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Roccat Isku Gaming Keyboard

Testing

Methodology

To test a keyboard, the best way to do so is to use it for an extended period of time, so that’s what I did. Over a few days I tested the Roccat Isku in general typing (this review was written with it), gaming and general usage.

The games I tested the keyboard with were:

  • Trackmania Nations Forever
  • Serious Sam HD
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare II
  • League of Legends
  • Frets on Fire (FoFix)

Thoughout testing I played around with the media keys, the macros and Roccat TALK functions.

Thanks to Meroncourt for sending through this keyboard and for the Roccat Kone+ they supplied.

 

Results

Gaming

This is a nice keyboard to game on. It’s fast and responsive thanks to the high polling rate – though serious gamers will bemoan the lack of an included PS/2 converter or cable option. The keys feel a little stiffer than those you’d find on a mechanical keyboard, but gaming requires pretty heavy key presses and repeated bashing most of the time, so in this aspect it’s not particularly noticeable. Frets on Fire certainly caused no issues with lag between key press and it appearing on screen.

On paper, this keyboard should be slower than some of the high speed gaming mechanical boards, but in practice, it’s hard to notice much difference.

One quick note on the backlighting, it looks great in operation. The multiple levels give great customisation and the fact that there is no whine like we heard on earlier Roccat boards is excellent.

Media buttons were also simple to use while gaming and they performed their function well.

Macros

Macro wise, I certainly enjoyed the ability to customise things as much as I could. Unless you’re a big MMO player, there arn’t that many titles that require a large number of key presses (RTS and similar usually have intuitive keyboard shortcuts mapped out already) so I didn’t find much use for most of them; especially the lower Macro keys M3-5 as they felt a little awkward to reach with my little finger. However, I did get on very well with the thumb keys T 1-3. These felt really really well placed and made for great item slots 1-3 on League of Legends. Space is a key that never gets used, so having my thumb ready for items felt more intuitive than reaching for the usual number keys.

One problem I did have was switchig profiles. Because I didn’t want to use the standard T keys for this, I customised the M 1-3 for the same task. However, the issue is as soon as you switch profile the mapping for the profile switching changes too. This means you have to go back to the original keys unless you change for each and every one. This is a small nit pick I know, but it higlights something about this keyboard; it gives you the ability to change everything, but it also feels like you need to put some serious time into making it what you want. It doesn’t allow for any quick changes, as there are ramifications. It’s like those pro-motherboards that allow for really high CPU core voltages, you can change whatever you want, but you need to consider everything or it can go wrong.

Roccat TALK

I’ll be honest, I didn’t play around with TALK much. I think it’s an interesting idea and I think it has an application, but just not with the Kone+. I couldn’t find any TALK options in the latest Kone software, meaning that the mouse can’t perform keyboard commands, such as changing illumination or switching profiles. On top of this, the options made available for tweaking the Kone+ include things like changing the DPI;  something you can already do with the touch of a button. This function would make sense if you were using a mouse without any added buttons or something without software like the original Kova, but for one with plenty like the Kone+, it just seems redundant.

 

Typing

Moving from a mechanical board to this, I did notice the difference straight away. These keys have to be depressed all the way down. This might seem elementary to those that use this type of keyboard with rubber dome switches all the time, but it’s something to consider if you’re coming from a mechanical background. Typing is noticeable different.

Of course it doesn’t take you long to adjust, but these keys just arn’t as tactile or as solid as you get on a mechanical keyboard. These keys take a full depress to register and it does feel that your typing speed suffers a little. You know what, time for a typing speed test:

Using Speed Test Fast fingers I ran through the typing test full speed and got the following results:

Roccat Isku: 111 correct words, 6 incorrect

Zowie Celeritas: 110 correct word, 10 incorrect

Impessively since the Roccat Isku feels a bit slower to type on and that the keys require that bit further of a press, there doesn’t seem to be much in it. Accuracy is certainly down a little on the Celeritas, and while it might have a slight speed advantage, there really isn’t much to go on. At that sort of speed we’re talking a few characters difference anyway. Only a few percent.

While I would say in conclusion of this section that I prefer to type on the the aforementioned ZOWIE board, with a few days more adjustment I doubt I’d miss it using it that much.

 

Comfort

In terms of comfort, the Isku does a good job. The wrist rest is well angled and comfortable to use and thanks to the textured surface there is very little perspiration build up. I do however have to say that I’m not a massive fan of the plastic they’ve used for the keys. They seem to pickup grease/sweat very easily and it wasn’t long before I could feel that I’d been typing on it for a while. This is of course an unfortunate side effect for most PC users, but it usually takes a while. The Isku seemed to succumb quite quickly.

The only other thing I’d like to see changed is a slight extension of the wrist rest. If you’re playing a game like Trackmania that at default uses the arrow keys, you wrist (and my hands are pretty small) extends just beyond the edge of it. It’s not massively annoying or anything, but it’s noticeable.

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