Okay, this started as a draft hating on the steelseries 7G keyboard. But there was a turn of events. Only five hours ago, I had a Das Keyboard on my desk. Now, the 7G is in its place. Let’s justjump straight into the comparisons.
The biggest difference: the 7G has NO classic mechanical click. It’s not silent, but it certainly isn’t that strong, well, mechanical clickety clack. It sounds slightly muted, and more plasticky than I like. Das Keyboard wins big on the sound of typing.
The feel. Coming straight off Das Keyboard, (I think it should really be “Die Keyboard” but whatever), the 7G feels a little bit mushy. It’s still much better than membrane switches. Like Das Keyboard, keypresses register at the halfway point. The 7G’s keys don’t feel as “premium” as Das Keyboard. Where Das Keyboard gives you a clear impression that its keys are mechanical and metal both through touch and sound, the 7G is more subtle.
On to features: the 7G was, in my interpretation, designed around gaming. Why they used last-generation USB 1.1 ports is beyond me: I can’t imagine that 2.0 is much more expensive. Considering the $130 price tag, I see USB 2.0 ports not as a luxury but as a necessity. But as I see it, the USB ports are meant for gaming peripherals like mice and gamepads, which generally don’t require the higher bandwidth that USB 2.0 offers. The addition of the audio in/out ports are clearly for people who use headsets. Lastly, there are the media playback buttons activated by Fn+F1-F6, with the Fn key taking over the Left Windows key.One thing that bothers me: the 7G uses blindingly bright white LEDs for the indicators. That photo I took, the tiny bit of lens flare is not an editing trick. It was reallythere.I’ll probably use some black electrician’s tape or something to cover it up. I’ve also read that the white lettering (which is raised, you can kind of tell if you look closely at my photo) on the keys start to wear out after a few weeks. This is fine by me, since I don’t need the lettering, and if anything, I’d try to press every key until the 7G resembles the minimalist Das Keyboard.Ultimately, I find that the 7G has a lighter touch. I type faster and with more accuracy on it than I do on Das Keyboard. I have an easily accessible front panel thanks to the great Blackbird 002 case design, so USB 2.0 ports on the keyboard aren’t really necessary for me. The media keys are a plus for me, so I’ll be keeping the 7G and returning the Das Keyboard. In this case though, I probably would’ve just stuck with the Das Keyboard had it simply functioned correctly.
Style would dictate that I keep the Das Keyboard. Blank keys, dim blue LED lights and glossy black that match my Samsung SyncMaster monitor, USB 2.0 ports, all niceties. However, I usually prefer function over form. The 7G is easier to type on and has media keys, and since I barely ever need USB ports on the keyboard, that’a non-issue.
For those looking for the bottom line: if you’re looking for a good old fashioned mechanical clickety clack keyboard that has a ka-chink feeling, and like to have a full speed USB port at the right side of your keyboard, go for the Das Keyboard. However, if you prefer typing with a light touch while still enjoying the more consistent key travel of a (technically) mechanical keyboard, go for the SteelSeries 7G.
11 December 2008 – 15 December 2008