravo Razer! Moreover, it’s intuitive and makes creating and editing macros just as easy as the Smart Technology used by Mad Catz. I did run into a couple issues. One is mentioned above–the wallpaper problem. The other… The LCD touch screen replaces a traditional Numpad. You can pull up a virtual Numpad which looks very similar to what you see on your touch screen smartphone when looking at the dial pad. But sometimes, when I hit a series of numbers only the first digit appears and removes the cursor from whatever field or file I was working in. I have to manually move the mouse cursor back to the file and then punch in the numbers using the garden variety keys fund at the top of the keyboard. I’m sure this can be fixed, but currently it makes the Numpad app quite unreliable.

The other touch screen applications, of which the Deathstalker Ultimate holds no shortage, seem to function just fine. The touch screen has apps for Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, a timer, clock, YouTube, trackpad and the Numpad mentioned above. There is also a very handy screenshot application that captures and organizes your screenshots. You can choose between a gallery panel style listing or a general list with all your screenshots. You can even view the images right on the  touch screen. For me, this is the single most useful app among the fluff offered currently.

Again, this is a full capacitive touch screen. It supports gestures such as two finger scrolling up, down or sideways. You can also use 3-fingers to single swipe left and access the game profiles(3-finger swipe right to return), the screenshot app and a title-specific set of timers. The timers are more fluff. But the game profiles…? There are profiles tailored to Team Fortress 2, Battlefield 3, Counter-Strike: GO and SWTOR. Choose one of these profiles and a nice corresponding game title image will appear on the touch screen. For instance if  you select BF3, then you must choose which class you plan to play (Recon, Assault etc…) right from the touch screen. The 10 display keys then show an image that corresponds to one of the in-game actions. Go prone, or switch to your pistol, or specialty item are but a few of the baked in options. You can even customize and edit this further. Or go and create a completely different profile. You can also have the display keys show your custom created button images. It’s kind of neat but not really what I want from a touch screen-on-a-keyboard solution.

I wish there was something here more compelling, regarding the apps. Both the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 and Deathstalker fall short of a game changing killer app. The best each offers is the screenshot dealy on the Deathstalker Ultimate and the Team Speak integration on the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7. Razer, like Mad Catz, is aware that gamers want more from their screens. So hopefully we will see more apps in the future.

Each keyboard’s LCD focuses on something different. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7’s is best for launching programs and it’s TS collaboration. The Deathstalker Ultimate screen is best used as a secondary input device and on-keyboard web browser. But I found no way to set favorites or change the homepage from razerzone.com–which is so self-serving in a gastric-churning kind of way.

But I can’t complain a lick about the general keyboard performance. The Deathstalker Ultimate is not a mechanical keyboard by any means. Yet I really like typing on it–a lot!! I thought I preferred the mock-mechanical feel of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 over the Deathstalker Ultimate. But I can type so much faster on these lowered chiclet style keys. There is no lag and everything seems very responsive. The flat keys have a bit more surface area and are easy to reach all around. I have no issues in typing or gaming.

There you have it–a big complicated review for an equally sophisticated product. The Razer Deathstalker Ultimate is an impressive board that needs a bit more time to realize its full potential. Only a couple apps are majorly useful to gamers. I am confident more sought LCD functions will trickle down eventually. Let’s not forget Razer now has its own GameBooster client that does do video capture, among many other things. Theoretically this could be tacked on to work with the Deathstalker Ultimate multi-touch LCD screen. Until then you get an obscenely stylish all black keyboard, a large cache of fun but not particularly useful applications and general-use performance that is as handsome as the aesthetics.

Editor Rating:

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Very Good

Bottom Line: The Deathstalker Ultimate is unlike any keyboard we’ve seen thus far. The full capacitive keyboard will turn many heads. Plus general keyboard performance is excellent. I can easily recommend this one as I know Razer is committed to enhancing the longevity of that touch screen with more gamer-targeted applications.

 

Pros

  • Most handsome keyboard on the market
  • Super comfortable and responsive
  • Chiclet key layout actually speeds up typing
  • Multifaceted multi-touch LCD screen
  • Screenshot app is a winner

Cons

  • Some software kinks
  • Few compelling touch screen apps
  • Expensive