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My journey to MyRepublic Fibre
I first heard about the offering in Jan 2014 when it was advertised as the cheapest gigabit fibre plan in Singapore. At $49.99 it truly was a shock to the system for the incumbent ISPs who at the time either didn't have anything to compete with or had gigabit plans going for as high as $399. It was a crazy time, I remember immediately calling up and reserving a spot despite the fact that my current cable internet plan was still barely a year into a two year contract. At the price, it didn't matter, I knew I had to have it.
What followed next wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. Now my area had just been recently activated for fibre services through Singapore's National Broadband Network but I had to wait for MyRepublic to physically come down and activate the fibre point which from my understanding had to be properly configured to deliver the gigabit connection, because at this time most fibre points didn't deliver such speeds. I was content to wait a couple of months, and they have told me that the soonest would have to be March before they could come down due to extremely high demand. After 2 months of waiting, I was told to wait longer, several phone calls and emails to follow up yielded the same answer and to cut this short and to spare me from re-living that long wait, it wasn't until the first day of June when I finally got my service activated.
Was it worth the wait? Put it this way, at this price point, for this speed, I'll be honest I would've had to be waiting a lot longer before MyRepublic came around to disrupt the ISP market in Singapore. Was I disappointed that I had to wait this long for MyRepublic to activate the service? Sure, I mean there were hundreds of people posting in the Hardware Zone fibre subforum complaining about the long wait, but that wasn't going to deter me from attempting to max out my connection and do all the nerdy things I could with the connection. It was time to get stuck in.
In this review I'm going to cover some key questions gamers or tech enthusiasts in Singapore I think would want to know in looking for a gigabit fibre service and what the MyRepublic experience has been for me since June 2014.
What does it mean to have gigabit fibre? Do I really need it? What can I do to maximise it? Is it great for gaming, downloading and streaming, what is the overall experience like? In this review I intend to cover those burning questions.
Latency for gaming
When it comes to pings to local Singapore servers there are obviously no complaints with low and LAN like performance with single digit latency. For the rest of the region, the pings to are sub 50-100 for Hong Kong, Philippines, China, South Korea and Japan.
Latency is a no brainer for local Singapore and regional servers as expected, and having done the research it seems to be quite consistent across the other ISPs as well. In terms of international pings in the US or Europe, they were slightly lower compared to what I was used to with cable and DSL connections. The lowest I would get in West Coast US servers for games like Diablo 3, War Thunder and Knights of the Old Republic would be around 180 and peak at about 220 or sometimes higher. All this is within reason and the best we could hope for being so far away. Once in a while I'd join European servers just to see what it was like and would get around 250-280 to the UK, again not too bad considering we're tens of thousands of kilometers away.
On paper, the plan is 1000Mbps download and 500Mbps upload. In terms of download speeds, to be honest I have yet to actually max out the gigabit connection in real world downloads. I don't think this is necessarily the ISP's limitation because I've done speed tests and it shows my connection maxing out. On average I'd say I get around 400-600Mbps either on torrents or on other high speed servers like Steam and Origin.
When it comes to uploading, again it doesn't necessarily max out unless I'm doing a speed test but on Google Drive where I upload the occasional file, be it large amounts of videos or photos, performance is practically instantaneous and I don't have to wait. Gigabit internet spoils you guys, I'm warning you. Nothing bad I can say here, I just hope the rest of the internet content providers and servers can catch up and put gigabit plans to their paces. I'm looking at you Netflix and 4K streaming.
When it comes to mainstream services like Netflix and YouTube, performance is stellar, I can't complain. Both load practically instantly and stream without ever really buffering. Now I must qualify for Netflix, I actually use either a VPN or most recently when the service was announced as free for all subscribers (previously $5 monthly) a DNS service called Teleport from MyRepublic (service discontinued in 2016).
Watching live streams on Twitch was very problematic when I started using it heavily late last year
Watching live streams on Twitch was very problematic when I started using it heavily late last year from September up to December where I and many watchers on MyRepublic couldn't seem to get a decent HD or Source stream. We were usually left with is a stuttery mess. As of the writing of this review, things have improved a little, I’ve noticed it doesn’t buffer as much on most streams but still seems to happen from time to time on some live events and competitions. There's a thread that has been discussing the issue in the local Hardware Zone forums and I've actually been actively posting my experiences in dealing with Tech Support in those forums. So why is this happening? How come a gigabit fibre plan can't seem to keep up with live streaming, I mean sure with all the bandwidth this situation should be a cakewalk right? Well that was certainly my expectation but real world results were different.
To be fair and give credit to the MyRepublic team, things have improved since last year and I hope that they keep working to improve the network connectivity over time
I did some digging and talked to the helpful and passionate folks in the Fibre subforum of HardwareZone and found out that all of this seems to be related to the fact that MyRepublic buys its bandwidth from a Content Delivery Network (CDN) called Level3 which is known to have issues with Twitch streaming connections. I'm aware that all sorts of information circulate on the internet so it's hard to confirm anything for sure and I've actually reached out to MyRepublic support on the issue and explaining that I've gathered some open source information to support these claims as discussed in the HardwareZone Twitch thread. To be fair and give credit to the MyRepublic team, things have improved since last year and I hope that they keep working to improve the network connectivity over time.
Aside from Twitch, I've also been experimenting with other live streaming services such as NTV.mx which lets you stream hard to find sports channels and other such channels from around the globe. Now I'm a cordcutter and haven't had a cable subscription since 2008 so when I want to watch live football, I have to deal with live streaming online. Unfortunately at this stage I still struggle to find a reliable service because the same issues I described above with Twitch plague my live stream experiences.
The only solution for the streaming issues I find are to have my VPN turned on, which somehow reroutes my connection and lets me enjoy a semi-stable live stream experience, although it does still stutter occasionally. It's not ideal but it does work as the only stop-gap for me when I find I need to watch something live. However, the moment I turn off my VPN, the issues are very apparent and I'm stuck with a stuttery mess which to be honest can be rage inducing everytime I think about the fact that I'm on gigabit fibre.
From an operational standpoint, technical support seems to be quite competent in terms of calling in to ask for help or even via email or live chat. The live chat option is extremely convenient and at times find it very easy to quickly drop a message and expect an email back within a day. I haven't had any major service outages or breaking issues in the past 9 months so I haven't had anything to call in or email for in terms of urgent matters so can't provide any insight on that. However mentioned earlier in the review, I did in fact get in touch with Tech Support on the Twitch streaming issue.
Having consumer MyRepublic gigabit fibre in Singapore means you can effectively run torrents, downloads and streams (YouTube, Netflix) in as many computers and devices in your home all day long without really hitting any limits or slowdowns. My gaming experience was spot on and exactly what I'd expect it to be in terms of pings and stability. Downloading and uploading massive files are inconsequential in these speeds, we're talking an average of 400-600Mbps and I'm assuming that's only because of the server bandwidth limitations I'm downloading off and even hard drive transfer limitations.
When you're subscribed to gigabit fibre, videos really have no right to be buffering in HD
It's a great feeling indeed to know that you can share your connection with as many people or devices in your household, but bear in mind there are limitations in live streams as I mentioned. In the context of live streaming, MyRepublic leaves a lot to be desired especially when you're subscribed to gigabit fibre, I mean videos really have no right to be buffering in HD. If you're someone who needs the basics of gaming and download consistency, MyRepublic should suit your needs perfectly, but if you're like me who belong to a niche that requires a consistent live streaming experience in HD, then things get tricky and I will caution you with what I've experienced so far and outlined in this review.
At this rate, with prices plummeting and the average well below $100 a month for gigabit fibre to the home, I would advise consumers to definitely make the switch once those legacy broadband plans expire, it's time to move well into the 21st century and with around 99% of the entire island now covered by the National Broadband Network, yes you need it, but should it be MyRepublic?
Learning to love mechs and now TKL
My love affair with mechanical keyboards started in 2011 when I picked up my first one after many recommendations on forums and hardware sites. It was glorious and I've been using it consistently as my keyboard at home ever since. After four years I felt it was time to move on, research and identify a new keyboard that suited me and my evolving needs. Fast forward to today, and with the seemingly endless options, full size, tenkeyless, LEDs, RGB, etc you're somewhat spoiled for choice and it may be difficult to pin something down for yourself.
Now personally I enjoy hardware that's understated, minimalist, no frills and easy on the eyes. And that's seemingly where my search led me to with the Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid-i Keyboard (MX Brown) which retails for SGD $158 in Singapore. Having scoured the net and stumbling upon Reddit's /r/mechanicalkeyboards and Geek Hack, I eventually narrowed it down to this keyboard which I felt covered many of the things I enjoy in the hardware that I own. Minimalist and not too flashy.
The Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid-i is a a tenkeyless keyboard which means the numpad isn't included giving you a compact keyboard. If you're like me, and don't ever really use that side of conventional keyboards then I urge you to consider TKLs as I learned too in my research that there may actually be postural and health benefits to using one.
It seems to make sense that your shoulders are aligned better towards your monitor and for gaming and work. Your mouse is also situated closer as the space where the numpads used to be are no longer in the way. This translates to a firmer posture and a shorter travel time for your hands when typing or gaming. After 2 months of using my first TKL I'm glad I made the switch and don't miss full sized keyboards anymore. I will be sticking to TKL keyboards for the foreseeable future and might consider getting one for work as well.
I've mentioned no frills earlier and how I think that translates very well terms of features is the simplicity of just plugging in the keyboard to have all your presets loaded without any kind of software unlike the other brands especially with RGB options which obviously demand more configuration and software installed setting up. This is great for those who travel to LAN parties or bring their mechanical keyboard with them to the office or long holidays (yeah I actually bring my mech when I go on 3 week holidays to visit my family) and plug it in to different computers or your office machine. I like that you don't need to load software as it becomes very convenient where you have nothing to think about or plan for especially for travel. Simply put, if you're the type who just wants a plug and play keyboard with LEDs then you'll enjoy this.
Speaking of LED backlighting, there are 5 modes with 5 different levels of illumination levels that you can save as profiles. The different modes are; 1. slow breathing dark to light, 2 keys light up only as you press them, 3 same as the second but there is a time delay and you can see the keys still lit up and fade away slowly, 4 is the gaming mode which lights up WASD and the arrow keys, and lastly 5 my favourite is the entire keyboard lit up and bathed in white light which is very satisfying for me. The keyboard has an ARM processor to control the effects, illumination and save individual profiles. There are also media buttons which are always much appreciated in modern keyboards and on this one you have them placed as alternate keys above the arrow keys section of the board. They can be activated by holding the FN key.
The design is plain and minimalist just as I like it with a very small logo and branding in the front of the keyboard, effectively out of sight for the user. I appreciate how Cooler Master has embraced the whole minimalist aesthetic and has decided to lay low on the branding compared to their competitors who are sometimes guilty of massive obnoxious logos that just kill it for me. In this respect I must commend the decision to really go all out with a clean and no fuss look. Other things I enjoy about the design and I believe is still pretty unique is the fact that the base part of the keyboard where the keys are above have a white finishing which acts to accentuate and increase the brightness of the LED lights, giving a clean and uniform lighting experience for the keyboard.
