A quality keyboard has long been established as a must have accessory for any harden gamer looking to get the edge in competitive LAN or online multi-play.
Most often a standard membrane keyboard is used and the problem with this is that occasionally a keystroke doesn’t register in enough time or several keys could be pressed at once resulting in a split second wrong movement - all of which could cost you a vital kill or win in-game. Additionally membrane keyboards tend not to offer a lot of travel, so each key press feels slightly flat.
In steps the Mechanical keyboard replacement which differs from the all-in-one piece membrane keyboards by using real switches underneath each key. These result in a faster response time for gamers as you don’t have to press a key fully to make it register. Also each key gives off a mechanical sounding click noise and offers greater feedback.
What this means in English is the keyboards are better, faster responding and will give you the edge in gaming terms. Though of course all of this comes at a slightly higher price!
Tt eSports Mechanical gaming keyboard is the first board of its type we have reviewed, so we can’t directly compare this to other gaming keyboards other than are trusty Logitech G15 – which has been a work horse for the past 5 years.
In the Box
Opening the large box reveals a fairly mid-size board which comes supplied with its own hand rest that clips to the base. Additionally you get a detachable gold-plated USB cable which provides improved transportation and flexibility. The USB cable (which is braided and also comes in a protective pouch for transportation) plugs into the board using a miniUSB connector and the standard end plugs into the USB port on your PC.
Length wise it measures approx 2 metres in length which was long enough to reach from the top of our desk - around a corner - and into our PC's USB port at the back. We nearly forgot to mention that the cable also sits inside a special groove at the back and underside of the board which is angled slightly to prevent the cable from being pulled out accidentally.
Also you get a 3.5mm headphone port and microphone jack which seem to provide its own separate interface under our PC’s control panels sound option. Plugging in a pair of headphones was an experience as the sound was pretty loud and we had to lower the PC volume - as well as the board’s own volume - quite low (though this is somewhat ideal to have in noisier LAN environments).
The board measures 430x160x40mm and feels heavy/well built to hold. It sports a series of black matt finished keys, with a Tt logo at the top and red stripes to the sides. I’m not sure is it’s our eye sight but some of the white key letters and numbers look like they are turning grey already. Though it could just be the last month of abuse we have given the board in terms of work, gaming and eating (greasy fingers don't mix well with keys). Either way they do make the board look a little grubby in places after prolonged use.
Underneath the keyboard you have a small stand to change the board’s angle, plus a series of rubber feat which made it stick to our desk like glue – so no chance of slipping during a game.
In terms of back-lit illuminated keys (which were coloured in white) we were at first surprised to see only a handful of keys were back-lit. However the keys in question are the default gaming keys used by most PC gamers, i.e. the WASD, shift, control and spacebar set so this makes logical sense to us. Note: There is a dedicated key to the right of the board which controls the level of light (including a cool pulse mode).
If the default PC keys are your main source of control then the backlight is certainly useful as it focuses your attention on these keys. For other users who like to customise their controls you are out of luck.
As for the hand rest that clips into the board, this is your standard plastic affair but it does sport a fetching dragon logo and feels comfortable to rest on when settling in for a long sesh on the latest game of COD MW3.
Windows & Multimedia
To go with the board you have a dedicated Windows Key which may not sound much but as some of their G1 keyboards did not have one it’s certainly a welcome return. However there is still a way to disable the Windows Key in-game via the software driver (more on this in a moment), so during a gaming sesh if you accidently press the Windows Key nothing will happen.
Another set of dedicated keys provide playback controls for Windows Media player (we could not get this to work with iTunes) and standard volume controls (including a mute button) which work on all multimedia content. These are pretty useful to have, but in some ways we miss the screen of our Logitech G15 which did provide more flexibility in terms of the information it provided.
Macro Keys & Software
To the left of the board you have a series of dedicated macro Keys (though most keys can be used for macro function). There are 12 in total which can be joined by another 48 (leaving 60 macro keys in total) so this should be more than enough for most hardened gamers.
