Logitech has a long history of producing great keyboards for just about everyone – basic users, mobile professionals, Apple fans, and not least of all, gamers.
Their gaming keyboards have always enjoyed some degree of popularity, thanks part to their affordability – you could pick up a solid gaming keyboard for well under a hundred bucks, depending on the model – and thanks also to their futuristic, industrial designs.
In recent years, the biggest theme of new gaming and enthusiast keyboards has been the rise of the mechanical switch. There are two main types of keyboards – the membrane, and the mechanical switch. Membrane keyboards feature a multi-layer membrane beneath a series of rubber domes – one for each keycap. As you press down on a key, the dome connects parts of the membrane together to complete a circuit.
They’re cheap, they’re easy to manufacture, and they’re quiet. They’re also flimsier, and can be slower to respond, especially since they often get worse with age.
Laptop keyboards have a modified version, reinforcing the rubber domes with a complex scissor-switch. Upside: sturdier. Downside: some users dislike the reduced travel distance – as most of you know, laptop keyboard keys don’t move up and down nearly as far as those on a traditional keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are the cream of the crop. Unlike membranes, every key on the keyboard features a full-on mechanical switch. When a key is depressed, the keycap hits a plunger just beneath.
This kind of keyboard is much, much sturdier than the alternative; it can last up to five times longer than the average membrane-based model. Thanks to the pressure exerted by these switches, the keys spring back very quickly, offering an opportunity to gamers and fast typists.
Unfortunately, mechanical switches mean more expense, and – more on this later – much more noise.
That’s a pretty basic version of the differences – now on to what we thought about the Logitech G710+ (spoiler: it’s pretty awesome).
Given how dreadfully conservative many some high-end keyboards can look, Logitech was downright chic with their design philosophy in creating their first mechanical keyboard.
Overall, the 110-key keyboard is composed of blacks and greys in varying tones, while the edges are all various wedges and rounded corners. It’s clearly targeted at gamers and other computer enthusiasts, but it isn’t covered with a bunch of ridiculous lighting or extraneous displays.
There’s a splash of orange on the left, around six of the programmable macro keys. Like other models, Logitech calls these G keys. Speaking of macros, each of the six G keys can be programmed with up to three different macros or LUA scripts. You can only access six at a time, but by tapping the M1, M2, or M3 keys up at the top, you can quickly use any of the others.
You can even program the buttons on the fly, but to use any of the functionality, you’ll need to install Logitech’s Gaming Software.
My keyboard’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
All keys on the keyboard are lit by extremely bright white LEDs, save for the M1-3 buttons, which are orange, and the MR button, which is red. The backlighting can be turned off or set to one of four brightness levels. As a nod to nighttime gamers, Logitech set the WASD and arrow keys to work on a different circuit – they can be set to the same levels, but separately from all the other keys. That way, if you want to get in a bit of late-night gaming, you can concentrate on – let’s be honest – the only keys that really matter.
There’s also a button for game mode’, which keeps the Windows key from accidentally interrupting your playtime.
Unfortunately, Logitech doesn’t provide users with any way to tone down the brightness on the M keys (though only one is lit at a time), or the indicator lights for caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock – and they can be jarring when the room is black.
That sweet mechanical action
The G710+ features 26-key rollover, as well as anti-ghosting tech on all 110 keys, so you won’t need to worry about whether one of your commands will execute if you need to send a few orders simultaneously. I tried several times to get the misread something I wanted to send by hitting various reasonable combos, but it never really faltered.
Given the keys mechanical nature, response time is excellent, and the keycap neatly follows your fingertips back to its starting point. I mentioned earlier that noise can be an issue with these kinds of keyboards, and it’s true – the G710+ can be a bit noisy compared to the mushy OEM model that came with your PC or cheap laptop.
Compared to other mechanical keyboards, however, the Logitech model is rather quiet. I certainly wouldn’t call it whisper quiet, like its maker does, but if you’re already playing a game, it’s really not going to be an issue.
Other things to note:
I dig the volume jog dial. It’s big and clunky, with a fun ridged texture. I don’t like the way Logitech reversed the numbers and their shift-values – on a normal keyboard, the $ is above the 4; on the G710+, it’s below. The same goes for every other shift-able key.
The USB plug for the keyboard takes up two USB 2.0 ports, not one. That’s because there’s a USB pass-through on the back of the keyboard, which is super convenient for mice or digital headsets. Or, you know, whatever other USB device you’ve got going on.
It is just a pass-through, however, so if you don’t need it, you can safely leave only one of the keyboard’s dual USB plugs in the computer – a bonus for port-strapped notebooks.
Don’t forget to check out all the full-sized photos in our image gallery.
It’s a little noisy, but not too much. The keys are responsive, which makes typing – or strafing – a breeze. The G keys are easy to program, the software isn’t too buggy, the whole thing looks pretty cool. On the whole, this is a good keyboard. I wish the other lights were as changeable as the keys, and I wish it were $30 cheaper.
Clearly I liked it well enough to write 1100 (good grief) words about a keyboard, so if you’re in the market for something a bit better than what you’re used to, definitely give it a look – but you might want to wait for a sale.
- Great mechanical keys
- Variable split backlighting
- Stores up to 18 macros
- More than a smidge expensive ($149!)
- Palm rest snaps off way too easily
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