GIGABYTE’s not a huge name in the peripheral business, at least on these shores, but it hopes that will change in the near-future. To help kick things off, it recently released its first gaming keyboard as part of its Aivia line-up, and in addition to sturdy construction, it features unique color choices, macro capabilities and an excellent feel.
For a lot of gamers, a gaming keyboard isn’t a gaming keyboard unless it features macro capabilities, and have no fear… this one does. There are a total of five macro buttons and with the help of the “Mode” button, which switches between five different profiles, it means you can use up to 25 macros at a time. To help you remember which profile is which, the LED color behind the Mode button changes depending on what one you’re on (Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Light Blue).
Unlike the macro buttons on most other gaming keyboards, the five included here aren’t the same size as the standard keys, nor are they even shaped the same as each other. You can see that each of the five are shaped just a wee bit differently, which I assume is so that it makes finding the right one in the dark a lot easier.
On the opposite side of the board are indicator lights for Num Lock, Caps Lock and of course Scroll Lock. Above these you can see a strip of LEDs that correspond to touch buttons found in the top center of the board, for the volume. Because you wouldn’t immediately see the reaction of the mute and volume adjuster buttons as you hit them, these notification lights exist to visually show you that you did indeed successfully hit one. It seems simple, but it’s actually rather cool, since adjusting the volume is something that happens in small increments and is harder to notice right away.
The back of keyboards is not something that I find too interesting, but there are a couple of things worth pointing out here. First, the “legs”, which aren’t flimsy little things that will break after a couple of weeks, are fairly tight when opened. There’s also the cable routing, which some might like to take advantage of. If you prefer the cable to come straight out the back, you can shift it. Or if you like it in its default configuration, you can leave it as is.
Another feature worth noting is that the arm rest isn’t only removable, but it’s held in place with four screws, ensuring that it doesn’t fall off during a heated battle. This is a great thing, as I’ve had so many rests break off of my keyboards in the past, I simply gave up on them.
Speaking of the removable rest, here’s what it looks like broke apart:
An optional extra that’s included in the box is a silicone protector, a simple sheet of rubber that helps you keep your keyboard as dirt-free as possible. I was quite surprised to actually enjoy using this, but I’ll be the first to say it’s not for gaming use. Because it doesn’t cover the entire board, it has the tendency to shift around in the heat of battle. For normal use though, such as, oh I dunno, writing a review, it’s quite a nice addition. It quiets down the keys tremendously, making it ideal for late night use.
Understanding that gamers tend to use four specific keys more than any other, GIGABYTE included a couple of spares, in addition to a simple key removal tool.
This tool couldn’t be easier to use. You need to lower the two grabbers down onto a key, and once you hear a click, you can pull slowly to remove the key. To put a key back in, you can simply push it down into the socket, and once it clicks, you’re done.
Another gamer-esque feature that will be appreciated by anyone who games late at night, and with the lights off, are full backlit keys. Unfortunately, you are stuck with a single color, red, but it’s at least bright and helpful for finding the right key, quick.
Enough of the aesthetics! On the following page, we’ll talk a bit about the included Aivia software and the K8100′s technical capabilities.