Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 8:30 AM by Chris Smith
Check out Part 1 of this article, where I decide that a radical re-think of my PC gaming peripheral requirements is needed, starting with my keyboard.
Durability was paramount; being an avid PC gamer and typist meant that my peripherals took a beating and (beer spillages aside) I needed my input devices to be able to withstand just about anything I could throw at it on a day-to-day basis. An LCD screen and masses of user-programmable keys could be given a miss, since they were just ancillary items: I don’t need a keyboard to be able to tell me the time or what tune I’m listening to. A back-light is important, though, since I have a tendency to play in the dark for full gaming immersion and a striking monitor tan. Anything above and beyond this was a perk; not required, welcome if present, but not something on which I should base a keyboard purchase.
Even though I was stuck – for want of a better term – with my G9x (since it was in no way faulty), I performed the same review. No need for DPI changing. No need for extra buttons – left, right and middle are all I ever really use. However, it needed to be reliable, properly balanced, comfortable and accurate. My next mouse and keyboard would be different, certainly, but it was clear that I would not be content with a generic model of either. Looking around the various online retailers, I was surprised to find that there was very little in terms of middle ground for me to peruse. Thankfully, Logitech redeemed themselves by providing a perfect example of what I was looking for in a keyboard – the G710+ Mechanical.
For those of you unaware, there are (for the most part) two types of keyboard; rubber-dome and mechanical switch. The vast majority of keyboards you will have ever used as a PC owner will have been the rubber-dome model. Underneath each of the keyboard’s keys rests a little dome of flexible rubber, which serves to keep the plastic of the key from activating the circuitry below it until you come along and tap it with your finger. Mechanical keyboards are much rarer, utilising springs, carefully crafted plastic triggers and metal actuators to provide quite a different typing experience. People who have switched to mechanical keyboards often profess that they wouldn’t (or in some cases, couldn’t) go back to using their rubber brethren. The very same friend that managed to import some Mana Potions for us several years ago was the one who told me that I should really invest in a mechanical model; that there was no comparison.
Doing a little further investigation of my own, I found that the internet was generally of the same consensus: mechanical keyboards were superior in just about every way. More reliable, more durable, more accurate. I discovered that there were also several different “flavours” of mechanical switch to cater to an individual’s own preferences. The immediate defining characteristic of a mechanical keyboard is that it “clicks” much more than a rubber-dome model. This is due to the design of its switches, which come in a variety of colours. For example, Cherry MX Blue switches are very distinctly clicky and require slightly more finger pressure to depress than, say, the Cherry MX Browns, which are quieter and require less pressure. The various different switch types provide different benefits, depending on the type of activity you perform, whether it be typing or gaming.
Having read through the feature list of the many switch colours available, I decided that I wanted the Cherry MX Brown switches on my keyboard. They purportedly provided the best balance between gaming and typing, both of which I do a fair amount of. Scouring the internet to find different brands and models, I was disappointed that most companies seem to favour the Cherry MX Blues. Indeed, what some consider to be one of the greatest gaming peripheral manufacturers, Razer, only offer Cherry MX Brown switches in US-layout models. I didn’t want to have to re-learn where the “@” key was, much less end up typing # instead of £. It turned out that I wanted a good deal more than I initially realised from my new keyboard; things I had never had previously.
It was with great relief that I saw that Logitech offered the G710+ – it had everything that I was looking for, with a few added extras. Do I really need even 6 programmable keys? Probably not. Do I care that the W, A, S and D keys have their own, secondary and separate back-light? Not really. But ask me if I love typing on this thing more than any other keyboard I have ever used and I’d say yes. Yes I do.
The irony, of course, is that I ended up spending more on this keyboard than I ever spent on the G510 or the G15 before it, but the feeling of excellence is back. Maybe I wasn’t duped, then; perhaps back then, the only options available to me were either the humdrum standard keyboard or the flashy bells-and-whistles G15. Back then as much as now, there was very little middle ground or compromise when looking for what was (at the time) a very specific and specialised set of features.
But I have learned to be cautious. It took a faulty keyboard to make me realise that I had been buying the wrong item all along. I thought I was smart in avoiding the obvious pitfalls of “gamer fuels” and “gaming PCs”, forgetting that the only reason I know to avoid them NOW was precisely because I had fallen for them in the first place. It took personal experience to make me realise my errors, so while I may look at these people buying their Alienwares and energy drinks in dismay, I can at least understand why they’re doing it. I can say with a high degree of probability that my next mouse won’t be the successor to the G9x. I will have to sit down, as I did with my keyboard, and decide what I really need… then go out and find it. Probably on the Logitech website.
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