A keyboard is just a keyboard to some. Many people may just use a cheap keyboard that gets the job done, whether they’re typing up an essay or playing video games, and while there’s nothing wrong with that there is a whole world of higher end keyboards that could really make gaming sessions much more enjoyable to explore. Some people just try not to spend too much money despite it being worth it for the quality and features. On top of that higher end keyboards are going to last a lot longer than that fifteen dollar keyboard you picked up on clearance at Radio Shack. I think the biggest reason many people don’t shell out the extra cash for better keyboards is that they just don’t realize all the nice features they offer and why they’re worth the extra money, which we’re going to fix today in this in-depth review of Roccat’s latest creation.
My experience with mechanical keyboards isn’t all that extensive. I’ve used the Razer Blackwidow Cherry MX Blue (before RGB was a thing) and the Gigabyte Aivia Osmium Cherry MX Red Keyboard. I didn’t want to approach this review as a complete evaluation of the keyboard with things like performance, click speed and blah blah. Instead think of this review as a user experience review with some comparisons between my current keyboards. This will hopefully reveal why you might enjoy this keyboard as a consumer and decide to upgrade your PC gaming arsenal for a better experience.
In order to provide a reasonable comparison I need to dive into the Software for the Suora FX Keyboard. Since this keyboard relies on software for color profiles and such. Because of this the majority of this review will be talking about said software in order to paint the most revealing picture of the features and its intricacies.
The Roccat Software is called ‘Swarm’ and it features a vast amount of customization options for the user to play around with. I won’t be talking about each one of them but you’ll be able to view them all below in pictures.
The user has two choices for navigating the Suora FX features within the software by using either the pin icon (which displays all options the keyboard supports), clicking the settings, using key assignment or by using the key illumination tab. Personally, I prefer to use the pin icon tab simply because everything is all in one place and it’s much easier and convenient to access.
The first options you will see within the settings tab are sound feedback, character repeat, key reaction time and reset settings. Self-explanatory really… though repeat rate or repeat delay sound a little like key reaction time to me… so what am I missing here?
Next we have macros under the key assignment tab. This will either be important to you or not matter at all. Some gamers really like using macros and others couldn’t care less. However if you’re interested in macros then you’ll like how they’re handled here. It’ll allow you to make custom key binds to the 6 “M” keys located above the arrow keys. The keyboard also allows the user to re-program every key under “Game Mode.” I don’t typically use macros but it’s still a neat feature nonetheless.
Under key illumination there are 11 beautiful color pre-sets to choose from. There’s a lot to love in terms of customization; breath, wave, snake, rain and radar effects are just a few of the many available options. The rest are listed on screen. Being a sucker for simplified use I typically choose the fully lit option. I know… how basic of me, but honestly I don’t think the other effects are helpful to the eyes when sitting in a dark room.
Ok so with software out of the way, let’s get into the actual hardware section of this review.
There are a lot of great keyboard features here and it really makes this a worthwhile and nice product.
The features include:
Size – Width 4.9 inches, Height 16.9 inches
Cable management groves
Cherry MX Blue Switches
RGB Backlit Keys
16.8 Million Colors (I haven’t confirmed this yet! I’ll let you know in a few thousand years!)
Anti-Ghosting – 1000 Hz (1ms) Polling Rate with N-Key rollover
6 out of the way Macro Keys
16 Hotkey profiles – the top row of keys
The use of a braided cable isn’t straying from the beast here but what is different than what I’m used to is the included cable management groves that allow the user to have the cable out of the way depending on where the cable needs to go. That feels like a luxury I’ve been without for some time. This may seem unnecessary but I can assure you that it’s a great feature that I had no idea I needed. It’s a small touch but after all, it’s the little things that add up in life to make things beyond great and help them soar towards wonderful.
Rubber feet can make or break a brand because you’ll often find them being slippery or just not fulfilling their role. However this isn’t the case with the Suora FX; the rubber feet do the job even when using a mat on top of your desk.
The one thing that fascinates me the most with RGB isn’t the selling point of “16.8 Million colors.” I mean how do we even realistically measure that if your app isn’t designed for specific color reproduction? What excites me about this keyboard is that there is no restriction on what color you want the keys to display as. Sure that’s been a thing forever now, but for someone that hasn’t used an RGB keyboard I spent hours just playing around with color customization. It was great.
