Date: October 17, 2012
Author(s): Rob Williams
No – your eyes are not deceiving you. Logitech has finally released a mechanical keyboard, going by the name G710+. It uses CHERRY MX Brown switches backed with sound dampeners, has 100% backlight coverage, includes six G macro keys and also dedicated media keys. Is it worth the higher-than-normal $150 price tag? Let’s find out.
When Logitech announced its G710+ gaming keyboard last week, there were a couple of good reasons to take notice. On one hand, gaming releases from Logitech don’t come as often as they used to. On the other… one word: “mechanical”.
Let that sink in for a moment. Logitech, amid all of its competitors that have been offering mechanical options for some time, has finally decided to release its own. On launch day, I swear I could have heard Logitech’s massive fanbase collectively say, “It’s about time!”
But – while Logitech does tend to produce some of the highest-quality peripherals out there (based on personal experience), its competitors cannot be immediately discredited. Cooler Master, Corsair, Rosewill, Razer and of course, Das, have been building mechanical models for a while, and their experience is clear. In fact, we’ve taken a look at quite a number of mechanical keyboards in just the past year, and while some were better than others, it’s unlikely anyone would be truly unhappy with any of them.
That raises a big question. What has Logitech done with its G710+ to sway those who’ve been considering competitor models, or may already own them, to move on over? That question becomes even more important when you realize that the G710+ retails for about $150 – quite a jump compared to most of the competition.
We’ll be covering all of the board’s features over the course of the review, but as a quick synopsis, the board’s biggest features are: adjustable backlighting affects 100% of the keys, 6x “G” macro keys + 3 banks, the ability to record macros on-the-fly, sound-dampened keys, 26-key rollover support, anti-ghosting keys and dedicated media keys (including a volume roller). That just kicks things off; we’ll talk more about these and the other hardware features of the G710+ with a tour on this and the next page.
But first, it’d be wise to cover what a mechanical keyboard actually is. The reason for the hype surrounding mechanical models boils down to “tactile feedback”. The design of the switches used in mechanical keyboards tends to make typing a more natural-feeling experience. Some have even claimed that they’ve found it to be less stressful on their wrists, and that the number of typos can even be lessened. I personally haven’t found either of those to be the case for me, but I can certainly side with improved tactile feedback. The first time I laid my hands on a mechanical offering – Cooler Master’s QuickFire Pro – I was sold, mimicking the experiences of everyone I’ve known who are now devout mechanical users.
Not all mechanical keyboards are built alike, however. The most common switches produced today are by CHERRY, a company that produces five different “MX” switches that it separates by color – a seriously helpful move by the company. Logitech has opted for Brown switches here, which offer a very light “bump” when a key is pressed down about half way. By comparison, Black switches have no bump at all, but require a bit more pressure to bottom-out, while Reds share the no-bump nature but are very easy to push (almost too easy, by some standards). Two switches I haven’t seen used to much are Blue and Clear; Blue offers a clicky bump that some might prefer, while Clear is much like Brown with its bump but requires just a bit more force to press down.
The “best” switch doesn’t exist, as it all comes down to personal taste. I’d have to imagine that Brown comes about as close to “one-size-fits-all” as they come, however, which is why Logitech has chosen to offer it exclusively here (though a Red option sure would have been nice). I have personally come to like the small bump that the Brown switches offer, and in general, I don’t find the keys too hard or too light to press – it’s just about perfect. You can see the Brown switches hiding underneath some of the keys in the photo below. The clear orbs seen above each are the white LEDs used for the backlighting.
The neat thing about CHERRY switches is that removing and reapplying a key is made easy due to their design. On this particular keyboard, I actually had to wonder if the key was properly installed after taking the above shot, because there was simply no confirmation click typical of a regular keyboard. This is further helped by the fact that Logitech has employed a sound dampener inside each key.
Adding a simple ring to each key might seem simple enough, but it’s effect on the keyboard noise level is hard to miss. I’ve been using keyboards equipped with Brown switches for at least the past six months, and the noise difference of the G710+ versus the others is significant. Even recently – while the Brown switches on the other keyboards are not what I’d consider to be truly loud, they are quite loud in the dead of night.
By comparison, this Logitech keyboard comes as close to a regular keyboard noise-level as I’ve seen, though nothing can compare to the noise level from say, a chiclet style keyboard like that found on Logitech’s K360 or those found on most notebooks.
What to take away from the G710+ so far: it offers good feedback, a slight bump, and is the quietest mechanical keyboard we’ve tested to date.
There is an exception, however. Despite there being three circle “sockets” inside of the spacebar, only one of them has a dampener. As you can probably imagine, this does affect noise level. Because of this, that particular key stands out in comparison to the rest, causing me to question the reasoning for it. Other large keys, such as the + and Enter in the numpad area also have only one dampener, but there, I could understand it better – those are not used nearly as much as the spacebar.
To see if a difference could even be made, I borrowed the dampeners from a couple of keys I rarely use and put them on the empty sockets in the spacebar. Sure enough, quite a noticeable difference could be heard – so much so, that I left it that way. I didn’t feel any difference in tactile feedback, so overall, it’s a simple mod I’d recommend to anyone who picks the G710+ up.
Helping to set Logitech’s G710+ apart from the crowd is its large collection of non-standard keys, such as media keys, macro keys and others. A major complaint I’ve seen from many who’ve been considering a mechanical offering is that most don’t include dedicated media keys, so Logitech sure seems to have listened.
At the top-left are the M1, M2 and M3 keys – in essence, macro bank switchers. Each M key changes the functions of the G keys, which allows you to have a total of 18 macros at-the-ready at any given time.
Of these keys, the “MR”, or macro record, is perhaps the most useful. While it’s not unique to Logitech, this key allows you to quickly record macros without the use of software – perfect for when you need a macro quick but are already in a game. The right-most key, with the icon of a joystick, is your Windows-key toggle. Enabled, your Windows key will remain unusable.
Towards the right-side of the G710+, we see two LED-function keys and also basic media keys (play/pause, stop, back and forward). The first LED key to the left adjusts the WASD and arrow keys, while the one next to it adjusts all of the others. The entire keyboard has four levels of brightness, but unfortunately for those who want it, no “pulse” mode exists. If there’s any issue I can speak of here, it’s that the LED behind the left-most LED key is positioned in such a way that a portion of the icon remains unlit. This could have been done out of necessity, but it does kind of stand out. However, if there was ever a perfect use for the hashtag #firstworldproblems, this is it.
Similar to other Logitech G keyboards, this one includes a volume roller and mute/unmute button towards the top-right of the keyboard. It’s been a while since I last used a roller like this for the volume, but this keyboard has reminded me of how much I appreciate it. It feels more natural to increase and decrease the volume this way, although I do think it’d be nice if the software allowed you to increase the acceleration of the roller so that you can go from bottom to top a bit quicker.
On the left side of the keyboard we find the G1 – G6 keys. These are surrounded by an orange border which lightly carries on the theme of the rest of the board (more orange is found at the back, on the cord and on the macro keys). These six keys are separated into groups of two, making it easy to find the right one without looking. These keys also make use of CHERRY MX Brown switches.
The back of the G710+ is pretty uneventful, although it does look quite unique compared to most other keyboards. Towards the right, you’ll notice slits that will allow a cord to pass through. Given its positioning, this couldn’t be used for a mouse, but it could be used for something like a USB desktop mic or some other USB accessory.
And here we have what I’m sure has to be the beefiest keyboard cable I’ve ever laid my hands on. The cable that comes straight out of the back of the G710+ is very thick, but as you can see in the photo below, it splits off into two sections. The keyboard will function with only one plugged in, but two will be required if you want to reliably use the USB port found on top of the keyboard (not pictured, but located directly in the center back of the board).
The G710+ includes a wrist rest, seen below. While it matches the rest of the G710+ aesthetically, I do feel it’s one of the flimsiest wrist rests I’ve come across. It simply doesn’t instill much confidence that the tabs will go long without snapping – a feeling I never experienced with the well-designed wrist rest that came with Cooler Master’s Trigger (seriously, that thing is a tank). If you’re not rough with your gear, you’ll likely be fine. As I plan to make use of this G710+ for the next few months, I’ll update the review if I do encounter an issue.
