I’ve been a fan of Logitech’s gaming series keyboards (“G Series”) since the release of the G15 in 2005 (which I still have in storage). After owning it for a number of years, I replaced it with a mechanical gaming keyboard. If you have never used a mechanical keyboard before, I highly suggest you give it a try. I’m going to avoid going into the inner workings and boring details of key travel, actuations and all that jazz, but know that the comfort and control that mechanical switches provide will convince almost all newcomers to convert. Keep in mind that there are a number of different mechanical switches on the market. Different models of switches are designated by colors. For most gaming keyboards, you will see either Brown, Black, and Red switches. There is a Blue but most higher end keyboards feature the first three mentioned and they are distinguished by the “click” sounds the keys make when pressed. Okay, enough background, let’s move on!
Mechanical keyboards are nothing new. Seriously, they go back to the days when every PC game released mentioned an “IBM Compatible” PC as part of its requirement. Nowadays I’ve noticed a surge in popularity of mechanical keyboards. Just log onto to your favorite e-tailor and search for mechanical gaming keyboards. You will likely get more than just a few hits including Corsair, Rosewill, Razer, Filco, Azio and Cooler Master. But until last year, Logitech was noticeably missing from the list. Finally Logitech has joined the mechanical gaming keyboard fray with the G710+. What Makes It So Special?
First, it looks nice. For a keyboard, it looks sleek and the outline is reminiscent of a stealth bomber. Second, the feel of the keyboard is solid. The thing weighs more than most other keyboards out there. It will not slide around your desk during hectic gaming sessions. It also features a USB port for accessories (mouse, headphone, etc) and some other features that I will get into.
With so many mechanical gaming keyboards on the market today, you are probably asking yourself why Logitech deserves your hard-earned money.
Here is a list of reasons Logitech’s keyboard stands out:
- Macro programming. The keyboard’s programming capabilities successfully set it apart from the pack. While other keyboards force you to “ALT-TAB” out of a game to set up macros, the “G” programmable keys (which are found in a vertical row on the left and outlined in bright orange) can be programmed on the fly during a gaming session. Simply pressing one key (the “MR” key) allows the gamer to choose a key to program with keystrokes. Pressing the “MR” key again confirms the macro/keystroke(s). It definitely helps when you’re typing the same thing or using certain key stroke combinations over and over again – coders may appreciate that. On top of all that, there are three “M” keys that allow users to switch between three sets of macros or keystrokes assigned to a single “G” key. Basically, this means that each game or program can have up to 18 commands dedicated to it.
- Logitech Gaming Software. In the past Logitech’s products have relied on a program called Setpoint. That software has since been retired and replaced with the Logitech Gaming Software. While the interface has changed quite drastically, it’s easy to navigate. All profiles can be accessed on the main screen via a horizontal scroll bar and all recording tools can be accessed simply by clicking on an arrow icon on the programmable buttons. Logitech has, in my opinion, streamlined the interface and it’s also easy on the eyes.
- Lighting. Each key has a LED nestled under it. I’ve grown quite accustomed to backlit keyboards over the years. Although I’ve never found them to be necessary – especially if you can touch type, I’ve grown to expect all laptops and gaming keyboards to have the feature. Brightness of the LEDs can be controlled via two buttons (two!?). One controls the brightness of the entire keyboard with the exception of the WASD cluster and arrow keys (neat!). The other key – you guessed it – controls the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys.
- Media keys. The G710+ features a cluster of dedicated media keys in the upper right hand corner. There is also a vertical wheel that controls volume. Accompanying the media keys is a gaming mode toggle that lets you disable the Windows key nestled between the CTRL and ALT keys.
- Customer Service. Sometimes things break. Mice and keyboards, no matter the manufacturer are no exceptions. I’ve replaced my G9 and a keyboard in the past and all it took was a simple phone call. Logitech was more than happy to replace the broken goods. My experience has been universally shared by many folks across the Internet, from my perspective anyway. Although I will add that my experiences involved products that were still under warranty.
Now to the CONS.
Although nearly perfect, I couldn’t get around some of the characteristics of the keyboard that I found annoying but by no means were they deal-breakers!
- Lighting. While I do love the amount of control that the keyboard offers but if the user is to be given control, provide all of it. Let me explain. The brightest level of the LED will burn your retinas. I never use it full blast since it becomes a distraction. The indicator lights for the “lock keys” are not adjustable. I have no idea why. They are always set to “retina-burning mode.”
- Noise. The Browns are really nice to type on. I generally enjoy the light feel of the Brown switches. However, with mechanical keyboards, you get the accompanying noise as well. There is no distinctive “click” with the Brown switches which is a relief but you still get the sound of the keys bottoming out. Logitech tried to address this issue by fitting O-rings to all the keys. This helped to mute the noise quite a bit by acting as shock absorbers but it certainly does not stand a chance against the rubber dome keyboards in terms of noise.
- Rubber dome! While the majority of the keys are mechanical in nature, the top row of buttons – media keys, LED brightness adjustment keys, and the “M” keys are rubber dome. I understand that these keys are irregular in size and seldom used compared to the rest of the keyboard but mechanical across the board would have been nice.
- The volume roller. The roller is nice because it offers quick access to volume adjustment during gaming sessions. However, the roller tends to “lose focus” every now and then. It won’t work until you click on the desktop or ALT-TAB out and back in to the game. This issue was present with older G keyboards and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Windows in general and maybe not so much with the keyboard itself.
- Pricey. Mechanical keyboards are generally on the more expensive side. Can’t avoid this one unless you’re a big fan of vanilla keyboards that do not offer extra features such as backlighting or separate macro keys.
Logitech’s first entry into the mechanical gaming keyboard market is a winner in my book. I love the Brown switches. However, if you are new to mechanical keyboards, I recommend trying a few out in a store near you to experience them. I can say with certain amount of certainty that you will love them but choosing the type of switch is very important. If you are curious as to what switch you are testing out, just pop off a key and you’ll know. I know some folks who aren’t too keen on the Browns and would loathe to switch (*groan*) from Blacks or the Reds that require more force to type. If the Browns are where it’s at for you, I can’t recommend Logitech’s G710+ enough. Couple the Brown switches with on-the-fly programmable G Keys, lighting, and Logitech’s Gaming Software, you have a winning combination. Although a bit pricey, this keyboard is well worth it.