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Keyboard

  • boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Cherry MX Board 6.0 Keyboard
    Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches
    Cherry RK RealKey Analog sampling technology
    Red LED backlit keys
    Media keys
    Function key (with Fn-lock)
    Windows key enable/disable
    Aluminum top housing
    3 inch magnetically attached palm rest
    USB 2.0 connector with a braided wire
    MSRP: $219
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Cherry for sending us this keyboard for review!

    Cherry Corp. (now known as ZF Electronics after being acquired in 2008) was founded in Highland Park, Illinois, not too far from where this writer is from near Chicago. They later moved to Germany, and still operate offices in the US, including a local Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin location.  Is this relevant to a keyboard review?  Not really, but it's a local connection that I wanted to share.  After all, how often do you find that you live so close to a preeminent keyboard manufacturer, with connections back to your family's country of origin (Germany)?  Not too often.

    Cherry is the oldest keyboard manufacturer still in business, as they have been making keyboards since 1967.  They have made many different professional keyboards over the years, and I even had the chance to use an older model extensively that had a magnetic stripe reader built in.  But they are probably most famous for their MX line of keyboard switches.  There are many kinds, each of which distinguishes it from another because of loudness, tactility, or resistance.  Until the Cherry MX Board 6.0 arrived at my doorstep, I had the most experience with the Brown and Blue switches.  The MX Board 6.0 uses the linear Red switches.  Rather than explain the differences with each switch, it's probably best to just refer you to overclock.net.  Short summary: Blue is very tactile with a loud click, Brown is mildly tactile with a quiet bump, and Red is linear with no noise except bottoming out.  Red and Brown are also have the softest required key press force to  activate.

    I have always had a strong preference for tactile keyboards, and I had always loved the feel of classic IBM and Keytronic keyboards.  I used an AT&T keyboard (made by Keytronic) growing up, and a Keytronic for much of the next decade.  But, being a long time (and aging) computer user, I found that the high resistance of both of them eventually took a toll on my fingers, which made them sore and tired after a while.  After trying ergonomic keyboards of various shapes seeking relief from my arm and wrist pain, I stumbled onto some discussions talking about Cherry MX mechanical keyboards.  Curious, I wanted to give them a try.  Having now used them, it's no comparison – Cherry MX keys are much, much better than Keytronic ever was; but I didn't know that yet.

    Cherry MX Board 6.0 Keyboard
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fantastic build quality; very good typing feel; ultra fast response time; great wrist rest
    Weak Points: High price; I would love to see a version with MX Brown switches; I wish it had dedicated volume buttons or wheel

    Before going that route, I had access to some classic IBM buckling spring keyboards at work, which I tried for a while, since they are often less expensive than a brand new mechanical.  They felt great, but hurt my fingers too much after a while. After this, I decided that it must be the larger required impact force that is hurting my fingers.  I had tried MX Blues, and while they are not bad, I wanted an even softer touch, based on my experience with the IBM.  So I settled on either the Red or Brown keys.  I found a great keyboard from Logitech, the G710+, which uses the Cherry MX Brown switches and is backlit.  It also has some media keys and a volume wheel, which I really like.

    I find that, for the most part, the finger pain is gone with the MX Brown switches on the G710+, and I like them even more than the classic IBM keyboards.  I have been thrilled with the increasing proliferation and availability of mechanical keyboards, especially the Cherry MX variety.  So, when given the chance to review one of Cherry's first gaming keyboards, I jumped at the chance.  Especially since I've always wanted to test MX Red keys.

    Cherry has been very good about working with third parties, and many offer custom keyboards with all kinds of Cherry MX keys.  What really sets this keyboard apart is two things: build quality, and the RealKey analog technology.  While the Logitech keyboard is built very well, and a DasKeyboard I have used is built even better, I haven't seen a keyboard made with a solid aluminum top before.  It is built like a tank, and feels that way also.  This thing weighs 2.9 pounds (1.35 Kg)!  Also, the fantastic included wrist rest weighs an additional half pound or so.  It is very impressive to look at and feels very solid in use.  And I just love that wrist rest.

    Cherry RK, which stands for RealKey, is a very interesting keyboard design that enables two things: complete 100% key rollover with no ghosting, which I don't believe is unique, and the fastest response time of any keyboard – 1ms, which is. Considering that I was already using a gaming grade mechanical keyboard, I did not expect to be able to tell the difference between the G710+ and the MX Board 6.0. But I was wrong.  This keyboard is extremely fast.  Not only are the MX Red keys slightly quicker by themselves because of the linear switches, but the 1ms latency enabled some really fast typing and response times.

