Logitech's first mechanical gaming keyboard, the G710+, promises a lot. It's priced higher ($149.99) than competing keyboards, costing nearly twice as much in some cases. In fact, other manufacturers sell quality mechanical keyboards for as little as $80, including some models of the BlackWidow. We looked at Razer's BlackWidow Ultimate Edition ($129.99) earlier this year and praised it for its comprehensive feature set and solid design. Since the main draw of mechanical keyboards are the switches beneath the keys, anything tacked on top (backlighting, macros, media controls, and so on) needs to border on perfection to make the more expensive models stand out for the right reasons.
Above all, though, if the keyboard is targeted at a performance-obsessed market, and it sits atop the price charts, it better offer the best possible typing experience. After all, nobody buys a keyboard strictly for an additional button here or port there.
Ultimately, the G710+ is a backlit, mechanical keyboard, with media controls and features aimed at the gaming community. Logitech got most of the important gaming-centric features correct from the start: 110 anti-ghosting keys, 26-key rollover support, and dedicated macro support. Six macro keys (G-keys) are located on the left-hand side, and their functions can be toggled depending on the profile in use, which are activated via the three profile buttons (M-keys).
Recording simple macros on the fly is a four-step process: hit the MR-key, select a G-key to assign the macro to, type the keys to be recorded, and then set the macro by hitting the MR-key a final time. Opening Logitech's Gaming Software allows you to create more complex macros, taking delays between keystrokes into account, as well as link mouse functionality, shortcuts, and LUA scripts to G-keys.
In terms of game-specific macros, Logitech's Gaming Software scans your computer and identifies any games that may be installed. You can then choose game-specific commands and drag and drop them onto the virtual keys within the configuration software. The ability to automatically detect the games on your computer is dependent on Logitech's software and its associated knowledge base of games. Titles with mass appeal are likely supported out of the box, but unsupported games must be manually added.
The process is straightforward: search for the game's executable and assign a name and description. An icon gets pulled from the executable, but in terms of in-game commands, it's up to you to provide those for manually added games. At the very least, linking games within the configuration software allows you to assign specific macro commands for the G-keys when the game in question is opened.
Dedicated media buttons sit on the top of the keyboard, straddled by lighting and volume controls. The volume panel above the number pad has a dedicated mute button and a wide scrollwheel to quickly adjust levels. It's refreshing to see so many functions given their own key, since they usually end up as secondary F-key functions on most gaming keyboards. There's also a gaming-mode button, which, when enabled, disables the Windows and context menu keys. It's a handy feature, since an accidental strike of said keys would completely disrupt whatever game you happened to be playing.
Powering the G710+ requires two USB connections, though the inclusion of a pass-through USB port on the back of the keyboard makes up for this mildly inconvenient, though increasingly common, requirement. Sadly, there are no audio pass-through ports on the G710+, a feature currently found on all full-size BlackWidow keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards are generally identified by the switches beneath each key. Logitech employed Cherry MX Brown switches in the G710+, known for their midrange tactile and audio feedback. To reduce key noise even further, Logitech installed rubber dampeners beneath each key. All of the above results in a light keystroke with a soft impact. It's not as mushy as a membrane-based keyboard and not as "clicky" as most mechanical models. It's an interesting hybrid that takes about a day to get used to, but it's refreshing to have a mechanical key that doesn't irritate anyone and everyone around you.
While the G710+ has some things going for it, there are a few missing features that prevent it from being a product that can be easily recommended. Logitech sells keyboards for roughly half the price (G510, $79) with more features, such as audio pass-through and twice as many G-keys. True, these models don't have mechanical key switches, the thoughtful implementation of which (rubber dampeners) makes the G710+ worth considering, but if mechanical keys are your primary concern, there are cheaper options on the market. It's nice to see Logitech jump on the bandwagon, but it may take another round of R&D for them to nail down the price-for-performance ratio. As it stands, unless you can find the G710+ at a discount, it's best to hold off picking one up for now.