Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL Mech. Keyboard Review

BluePanda - 2012-02-11 11:06:29 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: March 7, 2012
Price: $169.99

Introduction:

Tesoro is a gaming peripheral company making its move to the US. With products such as keyboards, mice, mouse pads, and soon to be audio products, Tesoro is trying its hand at the art of pleasing gamer needs. The Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL LED backlit mechanical keyboard has been at my hands for over a week now, as one of their high end products. Durandal is literally the sword of Charlemagne's paladin Roland in the literacy cycle known as the Matter of France. The "Sword of Angel" is said to contain within its golden hilt, one tooth of Saint Peter, blood of Saint Basil, hair of Saint Denis, and a piece of the raiment of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I'm not exactly sure how this all really plays into the design of the keyboard…perhaps if I shake it I'll find some tooth fairy teeth rattling around. Jokes aside, each of the Tesoro products seems to have some name with literary connection. Perhaps this is just a different marketing method than we've seen in the last few years.

Overall, the purpose of the Durandal Ultimate is to provide solutions to any situation gamers can come up with. Late night combat is met with adjustable LEDs and a full set of profiles, each with their own programmable macros, leaving it up to the owner to map out in any desired configuration. It has USB connections, mic and headphone connections, as well as what every gamer of today seems to "need," mechanical switches. Today we take a look at the Durandal Ultimate and see how this "Sword of Angel" holds up.

Closer Look:

The box it comes in is a little different than the normal cardboard box most keyboards come in these days. Its got a handle and is purple, almost like carrying a purse around. It's not quite square, rather it's more of a trapezoidal shape and closes tightly, so it won't be falling out as you carry it around shopping. A little peeping window in the shape of the Tesoro logo allows you to see in and get a relatively good look at the keys themselves. At this small glance it really looks like most mechanical keyboards and just begging to be torn open to find the true beauty.

The back of the box point out a few of the keyboards key features with a few close up snapshots of the features themselves. A few of the features mentioned include: embedded media keys, G mode/5 profiles, comfortable palm rest, high speed USB 2.0 ports, audio ports, and a gold USB connector among other things. However, it's really just time to take it out of this "purse" and see what it is not written in text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening it up, there's some protective plastic on the upper right corner where the CAPS lock and Scroll lock indicators normally rest. A completely destroyed plastic carry tray explains the rattling of the box, but the contents themselves seem quite alright despite the looks of the poor carrier. The body has a nice "metal" milling finishing look on it. Which makes it appear a little industrial, but most of all makes it look sturdy as hell. The keys seem to be mapped out as a typical keyboard would be, with a full number pad on the right. The media and profile function keys appear as sub headings of the F1-F12 keys. A small Fn key is the only "new" appearance on the layout, sitting just between the right Alt and the menu key, where the other windows key generally sits.

 

 

Pulled away from plastic mess the keyboard is fully intact. A separate wrist rest and CD/Install guide are included underneath. The cable connections are reduced to a single power pass through for USB and an audio and mic jack to be plugged in. If you are used to the duel plug keyboards for the "bonus" hub, you've just gained back a port! The cable is braided and seems rather heavy duty. Having moved the keyboard about a bit, it seems rather heavy and is really going to be something that stays in place on your desk.

Not plugged in, it doesn't have that weird "needs LED lighting" look like a lot of backlit keys tend to have. There's no weird empty feel or hard to read keys with the backlight off, it looks normal and not like something is wrong. The function key pressed with either the 8 or 2 on the number pad, cycles between the 4 levels of lighting. There is the 'off" setting, three levels of brightness, and then a fourth level that pulses the dimmest to brightest settings. It's pretty nice to be able to alternate between super bright and a little less bright for when the lights are off. Unfortunately, since each key has its own individual LED, as shown up ahead, the backlighting isn't quite evenly distributed. The F1-F12 keys all have dual purpose, with media keys or profile options, which keep the bottom half of the key from really glowing red. The Windows key on the bottom left has a dulling that doesn't quite fully light the key. Worst of all is the space bar, which I'm not sure if it was meant to be designed this way, which has a single LED in the middle and then fades off completely left and right of it. It almost looks broken or as if it was missing some lighting. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To take a little closer look at what's behind the key I decided to pull off the Esc key from the keyboard. Behind it, you'll see a literal brown switch and little red LED. With the keys lit up, you can see the uneven lighting of the media keys I've mentioned before. The other keys seem to light up pretty well, but where it doesn't seem to light up, it just makes it a look a little cheap and not well thought out.