    Cherry MX Board 6.0 Keyboard

    Simply by pounding on the keys in notepad, the difference was obvious.  I also played a few rounds of Typing of the Dead (the game is very inappropriate, but a great typing test) and my performance was noticeably quicker and more responsive. For other gaming applications, it is equally impressive.  It makes my Razer Orbweaver, which I usually use for FPS games, which is equipped with Cherry MX Blue keys, feel absolutely glacial in comparison.  (But it still feels awesome – it's mechanical!)

    So, with all of these great features, like super responsive keys, excellent build quality, excellent wrist rest, and driver-less installation (did I mention that?) is there any way that the G710+ might be better?  Well, I am still leaning slightly towards a preference for the MX Browns.  But only slightly.  I also really like the spin-wheel volume control, with a dedicated mute button, vs. the Fn-key overloaded volume buttons on the Cherry MX Board 6.0.  I also find that I like the feel of o-rings in my keys; I know not everyone agrees, but they seem to reduce finger fatigue for me.  But otherwise?  I don't use macro keys, and I greatly prefer the build quality, premium feel, and responsiveness of the Cherry keyboard.  It is a lot more expensive, though.

    The Cherry MX Board 6.0 also uses custom keycaps that I have not seen anywhere else.  These are slightly shorter than regular Cherry MX keycaps, and as a result require less travel when typing.  This also likely contributes to their speed, and I find that I enjoy the short travel.  They also have a slightly different contour, which also sits well with me.

    The red LED lighting is excellent, and looks nice.  The keycap font grew on me; I didn't like it too much at first, but it's not a big deal.  The num lock, caps lock, Fn, and Windows keys can glow blue or red depending on their status.  My minor gripe with them is that I would prefer the brightness setting, which is adjustable via Fn key, to also affect the blue lights, instead of just the red. Otherwise, the brightness is adjustable to about one hundred different settings; I'm sure you'll find one you like.

    The Cherry MX Board 6.0 is probably the nicest keyboard I have had the privilege to use, even when compared to other mechanicals.  The build quality is stellar, and the response time is second to none.  I also like that it does not require any memory sucking software to use to its full potential.  I will probably invest in some o-rings in the near future, as I find that the bottoming out impact is slightly higher than I'm used to, and it does bother my fingers after a while.  And I hope that Cherry considers making a version with MX Brown switches.  The biggest issue in my book is whether or not this keyboard is worth the rather steep increase in price from most other mechanical gaming keyboards out there.  That exquisite build quality and extreme responsiveness does have a price, and that may be worth it for some.  But even if you can't afford a premium product like this, please consider saving your pennies for any mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches – I find it very hard (and painful) to go back to any standard rubber dome keyboard.

  • boxart
    Hardwrae Info:

    GAMDIAS ARES Gaming Keyboard
    Release date: September 1, 2014
    Price:  $34.99

    *Advertising disclosure* - After this review was posted, Gamdias became a banner advertising client.  The review is not influenced by this partnership in any way.

    Thank you GAMDIAS for sending us this keyboard to review!

    This is our first keyboard review for the site and I've been spoiled by my mechanical Logitech G710+.  Before my G710+, I had a G510 which my kids have claimed for themselves.  Even though the GAMDIAS ARES Gaming Keyboard isn't mechanical, it has a nice feel to it as long as you don't press on the keys too hard.   With my intense typing, I was able to feel spring like vibrating, especially when using the spacebar.  

    Given the meager price tag of $35 individually or $30 bundled with a mouse, I honestly wasn't expecting much from this keyboard.  The feel is better than I anticipated and it has many need features along with some confusing ones.  I'm a fan of the braided USB cable which adds to the durability and prevents some tangling.  

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Customizable backlight and macros; spill-resistant; braided cable
    Weak Points: Springy feel when keys fully depressed; can't turn off or dim the logo on the bottom; confusing macros

    The ergonomic wrist guard is magnetically detachable for quick setup/removal.  If you don't have ergonomic issues, but find yourself to be clumsy in nature, you can take comfort in the anti-spill measures this keyboard has built into it.  There are four drainage holes to salvage the ARES if something gets spilled onto it.  

    Like many gaming keyboards, the ARES is backlit and the colors of the keys can be customized by using the HERA software (which only runs in Windows).  The six harder to reach bottom macro keys and the logo color cannot be changed or dimmed though.   There are 9 macro keys in total and there are many handy built in macro functions and some that can wreak havoc on passwords.  

    If you're thinking about setting up a password, be sure that the WASD/arrow key swap or the repeat fire modes are not activated.     I liked the built in skype, url,  and windows function macros and there are many options to customize and record your own macros.  There is 320KB of memory for macro storage.  The muscle memory tab keeps track of the number of key strokes as of this review I have pressed over 7,500 keys.

