Mechanical gaming keyboard with a kick
Gamers are generally as serious about their mice and keyboards as they are of their graphics cards and displays. When it comes to a good gaming keyboard, it has to offer great tactile feel and offer enough macro features to make gaming a more pleasant experience. And a few sexy features on top are never a bad thing.
Xtrfy from Sweden is a newcomer to the gaming paraphernalia game, but they arrive with a very interesting product, bearing a name that is almost as difficult to remember as the name of the company. XG1-R LED is a mechanical keyboard with nice macro and LED lighting features that we will explore today.
Xtrfy XG1-R LED keyboard features the Red Cherry MX key switches, designed for quick response time and deemed by Xtrfy to be the best MX switches for gaming. Aside from the usual set of keyboard keys, the XG1-R LED also has a set of macro keys at the top edge of the keyboard and volume adjustment keys above the numpad. A very handy G key is located in the upper right corner of the keyboard, allowing you to disable the Windows key while gaming. Another pleasant feature is that the so-called Windows key is marked with an image of a flying bird, rather than the ugly windows logo. This should make the keyboard more tolerable also to Mac and Linux users.
The keyboard is relatively heavy – 1.3kg – and sits very solidly on a wooden table thanks to its rubber feet. The USB cable is detachable and thus replaceable and attaches to a slot at the bottom of the keyboard. The keyboard has a very nice no-nonsense design – there’s no extra room around the keys for fancy design details and the total size is very convenient 443x170x39 mm. But if you want sexy, the LED lighting features are there to help you.
By pressing the FN key at the top left of the keyboard, you can choose between several lighting options through the Function keys. These include basic back-lighting with adjustable levels. Key Touch lights up the keys that you press individually, while Key Wave lights up a set of keys around the key that you press (as in creating waves). Key LED allows you to choose specific keys to light up separately – meaning, for example, that you can have a dim backlight for all keys, but brighter lighting for specific keys (such as keys used in a game). Key Mask works similarly, but turns the unselected keys off completely – meaning that you can activate only those keys that you need to use in a game and minimise any mis-clicks by making the rest of the keyboard nonoperational. The Breathe option turns the lighting gradually up and down, while the Equalizer option lights up the keys according to the noise created (whether it be the sound of key keyboard itself, of your death cries in the midst of a game). Finally, a Demo function will show off a few fancy light waves across the keyboard – the same ones that you will see when you turn on your computer and the keyboard activates.
The greatest feature of the XG1-R LED keyboard is undoubtedly its internal memory and macro functionality. Whereas many other gaming keyboards rely on driver software to program macros for them – making them unusable in other operating systems – XG1-R LED stores the macros and settings in its internal memory – allowing you to pick up your keyboard and attach it to any susceptible computer and game on with no further need to set anything up.
What’s more, the keyboard supports different types of macros. So-called Quick Macros (three dedicated keys) record your key presses and when you press the macro key later, they repeat at top speed (30CPS). Timing keys remember both the keys you pressed and the time in-between the key presses. The Loop Macro key remember the key presses and then repeats them indefinitely until you press the key again. The Auto Macro allows you to record keys that you want to press down automatically (working like Caps Lock for Shift, but for any keys on the keyboard) while you can still press other keys manually. Depending on the LED lighting options that you have chosen, you can see the keys being ‘pressed’ while the macros are running. This is a handy (and pretty) feature as well.
Overall, Xtrfy’s XG1-R LED keyboard is a great piece of equipment. Being a mechanical keyboard, it is louder to use than your usual rubber mat keyboards, but it is also more pleasant to use and the excellent tactile feel actually allows you to increase your typing speed. It may not have as many macro keys as I would like, but it mostly compensated for that lack in the variety of new macro types that you can record. I found the Timing Macros especially useful in games, while the Key Wave function is just very fun when you are typing away.
For anyone looking for a mechanical gaming keyboard with great looks and off-the-beaten-path features, Xtrfy XG1-R LED is definitely worth their time to at least check out before they make their decision.
Our total score: 9/10