Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Review

BluePanda - 2013-07-02 18:17:54 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: October 3, 2013
Price: $109.99

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Introduction:

The Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard, if nothing else, has a really fun name to say – G UNIT! I don't know why I find that so entertaining, but I do. Thermaltake currently has four versions of the G-Unit available: the first G-Unit (Cherry MX Blacks), the G-Unit Red Switch Edition (we are looking at today), the G-Unit Battle Edition (in army green), and the most recent release: the G-Unit Illuminated Edition (red LED lighting). They all appear to be effectively the same with the exception of either the physical appearance or change in Cherry MX keys. So although we are looking specifically at the G-Unit Red Switch Edition today, you can at least get an idea of the general looks of the keyboard and pick your favorite options from there. The Red Switch Edition comes with Cherry MX Red switches; like that wasn't obvious. It does have 104 total keys including up to 60 programmable storage macro keys (perhaps a little less obvious) and takes advantage of the Instant Switch System (I.S.S.) which allows you to quickly switch between profiles to utilize all the macros! There are tweleve dedicated macros and the gaming profiles allow you to set almost any key to anything. So let's see what this thing really has to offer once it's at your desk; well in this case it's at my desk for scrutiny – but let it have it!

Closer Look:

The box fulfills the usual Tt ESPORTS theme of flashy flames and the traditional black and red color scheme. The corners of the box are painted up to look industrial with rivets and if nothing else, the box does manage to grab your attention. The front of the box boasts the I.S.S., gaming LED backlighting, 60 macro keys, and 1000 Hz Polling rate (through PS/2 of course). It also claims your gaming speed will be "8x quicker" and that it is "armed for battle." Though I'm not sure how these regards are met, I'm sure we will find out. The back of the box goes to point out a few of the key features (which we will take a closer look at) and highlights the LED key regions in red boxes – this is what they mean by "gaming" LED backlighting…it will be interesting to see it on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening up the box you might feel a little important or as if what you just bought is presenting itself to you like you are some sort of god. The product must be nice if they don't have to flaunt it at you the second you open the box. The software's GUI is shown off a little here with a picture pointing out what you can change and how to navigate through the different options. If nothing else you can store this at your desk for the first round of changing things in software. The little envelope with the ESPORTS red dragon logo pops out to show its contents: warranty information and a quick how to guide. Like most companies these days, the drivers are available from their website – no more included CD drivers.

Pulling open the box the rest of the way, the keyboard and its accessories are neatly tucked away. Inside you'll find a little more than just the keyboard itself. There is the detachable arm rest, fully detachable USB braided cable (with attached Velcro strap to keep it neat), and a fancy velvet ESPORTS branded bag – for, I guess, the cable. If nothing else it at least looks like you've received something "high quality" with the bonus bag. At first touch the keyboard feels very sturdy and definitely a bit on the heavy side. I look forward to banging away at it in my rage style of gaming to see how it holds up.

 

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Closer Look:

From the top down the keyboard almost looks naked without it's pants on… I mean it's wrist rest, but also really makes it look rather small and wide. Perhaps I've just looked at it too much with the rest in place that this sort of looks funny. At this point, though it took some typing on it to actually notice, take a closer look at the right return (enter) key. It's the classic big one. This gives you a shorter right shift and the pipe/backslash key left of it (rather than below the backspace).

The back of the keyboard, like most, isn't super exciting. If it were too exciting we'd never type on the right side. There is a large U shaped grove in the top edge of the keyboard. In a picture ahead you'll see the USB cable plugs into the back edge of the keyboard with a right angle bend; thus, if your case sits to the left of you the cable won't naturally want to go that way. Route the cable through the grove and now you can plug to the left. I will say it is a most unusual cable routing pattern compared to most we see on the market these days – perhaps a quick afterthought just before release? Otherwise all that's left to see back here are the rubbers for slip protection and the flip-flop feet for you high riser typers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The explanation for this rather wide keyboard is rather obvious with the three sets of tightly packed keys adding up to a full twelve macros. T1 to T12 runs from top to bottom in numbering and are separated in sets of four to perhaps let you find what you are looking for quicker. The rest of the keys appear normal from this angle only leaving you wondering about the buttons above the Esc key – patience grasshopper.

The right side of the keyboard has a little addition to the number pad as well. The Num Lock key has an LED indicator that shows whether it is toggled on or off, which I guess this is as good a point to mention that all the toggle keys have this: Scroll Lock, Caps Lock, and Num Lock. As you can see, some fancy media keys (note the volume down is on the right while the volume up is on the left – backwards?) take up the standard location for such indicators – but honestly I like the in-key notifier. Back to the special keys; you have a full set of volume controls: up, down, and mute, and a key to cycle through the different brightness for the lighting you'll see later. I much prefer these single function keys than having to press and hold a shift-sort of function to get my media keys.