    If your keyboard is used in public places the function key activated keyboard lock is a nice feature to have.  If you're worried about someone trying to hack your system's password, activate the rapid fire or WASD swap if your password has any of those characters in it. 

    Overall the GAMDIAS ARES Gaming Keyboard is a decent keyboard for the price.  If you're looking for a budget keyboard and mouse combo, it's hard to go wrong for $30 for both.  The keyboard has some nice features along with ones that take some caution.  Fortunately, the password interfering macros can be disabled with the software.  The glowing GAMDIAS logo cannot be altered though.

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Gamdias Hermes 7 Color Mechanical Keyboard
    Released: March 15, 2016
    Specs: TTC Blue switches
    Connection: 1.8m USB cable with a gold plated connector
    Backlit: 7 colors and 4 levels of brightness
    Programmable keys: 2
    Multimedia keys: 6
    Price: $60.00
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    *Advertising disclosure* - Gamdias used to be a banner advertising client.  This review has not been influenced by that previous partnership in any way.

    Thank you Gamdias for sending us this keyboard to review!

    This is our third keyboard review; we have previously evaluated the Cherry MX Board 6.0 mechanical keyboard, and the Gamdias’ ARES, which is not mechanical.  The three popular switch types for mechanical keyboards are red, brown, and blue.  The blue switches are very “clicky” and that’s what’s inside the Gamdias Hermes 7 Color Mechanical Keyboard.  There are several switch manufacturers with the most prominent being Cherry.  Kailh and TTC are other manufacturers that make Cherry clone switches.  This is the first keyboard we have used with TTC switches and while they get the job done, they’re not as nice compared to Cherry switches.

    With a price point around $60, this is one of Gamdias’ more expensive offerings.  However, it’s still less expensive than most mechanical keyboards out there.  Some premium features are included like a braided USB cable with a gold-plated connector.   On the below the keys you’ll find a metal plate for added durability.  Unlike the ARES keyboard, this one is not advertised as being spill-proof so I didn’t push my luck and knock some water onto it on purpose.  If it ever happens on accident, I’ll update this review accordingly.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice color patterns/effects
    Weak Points: Cannot customize the color scheme; key presses can be loud and may annoy people nearby; metal bar stabilizers

    Besides the “clickyness” of the keys, the most obvious feature of this keyboard are the keys that are seven different colors, including from the top down (green, blue, purple, pink, orange, and red).  I’m not sure what the seventh color is; perhaps they’ve included the black housing?  This particular model does not support customizing the color palette; that ability is available in the Hermes RGB model which is $30 more.

    There’s still plenty to customize with the effects. My kids and I really liked the bulls-eye effect which left the keys unlit until a key was pressed and a ripple of color would spread across the keyboard with each button pressed.  While it looks cool with a few presses, typing constantly may be too much for some people.  The default mode is a breathing pattern where the color fades in and out slightly.  There are a couple of snake/marquee patterns as well as a wave one for those who like doing the wave at public events.  If you’re a no frills kind of person you can have the keys constantly backlit with no effects whatsoever.

    Customizing the keyboard and configuring the controllable keys are all done through the keyboard itself and not through the Hera software that configures other Gamdias devices.  Included in the box along with a couple of stickers is a quick start guide that will tell you about the necessary keyboard shortcuts to configure this device to your liking.

    A modification worth considering if you find yourself constantly bottoming out the keys is to install O rings.  I tried it on a key and still preferred the feel of the board without them.  Some of the keys like the Shift and the Spacebar are tougher to remove since they use a metal bar instead of stabilizer switches to hold them in place.

    For the price this is a very nice mechanical keyboard and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for one with blue switches inside.  There are better built keyboards out there, but they cost more money as a result.  My family plans on keeping this one and my kids have already placed claims on who will inherit it next!

  • boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Gamdias Hermes E2 7 Color Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
    Manufactured by: Gamdias
    Release date: September 2017
    Specifications:
    Blue switches
    7 colors
    1.5m USB cable
    Price: $53.00
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    *Advertising disclosure* - Gamdias used to be a banner advertising client. This review has not been influenced by that previous partnership in any way.

    Thank you Gamdias for sending us this keyboard to review!

    We have previously reviewed the Gamdias Hermes 7 Color Mechanical Keyboard and the E2 is very similar in many ways, but the E2’s defining feature is its small footprint and 87 key layout. To achieve the compact size some sacrifices had to be made. Some of them I agree with and others I greatly miss.