Finally, a quick look at the backlighting. In the photo below, I have the brightest LED mode active, and as you can see, no key is left alone. I should note that while there is an orangey LED look to the left side, that’s just the effect of there being an orange border with white LEDs nearby.
White LEDs are not for everyone, but I’m a bit of a sucker for them. I really like the look of both the G710+ and the LEDs, perhaps even more than the tougher-looking Cooler Master Trigger, which featured complete red LED coverage.
With the tour of the G710+ finally concluded, let’s get right into a look at Logitech’s software.
Logitech’s software hasn’t changed too much over the past couple of years, and as we’ve covered it in its latest iteration multiple times before, I’ll avoid going into extreme detail here. I will however cover the basics, including the process of setting up a macro or some other alternative function.
Once the software is loaded, you’ll see a simple start page that shows off the keyboard (sans the +, for some reason). From here, you can click on either the G keys to the left or the Macro keys up top to be brought to the configuration page. This, for the most part, is the software.
There are very few options to tweak outside of the macro configuration, and don’t expect CM Storm Trigger level of customization – you can’t simply click on any key you want and change its function. Most of the flexibility here is limited to the G keys.
Before going further, I have to question Logitech’s attention to detail here, or rather, lack of it. The image used for the G710+ isn’t that clear, and it’s horribly aliased around the edges (for the record, the option within the software to enable HQ images was in fact enabled). A minor niggle to be sure, and one that doesn’t affect the functionality, but it really stands out. Fortunately, the configuration does make up for this, so let’s get into a look at that.
When you first enter the configuration screen, the software will try to detect all of the officially-supported games you have installed. If a game you want isn’t detected but the profile exists, you can add it manually. Each profile has preset “commands” that are designed to work right out of the box with the game, and you can assign any of these commands to the G1 – G6 keys. This saves time if the game you want happens to already be supported, since most commands you’ll want will already be made available. This is especially useful for a game like The Witcher, where you could configure the G keys to change your signs (Aard, Igni, Yrden and so forth).
If you need to create a profile, it’s easily done. You simply need to hit the + key up top, type in the name, find the executable and then be on your way. Because a profile can be tied to the game executable, that profile will automatically become active whenever the game is – another very useful feature.
Adding your own command is again pretty simple. There exist a number of different command types to choose from, which can range from a simple keystroke, to multiple (macro), text block (useful if you need to retype the same thing often), mouse or media function, hotkeys, shortcuts and Ventrilo. This sort of flexibility is quite honestly impressive. Being able to use one G key for a macro, another for a quick shortcut and another to act as a push-to-talk in Ventrilo is very cool. And in all of my tests so far, all of the actions have executed without a hitch.
One area I really have to commend Logitech for is the macro creation. It’s about as no-nonsense as you can get. You simply click the “Start Recording” button and type in whatever you have to, then click again to stop. You can preface the recording by telling the software to acknowledge the pauses, or you can add delays after the fact. From there, you can choose whether to use the macro as a toggle or have it execute as long as the button is pressed. It’s simply the easiest macro creator I’ve ever dealt with.
When your macros are created, you can go back to the main page and click on a G key and edit the function in. In this particular screenshot, I created a macro that simply types out “So, let’s test this out, shall we?”, with its natural delays (yes, I let that type in via the macro!).
Another special use of the G keys is using them as shortcuts while at the desktop. I tend to use the Windows calculator multiple times a day, so setting a G key to quickly launch it saves me a lot of time over the course of a few weeks, or longer. It’s simple abilities like that, that help make a keyboard like this stand apart from the rest. While other keyboards could mimic a calculator launcher just fine, few, or none, offer as much flexibility as Logitech does here.
I admit that at first, I found the software to be a bit lackluster, but after a bit of use, my attitude about it turned around completely. It’s easy to use, and macros execute flawlessly. There’s not much to dislike.
I’ve covered most of my testing-related thoughts in other sections in the review, but in this quick section I wanted to see if the keyboard lived up to its anti-ghosting and rollover promises. Over the course of the time I’ve spent with the G710+ so far, I’ve played my favorite MMO, Asheron’s Call and a bit of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. In addition, I’ve done quite a bit of both simple and tedious work, such as writing, juggling Excel files and dealt with all that working on a beta website requires.
So far, my experience has been extremely good, and I haven’t really got a single complaint. The keys are laid out just as I like them (important when I am so familiar with a given layout for Asheron’s Call), and generally, the keyboard has been a pleasure to use.
To test the multi-key capabilities, I simply pressed a bunch of keys at once, trying to space them out so that I affect different planes around the keyboard. In all of the tests, no keys dropped, although it’s hard to say for sure with the last one as that was the result of pushing down with my entire hand on the keyboard and its numpad – not exactly the most accurate way to test, but my hands are not square.
qvwer951 (numpad use)
It’s safe to say that pushing multiple keys at once will never be an issue, even if you happen to have two people using the keyboard at once for some game that supports that style of play.
It goes without saying that the best possible peripheral review would come from using the product for a few weeks or even a month, as it’s the best possible way to discover any potential quirk. Generally, this is exactly how we go about things.
However, due to the time-sensitiveness that this particular model carries with it (it did just come out a week ago), I sucked it up and went ahead with a review based on the experience I do have with it up to this point (a couple of days).
As mentioned earlier, this keyboard will become my primary for the next while, so if any issues arise, you can be sure I’ll update the review to reflect them, while also drawing attention to them in our news section. To date, it’s been rare when we’ve had to do such a thing, but there is the odd occasion where an issue has crept up that didn’t during even a week or two of testing.
In the time I’ve spent with the G710+, however, I do have to say I am very impressed. In fact, that’s a bit of an understatement. Walking into this review, I sat and thought to myself… “how exactly is this worth $150, when the competition is less?” After a single night of use, I began to understand the answer to that question a lot better.
The G710+ is best comparable, to my knowledge, to Corsair’s K90 “MMO” keyboard. Though that model uses CHERRY MX Red switches, it also features multiple macro banks, a volume slider and also dedicated media keys. It even offers a full 18 macro keys, unlike the G710+’s six. Some might even prefer the aesthetics of Corsair’s offering better. So what, then, does Logitech do to set itself apart, and warrant the extra $35 it’d take to purchase its G710+ over Corsair’s K90?
As simple as it may seem, Logitech’s software is a great perk. While Corsair did many things right with its mechanical keyboards, Jamie was never able to out-right recommend them due to the very buggy software. Logitech’s software on the other hand has been flawless in my use so far, and a breeze to use after only spending a couple of minutes with it. Plus, flexibility-wise, Logitech’s software is hard to beat. The G keys can do basically anything you need them to.
Then there’s the dampening rings that Logitech implements under each key. This is something I am not quite sure any gamer mechanical offering at the moment includes – and I can easily say that Logitech has done well here with that decision. The G710+ is much quieter than the other CHERRY MX Brown keyboards I have here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this feature spread to other vendors soon given how easy it is to implement.
Past that, we have to get into smaller differences. Corsair’s K90 isn’t 100% backlit (though it comes close) like the G710+, nor does its macro keys use CHERRY MX switches.
Whether all that’s worth the premium is going to be based on your personal taste, but for me, I believe the premium is in fact justified. When keyboards get this expensive, you want to be sure that you’ll be happy with your purchase for a while, so if you pay 80% for a lesser-performing option and are left unhappy about certain things, you’ll have to ponder whether that decision was worth it.
With my experience so far, I am confident that it’s built for the long-haul, and out of the gate it offers features I’m looking for. So far, there really hasn’t been anything that has stood out to me as being a significant problem. There have been minor issues that we’ve discussed, but many of those are easy to overlook when the rest of the keyboard is executed so well.
In perusing comment threads around the Web, the most common complaint I’ve seen regarding the G710+ has been its aesthetics. I admit this surprised me, as I found the keyboard to be fairly attractive. Admittedly, the orange border around the G keys seems a bit unusual, as does the glossy border surrounding the main keys, but neither of these things really stand out to me unless I’m doing what I’m doing right now – talking about them.
The second complaint to me is even more valid: the G710+ has no LCD. I have a ridiculous number of friends who love the LCD on their Logitech keyboards, so for Logitech to finally release a mechanical offering and not have one is without question, odd. That said, it seems very likely that the company will follow-up in the near-future with another model that does include an LCD – and likely altered aesthetics as well to better-suit that crowd. The one thing I can say to that is: bring it on.
Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
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