In terms of the keys, the font used that was chosen I feel is a bit too tacky, a bit too forced in terms of trying to be too futuristic and sci fi. This seems to be happening quite often with keyboard manufacturers where Jed mentioned the same thing in his Razer Black Widow Chroma review. While I have nothing against sci fi and futuristic looking things I think such fonts on keyboards should probably stay neutral and not try too hard or "gamery".
It also has a detachable micro USB connector to allow for easy stowaways and traveling which I am starting to see as becoming more common these days in high end gaming mechanical keyboards, however this isn't exactly perfect. The one provided is angled at 90 degrees to the left which could be a bit awkward for some people, it isn't too bad for my set up and I can live with it but it would have been great if it was just a straight.
Build quality and the bottom line
The Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid-i feels solidly built and has a nice heft to it, which surprised me considering it's a TKL and small. The weight gives it the stability you need when gaming so it doesn't knock or slide about. There is a nice soft finishing covering the entire body of the keyboard which gives it a premium feel and helps ensure that fingerprints don't show on the keyboard. The white LED lights at its maximum setting are bright and this is how I like to keep them for my set up. Overall no complaints in terms of build quality especially coming from a Japanese Filco keyboard for four years. This did not disappoint in terms of sturdiness and solidity. For its price point, features and build quality I can safely say that this is a pretty great TKL keyboard for those who want something minimalist and plain, I mean even the LED's are as plain as they come. If you're looking for your first TKL keyboard and enjoy minimalist designs and can live without RGB, you probably can't get any better than the Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid-i right now.
Editor's note: The original version of this article wrongly stated the ERP as S$269. This has been corrected to reflect the actual ERP of S$249. So you're finally in the market for a Mechanical Keyboard, but you don't want a spartan Ducky or no-frills Filco — no, you're looking for something with a little more bling to reflect your colorful personality. You want one of those newfangled RGB LED backlit mechanical gaming keyboards with 16.8million colors. And maybe you've heard that Logitech is stepping up their game in the gamingmouse market and you're wondering if they sell matching keyboards. Well, dear reader, rejoice! Because Logitech's G910 Orion Spark is here!
But if you want the flash, you've gotta part with cash, and the G910 and its ERP of S$249 should give budget-conscious gamers some pause. So before we rush headlong into any big peripheral purchasing decisions, let's discuss what kind of bang you'll be getting for your buck.
Logitech touts the G910 to be "the world's fastest mechanical gaming keyboard". This is because of their proprietary "Romer G" mechanical switches that actuate at a distance of 1.5mm. This coupled with the fact that key presses only require a mere 45g of force to actuate the Romer G switches makes using the G910 feel quick and responsive when in gaming. I would liken the feel of Romer G switches to slightly quieter and slightly more sensitive Cherry MX Brown switches, so if, like me, you're already a fan of Cherry MX Browns, Romer Gs will be right up your alley. According to Logitech's website, Romer G switches are also supposed to be rated for 70million actuations and are thus 40% more durable than the competition. It's clear Logitech put quite a lot of effort into R&D for these switches, and they're quite pleasant to use, so I look forward to seeing these switches on more products, but more on this later.
Aesthetically-speaking, the G910 takes some getting used to. Even if we were only comparing it to its flashy RGB keyboard competition, this is one of the louder designs you'll find on the market. From the large Logitech "G" series logo on the top left to the G910 model number below the left Alt key (both of which are RGB lit by default) to the overall asymmetrical shape of the device, this is a peripheral that just screams "DO NOT BRING ME TO THE OFFICE IF YOU VALUE YOUR CAREER".
The odd shape of the G910 is accentuated by whichever one of the two included-in-box detachable plastic wrist rests you decide to use. These are asymmetric because Logitech assumes (correctly) that gamers will spend most of your time with your left hand on WASD and your right hand on the mouse, so the rest heavily favors the left palm. I quite like the comfort of the larger of the two rests — Logitech really nailed the size and slope of this piece of plastic, so kudos to them.
Another thing they've gotten right are the media controls. Sure, these things are usually an afterthought — a box to check off on the feature list if one is to compete in the premium gaming keyboard market — but unlike some manufacturers who just tack on secondary functions to the F1-9 keys (looking at you, Razer) Logitech has put some fantastic dedicated media controls on the G910, unobtrusively situated just above the numpad. My favorite thing part about this is the analogue scroll wheel volume control — aside from the fact that I don't have to press a button 20 times just to change my Windows audio volume by 40 points, Logitech have got the weight and resistance of this little wheel just right, making this volume wheel an absolute joy to use. Seriously, you guys, every keyboard needs this. Someone please add this to ISO 9995. Thanks.
Seriously, you guys, every keyboard needs this volume wheel. Someone please add this to ISO 9995. Thanks.
And while we're on the topic of ISO 9995, in addition to the standard keyboard layout keys, the G910 has 9 "G" keys that can be programmed using Logitech's proprietary complementary gaming software. The G910 also has three "M" buttons to switch between three profiles for a total of 27 programmable inputs. Next to the M1 M2 and M3 buttons is the confusingly named MR button, or Macro Record button. As the name suggests, this allows you to quickly and simply assign a series of keystrokes to any "G" key. All these bells and whistles would be rendered meaningless if not for the excellent usability of Logitech's proprietary gaming software. We've lauded this software in the past when we reviewed Logitech's G402 and G502 mice, and I can confirm that in the context of the G910 the software is just as intuitive. When compared to the Razer and Corsair utilities for customizing their respective keyboard's RGB lighting, Logitech's software is by far the simplest to use. As an added plus, if you have an iOS or Android device on the same network as your PC you can download Logitech's ARX app which allows you to use your phone or tablet as a media controller. Probably not one of the main factors of consideration when weighing your keyboard purchasing options, but it's a nice little touch nonetheless.