    Many gamers don’t need the number pad and won’t miss its absence. The Windows key on the left is gone and some people may hit the Fn key in its place on accident. The Windows key on the right hand side is still there and it can be disabled by pressing Fn and the Windows key. When the Windows key is disabled the LED on it is off. I appreciate that notification.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Blue switches; compact size; pretty colors
    Weak Points: Cannot customize the colors; no caps lock notification; this keyboard may be too loud for some people

    The notification I really miss is the caps lock light. Of course, the caps lock key is there, but there is no way to tell if it has been enabled or not UNLESS YOU SEE THE OBVIOUS. However, the absence of a notification light may get you locked out of Windows and/or websites if you don’t realize it has been enabled.

    Many nice gaming features are present including the ability to swap out the WASD and arrow keys. To activate this feature you need to press the Fn and F4 keys. What’s odd about this key location is that WASD swap is in the middle of the media playback function keys. I don’t know why the media keys are not all grouped together. This layout is the same as other Gamdias keyboards we own so it’s nothing new.

    The color scheme is attractive, but not customizable. As a result, no software is required to utilize all of the features of this keyboard. If you’d rather not draw attention to yourself, you can disable the color scheme by pressing Fn and the Del key. If you do want to add some flare with a pulsing/breathing pattern you can enable that with the Fn and Insert key. The Fn and Delete key will disable the breathing effect if desired.

    Gamdias Hermes E2 7 Color Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

    The blue switches feel great but their volume may annoy people nearby. A modification worth considering if you find yourself constantly bottoming out the keys is to install O rings. I tried it on a key and still preferred the feel of the board without them. Some of the keys like Shift and the Spacebar are tougher to remove since they use a metal bar instead of stabilizer switches to hold them in place.

    All in all, the Gamdias Hermes E2 7 Color Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a nice low profile contender if you’re limited on space or are looking for a portable option. It lacks some of the fancier features offered in other models like a braided cable and a gold plated USB connector. The biggest missing feature for me is the caps lock indicator. I also prefer having a number pad, but the caps lock indicator is a deal breaker for me. Especially with all of the websites and servers I maintain, I can’t afford to get locked out of them over a silly password error that can be easily avoided.

  • boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Hermes P1 RGB Gaming Keyboard 
    Developed by: Gamdias
    Release Date: October 2016
    Price: $79.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Gamdias for sending us this keyboard to review!

    *Advertising disclosure* - Gamdias was a former advertising partner with us, and is currently not as of this review. This review is not influenced by this relationship.

    We recently reviewed the Gamdias Hermes E1 Combo which comes bundled with a Hermes E1 keyboard, Demeter E2 mouse and a mouse pad. While I enjoyed and kept the Hermes E1 keyboard, my only nitpick with it is that the red LED coloring could not be changed. For the same price of the combo, you can get the Hermes P1 RGB Gaming Keyboard by itself with 16.8 million colors and four levels of brightness to choose from. Unlike the Hermes 7 color mechanical keyboard we also reviewed, you can set the colors on this keyboard by individual keys and zones instead of settling for the default rainbow color scheme.

    If you like effects, you can choose between several including breathing, wave, marquee, rainbow drops, slide in, ripple, and others. The default mode is neon where the keyboard rotates between several different colors. While impractical, I think that the rainbow drops is my favorite with random keys illuminating in various colors of the rainbow. Using the software you can customize the color of each individual key or by region to make your keyboard truly unique.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Blue switches and customizable color options
    Weak Points: A little pricey; software is Windows only

    With the Hera software you can also configure macros and key assignments. The software is stand alone so you don’t have to worry about it slowing down your system’s performance and you can just launch it when you want to make tweaks to your hardware. The settings remain in place when you bring the keyboard to another system. One downside to the software is that it’s only available for Windows.

    Other noteworthy features of the keyboard include the ability to swap out the arrow and WASD keys, and disabling the Windows key is handy too. If you have cats and children that you want to prevent from using your keyboard while you’re away from your desk you can use FN + F11 to disable and re-enable keyboard presses.

    The braided cable is nice and less likely to get tangled. The included key remover is nice though I didn’t have any trouble accidentally removing the space bar during the unboxing process. Reinstalling it was no issue and the space bar uses one switch in the middle with a stabilizer at both ends.

    The look and feel is very similar to the Hermes E1 with the thin aluminum faceplate and blue switches which are “clickier” and louder than red or brown switches. I found the keys to be slightly easier to depress and enjoy using this keyboard for typing out reviews (this one included). I had no trouble finding a child interested in the Hermes E1 I was using previously. My mom took ownership of the Hermes 7 color we were sent before that. I plan on using this keyboard for a while longer.

    If you’re looking for a nice gaming keyboard for less than $80, the Gamdias Hermes P1 RGB Gaming Keyboard is a good choice. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but on the flip side, many of the big name mechanical keyboards sell for over $100.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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