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Five Gaming Keyboards, Tested

Five Gaming Keyboards, Tested
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We review new gaming keyboards from Logitech, Razer, SteelSeries, Thermaltake and Gigabyte. Five will enter, one (or maybe two) will leave...

As time goes on, the gaming peripheral space gets more and more crowded. With an abundance of products available from industry staples like Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries, finding the right keyboard, mouse or headset can be difficult if only because of the wide array of choice. However, that doesn’t stop other companies like Gigabyte and Thermaltake from entering the fray. While experts in their respective fields (motherboards, power supplies and so forth), those companies are relative newcomers to PC peripheral space. Will the new kids on the block take out the tried and true veterans? Let’s find out.

These five keyboards will be tested in this roundup: The Logitech G510, Gigabyte Aivia, Thermaltake Challenger Pro, SteelSeries 6Gv2, and Razer BlackWidow Ultimate. They will be judged in five different categories, including design, build quality, value, features, and performance. Of the five categories, value and features are the two most closely linked.

It’s important to note that two of the keyboards (SteelSeries and Razer) are mechanical, while the other three used the traditional rubber membrane. Mechanical keyboards use a mechanical switch to communicate keystrokes from the keyboard to the computer. The result is a more satisfying click when a button is depressed. Membrane keyboards uses a small rubber dome that, when pressed, bring two circuits together to send a signal to the PC. Most keyboards use this tech, and while there are a number of differences between membrane and mechanical, the biggest is tactile feedback. That said, the Razer and SteelSeries boards will be competing against each other more than against the other three boards in this roundup.

Some piece of the PC gaming pie already has a preference when it comes to mechanical or membrane keyboards...but that doesn't mean you should discount one type or the other. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool mechanical nut, you should still give the G510, Aivia, and Challenger Pro a look (and feel, if you can find a demo unit at a friends house or Best Buy somewhere). If you find yourself using whatever membrane-based keyboard that's laying around, you might enjoy the tactile feedback and overall feel of a mechanical board. In the end, look at all five of these keyboards before judging either type too harshly.

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  • 2 Hide
    Sabiancym , November 10, 2010 5:41 PM
    Why bother with the G510? It's the same thing as the G15 but with no usb....

    I have the G19 and will never look back, the thing is amazing.
  • 1 Hide
    leo2kp , November 10, 2010 5:44 PM
    In the pics, it looks like the right-shift button is the smallest of the two. Not the left. ??
  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , November 10, 2010 6:03 PM
    leo2kpIn the pics, it looks like the right-shift button is the smallest of the two. Not the left. ??


    Typo, fixed! Thanks for pointing that out!
    -Devin
  • 2 Hide
    rpgplayer , November 10, 2010 8:52 PM
    SteelSeries 6Gv2 - this would probably be the one for a gamer with kids to buy lol. i know my kids have killed 2 keyboards in a year
  • 1 Hide
    dconnors , November 10, 2010 9:00 PM
    rpgplayerSteelSeries 6Gv2 - this would probably be the one for a gamer with kids to buy lol. i know my kids have killed 2 keyboards in a year


