Roccat Horde AIMO – Review

When Roccat announced the Horde AIMO and marketed it as a "best of both worlds" hybrid mechanical keyboard I was intrigued.  Taking the having the precise linear distinction of mechanical keys, paired with the soft and quiet sound and feel of a membrane keyboard seemed to be a fantastic combination.  Making the keys low profile even upped the excitement by another notch.  But this was not the only aspect of the Roccat Horde AIMO that had people excited.  While bringing the best of both, the Horde AIMO would bring a host of popular gaming keyboard features such as programmable keys, RGB control, multimedia keys to name but a few.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZZChgahBzs

Design

Opening the Roccat Horde AIMO and taking it out of its box, you instantly feel that it feels old school.  Generally, that would insight a feel of quality, in this case, it feels more like old design and build quality.  What needs to be said is that the Horde AIMO is big, no I mean VERY big!  A large part of this size is taken up by the removable wrist rest, which is rather flimsy but not having it attached does make the edges of the Horde a bit rough.  If you are someone who likes symmetry and things to be either straight-edged or rounded, the Horde AIMO is not always sure who it is catering for.  With rounded finishes here and sharp, straight edges there, it is not quite sure what design it wants to follow.  The left side looks sleek and has perfectly placed macro keys.  On the right, it has a host of keys and features that can be found on most gaming keyboards in recent years.  The large dial on the top right can be used as a Windows 10 scroller wheel straight out of the box, and when paired with the feature keys, can be used to scroll through RGB settings and many more, nice feature and always handy when wanting to turn the volume up or down.  The top left seems to feature a cellphone holder like many of the older Roccat keyboards used to have but upon closer inspection, it seems to not be so. Roccat claims that the "memhanical" keys are a mixture of the precise and linear movements of mechanical keys and the soft and quiet of membrane keys.  Roccat also claims that the keys don't need to be pressed all the way to actuate, upon using and testing I find the statement to be not true.  The buttons would only actuate when bottomed out, not a deal-breaker by any means, but if you have ever experienced a true mechanical keyboard with either the Cherry MX Brown or Logitech's Romer G-switch, you will know how pleasant it is.  The low profile of the Horde AIMO keys also lends itself more to a membrane feel rather than mechanical.  For general use, the keys feel springy and don't provide quite as much resistance as what I would expect.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2x_FmAK7a8   The 5 programmable macro keys that are found down the left side of the keyboard has become a standard amongst most full-size gaming keyboards.  The Roccat Horde AIMO however, does have a long row of keys and a large dial on the top right side.  The dial is not only a volume knob when used in conjunction with the multimedia buttons, not only can the RGB effects be changed, but screens can be changed and RGB brightness adjusted. This all sounds fantastic and works well in principle but in reality, it makes for a lot of tedious pressing and unpressing of the desired function that it becomes more of a hassle than it needs to be.  The idea is great, and if music is your main use for the Horde AIMO it will serve you well but for everything else, the software does a more than adequate job.

Software

The Roccat Swarm software has been known as one of the more reliable software packages over the years, and with this being my first dabble with Roccat, I had to scratch around a bit to find out how the latest version of Swarm compares. What I did notice is that it seems that Swarm does suffer from a few bugs at present.  Not only are you never sure if you have the latest version installed, the updater pop-up jumps out warning you that you are outdated, straight after updating.  But when making changes you should not click apply and then OK.  By doing this it seemingly reverts to defaults and you start the process over again.  Simply pressing OK and continuing stores the changes.     Another bummer for MMO fans is the lack of on-the-fly Macro recording which makes casting a vast array of spells or attacks in quick succession rather cumbersome.  Roccat's AIMO RGB is described as a clever system that adjusts the RGB lighting to what you are playing.  I agree that the colouring is interesting although I can't quite put a finger on what it is using to decide its colouring.  On the Roccat Kone AIMO mouse the lighting is bright and really beautiful, the Horde, however, is hardly noticeable in a well-lit room.  

