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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard Review

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All right, this article will be my first ever hardware review, so give me a break ok if it’s not thorough enough. I will try to cover all aspects of the piece of hardware that I will be reviewing.

As the title states, I will be reviewing the SteelSeries 7G keyboard.

Just a brief introduction of the brand, SteelSeries caters to the need of gamers with its wide range or gaming gears including mouses, keyboards and headphones. You know the drill.

First Impression

The first thing I noticed about this keyboard is that it is heavy, to be exact the weight is 2,6kg. What that means to you is that this keyboard will not simply “glides” away under intense gaming condition (or fierce typing.)

Closer Look

Here are the specifications of the 7G :

- Switches: Gold plated no-click

- Switch lifetime: 50,000,000 cycles

- Assembly: Face plate mounted keyset

- Dimensions: 480 x 250 mm / 18,9 x 9,8 in

- Cable length: 2 m (6,6 ft.)

- Connectivity: PS/2 + USB

It also comes with a removable palm rest. The palm rest is HUGE that it took out all my desk space. Typing with the palm rest or without the it is a personal preference. For me, I feel a little more comfortable typing without the palm rest.

The switches is gold-plated for better time response, and it can withstand 50 million keystrokes. That’s at least 5 times more than the average membrane keyboard life cycle. Suffice to say, this keyboard can last you A LIFETIME, literally.

The cable is braided (always a good thing) and it’s 2m long, excellent for those who put their PC far away.

There’s 2 USB ports and a jack each for microphone and audio. It’s a little disappointing that the USB is 1.1, not the now standard 2.0.

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The jacks are placed at the back of the keyboard (behind the escape key), which is a little awkward as I have to bend over in order to access them. It will be nice if the designers at SteelSeries could have put them on the side of the keyboard instead for easier access.

The 7G connects using the old PS/2 connection instead of the USB. The USB is just to bridge the two USB ports on the keyboard to the PC. However, a PS/2 to USB converter is provided.

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Why using an older technology, you ask. Well, for a good reason PS/2 is hardware only and it’s low-level. That means it run things faster, which means less latency compared to USB.

Another good reason for using PS/2 is its “anti-ghosting” capability. It’s a good feature for gamers as the 7G prevents keyboard lockup, the effect that will suspends all input if you accidentally press too many buttons at once.

But I seriously doubt that gamers will press THAT many keys during gaming – How many Counter Strike players that crouch, reload and move forward and left all at the same time? A little overkill, mate.

The normal windows key in between the Ctrl and Alt key is replaced by the SteelSeries logo key, which acts as a function key to the controls on the F-row keys. It’s a good thing as there’s no longer any “jump to desktop” problem which is a frustrating problem, especially when in a intense gaming session.

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There’s the keys mute, volume decrease/increase, play/pause and previous/forward.

Mechanical Switch

This keyboard uses mechanical switches instead of the normal membrane ones.

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The 7G uses the the Cherry MX Black switch (Cherry is a German brand that specialises in keyboard switches) which is a non-tactile, non-clicky switch--which is to say it is linear and does not transmit a bump to the user's fingertip when pressed (non-tactile) and it does not provide an audible click (non-clicky). It will, however, produces a click-like sound when it is bottom-out (pressing the whole key down)

Here’s a short video of me typing on the 7G for those curious of the sound this keyboard.

In my honest opinion, the typing feel on the 7G is the best typing experience I ever had. I find this keyboard is the perfect balanced for both typing and gaming. I usually play a lot of RTS games that requires me to press the keys a lot of times and although it takes a little time of getting used to, my gaming performance instantly improved. (Not as much as you might think though, I’m still noob)

Same case with my typing performance. The improvement is much more obvious as now I don’t have to punch the keys down as hard as I used to to the extend that my housemates suspects I’m on rage-mode.

One thing that bothers me though, is the LED indicator for the num/caps/scroll locks. I’m not a person that always look down on the keyboard while typing but the LED is a little too bright for comfort. You might want to cover that LED with some scotch tape to “decrease” its brightness. :D

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Conclusion

The 7G keyboard is definitely one of the best keyboards out there that is both good for gaming as well as typing. The keyboard is of solid build quality and with the Cherry MX black switches it’s good for both typing and gaming that will last you a lifetime.

The downside of the 7G however, is the price. Costing around RM530-RM550, it’s really a little too much to bear for many people. Even for a VERY good keyboard.

Then there’s the USB port. As a high-end product, I would expect a standard USB 2.0 on the keyboard instead of the obsolete USB 1.1.

Another problem is the keycap prints. After just three weeks using it, I found out that the prints on the keys are smudged with dirt. I tried using cloth to try removing the smudge without accidentally scratching off the whole print, but to no avail. Again, as a high-end product with a high price, there’s a suspicion of me thinking that SteelSeries is overpricing the 7G.

The lack of any features leaves the 7G with a solid and clean appearance that some gamers like. If you’re like me who does not like extra features on a keyboard such as LCD screen and other gimmicks then the 7G is for you. You don’t have to worry that punching the keys down too hard will ever spoil your keyboard anymore, unless you’re using it as a baseball bat.

It feels great typing, it feels even better gaming on it. Buy it if you want a keyboard that lasts a lifetime.

4 comments:

Gordon said...

Thank you for the informative review.

I will be picking one of these up for almost 50% of the list price, sweet!

Alvin Chen said...

Thank you Gordon for the feedback.

You might want to look around ebay. I'm sure there's some who would love to sell their 7G for more gimmicky keyboards at half the price or even less. The quality should be the same as a brand new one. :D

Cheers~~

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