For the past 10 years, with a few exceptions, I’ve called the Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 my keyboard of choice. I’ve bought probably nine or 10 of them over the years, hammering through one every couple years thanks to hours and hours of daily typing. One of them saved my hands from carpal tunnel, and I treated my bond with the keyboard like a Wookie life debt.
I might have finally, after all that time, found an acceptable replacement: the Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum, Logitech’s mid-line offering in the mechanical keyboard market.
While I’ve enjoyed mechanical keyboards I’ve tried out in the past, none of them have quite stacked up. Something was lacking, something was off, or whatever. The G810 might be my Goldilocks keyboard. Everything about it is just right with this $160 input.
Romer-G perfects the formula
Before we talk about the look of the keyboard and the software that runs it, let’s about the most important thing: actually typing on it.
The G810, unlike most other mechanical keyboards on the market, does not use Cherry MX switches. Logitech likes to make their own tech rather than licensing others’ hardware, both so they can stand out and, probably, save a little money in the long run.
Logitech invented their own switches, the Romer-G switches. They’re supposed to stand up to more key presses than Cherry switches, to the tune of something like 20 million more keypresses, but that comparison feels a bit like arguing over just how far over 9,000 Goku’s power level is. The number is big.
What’s important is the shape of that switch and the way it affects the keys. Cherry switches, if you pop a key off, look a bit like a plus sign when you look at them from above. The element to which the keycap attaches is a little pole jutting up in the middle of the switch. The Romer G is more like a box, meaning the keycap has a lot more to attach to and, as a result, has a more grounded feel. It might seem subtle to some, but it made a big difference for me.
As to what the switches feel like, I asked Logitech if they had a direct comparison. The Romer-G switches, according to Logitech, compare most directly to Cherry MX Brown switches. Typing on the keyboard is easy and light, and while it does have the noisier action one expects of mechanical keyboards, it’s quieter than even the non-clicking Cherry switches.
Here are some straight numbers to chew on: The Romer-G switch requires 45 grams of force to activate, just like Cherry MX Red switches, but only has to be pressed 1.5mm instead of 2mm. The board also features 26-key anti-ghosting. It’s not quite up to the 100+ numbers that other keyboards support, but for people with 10 fingers, 26 should be more than adequate.
It’s also incredibly easy to remove and replace keys on the keyboard. I’d liken it to swapping sticks on the Xbox One Elite controller. It’s easy to do when you want to, and impossible to do when you’re not trying to. The pressure required to pop a key off is minimal, and they slide back on like butter. They’re not going to come off unless you’re trying, though.
I’m still getting over some old habits picked up from years of using an ergonomic keyboard, one of which is a tendency to overreach when looking for the apostrophe, which means I’ve accidentally sent more than a few instant messages before I’m ready.
As I continue to get used to the keyboard, though, that’s happening less often.
Unlike my experience with other mechanical keyboards, I’m not finding that aforementioned carpal tunnel resurfacing.
It’s a black rectangle
As for the rest of the board, Logitech has found a happy medium between extra features and elegant simplicity that I appreciate.
The board itself is heavy and sturdy feeling, weighing more than a lot of laptops these days. This keyboard isn’t going to slide around. The grip feet are wide and substantial as well, not something likely to fall off even after years of use (one of my main gripes about that old Ergonomic 4000). You can customize the angle you like the keyboard at to 0, 4, or 8 degrees or lift using the two different foot settings, if you have a strong preference there.
Aside from the standard loadout of keys, there are just a few extras. The G810’s older and more expensive cousin, the G910, has tons of extra keys, a phone dock, a wrist rest, and more. The G910 also features some “performance enhancing” keycaps that I really do not like, compared to the 810’s more standard and comfortable ones. The 810’s extras include media keys, a sturdy roller bar for adjusting volume, a key to shut the keyboard’s lighting off, and a Game Mode button that disables the Windows key and any other keys you might not want to hit by accident.
Logitech did fit a bit more of its trademark customizability into the board, though, by allowing the Function keys to be customized to fit whatever your needs are. For example, using various outside apps I have a key that shuts off my monitors and another that toggles through my audio outputs. You can customize these keys to launch shortcuts, execute macros, perform key combinations, or perform preset functions. Logitech’s software makes it pretty simple and straightforward to do so.
Rounding out the keyboard’s customizable options is the lighting, and this is one area in which Logitech’s keyboards clearly outperform their competition. This is, again, a result of those proprietary Romer-G switches. The shape of the switch means that light is sent up through the center of the switch rather than peeking out around it, so the lighting that comes up under each letter is brighter and clearer, and there’s almost zero light bleed. I kind of liked the light bleed on some of the other keyboards I tried, as it gave it a bit of a ground effects feel, but the more direct lighting here means stronger color and more differentiation between each key’s individual color.
That brings us to the software that powers the keyboard. Of course, you don’t need to install the Logitech G software to simply plug the keyboard in and use it, but this is where the customization happens.
You can set up game or specific profiles, which can be imported and exported, which can include both customized function keys and lighting, making it easy to switch from your MOBA config to your shooter config to even something like a configuration that lights up keys specific to some application.
The software also features something that competitive gamers will find useful: the Input Analyzer.
You basically hit record on this in the software’s menu, and then go play whatever game you’re wanting to analyze, and it’ll track how often you press keys and how long you press them for. If you’re playing something like World of Warcraft, you’ve likely got a very specific set of keys you press. Using the heatmap, you can see if the keys you use the most are the closest ones, and then take that information into account to reorganize and restrategize your menus, macros, and shortcuts. It’s not going to do a whole lot if you’re just tapping away on a paper or something, but it could make a big difference for some gamers.
Logitech’s software isn’t quite as powerful as, say, Corsair’s CUE software, but it’s easy to use and it never crashed or acted strangely while I was using it for the keyboard or the mouse I’ll be reviewing shortly. Logitech’s strong relationship with game developers is also allowing them to integrate effects into the keyboard that automatically work without any configuration just by having the keyboard connected and software turned on. For example, being chased by the police in Grand Theft Auto V will make your function keys flash blue and red like a patrol car’s cherry lights.
In short, the Logitech G810 is a joy to type on. It lets you make it yours through customization without all of the accouterments that usually go with a gamer keyboard. It’s a gamer keyboard that you can plug into the family computer, take into the office, or use for a hardcore gaming session, and it’ll perform admirably in each while still fitting in visually.
It’s worth noting, too, that if you’re planning on picking up a keyboard in the near future and you’re interested in Tom Clancy’s The Division, right now this keyboard and the G910 both come with a free copy of that game. At $159.99 for the keyboard, that makes for a pretty solid deal for a premium board and a brand new game. With or without the game, though, you’re going to get a solid keyboard that should last years and years and look good doing it.