Logitech G-710+ mechanical key switch gaming keyboard (October 18th, 2012)
Product Manufacturer: Logitech
- Solid construction
- Mechanical key switches
- Six hotkeys, allowing for 18 macro combos
- Backlight, with discrete control of WASD grouping
- High-end of product price range
- Consumes two USB ports
- Cherry MX Brown switches may not appeal to everyone
Input peripherals can be taken for granted by the general computing populace. As long as a slab of plastic machined into a keyboard or mouse gets the job done, it can often be disregarded as "performing as intended." Considering the primary interface for most of us is a keyboard and mouse, it probably needs to be given more attention than it gets. Gamers have a different set of criteria on what makes a keyboard excel at its task, rather than just adequately performing. Logitech has been building gaming keyboards for some time, but the G710+ marks a first for the peripheral manufacturer -- a mechanical keyswitch gaming keyboard.
Mechanical key switches respond to presses differently than membrane or scissor-switch keyboards. Generally, the key is activated and the signal is sent to the computer when a key isn't pressed completely down, which is the case with the G710+. In the case of the G710+, we found a 4.2mm key switch travel, with an actuation of 2.2mm. This keyboard uses what are referred to as Cherry MX Brown key switches, which are the least-resistant of the range, resulting in a very quiet click when the switch is actuated, but little tactile sensation of clearing the threshold for actuation.
Where mechanical key switches in input devices are more of a general improvement over "normal" keyboards as opposed to a gaming focused one, the G710+ does have other modifications tailored towards gamers. While the entire keyboard is backlit in white, the WASD and arrow clusters have independently controllable backlights, with brightness set separately from the rest of the keyboard. Six programmable hotkeys for gaming macros are available along the left side of the keyboard, with three different modes, allowing for 18 different settings not only for gaming, but potentially for productivity applications like Adobe Creative Suite as well. Regretfully, some of the customizations of the keyboard beyond the normal 104 keys and the lack of driver software for the device has rendered the keyboard completely incompatible with Macintosh hardware.
In our testing with writing news releases and reviews for a week, it took some adjusting from using a scissor-switch membrane keyboard to taking full advantage of the mechanical keyboard. After a few days, after learning to not "bottom out" keys with too much force, well passing the keyswitch actuation, we did find a slight reduction in accidental typos, as well as a minor increase in typing speed. Gaming experience is somewhat more objective. While we found no observable increase in response time during our trials, "wear and tear" on wrists and hands was somewhat lessened after a long session of various first-person shooter titles. Given more use with the keyboard and the observed improvement in typing performance, an increase in gaming response time is possible, and should one be detected in the future, we will update this review.
Connectivity to the keyboard is provided by a pair of USB plugs -- ostensibly one for power and data, plus one for extra power needed for the backlight. The consumption of USB port real estate is offset somewhat by the pass-through USB 2.0 port on the back of the keyboard. In our testing, the keyboard did not need to be plugged directly into a computer's USB ports, and a powered hub between the keyboard and computer allowed the keyboard to function as designed. Competitive gaming keyboards from other manufacturers in the same price range include niceties such as headset plugs and front-mounted USB ports.
all told the Logitech G710+ is a solidly built and heavy keyboard, with keystroke action reminiscent of the Apple Extended Keyboard from 1990, widely regarded to be one of the best performing mechanical computer keyboards ever produced. The gaming enhancements to the keyboard, coupled with the Logitech controlling software multitask for both gaming purposes as well as productivity uses. At a retail price of $150, the keyboard is more expensive than most generalist keyboards, and comes in at the upper range of the gaming keyboard array of products.
Any input or output device review and experience is highly objective and difficult to classify for every user. We found the keyboard to be an improvement over most keyboards for both day-to-day usage as well as gaming for desktop computers, but individual preferences will vary. Before dropping $150 on a keyboard, Electronista recommends finding a friendly vendor with one of the keyboards set up for demo purposes. With an expected lifetime of 50 million keystrokes, finding one in good shape shouldn't be a problem.