It's little details like this that make it clear that Logitech put a lot of care and thought into the design of the G910 Orion Spark — they got so many things right, and they went the extra mile to really polish up the user experience. So it is with a heavy heart that I write these next few words: the G910 is a terrible keyboard. Or at least, the G910 is terrible at being a keyboard.
The G910's failure to be a reliably accurate keyboard started off as a niggling annoyance but eventually grew into a fully blown rage-inducing deal breaker
Let me explain.
Logitech made one tiny but significant misstep with the G910: they tried but failed to improve on standard keycaps. The keycaps on the G910 were designed for gamers and are sculpted to help prevent mistyping, or so claims the Logitech website — this couldn't be further from the truth. The keycaps on the G910 are supposed to cradle your fingers to keep them on WASD keys (or ESDF keys if you're a goddamn heretic); unfortunately the bottom corners of each key are slightly raised, which means that your fingers tend to catch on these raised corners as your hands move across the keyboard. Couple this with the increased sensitivity of the Romer G switches and you have the perfect storm for mishit keys. Over the two months that I've had this keyboard, I've found my typing accuracy to be severely diminished.
And this problem isn't limited to work-use — it sometimes rears its ugly head while I'm gaming! While playing an MMO I found myself accidentally activating the wrong skills when I mishit the wrong number keys. I would not trust this keyboard in a high-pressure raid situation. Just sayin'. The G910's failure to be a reliably accurate keyboard started off as a niggling annoyance but eventually grew into a fully blown rage-inducing deal breaker for me.
Now this wouldn't be that big a deal if only the G910 had Cherry MX switches — in which case I would simply replace all the keycaps on the keyboard with sanely-shaped ones. I like this keyboard a lot! A whole lot! Enough that I would put in the effort to make this relationship work. Unfortunately the G910 uses proprietary Romer G switches — Logitech doesn’t sell standard-shaped replacement keycaps, and presently you cannot buy any normally-shaped 3rd party Romer G compatible keycaps on the internet. G910 users are stuck using these horrible keycaps for the foreseeable future.
In closing, I have a love-hate relationship with the G910 Orion Spark. Logitech made some great design choices here, but those abysmal keycaps ruin the overall experience; more's the pity because they came so close to a masterpiece with this keyboard. I wouldn't recommend the G910 until we get either 1st or 3rd party manufactured normally-shaped replacement keycaps to fit the Romer G switches. Let's hope Logitech fixes their keycaps in the next iteration of the G910 — maybe if they were to release a 2015 edition or something.
Honesty time, folks, although I’m certain I’m hardly in the minority: I feel like I could have lived the rest of my days without ever really needing a mechanical keyboard. I’ve been a PC user for the better part of 25 years now, and I can say without a doubt that the keyboard would be close to if not dead last in a list of computer-related peripherals that I want premium, souped-up, turbocharged versions of. Knowing all that, however, does little to decrease my enjoyment of the mere act of typing words on this thing. My fingers are currently dancing across the keys of a Razer Blackwidow Chroma Stealth, and man, it feels right.
The Razer Blackwidow Chroma Stealth is a full-sized mechanical keyboard which features all the keys you’d expect plus five on-the-fly programmable macro keys for those really repetitive keystrokes that you might want to automate. I’ve always been leery of “gaming equipment” for PCs in the past, but after some extended use, I may be ready to defect.
The Blackwidow feels like a premium product right out of the box -- a heavy, matte-finished, braided-cabled, angular monster that exudes a notable presence even just lying unplugged on the dinner table. The keyboard is cased in plastic all around, although I won’t be surprised if it hides a metal frame because it’s incredibly heavy. This is the first keyboard I’ve used that doesn’t flop around like a screen door at the slightest bump.
I like the plain and timeless design of the casing. The only halfway-flamboyant flourish is the light-up Razer logo located right in front beneath the space bar. I can live with it. The rest of the device is no-nonsense all the way -- no spikes, angles, nooks, crannies, or anything else “gamerly” that resembles a Terran Starcraft unit or a weapon from Mass Effect.
In fact, the only offender in this regard -- and I already feel awful for using so strong a word -- is the typeface used for the letters on the keycaps. It’s all boxy and right-angled and just a tad too science fiction for my liking. I am a graphic designer by profession, so your mileage may vary, but I knew something was up when my eight-year-old nephew took one look at the Blackwidow and proclaimed that the keys looked like they were straight out of Minecraft.
They’re not ugly, mind you. They’re simply keycaps with way too much personality housed in a body designed to turn invisible the moment you take your eyes off it.
The whole mechanical thing
I know next to nothing about mechanical keyboards, and this is the first modern one I’ve ever used. I make the modern distinction for a reason: I’m pretty certain our old Xerox PC from the late 80s that used 8” floppy diskettes had a mechanical keyboard because it was huge and heavy and noisy like a typewriter, and you can kill someone by hitting them in any spot remotely close to their head with it.
I tried to do some research, but after slogging through pictures of colored cross-shaped plastic things and strange cutaway animations of things pumping each other, I decided to default back to my understanding that mechanical keyboards utilize -- you guessed it -- mechanical components to register keypresses instead of the good old mushy rubbery things our old, cheap keyboards used to have.
