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Thermaltake X1 RGB review: A great gaming all-rounder

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £99
inc VAT

The optional software needs work, but as a plug-and-play mech board, the X1 RGB succeeds


  • Solid build
  • Premium connectivity
  • Well-equipped


  • Unreliable software

There’s no shortage of good options if you want a mechanical keyboard and are willing to pay £100 or more. The X1 RGB adds yet another, if from an unlikely source: Thermaltake is much more prolific in the world of cases and coolers than peripherals.

Perhaps this lack of pedigree, compared to manufacturers such as Asus, Razer and Roccat, is why the X1 RGB takes a relatively conservative approach to design. Besides the RGB backlighting, it looks plain, and it’s not the sleekest of keyboards, either. Like the ROG Strix Flare, there’s a lot of empty space around the top, left and right edges, which makes the whole thing seem a little larger than it could have been, but whereas Asus’s keyboard compensates for this with its design flourishes, such as the light-up acrylic logo, the X1 RGB is content to leave things as they are. The basic black plastic finish also isn’t anywhere near as nice as the ROG Strix Flare’s part-matt, part-brushed texture.

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Thermaltake X1 RGB review: Design and Build

Still, it’s reassuringly solid, just as a mechanical keyboard should be, and its MX Speed Silver switches are brilliant. These are similar to the ROG Strix Flare’s Cherry MX Red switches, in that they’re smooth, relatively quiet linear switches with a 45N actuation force, but their actuation distance (how far you need to press down to register an input) is only 1.2mm. That’s nearly half the 2mm distance of MX Reds, which gives them an ever so slightly faster and more responsive feel. Total travel distance is shallower, too: 3.4mm to the 4mm of MX Reds.

We still generally prefer the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo and its proprietary Titan switches for lightning-fast responsiveness, but the X1 RGB remains a great choice for fast-paced gaming. We felt a minor improvement in typing performance as well; if you’re a particularly fast typist, the lower actuation distance will help you keep your speed up.

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Thermaltake X1 RGB review: Features

The X1 RGB is a well-equipped keyboard in general. A full set of dedicated media keys sit at the top-left corner, including a volume wheel and mute button, while on the rear there’s a USB2 pass-through port and a 3.5mm headset jack, both of which could be very handy if you keep your PC under a desk or anywhere else that could make it difficult to reach its I/O ports. In fact, the X1 RGB is up there with the best on connectivity: even the more expensive Vulcan 120 Aimo doesn’t have a USB port or any audio jacks.

A wrist rest is also included, and snaps on and off easily with the aid of magnets. It’s not padded like the Asus TUF Gaming K7’s rest, but it’s not uncomfortable, either. Being an RGB keyboard, you can customise the backlighting with your choice of 16.8 million colours, but the most impressive thing is the range of effects and lighting modes. We spent several minutes cycling through all the different variations of wavy, flashing, pulsing effects, and those were just the ones affecting the full board; it’s also possible to light up specific keys for specific game types.

For instance, if you play a lot of games that primarily use the WASD keys for input (like most action and platformer games), you can choose to light these up while leaving the rest of the letter keys dark. Likewise, there’s a MOBA mode that lights up the QWER keys, which are used in games such as League of Legends and Dota 2.

Unfortunately, you’ll likely have to do all of this with the onboard controls, as the accompanying TT RGB Plus software repeatedly proved unusable. We installed the desktop client on two different PCs, and both times were met with an unclosable error message window about a fan controller not being connected. That’s perhaps explainable by neither system having any other Thermaltake hardware or software installed, but there weren’t any options for adjusting the keyboard’s lights, just to select whether or not we wanted to activate light syncing with other components. Even then, nothing we clicked would return us to the main screen, which comprised useless speed and colour controls for non-existent Thermaltake fans.

There’s also a mobile app, which is a cool idea, but this didn’t help, either; it wouldn’t detect the X1 RGB when it was plugged into a PC on the same Wi-Fi network, as per the instructions. Worse, although the options to search for devices were in English, all the dialog boxes were in Chinese.

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Thermaltake X1 RGB review: Verdict

It’s a shame the software is so unreliable, as the X1 RGB’s hardware is great all round. It has neither the striking design nor the featherlight keystroke feel of the Vulcan 120 Aimo, but it’s easily responsive enough for its main goal of gaming. It’s also cheaper than both Roccat’s keyboard and the ROG Strix Flare, which feature-wise is an even closer rival.

That said, the latter isn’t a poor-value choice in comparison. It shares almost all of the X1 RGB’s best bits, from dedicated media controls to massively varied lighting options, while offering a nicer finish and build quality. Speed Silver switches don’t make the ROG Strix Flare’s MX Reds obsolete, either; if anything, they might be better for those who prefer deeper key travel.

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