As I have found myself playing less FPS games (persistent unlocks and hats to not appeal) my zBoard Merc with it’s dedicated FPS pad has been getting more and more superfluous. The FPS pad, and the resulting lack of a dedicated numpad, was getting in the way more than it was being used. I decided to remedy this by replacing it with a keyboard designed for Strategy and MMO games, the Corsair Vengeance K90. I have been using it for a month or so now so here is the lowdown.
In terms of features we have Cherry MX Red Mechanical key switches, though it is worth mentioning that the macro keys (more on those later) the “F” key row and the home keys are not mechanical. The board itself is well made, it feels quite sturdy, probably thanks to the brushed aluminum used in the construction of the top. While you could not bash someone around the head with it and expect it to come of well, it would be a very hectic gaming session (and probably one involving a lot of beer) that broke this board.
Back to the mechanical switches. If like me you have been used to typing on £20 keyboards all your life they will take some getting used to, and if like me your typing style means you bottom out the keys you may want to invest in some dampers, these are easy to fit (clearly on on the mechanical keys) and not only reduce the noise the keys make but (for me) improve the feel of them as well), if you are used to mechanical keys and don’t bottom out when you type these will be unnecessary as it is purely a personal preference.
There are also 18 dedicated, customizable macro keys, this is where the MMO part comes in, to the left of the board there are 18 keys each of which can be programmed with 3 macros and you can save and load profiles before each game. The Macros can either be programed with the software (this is downloaded from the website, you will get not disk with the board) or on the fly while playing the game. One profile at a time can be saved directly to the keyboard, this can be necessary as some games don’t seem to play nice with the software playback, particularly if you use the num pad in your macro, the game tends to pick up the num lock off response as opposed to the num lock on response, causing the game to read “Home” when you wanted “Num 7″. Fortunately swapping the profile stored on the keyboard is very easy with the software so you could easily do that before playing each game that required it. Profiles and individual macros can be backed up and shared so it could be worth checking the Corsair forums when you get a new game to see if anyone has made some that are any use to you.
Overall this is a nice board, but it is somewhat let down by the non mechanical keys, The Macro buttons are not so much of an issue but it would have been quite an improvement if the F Key row and home keys were also Cherry Reds. If you will get a lot of use from the macro features then this board is a good one to go for but if you just want a good board with mechanical keys there are better and cheaper on the market.