Build quality is a category that some people don’t place as much weight into as they should. Keyboards aren’t devices that people buy every year. You want a product that stands the test of time or in most gaming keyboard cases, the test of ‘LAN Parties’. When you have a keyboard and it just sits on your desk and doesn’t move, it’ll last a while; regardless of it’s made of metal or cardboard. The moment you decide to unplug that device and move it and plug it back in is the moment you’ll first find out what your keyboard it made of.
Since the introduction of the ‘LAN Party’ we’ve seen the reemergence of Mechanical Key switches because of the quality of the key itself and the life expectancy of it. We’ve also seen the introduction of braided and removable USB cables.
With these things in mind the keyboard that stood out to me the most for solid build quality was the Corsair Vengeance line. The K60 was the first keyboard that I reviewed in the year that made me recognize what keyboard construction was supposed to look like. The braided USB cable and mechanical key switches were just a bonus to the solid brushed aluminum top that was included on this beast. I’m not talking a little sliver of aluminum, either; I’m talking 2-3mm thick of aluminum, enough to godfather someone if you needed to.
Corsair set the standard. Everyone just tried to live up to it… keyword being “tried”.
Gaming functionality was something I really had to think about. The first keyboard that I reviewed that made me think of the concept was the Roccat ISKU. The ISKU, made by Roccat, have more built in software macros for games than I’ve ever seen in gaming device. Because of the macro capability of the ISKU I started to look further it makes macro functionality something that you’d consider when purchasing a keyboard.
The ISKU was great at incorporating keys into other keys. But, personally I like to have a dedicated key ‘bank’ for doing specific tasks. Most games and applications have the functionality to customize keys to do different things to your liking so assigning keys to do specific things outside of the application itself can be a bit overwhelming. The ISKU contained a few dedicated macro keys but because there was several other keyboards that I reviewed that accomplished the macro function without in-depth software I started to look at macro key placement as well.
Just like the ISKU the left side of the keyboard seemed to be the hotspot for the macro keys but one thing I couldn’t get past when I came to using those keys was how often I had to try not to hit them instead of the CTRL key or the Shift Key. Placement became everything. And in that regard, a couple keyboards stood out above the ISKU.