Thermaltake Meka G1 Gaming Keyboard Review

ajmatson - 2011-01-27 09:17:17 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: February 27, 2011
Price: $139.99 MSRP

Introduction:

When it comes to considering parts for your next build or something good to upgrade to, normally people think of the latest CPU, video card or larger hard drive. But, one seldom considered upgrade are the peripherals that you use on a daily basis to run your system. By those peripherals I am talking about the glanced over keyboard and mouse. These devices are just as critical to your system as any of the internal components, are abused more and generally take a physical beating. When you are into gaming as much as I am, the keyboard and mouse make a big difference as to whether you are the one being killed or the one performing the famed T-bag dance.

Keyboards are important to a computer system since they are pounded on more than any other device. You use keyboards for gaming to direct your character, typing up reports and important documentation and even searching for a movie to pass the time away. Not every keyboard is made the same and while some offer the best of frills they might not have your typing interests in mind. Today we are going to be taking a look at a high grade keyboard developed by Thermaltake eSports. This keyboard has the gamer and long term typer in mind and offers features that are designed to make your experience quicker and more comfortable. Paired with some high end features such as gold connectors and onboard connections for USB and audio, the Meka G1 is ready for battle, are you? Let's find out by taking a closer look at this tool of war.

 

Closer Look:

The Meka G1 comes packaged in a black box with a full size picture of the keyboard on the front. Thermaltake eSports also included highlights of some of the features of the Meka G1 on the front such as having a 1000Hz polling rate, the ability to take 50 million key strokes before failure, support for USB devices with a built-in hub, and onboard audio jacks for easy access for your gaming headset. On the back side of the packaging there is an expanded breakdown of the features that is offered on this gaming keyboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the packaging finally opened we are greeted by an internal display of what the keyboard looks like with a breakdown of an explanation of the function keys that are on the Meka G1 which we will take a better look at in the next section of the review. There is also a re-emphasis of the special features of the Meka G1 design. Included in the box is the keyboard itself along with the documentation to get you up and running in no time.

 

 

Now that we have the beast out of the box we can get it ready for its close up.

Closer Look:

The Thermaltake Meka G1 is a very solidly built device with some nice weight to it which is good because it keeps the keyboard from sliding all over the desk. The keys are well spaced which makes typing for a person with big hands (such as myself) from pressing double keys and improving accuracy. It is nice to see that Thermaltake took the time in designing this piece of hardware. At the top of the keyboard there are several extra function keys for multimedia controls and volume adjustment without the need for doing it in the operating system or app. The keys themselves are designed with Cherry black mechanical switches which are very durable and will hold up to long hours of use without wearing down. The give in the keys when they are pressed provide nice feedback and require enough force to push down that you will not be accidently pressing one down due to fat fingers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help give the Meka G1 a good grip and angle Thermaltake has included durable rubber pads and flip outs. These additions keep the keyboard even and at a comfortable angle for you without it sliding all over the place and causing you to misstype. On the underneath is the product label as well along with the model name, model number, and serial number barcode. On the top edge of the keyboard, Thermaltake has included a little bit of a gem to help you out. There is an out-of-sight USB hub and audio connections. The hub is powered and uses a separate cable which you will see below to power and run the connections. This separates the power from the keyboard making sure you get the full amount to run your devices including headsets, mice and even flash drives. The audio ports also make using your headset for gaming easier since you will not have to stretch your body to reach the jacks on the back of your computer sitting on your floor.

 

 

The cabling is considered "military grade" with a long and strong braided cover spanning the majority of the cable length. Overall length of the cabling is 1.5 meters which is almost five feet. This makes it easy to use the keyboard anywhere needed without having to use extensions. While nice and strong, the cable is very stiff which can make routing it a difficult task. While it is a nice design, it is a bit of an overkill in my opinion. To connect the Meka G1 you will need to use two USB ports and two audio ports. One of the USB ports is used to power and operate the keyboard while the other one is strictly for the two-port USB hub. This keeps the power from having to be split between the hub and the keyboard allowing for better operation and powering of USB devices. Thermaltake has also included a USB to PS/2 adapter which practically eliminated ghosting and n-Key Rollover causing misstypes or worse in a gaming situation. To help with comfort and long term use there is a removable palm rest included with the Meka G1 as well.