When sitting this keyboard alongside my Osmium, I was amazed how much smaller it was in comparison. I’ve only used bulky mechanical keyboards in the past so smaller keyboards are actually a bit welcome and not a drawback at all. Honestly, it’s almost better and I think I might prefer it. Rather than having to make room for my keyboard by pushing everything back (such as my monitor or whatever I may have lying on my desk) it just fits on my desk comfortably. The keyboard’s form factor also allows me to easily fit my Blue Yeti Microphone and the keyboard without having to move the keyboard into a weird position.
My initial thoughts upon seeing the keyboard on the box was that the structure would flex. Yet after taking it out of the box and holding it in my hands it actually felt quite sturdy. Roccat weren’t kidding around with the listing “Solid build” as a feature; they have outdone themselves with a frameless design that is built with quality in mind.
If I had to hold the Suora FX back on something it would have to be the lack of a USB passthrough. This is a feature that I use on my daily driver (the Osmium) every day, so for that to be removed meant that I had to find some other cable route for my Elgato Game capture device. Nothing that will make or break the keyboard though just a little annoying. Something I do miss that isn’t on the Suora FX or many other keyboards is a physical scroll wheel for brightness and sound, never realised how much I used those features until now?
Seeing as Roccat made an appearance at last years PAX Aus (2016) I assumed that this keyboard would get a scheduled roll out within the Australian market quite quickly. Though I was wrong, Initially I got this unit before Christmas and it’s release date was scheduled for mid December 2016 which is over the holiday break here in Australia. Yet I didn’t find it available on any of the online Australian retailers until around February of this year (2017). There is still only a handful of retailers that even sell this product. I have two questions one, “Why aren’t you stocking it with the bigger retailers” and two “Why did it take so long to get onto store shelves”.
You can see here only 2 out of the 5 stores that I tried searching for it actually have it in stock. I’m not sure why this is the case, we can speculate all we want but this seems like a potential sales issue or maybe it’s just because it’s a damn good keyboard everyone wants to get. In today’s age, the first possibility is likely but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also just in demand.
The Roccat Suora FX is will set you back about ~$146.99 USD ($199.95 AUD). What I want to know is what makes Roccat believe that this is a reasonable price point for a brand that isn’t quite yet known for their quality. Is this price point acceptable for this product when you have to compete with “Corsair K70 LUX RGB”, that comes in with brown or red switches. Personally I think this is a great price point for Roccat because not only are they trying to prove to other keyboard manufacturers that they can also make a quality keyboard they’re competing with grace and owning it. As for sales numbers I have no idea if this is a succeeding product or a failed product but what I’ll say is that I’m glad it’s on the market.
In conclusion, the Roccat Suora FX is a very pretty and good looking slim keyboard with the added benefit of having RGB backlit keys. For some that may seem like yesterday’s news but it was a feature I now couldn’t live without. So I literally left the backlight as a solid blue colour like my Osmium just so I didn’t feel disappointed when I had to send the product back.
Were there any actual issues with the keyboard itself? I’m sure you’re also wondering? Honestly there are only two main problems I had with the keyboard besides no USB pass through and they are:
- Dust build up
- No included arm rest
- Only supporting Cherry MX Blue switches
Obviously this comes down to Cherry MX switch preferences so not a huge deal but it would be great to see other switches supported going forward Roccat. Like red or brown… these are my go to switches as I dislike the clicking of the blue switch.
As for the Swarm software I did run into a handful of minor bugs or issues such as.
– User required to update after downloading from the website due to being an older version (1.45) – currently 1.90.
– Unable to update software correctly
– Reinstalling the software is required to install the update successfully **not sure why this is required**
– “Please” is spelled incorrectly when installing the Suora FX Firmware (Plesae).
– Several information icons display an unfinished message such as “Comment”.
– Fade FX profile still doesn’t work after patch.
– Ripple effect doesn’t work.
– FAQ doesn’t display any information about the Suora FX Keyboard.
– Patch notes for the software state “Minor Bugfix”, please extend that to what the bug was.
– The Swarm Connect/Roccat Swarm app on Android has a hardware requirement and cannot be used with the Suora FX keyboard without it.
**Not all bugs have been showcased with images as they were a momentary thing, though when there is a new firmware update you will see if the issue is fixed or not**
Once those software bugs get fixed I could without a doubt recommend this product but personally I would love to see Roccat adopt either red or brown switches for the Suora FX keyboard.
If you have prior experience with Roccat keyboards let us know your thoughts on them in the comments. Feel free to let us know what keyboard features you love and can’t without too! I know that the vibrant colors of this keyboard are on that list for me!