 

 

If you have been patient, or otherwise skipped ahead, you can now know what these mysterious keys are/do. You might have guessed they are for switching profiles you have set up in the software. Press the furthest left (the one that looks like an almost rewind switch) and you can toggle between "Normal" and "Game" mode. With the software installed you will see a red overly show up on the screen indicating the switch. The other three buttons marked with a 1, 2, or 3 indicate a change in profile. The software allows you to set up three individual profiles with your pre-programed corresponding macros. Back to the right of the keyboard we've already discussed the media keys and a closer up shot of them just reminds you how simple and obvious their use is.

 

 

The flippy flappy feet on the bottom have rubber on both the flap edge as well as the back of the flap so no matter which way you prefer to type, you won't have to worry about the keyboard sliding about.

 

 

As one of my favorite pictures, this next one shows off the Cherry MX red switches beneath the ESC key. Though it's nothing particularly exciting as most of us have seen almost every variation of mechanical switch by now – it is still neat looking at what it all comes down to. Reds are a personal UN-favorite of mine, but there seem to be a lot of people out there who really enjoy them. Personally, I think they feel like I'm typing on a rather fat person's flab and it's just a constant mush, mush. Why bother with mechanical switches if a) you don’t get to click, b) you don't get to clack, and/or c) it doesn't feel much different than a standard membrane keyboard? Anyway – that's clearly my opinion; I await the many of you Red lovers to rant away in this review thread forum post…I just don't understand the love there.

 

Enough about what I think about the Red switches – this keyboard is available in other switch types as well – obviously not the Red Switch Edition specifically, but there's plenty of G-Unit to go around. The other picture I share here shows off the rear dual USB ports and two audio ports (headset and mic). The tiny USB-MINI port is for the keyboard cable. Surely it's just more cables to fill your desk but in some cases it's a lot faster than getting to the back of your computer to get all set up for a long night of gaming. I will just go ahead and say it here – the audio output is LOUD. Even turned all the way down the output still plays audibly – it isn't silent. You can mute, but Volume null doesn't give the expected silent. It didn't sound great up top, but that’s more a lack of the headphones being capable of being pushed that hard. You will NOT have any problem getting enough volume from the audio outputs; it just ramps up really quick.

 

 

 

The cable is a rather stiff yet bendable braided cable. The keyboard connection end has a USB-MINI connector like I said above. You can see the right-angle bend in the picture below which causes that need for the under-keyboard cable routing. The other end is a standard USB plug. Both ends are gold plated and ready to last many plugs and unplugs. A nifty Tt branded Velcro cable tie and ESPORTS velvet bag keep you nice and tidy on the go – just don't forget and leave this somewhere; it won't be hard to find a replacement cable but you won't do much at home or a LAN party without it.

 

These next few pictures really just provide a little more of a rounded look of the keyboard, giving you an overall idea for the height of the keyboard, general size, and general up-close look at the keys themselves. The little red accents are quite nice despite my usual blue and black theme at my desk; I foresee some future modding here.

 

 

 

Overall the keyboard doesn't look too bad. It takes up a little more room with the Macro keys, but if you are buying this keyboard, you are likely buying it to have those additional keys. The red switches are standard red switches and in my opinion a bit loud for reds (though I don't like reds much, so generally I try not to use them often). The detachable arm rest and cable are great options for on the go and allow you to pack up small. In general it is a nice sturdy build; but I guess the next important fact is how it performs… keep reading to find out just how well it handled my rage smashings.

 

Before we leave completely, I know you are dying to see the LED regions lit up. Here are a couple last shots to feed you there.

 

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Closer Look (The Software):

The software for the MEKA G-Unit is pretty simple. It's a one page design with nowhere to get lost in submenus or different pages – it's all in one place. There is a small pop up window that appears when you are creating macros but everything is right there behind it so you still feel safe. It's all pretty straight forward with setting options for one of the three profiles in the upper right corner. The other two "profile" options embedded in "Normal Mode" and "Gaming Mode" show up for change in the left corner below the MEKA G-Unit logo. The Macro key settings and lighting options can be adjusted on the right side of the software page and as I mentioned before the Macro Key tab brings up a secondary window over everything (second picture). It's all there and pretty straight forward.

I will mention that unless you are going to use macros (which is likely a reason you chose this keyboard) don't install the software. It's a bit buggy to say the least and their uninstaller for lack of a nicer way of saying it just simply does not work. You get stuck with a broken driver/software package installed and can't uninstall it. Safe Mode is your best friend then; if you are lucky you'll get it to properly install the second round and it'll just magically work! However, the sound and USB ports work fine without the drivers – so really the software is for macros and profiles. (Unfortunately that's probably the main reason you would buy this). Really it seems to be a roll of the dice in whether or not the software will install correctly first time. So once it's good – it's actually not too bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Specifications:

