Roccat Ryos mechanical keyboard review
Roccat finally announced its long-awaited mechanical keyboards, the Ryos series, last week, before CES 2013 officially kicked off. We've been impressed by other Roccat kit in the past so made sure to get an early look at the new keyboards before they launch.
Keeping the same trademark Roccat design scheme, with sharp angles, an all-black finish and blue LEDs wherever they can be squeezed in, the Ryos is a big keyboard that will take up a lot of room on a desk. As well as the standard QWERTY keys, function keys and numeric keypad, Roccat has also added six macro keys on the left side of the board and three unique Thumbster keys on the wrist rest, so you're unlikely to run out of buttons in a hurry. The entire keyboard surround is finished in a dimpled plastic designed to prevent fingerprints.
Every key uses a Cherry mechanical switch, the weapon of choice for many PC gamers, as well as serious typists. Each one is backlit with blue LEDs, which are completely customisable using the driver software. You can enable or disable every key individually, set up profiles for specific layouts or let them animate to a set pattern.
Per-key lighting has allowed Roccat's engineers to get creative with the special effects; our personal favorite is the light trail option, which illuminates each key for around a second after you type. When typing at speed in the dark, you can get a private mini-rave going if you're quick enough. You can inverse the lights too, with each key putting out the LED for a brief moment.
There are cable channels built into the underside of the board, for the twin audio jacks on the rear left and twin USB ports on the rear right corners. The USB ports aren't super-fast USB3 variants, but they are still a useful inclusion.
We only had time to tap out a few brief lines during our demonstration, but we could tell the Cherry Black switches used in the demo unit were firm yet responsive, with a smooth action and plenty of bounce.
If you don't like Cherry Black switches (there's a raging discussion and very useful tips thread on the subject of different switches over at Overclock.net Roccat will be producing Ryos variants with your choice of switch when the keyboard launches.
Expected to go on sale towards the end of March, the Ryos series will certainly carry a premium over membrane-style keyboards. The top-end Ryos will cost $150, with your choice of Cherry red, brown, blue or black switches. The mid-range Ryos Glow loses the audio and USB jacks, as well as the per-key lighting, for $130, and the entry-level Ryos MK has no backlight whatsoever for $100. It's a lot to pay, but we think gamers will appreciate having a choice of switches. We'll know one way or the other when they go on sale later in the year.