    No doubt about it. You could probably smash someone across the face with the 6Gv2, put it back on your desk, and game away. It's a shame that some of its other shortcomings ($$) hold it back.
  • 2 Hide
    7amood , November 10, 2010 9:06 PM
    amazing review... thanx
  • 2 Hide
    Darkerson , November 11, 2010 3:25 AM
    I sometimes miss my old IBM "battle board" That thing was a tank, had the nice capacitive switched, and outlasted like 4-5 computers. I still cant believe I finally managed to kill the thing.
  • 2 Hide
    iolas , November 11, 2010 4:46 AM
    The key is grabbing the g15 v2 on sale...i snagged a dented box one for 40 bucks.
    Keep your eye on slickdeals.net
  • 1 Hide
    Phoenixlight , November 11, 2010 5:57 AM
    Was the razer's Black Widows' small wrist rest ok? I love the look of the keyboard but need one with a descent wrist rest.
  • 1 Hide
    nativeson8803 , November 11, 2010 6:53 AM
    I like my g110 for the feel and look, but I have yet to find a use for the macro keys. Mostly, this was a luxury because I used to have a cheap dell keyboard that didn't feel as good and didn't have backlit keys. I wish I had got the g19 or g15 for the screen but this one was on sale.
  • 0 Hide
    fafkac , November 11, 2010 7:40 AM
    I don't want to be rude, but writer doesn't know what is he writing about "While the company still offers membrane-based keyboards like the 7G and Shift" 7G is also mechanical keyboard, 6G is cheaper version of 7G
    "While the BlackWidow from Razer has a click built into its mechanical switches, the 6Gv2 does not, which is hit or miss as far as performance goes." writer didn't do hes homework, most of people that own more than one mechanical keyboard say, that nontactile feedback is suited more for gaming that tactile like black willow had, 6G is using cherry black switches, black willow is using blue cherry switches
    most used keyboard mechanisms
    http://www.overclock.net/keyboards/491752-mechanical-keyboard-guide.html
    I got SteelSeries 6G v2 and its worth the many, no questions there, i wouldn't buy membrane keyboard, because its not worth it.
  • 1 Hide
    u2u , November 11, 2010 11:33 AM
    what a shit....so commercial brands. And where is Roccat
  • 2 Hide
    daimeionb , November 11, 2010 2:40 PM
    What about the Merc or Zboard keyboards? Those are true gaming keyboards in my opinion. They have a plethora of dedicated gaming buttons, and the zboard has swappable keysets. They put all the others, except maybe the logitech, to shame when it comes to improving your game.
  • 2 Hide
    Marcus52 , November 11, 2010 3:42 PM
    More keys.

    Most games these days allow you to Macro pretty much any key on your keyboard, so any keyboard can be a gaming keyboard. For me, more keys is at the top of the list, which means the 18-button G15 or G510 of these reviewed, none of the others need apply. The G15 gen 2 will not do.

    Each to his/her own though, something I understand thoroughly and something that was said repeatedly in this article. Apparently some people skipped over the parts that said the opinions were often just opinions of the testers, nothing more.

    ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    dconnors , November 11, 2010 5:41 PM
    fafkacI don't want to be rude, but writer doesn't know what is he writing about "While the company still offers membrane-based keyboards like the 7G and Shift" 7G is also mechanical keyboard, 6G is cheaper version of 7G"While the BlackWidow from Razer has a click built into its mechanical switches, the 6Gv2 does not, which is hit or miss as far as performance goes." writer didn't do hes homework, most of people that own more than one mechanical keyboard say, that nontactile feedback is suited more for gaming that tactile like black willow had, 6G is using cherry black switches, black willow is using blue cherry switchesmost used keyboard mechanismshttp://www.overclock.net/keyboards [...] guide.htmlI got SteelSeries 6G v2 and its worth the many, no questions there, i wouldn't buy membrane keyboard, because its not worth it.


    I'll give you the bit on the 7G...but how can you say "most gamers" prefer anything? What data is such a statement even based on?

    -Devin
  • 3 Hide
    Major7up , November 11, 2010 6:40 PM
    I am dissapointed in this article, where is Saitek? I have owned three Cyborg models and I love them. I prefer the Cyborg 2 far above the Logitech board. What gives?
  • 1 Hide
    halophoenix , November 11, 2010 6:52 PM
    Frankly, I liked the Gigabyte much more than the reviewer did - the software is a little buggy, but all in all the rest of the features are implemented very well. If anything, the lighting on the Gigabyte is very dim - I wonder if it was tested in a very dark room! In a room with any lighting at all, the backlights are hardly noticeable.

    The black version has been out for a while, and typing on it is smooth and silky. I like it!


  • 0 Hide
    Major7up , November 11, 2010 7:01 PM
    I goofed a bit in my comment, I have owned three Saitek keyboards, but only the current one is a Cyborg, the other two were the eclipse one and two. I still fail to see how such an important peripheral maker like this is omitted.
  • 1 Hide
    dconnors , November 11, 2010 9:33 PM
    Major7upI goofed a bit in my comment, I have owned three Saitek keyboards, but only the current one is a Cyborg, the other two were the eclipse one and two. I still fail to see how such an important peripheral maker like this is omitted.


    Saitek hasn't come out with a new keyboard in a while, and we were trying to include newer products.

    -Devin
  • 0 Hide
    steve4king , November 11, 2010 10:51 PM
    My biggest complaints about the hotkeys/macro's on keyboards is that they are software based. These do not work in many environments and can lag depending on the system status. Firmware based programming is far superior.. that was by far my biggest complaint about the G11 and 15. Do any of these use firmware based programming?
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