Roccat (pronounced like rocket) is a German company that has been making huge waves in the PC gaming scene across the pond in Europe. Now they have moved across the water and are bombarding our shores with top quality products. We have been given the chance to try out one of the firms best keyboards, the Isku, and put it through its paces. Can this company knock off the big boys like Razer? Read on to find out.
The Isku is a very different beast from the last keyboard we tested, the Razer BlackWidow Tournament. Where the Razer is a stripped down portable unit designed to be used on the go, the Isku is a fully loaded piece of hardware. The Isku features a full size layout with number pad and built in wrist wrest. The keys are fully backlit and feature an intensity adjustment.
To make sure this keyboard can cash the gaming check its crazy looks have written it comes with 36 Macro keys. The keys can all be adjusted and changed on the fly. With so many Macro keys we were able to put them to other uses beyond gaming. We had a few keys set to input frequent user names for websites. When it came time to game the macros were great, and the ability to change them without entering into a complicated configuration program was a godsend. There are also five fully configurable profiles so you can set up macros for each of your favorite games. All-in there are 180 different macros you can set.
When we tested the Razer BlackWidow, we fell in love with its mechanical keys, and have since made it our daily driver, but we forgot how nice it is to use a backlit key keyboard. The blue light glowing from under the keys of the Isku helps us find our way around in the dark. Even during daylight gaming, having the extra light on the keys makes them much easier to see and improves our speed in finding the right key.
While the backlit keys are a superior improvement over the Razer, the lack of the mechanical keys is a demerit for the Roccat Isku. If you have never had the pleasure of banging away at a set of mechanical switches, you will be perfectly at home with the Isku. The keys are solid and have good feedback, but the travel is a little shallow. We have just become too accustomed to the solid and clickety feeling of our Cherry MX switches.
Those mechanical keys are about the only pro to choosing the Razer over the Roccat though. With a full suite of dedicated media keys, the full number pad, more macros than you know what to do with, and superb backlighting, the Isku is one of the best keyboards we have ever had the pleasure of gaming with.
The Isku does more than just make your gaming life easier, it makes life easier in general. If you flip the keyboard over, you are greeted with a large collection of indents and troughs cut into the underside. This is a cable management system that allows you to route a mouse cable under the keyboard to keep everything on your desk neat and tidy. Details like this are what separates the best from the rest.
The truth is that we would have a hard time trying to choose between the Isku and the Razer. On one hand we love our mechanical keys, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. That said, we spend far more time typing than we do gaming, so our needs are skewed. The fully backlit keys and customizable macros of the Isku are leagues ahead of ahead of many competitors. Our dream set of keys would be the Isku with a full set of mechanical switches.
Pros: Great backlighting and macro key functionality. Large and comfortable to use.
Cons: Lack of mechanical keys, styling may too garish for some.