Razer has helpfully put together a page about their mechanical switches here, if you want to know more. This particular keyboard model uses the Razer orange switches. More on that later.
I can’t say I fully understand what’s going on beneath these keys as I type, but the feel is solid and satisfying. It takes more force to actually push a key all the way down, but amazingly, keys still register if they don’t go all the way. There’s a threshold somewhere in the middle of fully-up and fully-down where the key registers as a press, and that threshold is very comfortable. I’m typing up a storm right now and I haven’t wondered even once whether I actually hit a key hard enough for it to register or not. I’m even typing this very sentence without looking at the monitor! I look like an idiot! Happily, this idiot has made zero mistakes so far. The mechanical action gives me some great tactile feedback, and it makes typing very pleasurable. I can say without a doubt that typing has never felt better -- it’s certainly leagues beyond the feel I got with my old non-mechanical keyboard.
So here I am, typing and enjoying every second of it, my fingers flying with effortless grace like I was nailing a Santana song note-for-note on a fretboard, my brain processing all of the soul and emotion and none of the physical act of actually moving my appendages. Short version: I’m really getting into it. When I get into it, I go all-out. And that means lots and lots of noise.
My point? Don’t expect too much from that bit on the package where it says “stealth”. The orange switches in the stealth model are certainly not as noisy as the green switches in the non-stealth Blackwidow Chroma that I tried at a local Datablitz branch, but the noise this keyboard generates when I’m typing up a storm far exceeds that produced by any old keyboard I used to own. It’s particularly noticeable in the early morning when everything is quiet and the clacking cuts through the serenity like an anime katana through a starship hull -- you’d think it wouldn’t happen, but then you’d be surprised.
I like the noise. I think it lends a certain rhythm to my writing. I don’t notice it as much during games, but then again, if I were playing a game and my mind kept drifting back to the noises my keyboard was making, it probably isn’t a very good game.
I tried a bunch of titles with the Blackwidow: Borderlands 2, Shadow Warrior, Starcraft 2, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and Sokobond. I initially had a bit of trouble with homing in my keys without looking, because the macro keys positioned along the left edge kept throwing me off -- I was so used to finding the A key directly to the right of the leftmost key on the keyboard, and now there was an extra key on the left to consider. My first few tries at strafing left in the first-person shooters resulted in the caps lock being engaged and disengaged and a whole lot of nothing happening in-game.
Once I grew accustomed to the layout, though, I discovered that I still played just as badly as I used to. You must understand that I’m not an amazing player, although I am an avid gamer. The mechanical nature of the Blackwidow did little to improve my in-game performance, but as a consolation, pressing the keys sure felt a hell of a lot better than ever before. I suspect that features like the mid-press activation point and the excellent tactile feedback will offer a significant advantage in high-level play. Unfortunately, my own skill level is far from maximum.
Incidentally, this keyboard also performs amazingly well in Zork.
Pretty lights and other features
The Blackwidow has passthroughs for one stereo jack headset, one stereo jack microphone, and one USB port. You can plug all four of the keyboard’s dangling bits (two stereo, two USB -- the other USB is for the keyboard itself) and plug your devices into the ports built into the right side of its casing. I left the stereo jacks unplugged, but I found the USB passthrough useful for extending the range of my USB headset. No complaints here. It’s a nice feature to have.
There’s a laptop-like function key beside the right Alt button that adds some media control functions to the keyboard when used in conjunction with the function keys. The basics are all here: volume control, pause/play, previous/next track, and as a bonus, dim/brighten lights. More on that in a bit.
A simple keystroke also turns on “Gaming Mode”, which can do things like disable the Windows key when it’s activated. Accidentally hitting the Windows key and subsequently losing the game has never been a problem I’ve had, but it’s nice to know that we can minimize any danger of that happening all the way down to zero.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the last big feature on this keyboard. Hint: it’s written in huge multicolored letters on the box itself.
The Razer Chroma line features Chroma lighting on the device that allows it to display any one of 16 million colors -- very useful if you’re into deep purple-colored gaming peripherals and there’s an inexplicable shortage in the market.
The Chroma feature certainly isn’t essential, but it is indeed very fun. The Razer Synapse software which downloads and installs itself upon plugging in the device to your computer lets you control how the lights behave -- you can set it to do all manner of things from displaying the entire visible color spectrum in a wave animation across your entire keyboard, to displaying just a static color of your choosing, to the keys creating a “light-ripple” effect that emanates from every key you press and travels outward across the other keys in a cool display.
By cool, you must understand that I mean cheesy as all hell. But you have to see it at least once, I swear. You may even grow to love it.
Razer Synapse allows you to customize the lighting for the entire keyboard key-by-key as well. RIght now, my Blackwidow’s letter keys are white, while the keys surrounding it including the number keys and the space bar are bright yellow. The function keys are teal. The escape key is red. The macro keys are blue. I could make a checkerboard pattern if I wanted to. There may even be some pixel art potential to this thing. In a nice and unexpected touch, you can even set the color and behavior of the light-up Razer logo in front! Good on you, Razer.
One final comment about the lighting, though: I wish there was a way to have just the keycaps lit up. I like to work and write in dim light on occasion, and while the illuminated keys on the Blackwidow let me do those with ease, I’m not a fan of the light-up gaps in between the keys. They’re just distracting. Fun as the lights may be, I’d prefer to see only the important bits of the keyboard lit up. I can’t say if it’s an engineering issue, but I do wish there was a way to turn off those gap lights.
If you’re reading this review to help you decide whether it’s time to go mechanical or not, then read no more: go get this keyboard (or its non-stealth variant) right now. Things to remember, though: this keyboard does not go well in any environment where you may wake up your sleeping roommate/sibling/partner/spouse/child with your incessant clacking. This keyboard does not improve your performance in mouse- or gamepad-only games. This keyboard will most likely not raise your K:D to 1 or greater if you weren’t already there to begin with.
If those things are not factors for your enjoyment of a new keyboard, then you’re gold. The key action feels way better than any keyboard I’ve ever used in the past -- zero exaggeration here. Your typing will improve, you will feel like a rock star while writing, and if you’re a very competitive gamer, you’ll probably see some improvement in your performance as well.
The Razer Blackwidow Chroma Stealth is the best PC keyboard I’ve ever used. I haven’t used much, and I have never used a mechanical keyboard before, but this is leaps and bounds beyond all the rest I’ve tried. If you’re still using a boring old non-mechanical keyboard, then it may be time to give this a serious look.
So by now you've probably read Mike's review of the G402 Hyperion Fury, a mouse which I own (and love) but have not used in a month because Logitech loaned us a demo unit of its bigger brother: the G502 Proteus Core. Now it's going to be difficult to review the G502 without constantly comparing it to its sibling, because the two were obviously designed in tandem, with the G502 positioned as the premium SKU while the G402 was aimed at the masses. This is evident when you look at the RRP — the G502 is priced at SGD 99, which is significantly more expensive than the G402's SGD 65 RRP. Ergo this review will attempt to answer the question: is the G502 worth the extra dosh?
it looks 50% more Protoss-ish than the G402… and now you can't unsee it.
But first, let's get the formalities out of the way. The Logitech G502 Proteus Core — another mouthful of a name — is the hero offer for Logitech's current generation of wired gaming mice. Like the G402, it has a sleek "TRON-like" design, but with slightly more aggressive styling details. (Personally I think it looks 50% more Protoss-ish than the G402… and now you can't unsee it.) Having used both the G402 and G502 extensively, I can assure you that the G502 has the same comfortable ergonomic design as that of the G402 that would suit right-handed palm grip (ftw) and finger grip users. It also has that same button on the left that allows for on-the-fly dpi switching. Some FPS players might find it useful, but even if you don't use the feature you can reassign the button to do something else. I ended up rebinding it to the "search" command while playing Dragon Age: Inquisition — in the course of my 120 hour playthrough it saw a LOT of use.
But that's where the similarities end.
Whereas the marketing material on Logitech's website emphasizes the G402's speed, the G502's claim to fame is its tunable nature. (It may be worth noting that the G502 lacks the "Fusion Engine" found in the G402, which results in a lower theoretical max speed of >300 inches per second versus the G402's >500 IPS. This isn't a glaring omission however, since you'd need superhuman arms to even approach those speeds.)
Both the G402 and the G502 can be configured using Logitech's proprietary software (which by the way, is superb), but the G502 has a wider range of customization options available to the user. For example, the G502 allows you to save three different mouse DPI and poll rate setting profiles. Should you so desire, you can quickly switch between these three profiles using the mouse's on-the-fly DPI switching button. I personally found no use for the two extra profiles and disabled the switching feature. Using the Logitech software you can also calibrate your G502's sensor for your surface of choice. The software already comes preloaded with profiles for Logitech's G240 and G440 gaming mouse pads, but following the onscreen prompts I was able to quickly add a new custom profile for my Razer Destructor 2 surface. Very cool.
I found the braided cable alone to be almost worth the price difference, but your mileage may vary.
The G502's party piece however comes in the form of physical customization. Included in the box are five individual removable 3.8g tuning weights that fit snugly in a hidden compartment under the G502's chassis. These allow you to change the weight and weight distribution of the mouse — a little too fiddly for my tastes, but I can definitely see how some power users could appreciate this feature.
Other premium product differentiators between the G402 and G502 can be found in the little details. The G502 uses a cable with soft braided housing, which is a vast improvement over the G402's stiff rubber-housed cable. The G402's cable is my only real complaint about an otherwise great mouse; after 2 months of heavy use I still haven't been able to properly season it so it doesn't impede my mouse movement. The G502 also has 11 customizable button inputs (three more than the G402) thanks to the aforementioned mouse profile switching button and a tilting scroll wheel. Unless you're in the market for a MMO or MOBA mouse, that should be plenty for the average gamer.
And that scroll wheel! Oh man, let me tell you about that scroll wheel. The G402's rubberized single-axis scroll wheel is functional, but it's got nothing on the cool metallic tilt wheel on the G502. This wheel feels solid and substantial, and makes satisfying mechanical clicks as it scrolls. Should you find the clicks too loud, you can even switch the wheel to silent mode that eschews any audible or tactile feedback (albeit trading off some precision) at the press of a button. My PC is in the bedroom, and this came in handy on more than one occasion when I was working while my wife was still asleep.
So we come to the big question. Is the G502 worth the $34 more than you would expect to pay for a G402? Well, it really depends on your mouse usage patterns and how much you value the extra features and improvements. Personally I found the braided cable alone to be almost worth the price difference, but your mileage may vary. At $99, the Logitech G502 is very competitively priced against its less feature-laden competitors in the same class, but I can't help but feel that it may end up a victim of its sibling's success, because at $65, the G402 is a steal.
The Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury -- a mouthful of a name -- is touted as Logitech’s fastest gaming mouse built specifically for FPS gamers. How is it the fastest, and what does it mean to be an FPS mouse you might ask? Well, it’s feature packed with an optical sensor featuring a new proprietary technology called the “Fusion Engine” that can track up to 500 inches per second (IPS). Now as to whether or not you could actually move the mouse fast enough to reach those speeds is another matter. It’s a wired mouse that comes with 8 programmable buttons, one of which was actually quite controversial for me; a sniper button just within reach of your thumb, but I’ll get into that later. You can edit all the buttons and map them out to your liking in the Logitech Gaming Software you can download from the site. On the top you have the basic left and right mouse buttons flanking the scroll wheel which has a solid click to it.
It also has on-the-fly DPI switching which means you can easily change the sensitivity with the two top buttons near the left click button. The other two buttons are thumb buttons which are traditionally used outside gaming as forward and back on your web browser. Moving to the interior, the mouse also comes with a 32 Bit ARM Processor which means you can save the settings you have directly on the mouse and use them without having to re-programme them in another computer. This is especially useful if you like to travel with the mouse for your laptop, other computers or use it in LAN parties.
I’ve been using the mouse for about 3 months as of this review and I think it’s given me enough time to appreciate the nuances and overall feel for it, especially as it’s been my daily gaming and work mouse at home. First up is the look and design of the mouse. Logitech G launched in 2013 as the dedicated gaming division of the company and has with it a very distinct and identifiable design style with the slogan “Science Wins”. With that, we’re seeing sleek profiles and a TRON-like aesthetic especially with the light blue motif on the mouse. This all comes down to personal preference, and for me I quite like it. I think it complements the clean lines of the mouse. Also I loved TRON so it’s a win-win. On the very top of the mouse is a large G which when lit can be set to be permanently on or pulsating/breathing to give it an effect. If you’re not into it, you can always set it to off on the Logitech software, otherwise it’s completely covered anyway when you use the mouse as your palm sits right on top of it. The other source of light is just beneath the two DPI switches and can be set to 3 bars. When selected, you can see 3 strips of light blue. They represent the DPI speed you’re currently on, so as you go higher, the 3 bars are lit to its maximum, and lower to 2 or 1 when you go lower.
It actually took me a couple of weeks to get used to the shape and feel of the mouse at first. I came from the Cooler Master Sentinel Advance, which I had been using for almost 5 years prior. I was used to its high back and a relatively roomier area to rest the pinky. The Logitech G402 looks way sleeker and smaller which made me wonder if my hand could actually envelop the entire mouse comfortably and not have my pinky drag on the pad. It actually wasn’t a problem at all, and looks can be deceiving because the G402 actually is bigger than it looks. It took about two to three weeks of gaming and work use, but I eventually adjusted to the feel of the mouse. The mouse buttons are very nice and clicky; the left and right mouse buttons apparently are the highly sought-after Omron switches which when I did my research seems to be very high quality switches that will last tens of millions of presses, perhaps even outliving its user.
On the right side of the mouse is a wing-like area where it extends out to let your pinky rest comfortably, and over time my hand contoured and allowed me to easily rest on this side. It has some grooved lines along it to help with a nice hold. I can now hold the mouse very nicely on a full palm grip, which means you can rest your entire hand pretty easily if you have medium hands like me although larger hands shouldn’t be a problem.
I’ve been using the mouse primarily for FPS and RPG gaming and have had a pretty good experience so far. The mouse is very responsive and holds pretty firm, especially with its rubberised coating all throughout the sides and the rear where your palm and pinky have contact with the device. Now I mentioned earlier that the sniper button was a bit of an issue for me at first. This is because I’d probably consider myself a purist and don’t really care much for extra shiny new buttons on mice that otherwise work as intended. I did a lot of research on the mouse and I was ready to give it a try because I had actually been using the venerable Logitech MX 518 way back in 2005 and had used it up until 2009 when I switched to the Cooler Master Sentinel Advance. The MX 518 for me was perfect and ever since I had been looking for the perfect replacement.
The only thing holding me back was this addition of what I thought was a gimmicky sniper button that some manufacturers have begun adding in recent iterations of their mice. The idea for the button is that you hold it down and your mouse speed decreases significantly so you can make minute adjustments as you are looking down the sniper scope for some highly accurate shots. Personally, I don’t necessarily like additional buttons because I feel it disrupts the overall flow of my gaming experience. The sniper button to me felt like it would just get in the way of gameplay, especially when I never even needed it before, and now there was this extra button that I might accidentally hit in the midst of a firefight in BF4.
Now, when I actually started using the mouse, I never actually felt the sniper button creeping up on my thumb. Of course this is all up to your hand size and preference, but it never actually disrupted the feel and use of the mouse. I decided instead to make use of it differently.Instead of using it as the dedicated sniper button, I looked at the Logitech Gaming software and remapped it to my push to talk button. I realised I now had a nicely visible and large enough button that was dedicated to voice comms in Teamspeak. At OMGeek, we have our own Teamspeak server which we use daily to coordinate coop or multiplayer games with the community.
Games and Windows can’t actually detect or map out the sniper button since it’s a proprietary button, so in the Logitech Gaming software, what I did was set the key for push to talk as “Pause” in the keyboard, which isn’t really used (at least for me) so it would avoid any conflicts and then in the Logitech Gaming software, set “Pause” to the sniper button. As simple as that, I now had a dedicated PTT button for Teamspeak.
