A new challenger enters the arena.
The Aivia gaming keyboard marks Gigabyte’s first foray into this competitive market of high-end PC peripherals; a segment usually dominated by Razer and Logitech. That said, there’s always room for more, and competition will always work in the favor of the consumers at the end of the day.
Opening up the rather large box, I find the Aivia keyboard nestled within a lot of plastic, cardboard and foam protection. The extras include a silicone cover, an additional set of rubberized WASD keys along with a puller and a Drivers CD which contains the Ghost Macro Engine.
The Aivia keyboard itself looks quite interesting to behold. The design queues strongly reminded me of the Lamborghini Reventon which itself was a design based on stealth jet planes, what with the opaque grey coloring and extremely angular layout. Of course, the Aivia keyboard also comes in striking yellow and red.
Apart from the looks, the keyboard feels very sturdy, and the keys themselves are pretty silent. No clackity-clack on the Aivia, all you will hear is a subdued keystroke as you play and/or type away. The subtleness of the keys actually lends itself very well to typing, which was quite a departure (and a much more pleasant experience) from the Razer Lycosa keyboard I use at work. The palm rest may seem a bit large to some, but it was a welcomed feature for me as it helped ease the typing process further. Of course, the palm rest can be taken off once the four screws at the bottom are undone. Taking a closer look at the underside of the Aivia keyboard you’ll notice rubberized pads at the bottom front and the small pedals that raise the keyboard up, ensuring a stable platform whether you’re furiously typing out an article or trying to keep ahead of the competition in Team Fortress 2.
One more interesting feature of the Aivia keyboard is the touch sensitive volume control pad on the top. At the top center, the volume keys can be controlled by scrolling your finger left or right to decrease or increase the volume. Every time your finger scrolls on top of each arrow key, a corresponding LED indicator will light up on the top right side, showing that your touches have been recognized. It’s just an extra form of indication that looks cool. While it’s good to have the volume controls, the process itself is pretty slow. I slid my fingers 3 or 4 times to the left when the volume got to loud during any gaming sessions or while simply listening to some music. A little bit more sensitivity (in terms of the level of volume increasing or decreasing) would’ve been nice, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker.
Obviously this is a keyboard catered towards gamers, so having a backlit is a basic feature. Since the keyboard is grey, the way the keys are painted are bright enough for the day time, and as the darkness takes over, the backlights can be turned on using the little switch at the top right. The lights aren’t as bright as the Razer Lycosa, but it’s bright enough when in darkness without being a distraction.
The 5 macro keys at the top take quite an effort to get used to because of their placement in the top left corner of the keyboard. The Ghost Engine, once installed, makes this process simple, but I didn’t know creating macros would be such a time consuming process. The triangular button on the top left allows you to cycle through 5 modes, each of which can have different keys assigned to the 5 macro buttons, allowing for a total of 25 different macro keys.
And finally there’s one simple aspect of the Aivia keyboard that I really like, the single USB connector. The heavily braided cord looks and feels sturdy, but this one single cable allows for two USB 2.0 devices to be hooked up to the keyboard. I tried hooking up an external Seagate HDD and got the same 32.6MBps read speed on the keyboard as hooking it directly to my motherboard. On the Razer Lycosa, even with its dual USB connector and device that requires extra power like an external HDD won’t work.
So what we have here is a solid first entry into the gaming keyboard market by Gigabyte. The Aivia is a decent looking, practical keyboard with a lot of attention to detail. The only thing I can complain about is the fact that it has no audio ports, but the alternative being that it only requires one USB port to power everything, including two USB 2.0 ports is worth the tradeoff. At AED 260 (USD 70) the Aivia keyboard makes for a great purchase with all that it has to offer, a definite competitor to the latest offerings from Razer and the likes.