Have you ever thought that there aren't enough options when buying a new gaming mouse or keyboard? Of course you haven't -- no one has -- but G.Skill nonetheless hopes to muscle in on the endless competition.
High performance memory specialists G.Skill have decided to branch out beyond the memory and storage market with a range of very different products targeting PC gamers. During Computex 2015, the company proudly began showing off its upcoming mechanical gaming keyboards along with its first gaming mouse and headset.
Now three months later G.Skill has two mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, the KM780 RGB ($190 MSRP) and KM780 MX ($130 MSRP). The switches of choice are, as you have no doubt already guessed, of the Cherry MX variety. You can choose from either Red or Brown switches.
These keyboards are said to be built for durability and practicality, but also include gaming orientated features such as three mode hotkeys, six dedicated macro keys and lighting patterns. The onboard memory and software supplied let you adjust per-key lighting, macro setup, timer setting, key delay and repeat rate, polling rate and various other settings. Each keyboard connects to your PC with a 2m braided cable.
The MX780 RGB ($80 MSRP) gaming mouse features a height adjustable palm rest and interchangeable side grips. On its underside it employs gaming grade PTFE glide pads. From its name you could guess it offers RGB LED lighting, this is employed across four mouse zones and to indicate the DPI tracking speed of the rodent.
Inside the gaming mouse benefits from similar technology to other class leading gaming mice such as a 32-bit ARM processor, gaming-grade Avago laser sensor, and Omron micro-switches. The mouse is capable of a 1000Hz polling rate, 8200 dpi, tracking up to 150ips, and 30g of acceleration. Software allows the user to store five profiles for lighting and button macros/assignments.
On hand today we have the flagship KM780 RGB keyboard along with the MX780 RGB mouse. Both are capable of displaying all the colors of the rainbow, but we hope they are more than just flashy looking peripherals.
G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB
Admittedly when we saw the photos of the KM780 RGB taken at Computex, initial impressions weren't great as we thought the keyboard looked ugly.
However, after getting my hands on the final production model and seeing it firsthand, I'd say the the KM780 RGB is bad arse looking.
Residing on my desk prior to testing the KM780 RGB was the Cougar 700K, one of my favorite mechanical keyboards. The 700K looks and feels great and the palm rest is really nice for long typing/gaming sessions.
The 700K also provides a USB pass through port, audio connectivity and a number of useful options such as a windows key lock, volume control and multimedia buttons.
Replacing the 700K with the KM780 RGB felt natural and there was little adjustment on my behalf. In fact, both keyboards are laid out in a similar fashion and they have a number of eerily similar design elements.
The brushed aluminum back plate is a feature I really like on the 700K and lo and behold the KM780 RGB has a brushed aluminum back plate. The KM780 also has the same MR 'Macro Recording' key, the same M1, M2 and M3 'mode or profile' keys, a windows lock key and same set to multimedia keys as well... coincidence?
It certainly seems as though the same entity that is building and designing the Cougar gear is now employed by G.Skill as well, though we cannot confirm this. I should point out that the keys themselves are physically different so the parts aren't being shared, rather they both offer the same features.
Anyway, while the KM780 RGB does have a number of design similarities to the 700K, it does for the most part look and feel like a new keyboard and that is because it is.
The KM780 RGB measures 518mm long, 172mm deep and 48mm thick. With the palm rest attached the keyboard is 228mm deep and weighs 1.54kg or 1.36kg without the palm rest.
When taking the KM780 RGB out of the box the first thing you'll notice is this cool 4mm pipe that runs around the edge of the keyboard. Structurally, it helps make the keyboard feel solid but we also really like the visual effect.
G.Skill has included a small keycap tool box that can be clipped onto the pipe for quick access to custom gaming key caps. These specially designed keycaps offer a unique feel allowing gamers to recognize them without looking away from their monitor. Personally, I don't particularly like the look or feel of these custom key caps, but I am sure some gamers will prefer them. The good news is they are entirely optional so if you don't like them you don't have to use them.
In the top left corner of the KM780 RGB there are a number of unique keys. First we have the MR (macro record) key, along with three mode or profile keys. Depending on which mode is selected just that key will be illuminated.
Then we have the Windows lock button key, a brightness control key and a timer key.
In the adjacent corner we find the multi-media buttons, which includes a volume wheel and better yet a really cool LED volume level indicator.
Behind the multimedia keys on the back of the KM780 RGB there is a USB pass-through and audio jacks. This convenient USB 2.0 hub allows gamers to connect their mouse or other USB devices quickly, while the audio jacks offer an easy to reach location for gaming headsets.
Obviously the key (forgive the pun) to any mechanical keyboard is its mechanical key switches, which vary between boards and can impact feedback response and actuation pressure. There are three main types of mechanical keys: linear, or those that simply move vertically without any feedback or clicking noise such as Cherry MX Blacks; tactile, which provide physical feedback when a key is actuated, such as Cherry MX Browns; and tactile with an audible click accompanying the physical bump, as offered by Cherry MX Blues.
G.Skill gives gamers the option of buying the KM780 RGB with either Red or Brown Cherry MX switches, so make sure you check which version you are purchasing. At this stage the KM780 RGB doesn't come with Black or Blue switches. Our review sample came with the brown switches, it would have been nice to sample another version as well to compare the feel. The switches are rated for 50 million clicks which is a typical rating.
Regardless of which switch version you go with the RGB versions feature per-key RGB backlighting for 16.8 million colors, while lighting pattern options also exist. Using the G.Skill Unified Driver System users have complete control over macros, per-key programming, backlight settings, lighting patterns, and loads of other settings for full personalization.
The detachable palm rest is a great feature that makes the keyboard considerably more comfortable to use. Unlike those horrid palm rests found on the Logitech G910 and G310, the KM780 RGB comes with a symmetrical palm rest that supports both hands very well. Once attached the palm rest can be removed in seconds which is handy for LAN-goers.
Something else G.Skill has done better than Logitech is their contoured keycaps, which feel natural and allow your fingers to flow from one key to the next. There are five levels of contoured keycaps and this really makes a difference when typing. The KM780 RGB also features full n-key rollover and 100% anti-ghosting to ensure all simultaneous key presses are accurately registered so you can execute multiple actions at the same time.
Flipping the KM780 RGB over reveals a basic underside with no real features other than two small feet. The keyboard can only be adjusted to a single height and although I would have appreciated a little more angle, it works well enough.
There isn't any room for routing cables under here unless you have the legs down, so you can't easily hide that extra-long mouse cable. The ability to wrap excess mouse cord under the KM780 RGB would have really complemented the mouse cable holder feature.
When pushing the KM780 RGB backwards over my desk the legs don't fold away, making it easy to move the keyboard out of the way when need be.