Say hello to the Das Keyboard Division Zero X40 Pro. It’s a mouthful. And $149. I’m a mechanical keyboard fanboy so when a new keyboard from Das drops, I’m going to be interested. Can Das beat out the big players in the gaming keyboard world? Let’s take a look.
First, Das was arguably the company that started the recent mechanical keyboard revolution with their blank keyboard many years back. You could instantly identify a Das in pictures because, well, there were no key symbols, just a black ocean of keys. It was Vader’s keyboard.
Since then, mechs have come back in a big way, from old school typing boards to full on gaming rigs with many exotic features and esports cache. Personally, I prefer old school keyboards with standard or TKL layouts. Minimalism with excellent key-feel is my thing. I’m typing this article on a keyboard with Cherry Browns. At home, I have topres and blues.
But that’s for pure typing. Gaming keyboards, however, compete in a different category entirely -- speed, buttons and RGB lights.
First, let’s talk switches. Das has taken a page out of the Razer playbook and branded their own clickers. These aren’t your average gaming reds and browns. Instead, Das calls them “Alpha-Zulu” switches in “Mustard” and “Olive” flavors. Or yellow and green. Mustard is their custom loud switch while olive is said to be quieter. Chances are these are made by Kailh or Gateron. Really, Cherry and said clones are very similar, but, look closely, and you’ll see Alpha-Zulu on each key.
The mustard switches are basically browns with a shorter actuation point. I didn’t get a chance to try the olive keys but I assume the same rule holds (though it’s possible they added key dampers and other tweaks for quiet-time). Their specs say the keys require only 1.7mm of travel, while competing Cherry keys need 2mm. Could I tell the difference? Nope.
That said, in practice, I really enjoyed the key feel. I’m a brown fan so the mustard keys felt great. They sound different than browns but, as mech enthusiasts know, keycaps and the switch mounting make a huge difference for overall key feel and sound.
Regarding build quality, the Das Division Zero feels like a solid tank. The mounting looks to be aluminum or steel while the underside is heavy plastic. In hand, it feels heavier than the Corsair K70 or Razer Blackwidow, which is a good thing. Heavier the better in my book. (below, Corsair K70 vs Das X40)
As for features, the Das goes with the standard two USB plugs (one for passthrough) and the in/out audio jacks. Audio is controlled through the function keys, not a slick wheel like Das’s other offerings or the Corsair K70 (and K70 clones).
The lack of a wheel is a bit surprising since Das’s signature look is a fancy media wheel, along with the blank keys. I feel like Das should have kept their trademark wheel with media keys and, since this is the gaming category, added a few more programmable wheels and buttons to really stand apart from the crowd.
Alas, unique features are slim outside of the custom switches. They do include five macro keys on the side, but that’s pretty standard. Keycaps are average ABS keys, no fancy PBTs here.
The big feature is the replaceable top covers. This is their “world’s first” feature and it’s pretty well executed. Use the included hex key (or a power drill like I did) to remove the screws and you can replace the cover with a red or brown version.
I like the concept though the styles on the covers were a bit generic. Personally, I would love to have seen a cover painted with white primer so one could spray paint the cover to match their PC case or team logos or games. Right now, we were given silver, red and green featuring a vaguely futuristic triangle pattern.
Overall, I feel like Das has made a solid attempt to tackle the gaming keyboard market. Will their features be unique enough to seduce gamers away from Corsair, Razer and others? $149 is a pretty competitive price point. But if you’re a Das fan and a gamer looking for more style and macro buttons, then the Division Zero is a no-brainer.