Testing & Performance
Now that we have unboxed and thoroughly gone over the keyboard lets plug it in and see what this thing can do.
Upon plugging it in the entire keyboard lights up in a warm red color that beautifully augments the red accents on the keyboard. My first thought is if you like red you are going to love this keyboard. Using the FN + Print-Screen key we can switch between several lighting effects such as one that randomly illuminates keys creating a sort of moving checkerboard pattern, another pattern moves an arrow down the keyboard and back creating kind of a wave-like appearance. These patterns are really nice for drawing attention to or displaying the keyboard but we think they might get a little distracting during playing so let’s take a closer look at the preconfigured light modes. All of these lighting effects and modes are accessed using combinations of the FN and other keys, you can find a handy cheat sheet to all of these in the quick start guide.
Here is the first gaming illumination mode. As you can see this mode illuminates the WASD and arrow keys in addition to some of the most commonly used number and function keys for FPS games.
Here is another mode that highlights the keys most commonly used in RPG games.
One important thing to note is that my camera did not do a very good job of capturing all of the illuminated keys, that’s why in some of the above pictures you can see certain keys are not lit up that should be such as the right arrow key in the above picture. Even though these keys do not show as illuminated they are lit up just fine to the naked eye. I suspect that the LEDs that illuminate the keys are pulsing very slightly which causes the camera to miss them in the picture even though our eyes don’t notice any difference. If you want to know exactly which keys light up in a certain mode then there is a very nice diagram on the back of the box that shows which ones are illuminated in each of the four modes.
Lighting options are nice but the real test of any keyboard is how it performs under battle stress.
We tested this keyboard out for a week, as we do most any keyboard that comes in the door, we played everything from RPG games to hardcore FPS shooters with this and quickly discovered two things.
The first realization we came to is that Thermaltake has put a ton of thought into both their lighting modes and their function key integration. The lighting modes amazingly illuminate the right keys for almost every type of game we played. The MMO setting is great for games like Civ VI and WOW while the FPS settings are perfect for almost any game in the genre such as COD or Doom. Up until using this keyboard I really had no idea how universally used these key combinations are. I really like that Thermaltake did their research and made sure they got every single one of the commonly used keys. Another really nice feature is all of the function key use on this keyboard. The function key can easily be combined with other keys to execute shortcuts and change lighting or multimedia levels. While it may take a bit to get the hang of all the combinations you will really enjoy them once you do.
The second thing we discovered is that we love the audible click of the Cherry Blue switches. Between that audible click and the physically long key travel distance of the keys, this keyboard definitely brings me back to the old days of the beige IBM keyboards that used to be ubiquitous with the word Geek. I know many fellow gamers and IT whizzes who love these new keyboards that barely allow the keys to move when pressed but I personally love the feel of a key moving and clicking under my fingers pressure. It’s good to know that somebody still makes a keyboard that you can hear from the other side of the room!