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Gaming Keyboard

Posted in Hardware

For about 5 years was pretty happy with my Razer Tarantula keyboard (in fact in have had 2) but after the last failure I decided that I would move away from the Razer and try out something new.

The Gamer keyboard market is getting busier and there are numerous variations being released all the time. First I needed to decide on what features I wanted in my new keyboard.

  • Size – This is a rather big factor in my decision process as space is at a premium, ideally I wanted something smaller than the Tarantula (522mm)
  • I wanted something that looked like a gaming keyboard and not a office keyboard.
  • Volume controls & though not essential media keys if possible
  • Macros, not that I use them much any more but they are invaluable when required

I was looking a wide selection ranging from the Logitech to the Steel Series, of course I had many people telling me their preferences, much of which weren’t really what I was after.

Mechanical keyboards are a little too noisy for my liking, plus they often pick up on my headset deafening everyone else on Teamspeak.
Many keyboard now seem to be all about the gimmicks, how streamlines their appear is over competitors or what cool LEDS colours you can set the backlit keys.

The X4 is a gaming keyboard that is the successor to the X6, notable distinctions include:

  • Reduction in the number of macros available to 18
  • Anti-ghosting is included across the whole keyboard not just the WASD key cluster.
  • Compact yet wide enough design, meaning that the location of the keys feel natural and I wasn’t crammed into one little area.

I’m been using the SideWinder x4 for over 7 months  now and it’s been very solid, occasionally I have an issue with the volume buttons not functioning in Windows 7.


If you are all about the new shiny or the ultimate in gaming precision, then this really isn’t the Keyboard for you. Compared to the high-end products it’s plain and straight-forward and doesn’t try to be anything more than it needs to be. For a mid-core gamer like me it’s ideal. Once you get the software installed setting up the macros or remapping keys was straight forward and you can record macros on the fly also.
The macros are easily activated and the key strokes are comfortable so you don’t feel like you are fighting with the keys. The W key has 2 small spots on it that makes find your way back to WASD very straight forward.

There is a reminder that this keyboard is Microsoft product with the handy addition of a quick-launch calculator button, on a gaming keyboard I struggle to see the use, unless they are targeting EvE players. The good news is that you can remap it to something more useful like Teamspeak or Media Player.


  1. MK

    Mechanical keyboards really are a must, just dont have a Cherry MX Blue. Bloody hell they are loud.

    All these macro key bits and stuff are a load of crap and superfluous to needs. If you’re using Macros, you are cheating!

    You can now get Mechanical keyboards with Cherry MX Black / Red switches that don’t have that other superfluous feature, the num pad. Tiny keyboard full of joy!

    July 26, 2012
    • welshtroll

      But I really don’t want to turn entering my email address into the title theme to “Murder, She Wrote”. Plus you never hear yourself clacking away it’s like your playing “Typing of the Dead” all the time 😀

      July 26, 2012
      • MK

        sorry. wrong. you only get that if you use the MX blues. The blacks and Reds are as quiet as a normal keyboard.

        July 27, 2012
  2. MK

    oh, and the X6 and X4 DO NOT have full key anti ghosting.

    July 26, 2012
  3. Finding the right keyboard is tough for me. I have an old Logitech G15 which has good, smooth, and reasonably quiet key action and is actually backlit correctly. I had another keyboard that was backlit wrong, with light shinning up around the keys as opposed to through the key caps. That basically guaranteed you could not see the keys in a dark room.

    I also find myself enamored of the little pop-up LCD display on the keyboard. Most games that support it, do not use if very well. But TeamSpeak and Mumble both support it as a “who is speaking” display, which I prefer to having the sometimes buggy overlay trying to work with my game.

    July 26, 2012
    • welshtroll

      The overlays for voice comms aren’t too great, I’ve not used a keyboard with such a device, but frequency have TS/mumble open on a 2nd monitor. The G15 still has many fans from what I read while hunting.

      You mentioning the backlights made me realise that I’d completely forgot to mention that the Black-lighting on the X4 has 3 brightness settings and can be toggled off, admittedly I’d never used it other that when showing people the keyboard, but it’s a nice option to have.

      July 26, 2012
      • I’ll second the G15 and the plugin for Mumble’s ‘who’s talking now’ display–most handy, and I certainly prefer it to the overlay.

        For my sins I also use a G13, and I use the display on that to show all the other useful info. I like to see, such as system temperatures, clock, and profile selections.

        By their powers combined, I am Captain Keybind.

        July 27, 2012
  4. MK

    oh and not that I’m biased, OFC, but the Steelseries 7G is the most comfortable no frills keyboard I’ve had. Not exactly cheap, but it’s built to last for years.

    July 27, 2012

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