Color:
Black
Interface:
USB
Membrane, Mechanical, Plunger:
Mechanical
Anti-Ghosting Keys:
104 (PS2)
On-Board Memory Size:
64KB
NO. Gaming Profiles:
3
NO. Macro Keys:
60 (12 per profile + 12 per Game and Normal Mode)
Polling Rate:
1000 Hz
Back-Light:
Yes, White LED Back-lighting in three sections
Wrist Rest:
Yes, Detachable
Weight:
2530g
Multimedia Keys:
7
On-Board USB Ports:
2
Keystroke Lifecycle:
50 million
Cable Length:
1.8 m Braided
Dimensions (L x W x H):
553 x 271 x 70 mm

 

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Features:

 

 

 

Information provided by: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/store/Product.aspx?C=1154&SC=1165&ID=2094

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Testing:

The Tt MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard was defiantly put through over a week of use and testing. During this time it was put through everyday use, surfing the internet, ranting on forums, and of course some gaming. As a keyboard is personal to each and every individual, how it responds in these various tasks is important in different ways to everyone. This rather subjective review is best to provide you the feedback from use rather than assigning made up numbers trying to compare one keyboard to another. It's pretty easy to distinguish the likes and dislikes of a keyboard through words rather than leaving it to you to decide what a 7 or 8 really means. No guessing game – here's what I liked, and here's what I hated.

Testing Setup:

 

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Results:

 

Everyday Use:

For everyday use the keyboard isn't too bad. A little adjustment from me for the lighter keys (I usually use Cherry MX Greens) and it was alright. I struggled a little writing emails and performing everyday normal typing; but, to be fair it's the mush of the red switches I struggle with. I compensated by just mashing the keys to the floor every press. That gave me my "clack" confirmation of key press and the two of us worked together quite well from there out. However, this really is a personal issue – so I must point out there is nothing wrong with the keyboard, just the typer in this case. The full layout of keys with a full number pad and isolated media keys was just great. I can type numbers from home row but having a full pad of digits to do math from is much greater in some cases; and sadly using the windows calculator is part of my everyday use – perhaps I work too many hours? Ultimately this keyboard is just fine in everyday use; no issues (besides myself of course).

 

Working:

Using a keyboard with a slightly different than standard layout can make the way you do something every day become rather frustrating. Although this is a throwback to the older classic keyboard layout, with the larger Enter key, my fingers are just too used to piping things with the upper reach of my right pinky. Sadly, it's not there now -- instead I keep hitting return. For your reference, learn that the pipe is now next to your right shift... learn or forever fail to pipe! For me it was mostly frustration with these two little key changes that took a while to adapt to. Now I'm sure when I go to work Monday I will fail to find the "norm" and re-live this all again, all too soon. SIGH.

 

Gaming:

Gaming-wise this keyboard had some easy strengths with its additional keys dedicated to Macro options compared to other standard keyboard layouts. However, generally unless you play an MMO you probably only find a Macro or two ever really wished for or desired for use. Strategy games often can have a role here as well, and honestly you can make any game fit into having a use for Macros. It honestly comes down to your style of game play. I always struggle when talking about macros as I personally RARELY use them. I'm one to master the key combos to do something or in other words "do it the hard way" for most things and games. However, I always find myself in the presence of having macros; using them to post spam – either ASCII art in in-game chat, saying something stupid "FEAR the BLUEPANDA!" or other stupid things. It is entertaining to allow your keyboard to do so much for you with the press of one key. I did force a few macros in a couple games this time – but I really found myself doing them without the macro key – just not thinking about it. I will say the macros were easy enough to find when looking/feeling for T9 or T4 for example.

I also decided that this was a good time to test the audio ports on the back side of the keyboard as I gamed. I plugged in my headset and mic to the two ports and the mic worked instantly – Windows saw it no problem and it just worked (like had I plugged it into the motherboard/soundcard). However, the audio to the headset wasn't as quick to work.

Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Mechanical Keyboard Conclusion:

Overall the MEKA G-Unit Red Switch Edition Mechanical Keyboard from Thermaltake's branch of ESPORTS gear was not too bad. I won't say it was one of my favorite keyboards that I've used but honestly that goes back to the fact that I hate Reds. This keyboard was designed specifically to cater to those of you who love the Cherry MX Reds – and that's just not me. That doesn't change the fact that this keyboard is built quite well and could kill a zombie in your gaming room without a struggle. It also doesn't change the unique "gaming" lighting patterns available – providing some lighting rather than none at all. The software wonkie-ness wasn't loved, but the fact that it eventually ultimately worked, was definitely in its favor. I did like the media key options in both actual keys (with the same red switches) for volume and lighting control as well as the secondary buttons for forward, play, and back. However, I wasn't as impressed with the gaming profiles and macro button options. This comes back to another personal usage issue as I really find no need for them in my style of play. They take up extra space and mostly go unused. So again – a lot of personal fails here; but I must keep reinforcing that me not liking them does NOT make them a fail. This keyboard has a lot of potential for sure – just not at my desk.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: