May 9, 2011

SteelSeries 6Gv2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

SteelSeries 6Gv2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
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Mechanical Anyone?

Part Number: 64225 – US
Warranty: 1 Year

Introduction

Any gamer is looking out for the best peripherals when it comes to precision, speed and durability. We look out for the best sound reproduction in headsets, the most accurate and smooth mouse movement and of course, the final piece of the puzzle, the keyboard, which is crucial to get in control of your movements in FPS gaming and all other gaming categories. Steelseries has earned its reputation as the specialized gaming brand with multiple professional gaming teams using their products for numerous tournaments.

Today I’m taking a look at the Steelseries 6Gv2 gaming keyboard, which uses mechanical keys to provide the user with the most precise feedback. Now how does that compare to the general, non-mechanical gaming keys you might ask? The mechanism installed below the keys actually uses a Stainless Steel spring to register the keys, unlike the silicone and plastic padding used on the more mainstream keyboards. The key has to travel approximately 4mm in order to make the contact and has a bounce time of about 5msec, meaning the responsiveness of the keys on this keyboard are absolutely phenomenal. This keyboard uses 12K gold plated contact for extremely low latencies. It uses a Cherry MX – Black mechanism which is specifically designed for gaming, while other Cherry MX – Blue and Brown mechanisms are targeted towards typing.

So to start off the review, I was very impressed when I first indulged myself into an intense round of testing with titles like Counter Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead 2, and Battlefield Bad Company 2, all of which rely heavily on your movement controls to survive. I found the total control of my movements to have improved due to such amazing key responses and bounce. I’ll talk more about how the keyboard performed later in the review, but for now lets talk the basics: Construction, Design, and Comfort.

Construction, Design, and Comfort

When I first picked up the box, I was rather surprised at how heavy it was, considering it only comes with a Steelseries catalogue, sticker, PS/2 to USB adapter (THANK YOU STEELSERIES!) and a manual, the weight was definitely packed into the keyboard. That’s a good thing!

Taking it out of the box was a pleasure (like it always is with new gaming products) and my first impression was how simple the keyboard looked, and how solid it felt. It incorporates a metal inner chassis, which adds all that weight I mentioned earlier, and definitely feels like this is a serious gaming product and not just a piece of plastic. I though this is useful in case the gamers rage kicks in and the keyboard might be the first to fly. On a serious note, its build to last. I tested out the end to end flexibility of the keyboard by applying a lot of pressure on each end of the keyboard with my hands, suspecting a little crackle here and there but its dead on solid. Nothing bent, I felt embarrassed, considering I worked in landscaping during the entire summer. So the construction of this keyboard is simply outstanding, and I must give a big plus to Steelseries for incorporating all the essential functions for gamers without sacrificing build quality.

The keys and the outer body are nicely coated in black and the overall look of the product is extremely simple. I guess for those who prefer simplicity and do not care about the fancy backlighting, or programmable keys, this is one of the keyboards to consider. Although I suspect a similar product with additional features such as backlight will be released soon to suit everyone’s preferences.  Steelseries logo is also present and the three LEDs for indication are nicely lit in white. Also the plastic coating on the body of the actual keyboard includes metal elements to ensure durability and adds a nice fine texture to the keyboard.

The left windows key has been replaced with a Steelseries function button for two reasons: 1. To avoid accidental disturbance during gaming and 2. It acts as a function button for the media keys on top. No, it’s not just a mock up of an old IBM keyboard, but has some modern kick to it with nice branding and media keys.

At the bottom, there is no height adjustment feet which I really didn’t mind, as the keyboard is elevated slightly with the built in chassis. There are 4 rubber feet at the bottom to prevent the keyboard from sliding on any surface. Also due to the extra weight from the metal chassis, the keyboard stays put even if some pressure is applied.