Performance

The Roccat Horde AIMO happily taps away at nearly everything you throw at it.  Be it playing CS:GO, some Rainbow Six Siege or Flight Simulator.  Typing is as pleasurable as typing can generally be.  But nothing quite sets the experience apart from a good quality office keyboard, let alone a mechanical keyboard.  Yes the Horde AIMO is cheaper than mechanical and more expensive than an office keyboard.  That is why it finds itself in an awkward grey area. But, then again, it also did not perform tremendously better than a mechanical keyboard...  

Verdict

The Roccat Horde AIMO can be given credit for trying.  The membrane-mechanical keys, the AIMO lighting effects, and the many uses of the dial.  Did they all work out to the way Roccat planned? Probably not, but they are by no means terrible. The Horde AIMO will definitely not suit those aiming for top spots in competitive gaming but for those who are willing to look past the questionable looks and slightly elevated price tag compared to other membrane keyboards.  Then the Roccat Horde AIMO is your keyboard.  I would personally hold off until they launch the next iteration where they possibly fix the shortcomings of this version.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

     
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Roccat Kain 122 & 200 AIMO – Review

If the 2 X back-to-back Blockbuster Video Game Champ chooses Roccat as his weapons of choice they have to make a good product right?  Roccat is a German peripheral-making company that has recently been acquired by Turtle Beach.  Roccat has decided to enter the highly contested gaming mouse terrain, taking on big names such as Logitech, Razer, and Corsair to name but a few heavyweights.  The Germans are renowned for making perfectly engineered equipment.  We had the privilege of getting our hands on the Roccat Kain 122 (wired) AIMO as well as the Kain 200 (wireless).  Can these German-engineered mice show the other heavyweights in the industry that simple and clean designs and Roccat's new TITAN click technology can set these mice apart?  Let's find out!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO7dghZD8_o

Design

The Roccat Kain pairing is the first Roccat-made mice that I have had the pleasure to test and put through their paces.  I naturally went and did some research and checked the previous mice that came from the Roccat stable.  It is safe to say the Kain 122 and its wireless brother, the 200, carry the family resemblance, albeit a striking one.  The Kain AIMO has a narrow design and with a rather raised arch, it allows for a very comfortable grip and resting for hands of all sizes.  It slants off to the right allowing for a more natural grip when holding it but also means that the Kain AIMO is a right-hand-only mouse.  The two buttons located on the inner-right is perfectly placed.  Some brands place their inner-programmable keys too high or too low, causing the user to either accidentally press the keys when moving the mouse, or having to regrip to reach them.  The Kain has got the positioning spot-on, easily accessible yet not accidentally pressed.     The left and right mouse buttons are not placed next to each other like most mice are.  there is a strip of brushed metal dividing the two keys which adds to the straight and square lines that dominate the Kain design.  At the top of this brushed metal piece, there is a DPI button, neat and square, elegant yet functional use of a button that has hampered many brands in their sleekness of design.  Not to mention the scroll wheel that protrudes the brushed metal strip.  The left and right mouse buttons     The sleek and smooth design of the Kain AIMO range and lack of any rubbery grips makes for a very appealing look but the smooth finish can, for some, make the Kain feel slippery.  With the Kain 122 weighing in at a middle-of-road 89g ( Kain 200 weighs 105g) meaning it is light enough to be able to whizz it across your mousepad without feeling like you have nothing in your hand, and not sacrificing the feeling of quality.  Unlike many of the bigger brands, the Kain-range has no weight adjustment, although I think Roccat got the weighting just right.  

