This year, I updated my computer. My tried and true Saitek Eclipse keyboard was still running strong, for 9 straight years. Sure some of the lettering had worn off, but it still worked like a champ. Every time I updated my computer, I could never justify purchasing a new keyboard. I was only planning on updating to a mechanical keyboard, and their price point was always too high.
When it comes to keyboard purchases there are several things I am looking for: Brand name, well-built parts, pure design (not straying from standard QWERTY keyboards), and price. Programmable keys are nice additions, but not required. I usually look for Logitech devices, but their G710 keyboard left me wanting more. Their keys are smaller than standard and it had Cherry MX Brown switches (more on this later), not my preference. Logitech was out, so I had to look elsewhere, and I am not a huge fan of Razer devices, they all feel cheap to me. Saitek and taken a strange turn towards Flight Simulator equipment and do not produce keyboards any more. Beyond those three companies, I didn’t have much to go off of. I had heard that Das Keyboards were some of the best mechanical keyboards, but their design is very basic. To help me get informed on what keyboard to choose, one of my co-workers sent me to a neat site that explains EVERYTHING you need to know about mechanical keyboards. There are so many types of switches and you really need to know which is which before purchasing a mechanical keyboard. It is found here. If you ever want to really make a knowledgeable decision about mechanical keyboards, that site will rock your socks off with information. So, with that article’s writer’s wisdom under my belt, I went to the stores. The online stores, that is. It really is best to get a feel for a keyboard before you purchase it, but mechanical keyboards are slim pickins in stores. Amazon, New Egg, here I come.
While I was looking at computer peripherals while I was filling my shopping cart at Amazon with my new computer hardware, I came across the Roccat Ryos MK Pro Mechanical keyboard. Right away it caught my eye with its slick design and option for Cherry MX Black switches. I did some research and found that, while the Pro is cool and has cool lighting effects, it really was not necessary, especially at its price point ($169). Even the Roccat Ryos MK Glow was at too high a price point ($139), but then I found one that was in a damaged box from Amazon and they knocked $50 off! Right into my price range!
Roccat is a German company that I had not heard much about. They make gaming peripherals and have their own professional gaming team. So they know gaming well, so they should make sensible gaming hardware, right?
RIGHT! The first thing I noticed was it’s weight, the thing has good weight to it compared to my < .5 lbs Saitek Eclipse. Amazon says it weighs in at 2 lbs, which means it doesn’t easily move around when gaming. It also has 5 huge rubber feet to make sure it stays in place. It has a standard 6 foot cable, no USB hub or headphone jacks, just a nice keyboard here with bells, but no whistles. After reading the article I linked to above, I chose Cherry MX Black switches, they are stiff to press, but do not have tactile feedback on keypress (noaudible click). The Ryos MK keyboards have 5 macro keys off to the left, and 3 below space. The 3 below space are ingenius, I tend to use those more than the left ones. Each Function key has a separate function that you can press by holding the FN key (it replaces the right Windows key). This provides you with the capability to change volume, control media, or even record macros on the fly. Other than that, it is a standard QWERTY keyboard.
Because this is a gaming keyboard, it does have software to customize the behavior. This sofware is a neat tool to allow customization with 5 profiles so that you can quickly switch to another profile when needed. The reason this is important is that the macro keys aren’t the only customizable keys on the keyboard, every single key is programmable! While this is really neat, I still use the basic QWERTY setup and program the macro keys per game. It also has options to enable and disable certain keys (Windows keys), set illumination brightness and timeout, setup sound feedback when changing profiles or when you get trophies (more on that in a bit). The keys actually go dim after a certain amount of time.
Now this device is not perfect. Roccat does provide the most useless achievements system that I have ever seen. It is kind of funny that it keeps track of how many times you have pressed WASD or used the thumb buttons, but I really don’t care. It will give audio feedback when you reach a milestone, which kind of interrupts whatever you are doing. I really don’t need typing achievements. Also, by default, your capslock key is not capslock, it is the EasyShift key to change profiles. I use capslock so I had to change it to capslock, but it really should be capslock by default. Another thing that I am not really used to yet is that they printed the special characters beneath the numbers. On every other keyboard I have ever used, the special characters are above the numbers, but due to avoiding inconsistent lighting or some other reason, they chose to put the special characters below the numbers. None of these are show stoppers, but you may find them a bit frustrating.
Brand is very important when for me when purchasing peripherals. I was really taking a leap when it came to Roccat, as I had only heard of their Team Roccat proffessional League of Legends gaming team. Amazon reviews were pretty solid when it came to Roccat keyboards so I was led to believe that this keyboard was a great keyboard. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I love this keyboard! All of my negative points are minor, in day-to-day use (once configured) you won’t even notice most of them. The Roccat keyboard is a great keyboard and a great buy if you have the money to spend or if you can get lucky and get a damaged box model. I would definitely recommend you take a look at this keyboard before purchasing your next gaming keyboard.