To the top left there is also a button to switch the keyboard from Normal to Gaming mode. Gaming mode is the function we spoke of above which disables the Windows Key.
Next to the button you have your three profile buttons which can contain their own macro commands. Thus you could have one profile set for an RTS game and another for an FPS.
In terms of the software driver this eventually becomes quite intuitive to use, but we did have to consult the manual on a few occasions and do a lot of messing around to fully get to grips with the software.
From a control point of view the mouse can be used to select from two options on the right. These are your light controls and macro functions. The light controls are where you can control the light level/pulse option that is available on the main board, but it’s also where you can switch the lights off. It’s not obvious how you do this at first, which is why we mentioned at the start you do need to mess around playing with the interface for a while, but essentially you click on the portions of the board where the keys are highlighted in red and this disables them.
As for the macro option this is where you can program a series of key combinations to take place in-game and also where you can set a time delay before the action kicks in. Pressing the record button allows you to press your relevant key combo directly on the board - making it easy to program in the macro you want.
After saving the macro you can then return to the keyboard and select the macro key you want to use for the recorded macro. This will then highlight the key in red. You then need to press the “T Key” at the base of the interface to select your macro from the list.
However at this point – we nearly forgot to mention – you can also assign a repeat function, so once the macro has been activated you can get this to repeat under certain conditions such as repeat until pressed next time. This may be useful when playing RTS games that require you to repeat a certain command to troops for example.
The above does sound pretty long winded, but it is a system that works well once you get used to it.
Next to the “T Key” you have a few other options you can use which provide some useful functions. Again for most of these you need to select the key you want to assign the function to before selecting one of the following options at the base…
“Single Key”, “Default” or “Launch Program”. Additionally you have an “Instant Shift Sys” key feature (or ISS for short) which is an advanced macro key shifting function that allows you to reach all 60 macro keys within one profile.
The Single Key option is unusual but from what we can gather it allows you to change a keys initial function into that of another. For example you can map the W key to the I key. This is actually a really good feature because for those who want to move the default keyboard mapping to other parts of the board - without the hassle of re-configuring your keys for every game that you play - this option is a real time-saver!
The Default option is simple, if you select the key that has been assigned a macro function you can then disable it with the Default command.
Launch Program as the name suggests allows you to assign an .exe program to any of your chosen keys. We had this hooked up to launch our favourite games at a touch of a button.
Ok so that’s the design, software and box contents sorted. Now onto the part that matters the most. What’s it like to game with?
Spec wise the board has authentic cherry black mechanical key Switches, a 1000 Hz Polling Rate Limit and a 50 million keystroke lifespan.
While the above may not make much sense to some we felt that the board was certainly useful for not only gaming but also typing in general.
Granted we have seen a lot of reviews stating that the board was not useful for typing but after nearly 6 weeks of use we can state ourselves that this board is a lot better than our previous Logitech G15. You just have to get used to the noise the keys make initially and then learn that you don’t need to apply as much pressure to each key in order to gain a response.
However for the games side we tried several types of game, from RTS to FPS and the board performed extremely well! Each key provided enough travel and gave off a reassuring feel. Additionally our hands felt less tired - after a long gaming sesh - than when using our older Logitech keyboard so in our opinion the board excelled from this point of view.
For us the MEKA G-Unit keyboard was the first mechanical keyboard we have used, so it’s difficult to compare it against another make until we source one in. However the build-quality is robust, the board is just about the right size for static or portability. Additionally in use the key action was good offering nice feedback.
The software does take a little bit of messing around with but it provides a lot of powerful functions. We did notice a select amount of keys get dirty quite quickly (well after a month of solid use) which makes the keys look grubby. The backlight was good but we would have preferred the option to customise which keys we wanted to illuminated.
And of course there’s the price, it costs more than a standard board of course, however comparing this to other mechanical boards doing the rounds, the £90 asking price from Scan.co.uk seems on par with makes from Coolermaster, Corsair and Razer. Plus with the feature it offers and the quality of the inputs we would certainly recommend the MEKA G-Unit for gamers and also for those who like to type a lot.