Performance

Both the Kain 122 and 200 are fitted with the Roccat signature Owl-Eye Optical sensor which is good for up to 16 000DPI.  This is substantially higher than many other mice in the same price bracket.  Although 16 000 DPI is generally way too high for any sane person.  a realistic maximum DPI would be more in the range of 3 200, but much like kilowatt rating in cars, it's more for show than anything else.  Roccat has its own software called Swarm.  This allows you to save up to five profiles to the mouse, as well as assign keys to the programmable buttons, change the RGB lighting and program your DPI steps that can be flicked through using the DPI button located in the middle of the two mouse buttons.     Roccat has taken the mouse-click and thought about how to improve something we have taken for granted since the birth of the gaming mouse.  By simply repositioning the switch to a more natural location, the new Roccat Titan switch feels more distinguished and more precise.  The buttons are also hinged giving it a cushioned feel when clicking.  Although the Swarm software is not nearly as refined as Ghub from Logitech or Synapse from Razer, it is extremely straightforward, and apart from a small struggle we had to save DPI settings to the mouse, Roccat Swarm was extremely straight forward and provided great explanations of what each setting would do. Both the Kain -122 and the 200 feature phenomenal thresholds for acceleration with the minimum being 40g and the maximum of 400IPS (inches per second).  Basically said, even if you have superhuman flick ability in your favorite shooter, you will not be able to blame the Roccat Kain 122 or 200 for not being able to keep up with your speed. Kain 200   Some of the features that set the Kain 200 apart from its wired brother, is obviously the wireless part.  The Kain 200, in wired mode looks identical to the Kain 122.  When using it as a wireless mouse the cable simply unplugs and can either be plugged into a dongle, that can be placed near to where you are using the mouse, or the wireless receiver can be plugged straight into a USB port.  The Kain 200 uses a 2.4Ghz range for best-uninterrupted performance while stretching the battery life on its 1000 mAh battery as far as possible.  

Verdict

  For myself, who moves between peripherals on regular intervals for review purposes, but also try and keep a high level of skill in games like Rainbow Six Siege and Escape from Tarkov, changing a mouse can have a devastating impact on your performance.  Your mouse is your weapon and like soldiers, we spend many hours honing our skill with our weapon of choice, suddenly switching it out with another generally makes you play and aim worse.  My regular daily mouse is the legendary Logitech G903 lightspeed closely followed by the amazing Razer Viper Ultimate.  Both premium wireless mice.  The Roccat Kain 122 or wireless 200, can easily hold its own against the likes of these two heavyweights.  Jumping into my favorite games with the Kain 200 was an absolute blast.  I hardly noticed any adjustment time and the Owl-eye Sensor is fantastic feeling extremely accurate and true.  With its lesser focus on RGB and gadgets and more emphasis on creating a great experience while not being overly flashy, Roccat has created a spectacular mouse! If you are looking for a mouse, wired or wireless, that sits more in a mid-range price category while competing and beating many of the high-end gaming mice out there, then the Roccat Kain-range is definitely worth taking a look at.  If it is good enough for the Doc, to cause Violence, speed and momentum, then it is surely more than adequate for all of us!    

special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

 
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Razer Huntsman Mini – Review

Technology has seen many trends relating to size.  There was a time that everything went smaller and smaller.  Phones became the size of pebbles.  Then as tech evolved more size increased again, to the point where its tough to distinguish whether your phone is a tablet or your tablet is a phone...     PC hardware is no different, but as a general rule of thumb, bigger is better.  Gaming keyboards were the keyboards that featured the most buttons and gadgets and even displays.  Endless amounts of programmable keys and USB ports galore.  With the increase in eSports and general competitive gaming to the masses so has the demand for more dedicated competitive keyboards.  Queue the 60% keyboards!

Design

For those who don't know, a 60% keyboard takes the footprint of a standard 115key keyboard and cuts 40% of it reducing it to roughly ~65keys depending on the keyboard.  This means that the Numpad and, usually, the arrow, scroll, delete etc keys will be removed or relocated and used in conjunction with a function key.  Taking this approach really is a big gamble if you are Razer or any brand in this case.  The 60% keyboard is very polarizing to the audience.  If you are a gamer only, the Huntsman mini will be a pleasure to use as it will provide you will much more mousepad real-estate to fling your mouse around on as well as being easier to pick up and take to your next LAN event.  On the flip side, for users who do not solely use they keyboard for gaming, productivity will take a knock, and even more so if you are someone who needs to enter numbers into fields often.     The Huntsman Elite, Razer's flagship keyboard has a list of features that is difficult to envision fitting on to a keyboard.  USB ports, media controls, volume dials, wrist rests, and the list continues.  The Huntsman Mini, however, is a stripped-down, bare-bones version.  Only sharing the name and optical switches from its feature-laden brother. The Huntsman Mini is clearly targeted to take the fight to the Ducky One keyboards and boasting impressive dimensions of 30 x 10 x 3cm it is definitely placing itself firmly in the fight.  The slightly raised keycaps allow for the Huntsman Mini's RGB to really show its true ability.  The keycaps themselves feel really solid and premium to touch and the cheeky font, when illuminated, looks really nice.  For the more keen-eyed, there is a subtle Razer inscription on the lip of the keyboard, and no more bombastic illuminating Razer logo. Looking to the bottom and the back of the Huntsman Mini, you will find the usual "For the Gamers by Gamers" pattern across the back.  The braided USB C-type cable, which is also interchangeable with other type-C, slots perfectly and clips in and out with ease, without feeling flimsy or like it might disconnect and the slightest tug.  There are also two sets of feet to raise the keyboard, 6- or 9 degrees respectively.     So you have the Razer Huntsman Mini but now you need to use your arrow keys or the delete key, what do you do?  Luckily Razer was merciful and provided for a Function key ( Fn) and adequate amount of side-printed functions.  These keys can easily be seen from a seated position and when the Fn key is pressed all illumination will be killed off and the function-binded keys will light up in white.  Apart from these keys you can do other things like changing preset RGB effects, do macro-binding or even use media keys using the Fn key.

Gaming and features

The biggest appeal of the Huntsman mini, apart from the size, would be the Purple optical switches.  For those who don't know the difference between Optical and mechanical, mechanical uses a mechanism to move the keycap down and activate a microswitch that is placed under the keycap.  Optical switches have a stem attached to the bottom of the keycap that, when pressed, will interrupt a light source.  This break in the light will then indicate a keypress, essentially making the response time, the speed of light.     When typing the optical switches, even though not mechanical, still give you a pleasant sound and resistance.  Just enough to give a sense of confidence when pressing but not too much to make it a pain.  The biggest pain with 60%'ers is to use some of the keys that are readily available on normal keyboards, you need to use the Fn key, so as mentioned before using the Huntsman mini for writing and office work could be a little more cumbersome. Moving to gaming, like what the Huntsman mini was intended for, it is fantastic.  For the first time, I have enough space on my desk to try turning my keyboard more towards the vertical orientation as many pro's do.  The new orientation does a lot for comfort and I would recommend it to most.  Something that I had to get used to is the short travel of the keys, (3.5mm) this had me moving sooner than anticipated and often losing gunfights while playing Rainbow Six Siege.  This has become a normal situation by reviewing peripherals and getting used to new mice and keys regularly.     The happy-medium of firm, yet soft, when it came to keypresses was greatly appreciated while playing Escape from Tarkov where the slightest accidental keypress can be the end of your raid.  Resting fingers on keys have often had me blowing my team, or myself, up with accidentally thrown grenades.  The Huntsman Mini keys are firm enough to provide rest for weary fingers without causing unpleasantries ingame. The Razer Huntsman Mini uses the same software as all the other mice and keyboards, Razer Synapse, is a rather simple to use software allowing you to tweak everything possible on the hardware.  But, seeing as the Huntsman mini is aimed at esports, Synapse is not needed for everything.  Although small, the Huntsman mini has space for 5 onboard profiles which include keybinds and RGB settings.

Verdict

The Razer Huntsman Mini is the first 60% keyboard the brand has released, and it is a successful one.  The Huntsman Mini feels very premium with its optical clicky switches and double-shot keycaps.  Although pricey, the feel of ease and confidence when pressing down on the keys make the price tag seem as little of a concern as that last enemy you shot. If optical switches are what you are after, and a 60%'er is something you are considering, the Razer Huntsman Mini is a no-brainer!  

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the hardware 

 
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