Element Gaming Beryllium mechanical keyboard review: the element of surprise

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Today we’re taking a look at Element Gaming’s first mechanical keyboard, the Beryllium. At £80 it’s one of the cheapest mechanical keyboards on the market, but it still offers a fair few features – backlighting, N-key rollover, media controls, a wrist rest and a pretty (if familiar) design. Let’s take a look at how it shapes up!

 

Unboxing

The Beryllium comes in a simple cardboard box, showing its major features and the Red switches that lie within.

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On the back we get more information on the keyboard and its features, including a stern warning that the warranty is invalid if you try to make any modifications. Ripster, you’ve been warned!

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Inside, we have a very tiny instruction manual for a “wired optical gaming keyboard”, which is a phrase that sounds like it was lazily adapted from a mouse’s documentation…

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As well as the keyboard, you get a nice little wrist rest.

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Design

When it comes to appearance, the Beryllium seems to have taken a couple of cues from Corsair’s Vengeance line of mechanical keyboards.

Firstly, the keys are set upon a brushed aluminium base that lacks a raised boundary, which makes for a cool floating effect. Secondly, the upper right hand corner includes a rolling volume wheel and a mute key, although the knurled metal roller of the Corsair keyboards is replaced with a plasticky textured roller.

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Finally, the height of the keyboard is kept under control by reducing the distance between the first and second key rows. While it’s hardly the most original design, it’s still effective.

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The Element Gaming Beryllium uses the standard layout for a backlit mechanical keyboard, mirroring the traditional IBM layout but including a Function key in the lower right hand corner of the keyboard. This is used to activate the keyboard’s additional functions, such as media controls or adjusting the backlight.

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This keyboard is one of many newcomers to the market using Kailh mechanical switches, which are more readily available than the standard Cherry ones. The colours used by both companies are the same, so the red switches here have the same characteristics as Cherry Reds: a very light weighting, with no tactile bump or loud click. They’re often described as the “gaming switch”, but in truth they’re no better or worse at gaming than any other option; it’s more down to your personal preference.

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The keycaps constructed from thin ABS plastic, with a very smooth texture. Eight replacement keycaps are provided with the keyboard, which come in a fun turquoise colour. The keycaps are laser-etched to ensure that the blue backlight can shine through.

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There are no USB or audio passthroughs here, which is something you do find on most keyboards this size. The cable is quite lovely though, with blue and black striped fabric.

The bottom of the keyboard has the usual choice of flip-out stands or rubbery pads.

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You may also have noticed that the bottom of the keyboard is a nice turquoise-ish colour.

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Lovely. Now, let’s see how well it works!

 

Testing

In order to properly test the Beryllium, we used it as our primary keyboard for gaming and work over a period of two weeks. That time included a lot of Counter-Strike, plus the writing of about 20,000 words and a few Photoshop sessions too.

Gaming

The Beryllium is specifically targeted as a gaming keyboard, so it makes sense to head into a few games and see how it performs. There are no special gaming features here, beyond the WASD lighting mode and the N-Key rollover, so we’re looking just at general performance and responsiveness.

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Speaking generally then – the Beryllium performed well. The keycaps were a bit slick and the switches a bit heavier than I expected for Reds, but in general I had no issues in shooters, RPGs, strategy titles or other games. The backlighting was useful for playing in low light situations, and the N-Key rollover ensured that the keyboard kept up with my rampant APM.

Writing

When it comes to writing, the Beryllium is a reasonable performer. The red switches used here are light and comfortable, particularly in concert with the detachable wrist rest. The keycaps are quite flimsy, and I feel that the writing experience would be much improved by the installation of a proper set of PBT keycaps instead; YMMV. Regardless, the standard layout, even backlighting and easy access to media controls makes this a great keyboard for writing upon. However, it’s still worth checking out Brown and Blue switches to see what you prefer, as these both tend to be more popular for typing than Reds.

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Conclusion

The Beryllium is a budget gaming keyboard that ticks all the boxes – mechanical switches, backlighting and a full format layout. There are even a few extras you wouldn’t expect at this price point, including a detachable wrist rest, extra keycaps and a few backlighting modes. While the design is fairly derivative and a few extras are missing, there’s little to complain about here.

Pros

  • Unique turquoise colour scheme for chassis + keycaps
  • Inexpensive for a backlit full-size mech keyboard
  • Light red switches and wrist rest make for a comfortable typing experience
  • Reactive backlighting mode is an unexpected (and welcome) inclusion

Cons

  • No USB or audio passthroughs
  • Derivative design borrows heavily from Corsair
  • Replacing the flimsy keycaps improves the typing experience

Score

  • 8 / 10

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About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @Expert_Will or on G+.

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