Introduction and Packaging
Today we are taking a look at Logitech?s newest mechanical gaming keyboard, the G710+. The G710+ is Logitech?s first mechanical keyboard, and represents their initial entry into the growing segment of mechanical keyboards for gamers/enthusiasts.
The G710+ is somewhat unique among most mechanical keyboards on the market today in the sense that it uses Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches which represent a very small portion of the mechanical keyboard market. However, Brown switches are becoming more prevalent, with companies such as Cooler Master and Razer offering MX Brown switches on some of their keyboards.
For the uninitiated, the four most common types of Cherry mechanical switches are MX Blacks, Reds, Browns, and Blues. The most common switches available about a year ago were just the MX Black and MX Blue switches, but the mechanical keyboard market has grown significantly since then. The MX Red switches had been discontinued by Cherry until demand by gaming peripheral manufacturers drove them to begin production again, and the MX Brown switches were largely ignored by manufacturers due to their ?in-between? status which we will explain later on in the review.
The keyboard comes in standard packaging, the box touts many of the features of the keyboard. Included with the keyboard is a manual and warranty information, along with an attachable wrist rest.
The G710+ is a full sized keyboard, including a full number pad and a fully spaced set of F-keys. It also comes with a variety of features now standard on many gaming keyboards. It has six programmable ?G-keys?, with three ?M-keys? that allow up to three macro sets for a total of 18 programmable functions per profile. It should be noted that the software allows for a seemingly unlimited number of profiles that the user can assign to any application.
The keyboard also has separate backlighting controls for the ?WASD? keys and the rest of the keyboard. There are five different lighting settings, ranging from off to brightest. The keyboard also has a Windows Key Lock key to prevent accidental keypresses of the Windows Key during gaming. Finally, it has media buttons for ?Play/Pause?, ?Stop?, ?Skip Back?, and ?Skip Forward?, as well as a mute button and a volume roller. We are especially appreciative of the volume roller, as it is often much more convenient and natural to operate than the discrete ?Volume Up? and ?Volume Down? buttons that many keyboards have.
First Impressions and Software
The keyboard feels very solidly built, weighing in at a hefty 21 oz (approx. 595 g). It appears to be built from high quality plastics, and has sturdy foldable tilt legs that allow the user to change the angle of the keyboard on the desk.
The keys appear to be clear with an opaque black outer coating covering everything except the actual lettering on the key, this allows the backlighting to shine through clearly. The keyboard also has USB passthrough; it has one USB 2.0 port on it, and a thick, seemingly durable cable extending from the keyboard that splits into two male USB ends: one for the keyboard itself, and one for the passthrough.
The keyboard did not include a software CD, rather it recommended downloading the Logitech Gaming Software from the website. We found this to be rather practical considering that many people no longer have optical drives, plus it allows users to always begin with the latest version of the software.
The Logitech Gaming Software is standardized across Logitech?s gaming peripheral line, so we will only touch on it briefly. The software itself is simple and straightforward to both install and use. The user can create profiles for different applications, and those profiles get different macros assigned to the different ?G-keys?. Users can also have up to three different macro sets per profile via the ?M-keys? mentioned above, as well as program macros on the fly using the ?MR-key?.
Mechanical Keyboard Basics
To fully understand what makes this keyboard exceptional, one has to understand the basics of mechanical keyboard switches.
A short summary of how the four switches mentioned earlier function is below. For further reading and information about mechanical keyboard switches, click here.
Cherry MX Black Switches – Actuation Force: 60g. They are linear switches without a tactile feel or audible click. This makes them desirable for many gamers due to their ability to rapidly press keys without having to overcome a tactile bump as well as their quick reset. However, this also makes them more prone to accidental key presses, and some typists may find this to be a hinderance.
Cherry MX Red Switches – Actuation Force: 45g. They are linear switches without a tactile feel or audible click. They are identical t
o the Cherry MX Black switches but require significantly less force to press. This allows for even faster key presses which can be very beneficial to a gamer. However, this also makes them even more prone to accidental key presses than the MX Black switches, and some typists may find this to be a hinderance.
Cherry MX Blue Switches – Actuation Force: 50g. They are tactile switches with both a tactile bump and an audible click. They are very popular with typists as they allow for extreme precision when typing due to their tactile feel, audible confirmation of a keypress, as well as the fact that reset point being well above their actuation point which requires a key to almost fully release before being able to register a second keypress. However, this makes them unpopular with many gamers, as it makes double keypresses slower and more difficult to accomplish.
Cherry MX Brown Switches – Actuation Force: 45g. They are tactile switches with a tactile bump but without an audible click. The MX Brown switches are often referred to as the ?in-between? switches. This is because they provide the tactile feel of the MX Blue switches without their loud clicking noise, as well as the more linear feel of the MX Black/Red switches. Looking at their force diagram we see that it has a tactile bump about halfway down the keypress, and a tactile reset at the same point on the key release. This provides a unique and consistent typing experience, and makes them attractive to both gamers and typists. However, many typists prefer the more specialized MX Blue switches, and many gamers prefer the more specialized MX Black/Red switches, contending that the MX Browns are too much of a compromise.
We were eager to try out a keyboard that used MX Brown switches, as we had only had experience with MX Black, Red, and Blue switches until that point.
We were not disappointed, the MX Brown switches provide an excellent experience. They allow for quick gaming response, and the tactile bump does not hinder gameplay in the slightest. We had no issues with double keypresses, as the actuation and reset points are at the same place, we were able to rapidly tap away at the same key. The MX Brown switches also provide an exceptional typing experience. Because of the tactile bump, accidental keypresses are almost entirely eliminated. The tactile feedback gives the user precision and absolute certainty over whether a key has been pressed or not.
Logitech touts the keyboard as being ?whisper-quiet?, due to the ?non-clicky? nature of the MX Brown switches. While this is certainly true when compared to MX Blue switches that have a distinct and audible click, it does not mean that the keyboard is silent. Fast typists will definitely hear the clacking of keys as they type away. However, for most people, this should not be a turnoff, as the noise generated from typing is no louder than that of a standard rubber dome (read: non-mechanical) or MX Black/Red switch mechanical keyboard. Value and Conclusion
Overall we found the keyboard to be extremely well built, it included the standard set of features that gamers prefer on their keyboards such as backlighting, well designed media keys, and programmable macro keys with decent software. The Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches provide a wonderful typing experience, and are just as enjoyable while gaming. Most people do not realize the value of a mechanical keyboard until they begin to use one, at which point they swear off traditional rubber dome keyboards. The Logitech G710+ is definitely a contender, and would do well converting consumers to the ?cult of mechanical keyboards?.
The Logitech G710+ is priced at a whopping MSRP and real world retail price of $149.99. The price tag makes it hard to justify, especially when considering there are cheaper keyboards with similar features available such as the Corsair K90, currently priced at $109.99. However, Logitech?s Gaming Software is much more refined, polished, and useful than that of its competitors in the mechanical keyboard market. Also, it is one of the few high end gaming keyboards that comes with Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches. If users do not have a preference towards MX Brown switches, and are not concerned with the quality of software, then a purchasing a cheaper alternative might be the recommended course of action. However, if the objective is a high quality, sturdy keyboard with well designed software and features, as well as an exceptional typing experience, the Logitech G710+ is well worth the money.
For the reasons listed above, we have decided to award the Logitech G710+ the Prosumer/Enthusiast Editor?s Choice award.