Razer Lycosa Mirror Keyboard ReviewZertz - January 29, 2009
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Since you cannot really benchmark a keyboard, I am going to take Razer's Lycosa along in a series of subjective tests to try and find out how it performs. The results will be based on my experience playing a mix of first person shooters, real time strategy games and general use like Internet browsing and office tools. I will also check out the Lycosa's extra features - audio and USB ports.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3.0GHz
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
- Memory: Mushkin Redline XP2 PC2-8000 5-5-5-12 2 x 2GB
- Video Card: nVidia GeForce GTX260 Core 216 w/ ForceWare 181.20
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800W Modular
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1000GB S-ATA2
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Case: Coolermaster ATCS 840
This keyboard is designed specifically for gaming, so I could only assume it was going to do well at what it's meant for. The hardware part felt nice for gaming, but nothing out of the ordinary, it's only a keyboard after all. However, what makes this peripheral better than average is the software Razer supplies. In fact, it allowed for a great deal of customization, almost infinite, as you set any key you want to do anything. Also, the low profile keys make reaction time in fast paced games, especially first person shooters, quite a bit shorter, which can usually make a difference between life and death. I found lighting only the WASD keys to be more or less useless since every game requires more than those keys to be used. However, as you can see in the picture below, every key around them we're also dimly lit so most ones you will be using are somewhat visible. It's also worth noting that they light up brighter than when the whole keyboard is on. While gaming, the Windows key is pretty much the last key you'd want to hit so Razer gives us the chance to disable it, or any other key actually.
The Lycosa not only performed generally well while gaming, but also in every day tasks, which is also quite important since we, at least myself, don't game all the time. I spend a lot of time either coding, writing reviews or on the forums and the Lycosa was really pleasant to use and comfortable even after too much time spent on the computer. Typing fast is made easy thanks to the low profile keys, what Razer calls Hyperesponse, and since the Lycosa has standard key locations and no funky shape, it's very easy to get used to it. I was able to type just as fast or maybe a tiny bit faster with the Lycosa than the keyboard I've been using to type on for the last couple years, which, to me, is pretty good.
At first, I thought the Lycosa's low profile keys would feel a lot like a notebook keyboard, but I was deeply surprised when I started typing on it. You definitely need to apply some pressure and then you can feel the key click. It's somewhat noisy, but it feels nice, sturdy and responsive. This also prevents from pressing a key by mistake while intense gaming and whatnot. The built in wrist rest works fairly well and, amazingly, it is fixed. What does this mean? It won't have the very annoying tendency to move out of place and there are no flimsy clips to break. While the palm rest isn't made out of some kind of high tech gel, it's still pretty comfortable, especially with the low profile keys since your hands sit almost level. This made it easy to keep my hands on the Lycosa for hours and still be able to feel and use my hands after.
This is an area that manufacturers who make gaming product like to brag about. Even though the Lycosa doesn't feature special keys, the software it comes with more than makes up for it. I prefer this route as it makes a regular sized keyboard, unlike some competitors. As you read in the last pages, while configuring a bunch of useful macros may take time, the outcome is definitely worth it as far as gaming goes. I really appreciated the ability to bind any key I want to perform a certain function, which can be saved into profiles. Speaking of profiles, it's easy to either manually switch between them or have the driver control software do it for you depending on the application that is currently running.
Since the microphone and headphone jacks found on the back of keyboard are simply extensions of the motherboard's sound ports, audio quality was the same as if my devices were plugged straight into the motherboard. If you don't have speakers and use a pair of headphones instead, then the output on Razer's keyboard will prove useful since your cables won't have to travel all the way to the back of the computer. Same rule applies for the microphone. Although the vast majority of cases have sound ports at the front, having them right on the keyboard will reduce overall cable clutter.
In a very similar way, the Lycosa's USB port has its own dedicated cable going to the motherboard. In order to confirm my thoughts, I downloaded 191 megabytes worth of pictures off my camera onto my computer. I used the same USB port both times and restarted Windows between each run. The only difference is that once I used the port directly off the board and the second time I plugged the Lycosa's second USB cable into the same port. Not so surprisingly, both runs took exactly the same amount of time. It's safe to say that Razer simply made an extension to a USB port of your choice and did not cripple the bandwidth in any shape or form.
Let's wrap this up now.