 

 

A closer look at the keys off again reveals the nice look of them without backlighting. The keys don't have that ghosting that makes them look wrong without the lighting. They look normal as if the keyboard never even lit up. Tilting it up on edge and taking a look at what would be your upper right hand side of the keyboard, you'll find two 2.0 USB ports and connections for headphones and or a mic. Since this edge sits realitivly high up on your desk, even without the feet extended, the ports are pretty easy to get to and seem like options I'd almost consider using, as opposed to other keyboards with this feature. However, I feel that keyboards don't really need ports like this, but it seems every manufacture thinks they do.

 

 

The backside of the keyboard is about as standard as it gets. There are two extendable feet at the top, some rubber pads near the four corners, and a detachable wrist rest. These things all seem to be becoming more and more common and need little explanation. The feet that do pop up add quite a bit of height, to what already seems like a tall keyboard to me, perhaps I tend to fall a little more for the lower profile keyboards. But, this one just seems super tall.

 

 

I mentioned the upper right corner of the keyboard while I was unboxing it. Normally you find the CAPS lock, scroll lock, and num lock indicators located here. However, this one has CAPS lock, num lock, and what's considered the "G" mode. This indicator allows you to see if your gamer profiles are set (i.e. your Windows key is off and your macros are all set to active). Even without this feature, with a few presses of your macro keys, it doesn't take too many windows to open or things to not happen as expected to notice your gamer profiles are on. No one really uses the scroll lock, so it's not much of a loss, but I'm not sure it's really a gain either. There is also a super dim, almost UV purple Tesoro logo, that I've slightly photoshopped for you to see. Unfortunately when lit up even with the lights off it's difficult to see. I'm not sure of its purpose if I can't see it, but it is there.

 

The CD and install guide are wrapped up nicely and this is one CD you won't want to lose. The software is not available for download on Tesoro's site just yet, and without it you won't be able to take advantage of any macro settings you may so desire. You don't really need to read the instructions, you plug in the keyboard and Windows will make it work. If you want macros, drop in the CD and install, it's just that simple. There's only a one page GUI to play with, so you can't get confused or lost. You can switch profiles by selecting it on your keyboard or selecting it at the top of the software window. You can now set up to 50 macros that will do about anything you desire, from opening programs, to spamming kill commands, it's truly up to you. It takes a few seconds when you hit "Apply" to write these to the hardware itself, but once it's there you don’t even need the software to use your settings. Take this to a friend's house and without installing anything, you will still have your macro options. Pretty simple and pretty neat.

 

 

Overall the keyboard is a pretty sexy looking thing. The LED lighting is a super downer on the overall appearance of the keyboard itself. It has nice MX Cherry Browns that will make any mechanical keyboard guru go crazy. But it's quite the wallet eater for the cost, at $180.00 there's not quite enough here to warrant such demanding value.

Specifications:

Dimensions:
455 x 206 x 43.4 mm
Key Type:
Cherry MX Brown tactile mechanical
Switch Mount:
18k gold plated backed
Actuation Force:
45g
Key Shape:
Cylindrical
Responsiveness:
2mm (4mm to bottom)
Cable Length:
1.5 m (braided and shielded)
Net Weight:
1.4 KG

 

 

 

 

Features:

 

 

All information provided by: http://www.tesorotec.com/gaming-keyboard/tesoro-durandal-ultimate-g1nl-led-backlit-mechanical-gaming-keyboard.html?sl=EN

Testing:

The Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL was put through over a full week worth of testing. During this time I did everything from writing school papers, random net surfing, and most importantly some good casual gaming with some friends. With the added functionality of macro settings, I also had to goof around opening Chrome with a random key or spamming the heck out of my friends with ASCII art.

Although a keyboard is a crucial part of any system build, there really are no concrete “tests” that can be performed to really define this keyboard as better than any other. However, in a subjective manner it can easily be broken down into key categories that really show where a keyboard shines or fails miserably. The most defining traits of a keyboard can be summarized numerically under the categories of: Comfort, Customization, Gaming, and Accuracy.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Keyboards:

 

Comfort:

Comfort personally is a major player when it comes to choosing a keyboard. If I need to spend 15 hours working on a report, I want to be miserable from the report itself, not because my hands are cramping from the unusual keyboard design. If the keys are too far apart or it has a sharp edge where my palms sit, then I probably will not be much of a happy camper. With this in mind, comfort is measured on a scale from 1-10, with a score of 1 being, “Are you sure this is even a keyboard?” and a score of 10 as, “This keyboard was molded to fit my hands”. A 5 shall represent your typical quote stock keyboard.

 

Customization:

In a gaming situation it might be nice to have a few keys on a keyboard that are designated for weapon selection or giving commands. The ability to assign macro keys can be the difference when you are being beaten by someone who simply does not have to click to do every action. Therefore a scale of 1-10 is assigned with a value of 1 representing, “There are fewer keys than an average keyboard”, and a value of 10 as “WOW! Where are my normal keys, there are SOOO many”. Again a 5 is representative of the “stock” keyboard (including media keys). This category also covers the options of appearance customization (i.e. replacement keys, lighting, and other color options)

 

Gaming:

Gaming plays in hand with customization. Being able to assign macros can make some games much easier to play – especially if it replaces scrolling through several menu options. This category for rating is based on the concept of the keyboard being designed for gaming or not. This category is based completely on the compatibility to play with games. Does it have specific designed macro keys, are there many of them, and how easy are easy they to use? A scale of 1-10 is used with a score of 1 represents a keyboard with only the main keys (no media keys, no number pad), a score of 10 means the keyboard was designed solely for a gamer.

 

Accuracy:

No matter how fast a keyboard can respond or how fast you can type, writing up papers and maneuvering the battlefield both require great accuracy. If you can’t get your point across in an email because you had to spend half your time going back to retype words because a keystroke was missed or over typed, then why even bother. Same goes for in game – pressing the correct key should always, always, always produce the correct response. A scale of 1 – 10 was used to rate accuracy; a score of 1 represents you might as well give up, and a 10 means your keyboard knows what you were thinking before you typed it.

 

Overall the keyboard did score a bit higher than some of the others I have for comparison. One big reason for this is the ability to assign macros, whereas no other keyboard in the list has such ability. This gives it a gain in gaming and customization. Overall I really liked the way the keys felt, a little louder than reds or blues for me but the typing was smooth and free feeling. Unfortunately, I thought the actual positioning of my wrists was forced a bit high. I kept getting creases further up my arm from the edge of my desk, something that doesn't generally happen with slightly lower keyboards. It's about as accurate as any other mech I've used, it's nothing super special in that manner, rather than it's decent response rate compared to an older "loose" keyboard. I'm generally impressed by the keyboard as far as functionality is concerned.

Conclusion:

In the end, the cost of this keyboard is what truly keeps it from winning any big awards or even the opportunity of being on many of your desks. For subpar backlighting and nothing too super special about the keyboard in general, I cannot justify the $180 price tag it has mounted to it. Don't let the cost fool you into thinking more money means better quality, because this isn't always the case. It's not a bad keyboard, don't get me wrong, but for the price, save yourself some coin and go with something else. It's just overpriced for what it is, the little bit of lighting(poorly done at that), doesn't justify the absurd cost. Now if you've got funds that you just don't know what to do with, buy this and perhaps helping Tesoro get their feet wet in the US will encourage some price decreases for the rest of us.

I will say this keyboard is one of few that offer red backlighting. Most keyboards and mechanical keyboards with backlighting today are blue. However, like I said, the uneven lighting was disappointing. Using the keyboard was like using about any other mechanical keyboard; it didn't have any special feel to it. The keys are unusually "clicky" compared to other mechanical keys -- even for being being Cherry MX browns, they're LOUD. The media keys are the annoying function use media keys which require you to press and hold a function key in order to change the song, change the volume, or even simply pause your music or game noise when the phone rings. I know many keyboards have this function key feature, but for the price I would expect to get full separate keys to toggle media features. Especially since the keyboard is already large enough with wasted space just to look "pretty". Overall I didn't find this to be anything particularly special. It's a mechanical keyboard and it lights up red. If you love your macros and using a function key, you've hit the jack pot here. Otherwise, the cost and overall LED effects don't seek to impress. 

 

Pros:

Cons: