On Gaming Input Devices
Having the desire to upgrade my input devices at the home, I started looking around for a good keyboard and mouse combo. While the business-oriented lines were nice in their own ways, they lacked a certain flair and were woefully short of buttons and standard layouts. (What's with everyone screwing with the standard keyboard layout? Stop it. I like my buttons.)
As a result, I started to look at the gaming series of devices. I'm not sure how I wound up looking at them, honestly, but once I started to look at the options it was clear to me that all the attention on making input devices better at a hardware level was going into that market instead: the keyboards were mostly mechanical, the mice were high-DPI and loaded with buttons, and the quality was far and away higher — as were the prices, of course.
After some period of research I picked up the Corsair K70 keyboard and Corsair M65 mouse. Neither is too gratuitous with the lights off, and both are quite helpful if you setup the lights accordingly. By which I mean: think back to the 80s and keyboard overlays for Lotus. Like that, but with colors. So when switching to a game you can have the lights come up for the keys you normally use and then color-code them into groups (movement, actions, macros, etc.).
When using it for daily stuff in Windows, and some games, it proved quite the nice combo. The mouse has buttons to raise and lower the DPI and a quick-change button at the thumb for ultra-precise movement (think snipers in an FPS game or clicking on a link on an overly-designed web page where the fonts are 8pt ultra-lights — yes, I really used it for that once).
However, I quickly found the Corsairs had a very large weakness: they literally only worked in Windows. I don't mean the customization and macros, I mean the devices themselves did not show up as USB HID devices in Linux or the Mac. They failed to be a keyboard and mouse on every other computer I have. Normally, I would blame this on my KVM's USB emulation layer, but I connected them directly and nothing changed. That is, until I read the manual and discovered the K70 had a switch in the back to toggle "BIOS mode". Now it worked, but I lost some customization and the scroll lock flashed constantly to tell me I wasn't getting my 1ms response time anymore (no, can't turn that off — flashes forever).
To add to the fun, the keyboard has a forked cable. One USB plug is for power and one is for data. If you connect the data cable to a USB 3 port on the computer itself then it can get the power it needs and you don't need the other. If you use a KVM or USB 2 hub then you're using both.
Overall, the frustrations outweighed the utility and I returned them both. I did some more research and found that, of all companies, Logitech fully supported their gaming devices on both Mac and Windows and their devices started in USB HID mode and only gained the fancy features when the software was installed on the host machine.
Taking that into consideration I went ahead and picked up the G810 Orion Spectrum keyboard and the G502 Proteus Spectrum mouse.
To summarize the differences:
- Both keyboard and mouse work well on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Logitech's gaming software works well on Windows and Mac. (On the Mac, be sure not to Quit it and only close the window when done. Otherwise the driver closes and the lights go back to the default. It will remove itself from the dock and live in the menu bar when you close the window.)
- The mouse works on the mouse port of the KVM, but the keyboard needs the raw USB port no matter what. In the world of compromises, I can live with that.
- The keyboard does not have the immense lighting customizations that the Corsair does. I, however, consider the lighting sufficiently helpful and I don't need my audio's spectrum dancing across my fingers as I work/play.
- The keyboard does use Logitech's custom Romer-G switches instead of the Cherry MX Browns in the K70. Frankly, while there is a difference, it's not a difference for either good or ill. It's perfectly fine and just as enjoyable.
I'm especially happy that both keyboards had a dedicated button for turning the lights off when I just wanted a good mechanical keyboard and back on when I want to do something that it adds value to. That's a nice selling point for both, really.
At any rate, if you have a Mac, it appears only Logitech still cares about you. That's perfectly fine with me as they make some good stuff, overall.