For just a few days over a year, I’ve been snuggled up with Logitech’s G810 mechanical keyboard. It’s still my favorite mechanical keyboard to-date, and one of Logitech’s best products in a history of great products. It finally got me to switch to a new permanent resident after about a decade with my previous plank. Now, Logitech is offering up a variant on that idea as part of their new G Pro line of gaming peripherals aimed squarely at the eSports crowd: The G Pro Mechanical Keyboard.
Logitech sent me a sample to check out, and I’ve spent the last week with it, hammering on it day and night and putting it through its paces.
So has Logitech already found me a replacement for the G810? Well, no. But that’s not because it’s not a great keyboard. Let’s dive in and take a look at what makes this keyboard stand out from other stuff on the market and who out there might get the most out of it.
That old familiar feeling
There’s a lot about the G Pro that is just downright identical to the G810 keyboard.
First and foremost, it uses the same Romer-G key switches that I liked so much on that board. The Romer-G switches offer a wider base than Cherry MX switches that both allows more light through for you RGB LED nuts and offers a wider base during key presses. While I’ve tried some other keyboards since I began using Romer-G switches, I’ve always ended up back with Romer-G.
The Romer-G switches require 45 grams of force to activate, similar to Cherry MX Red switches, but only have to be pressed 1.5mm instead of 2mm. If I close my eyes, I can’t tell the difference between the G810 and G Pro, aside from a solid year of breaking-in on the 810.
The G Pro also features the same smooth, slightly concave keycaps, the same customizable function keys, and the same lighting options in Logitech’s G software. The “Game Mode” key meant to disable trouble keys, and the power switch for the lighting are still there. too. Those lights are just as bright and vibrant as ever, too.
None of this is a bad thing. These are all features I enjoy about the keyboard and each plays its role in me choosing the G810 as my daily driver.
So what’s different?
The G810 was meant to be a no-nonsense keyboard aimed at any user who wants a high-end mechanical keyboard. It was a black rectangle with a few extra features to sweeten the deal. The G Pro somehow goes from “no-nonsense” to “even less nonsense.” This is a spartan keyboard meant for playing games and nothing else. This is not a work keyboard, unless you consider gaming to be work.
First, Logitech dropped the tenkey over on the righthand side. I used the G Pro as a full-time keyboard for about a week and that was the main thing that set me off about it. I use my keyboard for work as well as gaming, and my tenkey gets constant use. Not to mention that I sign into my desktop computer with a PIN instead of a password. Yeah, that’s pretty annoying on a keyboard like this one.
But then, if you’re picking this beast off the shelf, you probably know what you’re getting into, so it’s not a negative – just a difference.
On the flip side of that, the G Pro features one of my favorite-ever features to come to a keyboard: a removable USB cable.
Oh man, you don’t even know. I love this feature.
There’s a good reason more keyboards don’t use it, though. Any good keyboard will feature some pretty heavy-duty padding to keep you from twisting its cord too hard. A USB port, on the other hand, is more likely to break down over time, resulting in a loss of signal.
Logitech solves that pretty cleverly, though, by carrying over the proprietary winged USB input they use on wireless mice like the G900. The keyboard, like that mouse, still accepts any old Micro USB cable. You can plug whatever cable you like in there, and be rolling without a complaint. When you use that cable, though, what you get is a sturdy fit that isn’t going to wiggle and is easier to plug in than most USB cables. I plugged and unplugged the keyboard plenty of times and never once was the victim of the USB Superposition problem.
The G Pro also features a little bit of onboard memory. Using this memory, you can save a lighting scheme to the keyboard that will stay the same regardless of what computer you plug it into. For some gamers, that might mean setting up a lighting scheme that highlights the important keys for their game of choice. For others, that might mean flying the team colors on-stage at an eSports event. For most of us, it just means a bit more consistency.
The lack of a tenkey, the onboard memory, and the removable cable all point to one of the G-Pro: portability. The G Pro assumes that you’re the sort of gamer who is simultaneously on the go and yet playing at a full-sized desktop PC. In other words, an eSports gamer. This keyboard isn’t meant to stay in one place.
Logitech took a few other measures to make the keyboard as spartan as possible. Dedicated media keys are gone. Instead, there’s an FN key to the right of the space bar that you can use to manipulate a set of media functions on the F9-F12 keys. Volume controls are handled the same way on the Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause keys.
One of my very few disappointments with the keyboard is that while the F1-F12 keys can be reprogrammed with custom functions that can be enabled and disabled by game and application, there isn’t a way to program in customizable FN combinations. The FN key serves to add media functions to those seven keys and nothing else. I think Logitech missed a great opportunity here. I’d love to be able to program in combinations for some of the things I do regularly. The possibility is just sitting there, and I’d love to see them add it in the future – if that’s possible.
But that’s one gripe among many strong points. Keyboards do not get simpler or more plain than this – that’s a compliment.
Technological bragging rights
One of the biggest features of the G Pro, though, is one I’m going to have to take Logitech’s word on: Keyboard Signal Processing.
Logitech explains it like this. The improved KSP of the G Pro is 10ms faster than other gaming keyboards – they specifically call out the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 as having an 11ms polling rate, while the G Pro boasts just 1ms. When you’re playing a game online, the server checks for activity at a steady rate called a tick rate. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive servers often have a tick rate of 128, meaning the server checks about once every 7.8 seconds. Logitech is claiming, then, that its keyboard could send a signal to the server twice in the time that Razer’s keyboard could send it once.
Of course, they’re not arguing that anyone is going to be so fast as to have a 1ms reaction time. Instead, they’re arguing that if you and your opponent hit a key at the same time, your keypress is going to be more likely to register first by a split second. That’s a potentially game-changing millisecond.
I don’t have the science tools to test this out for myself, and I’m far from a professional gamer, so I can’t talk about whether this actually matters, but consistent, precise, and fast detection of key presses is never a bad thing, and Logitech is pushing that to its absolute limit.
Depending on the business, putting a certain word on the front of something changes how people perceive and market it. Throw the word “Wedding” in front of something and you can bet the price is going to double or triple. The word “Gaming” does the same thing. Except not only does it make things more expensive, it usually adds a bunch of garish plastic and empty promises.
Logitech’s G Pro Mechanical Keyboard is the opposite of that – about as far opposite as you can get. This is a no-frills keyboard meant to be beat to hell and back both at the keyboard and in your backpack. It has features that ease the downsides of carrying a keyboard with you significantly, and it discards a lot of extras that just aren’t necessary for gaming.
Logitech as positioned the G Pro as the go-to keyboard for eSports athletes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick it up. It’s sturdy, comfortable, and simple. There’s nothing to distract you, and nothing to learn. Unless you’re used to a tenkey, in which case you’re going to feel like you just amputated part of your computer.
PC gamers who want a dedicated keyboard just for gaming should consider it. It’s not cheap – it’s going for $129 right now. But if you’re going to make use of what it offers, it might well be worth it.