After 3 months of use, I think i’ve settled into it quite nicely and will be using this for the foreseeable future until something better comes along in terms of comfort and features. If you’re like me and don’t like the sniper button and are on the fence, I’d say don’t worry about it because it doesn’t really get in the way and you can always remap it to do something else, or disable it completely. Again it may be hand size dependent but for the most part it doesn’t interfere with the general use of the mouse. It’s also quite affordable at around SGD $60-65 depending on retailer. At the end of the day it’s a well built mouse designed and tested by a Swiss company (Yes I actually just realised recently that they were from the land of great chocolate and mechanical watches), designed and tested by them but made in China. But then again these days, what isn’t made there? As for the future of this product line, I’m pretty sure variants will have the RGB colour options, as with the current craze in peripherals.
The Logitech G brand has some interesting naming schemes as I mentioned earlier, with each device bearing a Greek god’s name to indicate the kind of specialisation each has. I think it’s ok and they sound pretty cool, but I’d rather just call it the G402. It’s a great mouse and in my opinion a worthy successor indeed to the old school MX 518.
I first heard about mechanical keyboards around three years ago. I heard they were “just better” and improved your typing. I didn’t hear much more and so thought justified in saving a few bucks. I have a few keyboards lying around. They are all ok and one of them served me for a long while. That all became obsolete when I got my hands on a Corsair Gaming K70 RGB mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches.
Power cables like dock workers arms -- jack it solidly into the pc and its alive. Out of the box it does a sequence showing every colour -- probably a test -- then you have to do a bit of research online to get it to work properly.
I watched a how-to video showing how to program the keyboard -- there needs to be a lot more videos and tutorials as it’s technical as shit. I also wanted to check out any forums where other users show how they have programmed it, but gave up after a few minutes of not finding any. In the end I managed to emulate the online video, change the colours, and make distracting colour waves from every key I pressed. I was not overly impressed at that stage. Eventually, I set it up on a red and white gaming config you see in the photo and thought I would learn more as and when needed.
I now understand what they meant by “it improves your typing”. I used to bash buttons galore before and somehow it all worked, but these keys are uber sensitive and record every stroke, push or glance. The keys have a solid, German manufacturing feel to them: the palm rest has a mottled velvety silk feel to it, very feminine and luxurious. It took around 6 hours to get used to the keyboard. At first I thought the keys were too far spaced out -- I was clipping other keys, damn annoying stuff -- but the sensitivity works. You’ll one day realise that you're not clipping neighbouring keys anymore and have become much more efficient. I also set the keys to lighten a little when you press them, then fade back to the original colour in three seconds. Very cool when you take a break and see the traces of where you have been typing.
I've had the keyboard for a while now: nearly three months. It has some cool gadgets, the volume and media control is class, customisable and useful. I was trying to think of what's not so good with it for this review.
I thought I found it the other night. I use my TV for gaming and was watching a movie, and there was a strip of light emanating from the keyboard and messing up my screen. At last: something I could moan about! Then I remembered the manual and a button with a sun on it, pressed it, and all the lights went out. It's legit, and it's hard to fault this kit.
To give you an idea of the gaming capability, I once stood 20 feet away from a guy strafing side to side on Battlefield 4 as he dodged a whole clip then killed me. I couldn't do that with my old keyboard. My guy just stood virtually still when I mash the strafe buttons so he must have cheated. Now when crouching, driving a tank, flying a chopper, you name it, everything is so much more precise and the response feels like it’s instant. He may not have been a cheating bastard after all. I believe this keyboard will give you an advantage whatever you use it for.
Yes it's not easy to set up and it's just over 200 bucks in Singapore retailers, but it's worth every cent. It feels ultra durable yet luxurious and is so comfortable to use. I have yet to suffer any palm or hand strains since switching over.
I've definitely paired with it. Every time I touch the keyboard it gets better. I use a different colour now to match the trim on my DXRacer chair, and I sit higher in the chair to be able to decrease the weight on the keyboard so I’m faster when typing. When gaming I have on two small lamps on in the room, mood lights. This keyboard comes alive in the dark, you can also set it to breathe or pulse if that's your thing, like a living entity.
If Corsair could put together a few cheat sheets for the less technical of us out there to be able to utilise the more detailed functions and have even more fun, that would be nice. I read today about a lit keyboard you could play snake on -- gimmicky, I know -- but you may want to show friends who are not into gaming what a top-of-the-line keyboard can do. I'm pretty sure technically the K70 RGB could also do snake with no issues, but there is more chance of a zombie apocalypse happening before I could program it to do it. I don’t have the patience or the technical knowledge.
And thats the thing with this keyboard. The K70 RGB is a huge value, but it’s a little like owning a dog: it’s a commitment. If you put the time in, the rewards are there, and most importantly, they increase over time.
Do yourself a favour and put this on your Christmas list. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.
- 100% German-made Cherry MX Red/Blue/Brown RGB mechanical key switches for ultimate performance
- 16.8M color backlighting per key for virtually unlimited customization
- Aircraft-grade anodized brushed aluminum chassis for superior strength, durability, and rigidity
- Custom display controller for fast and fluid 16.8M multicolor animation
- In development – Advanced point-and-click scripting and SDK to enable gamers and developers to integrate effects and lighting features into games
- Key Switch Cherry MX RGB Red/Blue/Brown Mechanical Switches
- Backlighting: RGB (16.8 Million Colors)
- Macro Playback: Yes
- Onboard Memory: Yes
- Multimedia Keys: Yes
- Report Rate: 1000 Hz (USB) Rollover 104-Key with 100% Anti-Ghosting
- Warranty: 2 Years
Let us know at OMGeek if you have purchased a K70 RGB. We would love to hear your thoughts.