With the wrist wrest is takes up a fair footprint
We all know the story of the emperor’s new clothes, right? An emperor surrounded by yes men decides that he’s going to go out in the buff, and everyone tells him that’d be a great idea, but then when he’s strutting around town some little kid shouts “ay yo! Homeboy’s got his junk showing,” or words to that effect. Well, sometimes I reckon certain gaming peripherals are a little like that. Specifically gaming-oriented mice? Sure, I get that. You need a mouse that’s responsive and won’t stick, or get gunked up with sweat. Even gaming headsets I can understand. But gaming keyboards seems like perhaps something we’re told is essential in the hopes we’ll go along with it.
I mean, you press a key, and the computer understands that you’re pressing a key, and does whatever that key press is supposed to do. I can’t remember ever thinking “I died in this game because I was let down by the keyboard”. Well, not since my ZX Spectrum days, naturally.
That said, I’m prepared to accept that this might be because I’ve never really sat down and stretched my noodle around the idea. What would someone want in a great gaming keyboard? Well, what would YOU want in a gaming keyboard?
Take a squint around the marketplace and there are a ton of fancy gimmicks for keyboards, most of which involve more neon lighting than a boy racer in a strip club. But I’ve got to allow that the Steel Series designers have actually stopped to think about what really matters in a keyboard.
So, then. The Steel Series 7G. This is the workhorse of the Steel Series keyboard stable. In fact, in amongst the tricked-out, glowing gaming keyboards available out there it looks a little… well, normal. Put it in any office and nobody would notice anything out of the ordinary. Well, aside from the dirty great wrist rest panel that ships as standard, but that’s removable anyway.
Unless, that is, they were to pick it up. Or use it to type. Or smash it with a brick.
Let’s take it step by step. Pick up the 7G and you’ll notice the weight. There’s some heavy metal inside this keyboard, making it as close to gamer-rage-proof as you can get. Use it to type and you’ll immediately notice that it feels really odd. The keys have a kind of ‘press depth’ that seems more pronounced than a normal keyboard, and at first it feels like you’re typing through quicksand. This is due to the mechanical switches in the keys (all gold-plated for decreased latency, although you can’t see them). Despite this initial plodding feeling which can make typing in particular feel really awkward at first, you actually only need to depress the keys very slightly for them to register, so in the long run it’ll make you a better typist. Or so I’ve been led to believe – if the truth is told, I’m still in the plodding phase and haven’t yet really found this sweet spot. Oh, and to finish our list, hit it with a brick and it’ll just keep on truckin’. Combine the internal metal plate with the robust mechanical switches and metal-infused armoured plastic (really!) and you’ve got a pretty darn tough cookie. In fact, this is pretty much its main recommendation: if you’re the kind of gamer who kills keyboards, then the 7G is tailor-made for you. Spend the extra money and wave goodbye to dead keyboard woes.
There’s not really much in the way of special gizmos, here: Like I said, it’s the workhorse. There are a couple of bonus USB ports and audio sockets to move everything a little closer to the user and away from the machine, which is a little bonus. But when you really get down to it, there are none of the fancy gamer-friendly key layouts or extra screens you might see on other keyboards. Due to the power of science, the keys can pretty much all be mashed at once and the computer can still read each and every keypress, which is clever, but I’ve got to say this isn’t something I regularly find has caused me any problems in the past.
Straight out of the box, the 7G can seem like it’s going to be a little bit of a let-down. The wrist rest looks like it’s going to wobble all over the place (although once in place it’s fine) and the deep key presses initially feel awkward and uncomfortable. I didn’t really like the half-sized backspace key, and felt that perhaps everything could have been slightly spaced out a little more. Given the weight, it’s not a keyboard for LAN parties, either. Which is a shame, given how indestructible it is. In the midst of a pimped-out gaming setup, it might lack the jazz you feel something as central to your awesome gaming rig requires. Also, there are no macro keys or setup software with this keyboard, which I’m sure was part of the stripped-down, minimal design ethos, but the fact remains that if macro capability is important for you, be forewarned, particularly given the price, which is worrying the £100 mark.
That said, behind the scenes lies a pretty powerful bit of kit. You will need to get used to it, so bear that in mind, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to, as it’ll still be part of your rig once your mouse, speakers - hell, even the computer itself – are all dead and gone.
If you answered the question “What would you want in a gaming keyboard” with “invulnerability to nonmagical attacks”, then the 7G might be just what you’re after.
Written by: Stuart Thomas
Lose the rest and it can be disguised as a normal mild-mannered keyboard