The cherry of my fingers.
Whenever a new review product touches down at the Tbreak office, the first thing I ask is of the price. Because the price will define the capacity the product is expected to perform; whether it will over perform or underwhelm will create its value – it’s ‘buying factor’.
When Steelseries told us that their newest 7G mechanical gaming keyboard comes with a price tag of AED 749, I expected nothing but the world – fancy LCD screen, gamut of macro keys, a full row of absolutely useless media shortcuts, backlit buttons, and a design that would put fashion designers to shame.
Yeah, about that. As you can see, the 7G is everything but that. In fact, the keyboard is so simplistic in its looks, that if I were to rub off the branding, you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was made by a premium brand like Steelseries.
So, you ask, where is all my money going to then?
I reckon 7G to a Yaris with an engine of a Ferrari. Steelseries has taken a rather bold step to place the focus where it matters – the keys, the performance – than adding the bling and ding most keyboards are going for these days. While the keyboard lacks the luster of say a Razer Blackwidow or a Logitech G19, the 7G delivers where it matters most – though what that ‘matter’ is for you is another story.
The 7G is powered by a special type of mechanical key called Cherry MX. Unlike other mechanical keyboards, a Cherry MX will not wake up your neighbor. They sound much like a standard membrane keyboard would while still providing the feel and benefits of a mechanical one.
Further helping the Cherry-ness of it all are the gold plated mechanical switches. Each and every key is plated with a thin layer of gold to ensure maximum durability. Hence, the 7G promises 50 million key presses per key, which is about 10 times more than a standard keyboard, and probably enough to outlast your grand children.
Admittedly, this was my first time using a mechanical keyboard. As such, it was a bit of an curve to get used to the punchy feedback of the 7G. In fact, Steelseries even acknowledges that, slapping a ’1 to 2 weeks’ time frame before first timers get used to the “superior tactile feedback”.
At first then, I was left utterly underwhelmed and disappointed. Just short of a thousand bucks and all I get are a bunch of keys that only types in a slightly different way? Ready to slam it down for its needlessly expensive price mark, the light of revelation came after about a week and a half. It was growing on me. I wasn’t typing faster but my fingers were appreciating the instant gratification as each and every key responded with nice little ‘cusk’.
And the feel carried over to gaming as well. I noticed a slight bump in speed at which I was issuing commands in Modern Warfare and Homefront. Due to the keys’ shorter travel distance, where a key must be pressed only 50% in for it to register, I could furiously punch away and find result even when I felt I had missed the key.
The keyboard also allowed me to press any number of keys at once, thanks to an optimized ‘super’ PS/2 buffer. It was a terrific way to experience a game – I could simultaneously perform a number of tasks and rely on the keyboard to carry them over without hesitation or lag.
However, as much as I enjoyed the using the keyboard, I still cannot wrap my head around it’s ‘buying factor’. The 7G is a terrific performer, but when compared to the likes of Razer Blackwidow Ultimate, which sports similar features, additional macro keys, a backlit layout and at $129, a much cheaper price tag as well, the 7G doesn’t hold much to stand its ground.
As such, I believe the Steelseries 7G is specifically targeted towards ‘pro-gamers’, those who are into extreme competitive gaming and are in need of a compact, no fuss keyboard that will allow them to issue commands at blistering speeds, no questions asked. For the average, self-claimed hardcore gamer, there are other alternatives available that will match the spec sheet and be kind on the wallet as well.