 

 

Now that we have the Meka G1 out and looked at it is time for the testing to begin.

Specifications:

 

Features:

 

All information courtset of Thermaltake @ http://www.ttesports.com/products/product.aspx?g=feature&s=13

Testing:

To test the Thermaltake Meka G1 gaming keyboard, I set it up for use for a one week period. During this week I did everything from gaming to typing reports for school and using it for work. I averaged about eight hours a day so I had the ability to really use the keyboard and get a really good feel for it. Since the keyboard has a built in hub, I also ran HD Tune and a file transfer to see if the hub has any speed loss compared to a port directly on the the motherboard.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Keyboard:

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it came to comfort and ease of use I was gratefully surprised. I have big hands and this keyboard made typing and gaming great and my hands and wrists did not tire easily like they normally do with the Logitech G15. The Speed and accuracy was amazing. I never hit multiple keys nor did I miss a key that I meant to press. For the size of the Meka G1 I am very pleased with the day-to-day use of it.

Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. The testing was run using HD Tune and a Mushkin Mullholand 8GB thumb drive. Since the Logitech K120 does not have a USB hub included on the keyboard it was eliminated from the hub testing. The tests were run on each of the two remaining keyboards as well as a direct connection to a USB port on the back panel of the motherboard to gauge if the hub affects any speed and if so by how much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is better

 

 

Lower is better

 

File Transfer Test:

File Transfer, the purpose of this test was to show real world performance by transferring a 500MB and a 1GB file from the desktop of the computer to the same Mushkin Mullholand 8GB thumb drive plugged into the hubs for each of the keyboards. I also again included the drive directly connected to the USB port on the motherboard to see the differences (if any) with the hub.

 

Lower is better

 

First off you may have noticed that the Logitech G15 has no scores. That is because when the testing was taking place, I kept getting errors that there was not enough power to run the device. This is because there is a single USB plug that runs the whole keyboard. I kept this in the review test because I wanted to show how much of a difference the Meka G1 adds by using a separate USB connection for the hub, separating the power requirements and giving the USB hub enough juice to run the Mushkin thumb drive. Now when it came down between the Meka G1 hub and the direct connection tests, you can plainly see the hub stands its ground. The difference between the hub and directly connected is so minimal that the slight decrease in speed will be transparent to the end user.

Conclusion:

I must say this keyboard is a beast but in a good way. It has a very solid build and makes typing and gaming on it a pleasure. The feedback on the keys makes hitting the right ones easier and alleviates mistakes or leaving you wondering if you actually pressed the key or not. I was really pleased with the spacing and design of the individual keys as well because it kept me from hitting double keys with my fat fingers. I was pleased with the onboard USB hub not only with speed but the ability to power a thumb drive which the comparison keyboard failed to do. This makes using removable drives simpler without having to reach down to the back of a case for access. You can also use the hub to power your mouse and USB headset for those long frag sessions.

One thing I would have like to have seen is some sort of backlighting for night time. I am a big night gamer and like to have a dark room. At times I had to squint and look really close at the keyboard to make sure I was pressing the right keys. I know this would be a difficult task with the mechanical design but as an end user it is a feature I would really like to have. Also the braided cable while strong, is a bit too much in my opinion. The bulkiness of the cable makes routing it very difficult and was a pain for the most part and kept moving the keyboard back when I tried to position it. It would have been nice to have a braid that is not so thick and tough that routing is impossible. On the flip side it does its job of protecting the cables from being damaged and also keeps them together which helps from having four long cables from cluttering your desk and trying to keep them neat. Its a sort of catch 22 with it and it is a love hate relationship for the braid style.

Even with the slight pitfalls this is an amazing keyboard. It has permanently taken the place of my previous one - the Logitech G15. The price is a bit high but if you are wanting a solid keyboard that will work how you want it and last years doing so, I recommend taking a look at the Thermaltake Meka G1, you will not be sorry.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: