Testing & Results
It’s hard to judge a keyboard without using it over a long period of time, so that’s just what I’ve done. I’ve tested it in as many ways as I know, most of which are extended gaming sessions.
It’s a gaming keyboard, and it definitely seems to do that job well. I’ve played a variety of games throughout the week, from Titan Quest to Skyrim to Team Fortress 2, and I’m yet to run into an actual problem with anything.
The keyboard is USB only, which might put a few gamers off (Especially since it doesn’t come with a PS/2 converter either), but the minute difference between USB and PS/2 is negligible. That microsecond might matter in super-high level competitions, but for gaming at home, I find that it’s not holding me back at all.
I should also note that it’s a membrane keyboard as opposed to mechanical, which are favoured by a lot of gamers. Personally, I think it’s fantastic; great response time regardless and the keystrokes are relatively quiet.
The backlight and optional coloured keys also mean that you can find what keys you need to quickly, especially in the dark.
Okay, here you might see a bit more difference between this and a mechanical keyboard. Each key does need to be pressed completely, so if you’re really used to the light presses of a mechanical keyboard, then you might be a tad irked by the extra effort that goes into typing.
The keys are wonderful to actually type on, though. They’re not too hard, so it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing my fingers down as I’m typing. And conversely, the keys don’t feel like I’m wearing them out. Truly the most wonderful typing experience ever.
I could um and er about the comfort all day. The wrist rest is less of a rest and more of an incline to place your palms against whilst you type, so it doesn’t exactly present the most comfortable rest in the world. However, it is a nice natural position for the hands to be in, so as long as you have actual padding on your desk for your wrists, then there shouldn’t be a problem.
Really though, should it be up to the keyboard to provide a rest for your wrists, or should it be up to the user to have sensible desk-padding? It’s a bit of a personal preference, but personally I don’t mind a somewhat lacklustre wrist rest as my desk provides a great surface for support.
The fan that I’ve mentioned is brilliant, and definitely makes the keyboard easier to use over long periods of time. It’s aimed at your WASD or NumPad hand (Depending on control preference), and simply keeps a stream of cool air passing over and through your fingers. Less sweaty palms for everybody!
Interestingly, a problem that I’ve had with my mouse and previous keyboards doesn’t seem to be present with this. I’m sure if you’re a PC gamer, you’ll notice pile-ups of grease or other bits of dirt on the plastic that’s just gotten stuck to the surface. Despite using the Challenger for several hours a day, I’m yet to actually find any clogged dirt like that, which is a real juxtaposition in comparison to my mouse that I use for the same amount of time each day and needs to be cleaned regularly. The matt plastic around the board itself seems to pick up dust a bit more frequently.
Overall, the Challenger Ultimate does a good job of keeping you comfortable.
For a full gaming keyboard with all the little add-ons that the Challenger Ultimate has, this is fairly priced. Just a quick scan online reveals that you can get it for around £50-£55 depending on retailer.
So let’s wrap things up. The obvious question on everybody’s lips is probably “Is this the best gaming keyboard?” and I’m going to haphazardly blunder all over the answer and say yes and no. I think it’s beyond good enough to be an amazing gaming keyboard, but it is certain preferences that would knock it out of the running to be the absolute best there ever was.
To break it down; it’s a great keyboard. The only real downside is that it requires that extra bit of power for all of the backlighting, but that’s a feature that can be done without. It’s well-made, and it has brilliant polling times which make for a great keyboard for gamers. But conversely, mechanical keyboards offer lots of other little things that makes them such an attractive prospect for the more hardcore gamers amongst us. And since the Challenger Ultimate isn’t a mechanical keyboard, it’s always going to be missing those small details.
If you’re a home gamer, you’d definitely appreciate everything that this keyboard has to offer (All for a reasonable price as well). But if you’re one of those chaps that frequents high-level competition, then you might seek a mechanical keyboard instead. The coin has two faces as it were.
Since I’ve got to break it down to a numerical value though, I think that the Challenger Ultimate wholeheartedly deserves a glorious 9/10 score. Everything that it can do; it does to the absolute best of its ability AND it does those little things that we come to appreciate. Those extra features are all icing on the already delicious cake.
Some may want more of a wrist rest though.
- Great registry speed, picks up on everything is lightning-fast time
- Awesome for gaming, or for general use
- Built-in media controls make for a much easier life
- Macro keys that aren’t crammed in with the F keys
- Easy to use software
- There’s a goddamn fan keeping my hand cool
- Requires two USB slots to get all the lights to work
- Wrist rest could be longer and angled better