Before you pick up a keyboard, you have to decide whether you will be spending more time typing or playing games on it. Along with the type of switches used in the keyboard, the other aspects that distinguish a normal keyboard from a gaming keyboard are N-key rollover (over USB) and polling rate. The type of switch is highly subjective when it comes to mechanical keyboards while some would still argue for membrane keyboards or even the hybrid ones. Apart from the above mentioned essentials of a gaming keyboard, the new fad in town is RGB lighting and everyone is doing it. The Roccat Suora FX, on paper, does have all the aforementioned parameters that would qualify it as a gaming keyboard. Does it live up to the expectations in quality, design and performance? Read on to find out.
The specifications of the Roccat Suora FX aren’t extraordinary by any means. There are 108-keys on the keyboard, out of which four are additional keys for multimedia (3 keys) and game-mode switching (1 key). Regarding other specs, the keyboard ships with TTC Blue mechanical switches and this is the first time we experienced them.
Keyboard size: Standard, Numpad included
Keyboard backlighting: RGB LED
Switch type: Mechanical (TTC Blue 50-million lifecycle)
Polling rate: 1000 Hz (1 ms)
Key-rollover: N-key rollover
Interface: USB 1.1
Dimensions: Wide – 43.5 cm, Length – 12.7 cm, Height – 3.8 cm
Features and accessories
Out of all the standard keys, three of them are dedicated to volume control while one of them switches between normal and game mode. Game mode essentially locks down the Windows key to prevent accidental presses while gaming and enables the programmed keys. We’ll be talking about these and the game mode in greater detail later. The keyboard doesn’t have dedicated macro keys, instead they are present as toggles to the Insert, Home, Delete, End, Page Up and Page Down keys. The Suora FX doesn’t require any extra software to change the lighting modes since the F1-F4 keys can be used to switch between four lighting presets – wave, breathing, ripple and static.
There are cable grooves on the bottom of the keyboard with three exit spots. These give you options to route your cable according to your own preferences. Depending on the location of your cabinet, or cable slot on your table, you can choose the appropriate groove to reduce cable clutter. Following its design of being a compact and frameless keyboard, it doesn’t include a palm rest, an accessory we expect in this price ($139 or Rs.9,400) range. Also missing is a key cap puller, again an essential accessory. While it’s easy to remove keycaps off the keys at the edges, it’s a little cumbersome for the keys which are surrounded by other keys on all sides while using just your fingers. This is where a keycap puller comes handy.
The Suora FX follows a minimalist design with no fancy edges or wacky gamer aesthetics. Even though it’s a full-size keyboard, the tight frame of the metal base keeps the keyboard confined to the length and width of the keys only. Essentially the keyboard ends up occupying less space on your desk. Although, this isn’t the only keyboard taking the minimalist design approach, it surely looks great to fit into a clean desktop setup.
The chassis has a textured metal frame to house the mechanical switches on top of a plastic base and we noticed minor flex though that doesn’t matter. The keycaps are injection moulded with a thick durable paint coat. What we didn’t like was the wobbling of the keycaps at the top and some of the keys weren’t aligned. We’ll admit, we’re nitpicking here but like we said earlier, keyboards are quite personal. A more snug fit between the keycap and key switch would have taken care of this. The keycaps are Cherry MX compatible, so you will be able to replace the current ones with your favourite coloured and textured keycaps if you wish.
Because of the exposed design, it becomes easier to clean around and in between the keys. Also the light from the RGB LEDs disperse better because of the open design. The LEDs are bright enough to illuminate during day and the bolder font on the keycaps help achieve this. Also, we didn’t notice any lag during colour and lighting pattern transition. The keycaps have a curved design with a slight incline, and the base plate is angled for a more comfortable typing experience.
The braided USB cable is quite flexible and its 1.8m length is enough to reach your desktop’s port even if your cabinet is placed on the floor. A gold-plated USB connector would have been appreciated since the regular aluminium or steel connectors tend to rust over the years if not taken care of.
The Suora FX has five rubber feet at the bottom. The rubber feet under the two stand-offs have enough friction to prevent any sliding whether you’re furiously typing or if button mashing while gaming.
Roccat Swarm software
RGB lighting modes can be controlled right from the keyboard using four presets. If you need more control for playing around with the brightness, effect speed or the direction in which the lights change, you have to use the Swarm software. You’ll come across more presets, some are classy while some might just trigger epilepsy. Macros can be added to the six macro keys or you can also reprogram the existing keys to do whatever you please.
Game mode is an interesting feature which could prove quite useful. It allows you to reassign the existing keys with a secondary function that can only be registered when Game mode is active. So, you’ll be able to add an extra function (for example to the Del key) with an in-game action such as equipping a bomb. This will only work when the Game mode is enabled and won’t hinder with the Del key’s primary function of deletion. Think of it like on-the-fly profile switching.
Gaming and typing performance
The Roccat Suora FX uses TTC Blue mechanical switches, something we haven’t tested before. Since colour coding is universal to an extent across mechanical keyboard switches, the Blue variant feels tactile and closer to Cherry MX Blues. According to TTC’s website, the Blue switch has an actuation distance of 2.2 mm which is the point at which the keyboard registers. This means that the tactile bump is present at a distance of 2.2mm, and the keys give a more clicky and mushy feedback while typing. They are definitely louder than the Cherry MX Blues and similar to the Outemu switches we had tested on the Zebronics Max.
The actuation force is around 60g, just a little higher than Cherry MX Blue (by 5g). When it comes to typing, you’ll love using this keyboard and eventually attain a good typing speed as you get used to the layout. Reds or Browns still remain a better choice in gaming due to their lower actuation force. The TTC Blue switches on this keyboard are of the clear variant and not the solid colour variant as pictured above, essentially enabling more light to disperse.
Final thoughts: Roccat Suora FX
The Roccat Suora FX falls around the sweet spot of the Rs. 10k price range of mechanical keyboards. We hardly found any flaws with the design and build quality of the keyboard. The usage of TTC mechanical switches is a let down at this price range. Although they claim a 50-million keystroke life cycle, the quality doesn’t match that of Cherry. You will find better keyboards at a higher price such as the Corsair K70 RGB or STRAFE offering Cherry MX switches. One thing to consider is that this keyboard has additional software support to tweak settings – something you would rarely find on mechanical keyboards at this range. This alone makes the Roccat Suora FX worth your consideration.
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.