Keyboard Descriptions and Features
The photo here shows our four contenders, with the Logitech at the top, followed by the Razer, the Corsair, and finally the big G.Skill at the bottom.
- Logitech G410: 1lb., 12.9oz
- Razer Blackwidow: 3lb., 5.1oz
- Corsair Strafe: 3lb., 1.1oz
- G.Skill KM780: 3lb., 7.5oz
Why does keyboard weight matter, you might ask? On the one hand, extra weight tends to offer a more planted feel. On the other hand, for anyone who travels with their gaming systems (LAN gamers, we're talking to you!), there's only one keyboard in this round-up that really makes sense, the "tenkeyless" Logitech G410. But to make it so light (one and a quarter pounds less than the next-lightest model), Logitech removed not just some keys, but also the metal strike plate that standard mechanical keyboards have. As discussed on the next page, the overall performance of this model seems to suffer, likely due to this omission.
The G.Skill was the heaviest, no doubt due in part to its chunky metal ribbing that's both functional and decorative. It also had the clunkiest cabling, with both USB pass-through and audio pass-through cables. The Logitech had the lightest cabling, and was also the only keyboard to feature no pass-through cabling at all. As we'll note later on, one benefit of a heavier keyboard is how planted it feels on your desk. This is also aided by properly designed rubber feet, and there's no doubt that the Razer and G.Skill models were the best planted keyboard; not surpringly, they were also the heaviest. In fact, they practically attach themselves to your desk surface; moving them really does require you to pick them up, but that's great if you don't want your keyboard to move while in use.
All of our keyboard models featured LED lighting, but only the Logitech G410 had full RGB lighting, which allows you to individually assign each key one of millions of colors. That's a neat trick, but from our point of view, just having effective backlighting will be plenty appealing to most gamers. The other three models did include full backlighting, as well as other parlor tricks like "breathing" (fading on and off), flashing from left to right a la KITT from Knight Rider, and random "raindrop" lighting effects. All of these are great until you actually sit down to use your PC and have random lights flashing just below your line of vision. For the most part, these are only useful when your PC is asleep.
As for the quality of lighting, the photograph above lining up all our contenders pretty much speaks for itself. Yes, the boards all light up, but a few are better than the rest. Razer and Corsair offer the brightest lights, and both also do a very good job lighting between the keys. Corsair has an added trick of side-mounted light bars that cast a red glow on your desktop, not unlike the EVGA Torq mouse we discussed on the previous page. This almost gives it the appearance of hovering on your desk, and definitely looks cool. G.Skill's keyboard had the dimmest LEDs, with almost no light showing between the keys, and a maximum brightness that was much lower than the other models. That being said, we really didn't like using any of the other boards at their maximum brightness, as it was distracting while viewing a monitor. G.Skill's keyboard was least in the need of "taming" for actual productivity use.
By the way, we'll just point out here that the lighting system differs by switch type. As shown in the closeup photo above, the Logitech G410's Romer-G switches allow light to be emitted directly through the center. On the other hand, Cherry's MX line only casts light to the side, as the spring itself sits in the middle; you can see all of Cherry's current gaming-focused keys in the lineup photograph here, which we snapped at Cherry's CES 2016 booth.
So, this one is pretty obvious. The only board here with an included wrist rest is the G.Skill, and my goodness, it's a nice one! With a rubberized texture and a really ideal size, we can't see anyone opting to take it off (although that's very easy to do). The Logitech appears to have a sort of wrist wrest for the left hand (which would be the "gaming" hand for typical gamers), but it's too short to be of any use. Logitech would have been better off not including it, as the keyboard would end up being more portable, and a third-party wrist rest would then be able to sit flush against the bottom of the board.
As for the Razer and Corsair, a wrist rest would have been much appreciated. We actually took to using the excellent 3M Gel Wrist Rest with these models to improve the overall comfort. While this third-party product is quite inexpensive, it does add to the overall purchase price if a wrist rest is something you want.
We considered taking a photo of the bottom of the keyboards, but honestly, it didn't make for a very interesting visualization. Suffice it to say that the G.Skill and Razer stay very well planted on a desktop due to their large sticky feet and higher weights; the Corsair was quite prone to slipping due to rubber feet that were less than half the size, and the Logitech G410 would barely stay in place at all. We found that flipping down the G410's hinged feet actually made it more stable, perhaps because more pressure was applied to the pads at the end of the feet in this position.
Now that you've read about what we consider the key design features of each product in this roundup, let's move on to the actual real competition: the in-game performance!