G.SKILL, known for their flashy serrated RAM sticks, is expanding their empire like Gandhi with nukes into the world of peripherals. Their first offerings – the G.SKILL RIPJAWS KM780 keyboards, RIPJAWS MX780 RGB mouse and RIPJAWS SV710 headset and SR910 headset – aren’t “me too” knock-off products but legit creations with buckets of features aimed at wooing gamers away from Corsair and others.
So how do the first RIPJAWS products that aren’t volatile memory stack up? Let’s take a look.
First, G.SKILL offers two versions of the keyboard distinguished by their flashy bits – the LEDs. While both feature Cherry MX switches, the RGB board is, as you’d imagine, a rainbow of light while the “MX” board is, simply, red LEDs. They should have just called it “Red” not "MX" to cut down on the confusion with the "MX" switches. RGB goes for $159 while the MX red clocks in at $119. Is RGB worth the extra $40? Considering I just dropped $100 on custom sleeved PSU cables, “worth” isn’t part of my battlestation vocab.
Let’s get this out of the way – the KM780 is for gamers, full stop. By that I mean I can’t type human sentences on the KM780. At least, not without reprogramming my brain. Why? The "G" macro keys along the left side. This is becoming a major selling point in gaming keyboards. Unfortunately, because of the “G” keys, I was always finding my fingers one row too far to the left. So instead of typing a word like “left” it’d come out as “dwkr” which, as you know, isn’t a word. Well, it is to the Khajiit, but not for use in polite conversation.
And then there’s the wrist rest. Because they put the divot exactly in the middle, my mind thinks the board is a typical full-size board and, again, my hands got confused. It was a really strange experience -- I never thought I referenced my hand position based on the edges of the board -- and I found myself yelling more than usual. Gaming keyboards from other manufacturers are doing this as well so G.SKILL isn't the only one with the weird typing experience.
But for gaming? Top notch. G keys, extra keycaps, raised keycaps, functions like crazy…seriously, it’s like a bucket list for gaming keyboards. Did I mention the extra WASD keycaps? Check out the pic below -- they're red and textured and raised up to snuggle your gaming digits. Nice touch, G.SKILL.
G.SKILL didn’t skimp on the steel and aluminum with this board. Sometimes it’s hard to tell from web pics if we’re dealing with plastic or metal. Here, the top is a solid aluminum slab brushed to perfection by hand (or a machine, I have no idea, but something did the brushing).
The underside is plastic, but you don’t see that. The big whammy bar? All metal. Volume knob? Metal.
The only other bits that aren’t metal are the keys, some of the side pieces that hold the bar and the palm rest. And the palm rest isn’t your typical plastic but the rubber stuff that offers an appreciated bit of squish. The hard-wired cable is of the heavy duty braided variety and the plugs are all glammed up in gold.
Overall, construction is right up there with the best Corsair, Razer and others have to offer.
Other noteworthy features are the Cherry MX keyswitches which are pretty much standard for a gaming keyboards over $100. The G.SKILL has either reds or browns. I went with the browns.
Also, the switches are surface-mounted on top of the aluminum plate rather than embedded in a plastic house. Other top gaming boards like the Corsair K70 are surface-mounted while most traditional boards and the Razer Blackwidow and CM Storm are embedded.
Why go with surface mount? I like it for its inherent cleanliness, just shake it and you’re done. I popped open an old keyboard and found an archeological history of my snacks over the last few years. FYI, Dorito dust is a solid binding agent, who knew.
Pictured above is the G.SKILL RIPJAWS on the left and the Corsair K70 on the right. Despite both being surface-mounted keys, the G.SKILL is almost a 1/4 inch taller than the Corsair. I didn't really notice the height difference in normal usage and, interstingly, the Corsair offers front feet (which I never use) to elevate the keyboard.
Anyway, now we get to the macro functions of the board. Up top, there’s three “M” keys used to switch between key/light/macro profiles. Want an FPS setup? M1. MMO? M2. Facebook? Not this board.
There’s also the aforementioned six “G” keys along the left side which you can use for your everyday demon summoning or spam-cannoning. Corsair K70 has no G keys, Razer has five, Logitech has six. Of course, the Corsair K95 has 18 extra keys so G.skill needs to up their game with 36 extra keys.
Upper right is the usual lineup of media keys and the lovely metal volume barrel found on boards like the Corsair.
Other unique touches are the mouse cable holder and the keycap backpack. Both clip directly to the whammy bar like a military rifle rail. The bar, which wraps around the entire back and sides, is cool but not really all that practical. I was thinking of fun ways to use the bar, like attaching an actual sniper scope, but I was fresh out of scopes.
Maybe they’ll release more accessories for the bar, but right now, there’s not much use for the bar other than holding keys you don’t need. I’d like a mouse cradle, phone holder, mini fan or USB drink warmer though that’d probably void the warranty.
As for inputs, the board uses double USB plugs to provide all the RGB fireworks and power the USB pass-through. Additionally, like the Razer BlackWidow, mic and headphone jacks are in the same single braided cable, allowing you to plug your cans directly into the board.
Finally, there’s a host of nice touches like disabling the useless Windows key as well as a timer key. I’ll let G.SKILL describe the timer: “Making ramen or waiting for a skill cooldown? Remind yourself with the built in timer with lighting notification.” Cool, though I never used the timer key because I have no skills and my ramen is instant. INSTANT, I tell you.
Light the Way
If you’re thinking full rainbow, G.SKILL has you covered with a funcitonal lighting profile program and the clear-housed Cherry keys to let the light shine through. It does all that RGB waving and pulsing madness. You can also set specific keys to have one of 16.8 million colors. Unfortunately, there’s only like 5 million keys on this board so choose wisely.
The RIPJAWS MX board with just red LEDs has black key houses with a single red LED sitting at the top. Because the LED is at the top, some keys with characters on the bottom of the keycap (think the upper row and other function keys) don't have uniform lighting. The RGB clear key housing alleviates some of this problem but it's not perfect. Again, par for course and more of an issue with mechanical keys and LEDs for all brands.
The software is pretty solid, better than some other brands, but still has some qwirks that take some figuring out.
The G.SKILL is a premier weapon for fragging newbs (or, in my case, getting tea bagged by 10 year olds). G.SKILL learned from the best boards on the market, basically combining everything from Razer and Corsair with Corsair's beefy construction and loads of extra features. If you want to use it for both gaming and, ya know, life, be aware your brain will complain about the left side “G” keys for a couple days.
Otherwise, hats off, thumbs up, high five and every other cliché goes to G.SKILL for successfully penetrating the peripheral market with this beast of a board. Keep an eye out for compaion reviews of their RIPJAWS MX780 RGB mouse and RIPJAWS headsets right here at G.CRATE.