As is the case with many peripheral companies these days, Logitech is currently exploring options beyond the world of Cherry switches. The G910 Orion Spark gaming keyboard represents a bold step forward into the post-Cherry world for the company, and uses new Romer-G mechanical switches which boast an up to 25% shorter actuation distance than many popular switch types. It sells for $179.99 on Newegg.com (with a $20 off promotion active as of the date of this review's publication).
I've tested the Orion Spark for three weeks, using it both for typing and to play games including Batman: Arkham Knight, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Unreal Tournament 2004.
Leading the charge of the Orion Spark's feature set is Logitech's robust gaming software, which comes complete with a huge volume of pre-set command layouts for games both popular and obscure.
For most gamers though, pre-set macros are never good enough. And since the keyboard features nine programmable macro buttons, it's a blessing the Logitech's software makes creating macros of your own perfectly intuitive. If you're the kind of gamer who enjoys maximizing your efficiency with macros, a Logitech gaming keyboard is almost always a great choice.
The Orion Spark is an RGB keyboard with per-key color customization, but the color customization and programming part of the Logitech software isn't as impressive as the macro programming side of things. There are only a handful of pre-set themes, and the options feel seriously limited compared to the SteelSeries Apex M800 (still the champion in this regard) or the Corsair RGB K70 (which comes with powerful, though complicated and hard-to-use, color options).
Another prominent feature of the Orion Spark is the built-in phone dock, which boasts of its compatibility with Logitech's Arx Control app. All this sounds really impressive, though what you're actually getting in practice is a little plastic shelf built into the keyboard that can do a great job holding your phone at just the right angle so you can glance at it while you're gaming. That's fun for sure, and if the Arx Control program's suite of PC-monitoring statistics and on-the-fly peripheral tweaking isn't for you, you can always have YouTube or Twitter or something running on your phone instead.
The Orion Spark also comes with two different attachable wrist rests of different sizes so it can be tailored to your specific typing style, as well as dedicated media control buttons and a volume wheel.
The Orion Spark is a gaming keyboard first and foremost, and it isn't afraid to show it with distinctive markings on the WASD keys and an array of macro buttons. It looks robotic, futuristic, and science-fictiony. If you have it on your desk, it's quite clear that you're more concerned with strafing than typing an essay. It wouldn't look at home in an office environment, though some folks might prefer their keyboards this way.
The keycaps of the Orion Spark are different from just about anything we've seen before on the market, all angles and raised edges designed to guide your fingers into the waiting channels at the center of each cap. Visually this looks a bit strange, though I found that they generally did their job well (more on that later).
The fact that the wrist rest makes the keyboard asymmetrical -- dramatically so in the case of the larger version -- bothered me visually, though I can't deny the functionality for those who spend a lot of times with their left hands on the WASD keys.
All in all I found the look of the Orion Spark to be too busy and angular for my tastes, but it has a distinctive design that some gamers may love. It will ultimately depend on your own preferences.
The Orion Spark's distinctive keycaps, though effective for avoiding mistakes while typing after an adjustment period of a few days, weren't comfortable on my fingertips. This was especially notable when typing for long periods, and after a while I found myself wishing for simpler, flatter keys. If gaming is the only thing you plan on doing with your keyboard then the shape of the keycaps might not be an issue for you but, as we've recently discussed here on GameCrate, everyday typing is an important consideration even when judging a gaming keyboard.
The two sizes of included swappable wrist rests were a great touch in the comfort department, and allow you to customize the board depending on your typing posture and how much desk real estate you can devote to your keyboard. I used the larger rest almost exclusively and found it to be comfortable and supportive, though at the end of the day it's still just a piece of plastic.
One minor complaint I had with the wrist-rest is that it was prone to coming lose when moving the board or bumping it accidentally. It's not an issue you'll run into every day, but it's an annoyance when it happens.
So how do the new Romer-G switches work in practice? Pretty dang well, actually, whether you're gaming or typing. The switches are quiet and versatile, closest to Cherry MX Brown in terms of feel, but really they are very much their own thing. They aren't trying to be Cherry switches, they have their own identity.
I've long been skeptical about how much a decrease in actuation distance can actually improve gaming performance beyond a certain point, and I can't say I noticed any real difference in the speed of my keystrokes while using the Orion Spark. I suspect that we are very close to the point of diminishing returns when it comes to mechanical switch "speed," since at a certain point you run up against limitations in how fast the average gamer can possibly direct their fingers. For a pro gamer with hands of lightning though, the 25% shorter actuation of the Romer-G switches could be very interesting indeed.
Though I didn't find the angled keycaps to be very comfortable, I really felt as though they served their intended purpose and kept me from hitting the wrong (or multiple) keys in the heat of the moment. It takes some time to adapt to, but eventually your fingers will learn to avoid the raised edges and aim for the sweet spot at the center of each key.
Finally, the placement of macro keys along both the lefthand side and upper left corner of the board should satisfy just about every macro-happy gamer. Use the ones that work for you and ignore the ones you don't need, and you'll be all set.