Through my testing I did find the keyboard extremely comfortable. No complaints about elevation, button layout or the positioning of the media keys. I did however find the keyboard a bit more loud than my previous non mechanical keyboard from Logtiech, the G110. The sound is not produced by the actual spring mechanism, but from the keys hitting the body when you press them. It is possible to type in absolute silence but that requires some patience and nerve which I had for about thirty seconds after resuming to jam away at the keys. Now for most of gamers this will not be a problem as your are either blasting out your speakers or wearing a headset, but be cautious, in may disturb the ones around you. Coming from personal experience, it was impossible to write this review after my roommate went to sleep, as the sound of me typing away (in another room) kept her awake and annoyed. It was only after she fell asleep, I could slowly resume with the review. :D

 

Gaming experience

So now onto my experience with this keyboard and if it`s worth an upgrade for those looking for a new keyboard. First off, I am very pleased with the performance of this keyboard in gaming and typing. When I first opened up my favourite server on Counter Strike: Source and started to play, I noticed a big difference in the response of my movements. This allowed me to know exactly what I was pressing and for how long I was pressing it, which was not the case with my previous Logtiech G110. The feedback the mechanical keys provide was so good, that I was never in doubt whether I’ve pressed the key or not.

This keyboard incorporates the best anti-ghosting which allows the use of all keys on the keyboard simultaneously, now that is only when using the PS/2 adapter included. This is a nice addition for moving in multiple directions while crouching and jumping, throwing grenades while turning on your flashlight and reloading at the same  time. Seriously, the sequence works.  If you plug the USB straight into your motherboard, you will only be able to use 6 keys. I checked this with the following website to test the Anti-Ghosting: http://www.microsoft.com/appliedsciences/AntiGhostingExplained.mspx. If your motherboard supports the “old-school” keyboard plug, I seriously suggest you use it.

Trying out other FPS titles such as Left 4 Dead 2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2, I was again extremely happy with the outcome of my controls and how responsive the keyboard was. The sound produced by the keys hitting the frame also helps to indicate when you press the keys  and contributes further to assist your gaming controls. I guarantee that any gamer who tries this mechanical keyboard will be impressed. It`s like purchasing an IPS panel display and never going back to TN panels, same idea here for this gaming keyboard. Having said that, the lack of programmable keys and different color backlight may scare off the ones who prefer those features, especially for strategy games where quick shortcut keys are a matter of victory or defeat, this keyboard may not suit those demands. Also the lack of fancy backlight means those who game in the dark may not see what buttons to press outside of the WASD zone. So from these two drawbacks, I can say that this keyboard is more ideal for FPS gamers and lacks the features for strategy games.

Essays

Being a university student, essays have become a daily procedure with lots of writing and consequently more typing. Now this being a gaming product how does it function outside of its comfort zone? Like any regular keyboard, typing was no sweat. I must admit the transition between the Logitech G110 to 6Gv2 took about a week, during which I constantly ran into typos, but let’s blame the nature of the mechanical keys and how responsive they are. After the adjustment period, I got used to the tactical feedback and was on my way to loving this keyboard even more. I actually found it pleasant to hear the sound of the keys as it represented progress on my paper and an increasing word count. Overall the typing experience was welcomed by my roommate as well, although being slightly louder than my previous keyboard, the feedback of the mechanical keys was a noticeable improvement for typing. Those considering a mechanical keyboard strictly for typing, check out keyboards with Cherry MX – Blue or Brown keys which incorporate a different feel to the keys and are generally more pleasant for typing.

Video Review

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvLCmqUpMnM

Conclusion

This is definitely a keyboard that stands out with its mechanical keys and an outstanding solid construction. I would recommend it 100% for the price tag of just $89.99 if you are on an edge for a keyboard upgrade. People might avoid the Steelseries 6Gv2 because of its simplicity and the lack of fancy features other keyboard manufacturers include on their products. However when it’s time to slice the cake and it all comes down to functionality and productivity for the user, this keyboard is one heck of a good purchase. Not only will this last for at least a couple of years, but for those having the same taste as me in this category will admire the simplicity of this keyboard in all its glory.

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