What’s the most important part of your PC? Is it the processor? The videocard? The motherboard? How about the keyboard?
Don’t scoff—your keyboard is the part of your computer that you get up close and personal with. It’s the conduit between you and the PC, and having the right one can make you faster, more comfortable, and give you an edge in games.
If the SteelSeries 6Gv2 looks familiar to you, it’s probably because you’re already familiar with the 7G, SteelSeries’ flagship mechanical-key keyboard. SteelSeries didn’t update the 7G this year, and it’s still the company’s top-of-the-line model. The 6Gv2 is essentially a more aggressively priced (around $100, versus around $150) version of the same keyboard with a few features stripped out.
The Challenger (ThermalTake’s entry into the gaming keyboard market) is the kind of keyboard that’s looking to set itself apart. It does this most noticeably with a tiny fan that can be plugged in on either side of the keyboard to blow cool air across your hard-working hands and a set of custom, red keycaps that can be swapped in for the WASD and arrow keys. Do either of those features sound like something you can’t live without?
The Anansi is Razer’s MMO keyboard, a companion to the company’s Naga MMO gaming mouse. Functionally, it’s very similar to the BlackWidow Ultimate—both have fully rebindable keys, with five additional macro keys along the left, backlighting, and on-the-fly macro recording. Unlike the BlackWidow, the Anansi does not have mechanical keys, instead opting for more traditional dome-style keys. They’re not as responsive as mechanical keys, but are definitely at the high end of the dome-spectrum, with a satisfying amount of resistance and travel.
The Das Keyboard has two things going for it. One, it’s awesome. It has no labels on the keys. When you type on it, you look like a ninja. That’s awesome.
The other thing is that it feels great to use. It’s a mechanical keyboard, and even though it uses the same switches as the SteelSeries 7G, we prefer the feel of the Das Keyboard. If you want the smooth typing experience without the no-label keys, there’s a model called the Das Keyboard Professional, which is just that.
It’s recently become popular for major PC game releases to be accompanied by their own line of branded peripherals, custom designed by big-name peripheral makers like Razer and SteelSeries. Frequently, these products are no more than a reskinning of a popular model, as is the case with the Call of Duty: Black Ops Stealth Mouse, which is essentially a rebranded Cyborg R.A.T. Other times, the tie-in is more substantial, as with the SteelSeries WoW mice, which feature unique, game-inspired designs as well as features and software intended to help you play the game better.
So, when we got the complete set of StarCraft II custom peripherals in for testing from Razer, we were curious to see whether they would be more like the former or the latter scenario. What we found out was surprising.
Razer, long known for its high-end gaming mice, has had sort of a slow start when it comes to gaming keyboards. Its offerings haven’t been bad, but the company hasn’t had a must-have product yet. The BlackWidow is Razer’s first.
Read on for the full review of Razer's first mechanical gaming keyboard!
Any decent StarCraft player can tell you the difference between a Diamond League pro and Bronze League scrub: It’s all in the keyboard. Although StarCraft can be played entirely with the mouse, a good player is going to be hammering away at the keyboard nonstop throughout the match—issuing attack orders, queuing units and buildings, and jumping around the map.
There’s a lot of history behind the Phantom lapboard (and its ill-begotten console progenitor) but we don’t need to go into that. What you do need to know is that the Phantom lapboard is essentially a wireless keyboard on a hinge. You can (and must) lock it into an angled position to use the mouse on the surface below and to the side of the keyboard. Now, this raises a question: Do you like typing on a keyboard that’s locked at a significant angle to the natural plane of your hands? Of course you don’t.
Also, about that mousing surface. It’s really slippery, and so is the mouse. And it doesn’t have any sort of lip on it. So if you’re thinking about relaxing on the couch and using the Phantom in any sort of natural position, forget about it. The second you take your hand off the mouse to type something, that sucker’s clattering to the floor.