Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard Review
Tim Mammatt+ / 2 years ago
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Roccat are a renowned gaming peripheral company, having previously brought us quality gaming mice, keyboard and headset all aimed at hardcore gamers. They are the scientists of the gaming industry, so strive to bring us the best equipment at affordable prices.
The keyboard is a crucial weapon when it comes to gaming, so choosing the right one can make a world of difference from becoming the hunter, instead of the hunted. There are many options out there, ranging from more expensive mechanical keyboards, all the way to the feature packed membrane keyboards. What Roccat have let us unleash today is the Roccat Isku.
The Roccat Isku is high end illuminated gaming keyboard, that features new technology that allows it to communicate with its cousin, the Kone[+] gaming mouse. The keyboard has many properties that help dominate gaming, from on the fly macro recording, intuitive software and built in wristrest. Here is the full list of features that Roccat have packed into the Isku:
- BLUE KEY ILLUMINATION with 6 brightness levels
- 3 Easy Shift[+]™ Zones for easy key duplication
- 36 easy-to-reach Macro Keys including 3 Thumbster keys
- Macro Live! Recording with dedicated M-Rec button; 180+ macros in 5 profiles
- 8 CONFIGURABLE MEDIA & HOTKEYS 25+ assignable functions
- Medium-height keys with an optimum keystroke & pressure point; advanced anti-ghosting; 1000Hz polling rate
- ROCCAT™ DRIVER + MACRO MANAGER incl. Sound Feedback; Macro Presets for games, multimedia and office apps
- Extra-large GRANULAR wrist rest with special surface texture
- Integrated cable channels for better device organization
- Non-slip base with lock-on keyboard feet
- Ultra-fast profile switching
- 5 Profile-Status LEDs
- ROCCAT™ TALK© – SET BONUS by combining products
And the technical specification:
- Illuminated keyboard with 123 keys
- Enhanced anti-ghosting capability
- 3 programmable Thumbster Keys (T1-T3)
- 5 programmable Macro Keys (M1-M5)
- 20 additional Macro Keys (Easy Zone)
- 5 Profile-Status LEDs
- 3 Status LEDs (Caps Lock, Easy Shift[+]™, Num Lock)
- 1000Hz polling rate, 1ms response time
- 2m USB cable
Now we know the Isku’s features and specification, lets take a look at the keyboard:
The Isku is packaged in a quite a flat package as the keyboard it’s self is relatively large due to it having an integrated wrist rest. On the front there is a graphic of the keyboard, with various features highlighted. On the reverse there are lists of the features in various languages. But who cares about the packaging? Lets see what the keyboard looks like!:
On taking the Isku out of the box you are presented with a very sleek, stealthy looking keyboard. The whole board is black, with a smooth finish everywhere except the wrist rest, which has a slightly rougher texture. There are a total of 123 keys on the board, including the additional keys like the “thumbster”, media and macro keys, which we’ll look in greater detail later. The integrated wrist rest and media keys it makes it quite a deep keyboard, that, along with the additional macro keys on the left side of the board make it fairly wide, which could be a problem if you have limited desk space.
The front of the keyboard is dominated by the large textured wrist rest featuring the gloss Roccat logo and the name of the keyboard.
Just below the space bar there is also 3 “thumbster” buttons, which by default switch between the different profiles (left and right button) or run the Isku software (middle).
The Isku features 5 macro buttons down the left hand side of the keyboard. This can be customised using the on-the-fly macro recoding abilities of the keyboard seen below:
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On the top left of the Isku, there are several LEDs which indicate which profile is currently active. They can be cycled through by using the thumbster buttons below the spacebar. The record button is what controls the on-the-fly recording. When you push this, a polite voice tells you to select a macro button, then choose what you want to record, then press the record button to finish recording. Takes seconds to do – a very nifty feature if you’re playing an MMORPG.
Like most keyboards, the Isku has two legs on the bottom side to raise the keyboard up, which would make it more comfortable for some.
In the middle at the top of the Isku, there are eight media keys that control the usual functions such as volume, change track, email and web browser. This is a useful feature, as many keyboards usually integrate these functions in the F keys, which require an additional button press, which isn’t all that convenient.
One of the main features about the Isku is that it is an illuminated keyboard. Every button except the media keys are backlit by a blue LED, where a button at the top of the keyboard varies the brightness levels, of which there are 6 different levels.
Being backlit is always a good feature for a keyboard, however with the Isku, the keys are not laser cut, so some characters are distorted, for example the 6 looks like a 5 and the letters don’t looks all that clear. The illumination of the keys also depends on the angle you are looking at them, most of the time you have to be looking directly down on them to see the full illumination.
The software that is included with the Isku is intuitive and very easy to use. The program is divided into tabs, from which you can change the macro buttons and what they do when the EasyShift key is pressed, customise up to 20 other keys in the “Easy Zone” and configure more advanced controls such as the media keys, the duration of the illumination.
When it comes to using the keyboard, the key presses are smooth and require little pressure, yet do not feel as sturdy as you would with a Cherry MX switch. This is down to the membrane switches, however is entirely down to preference. Here at eTeknix we are spoilt by the mechanical keyboards we get to review, so don’t perceive this as a negative point.
During general use, the keyboard was reasonably pleasant to use. The built in wrist rest was comfortable when doing lots of typing, and the ability to customise the macro keys was really useful when using programs such as Photoshop, where you can assign shortcuts to them. The media keys were also very useful when doing lots of typing as you could change the track with just one button push, as well as open up the web browser.
There was a small issue with locating the right keys when touch typing. this is probably down to the fact that the macro keys are fairly close to the left side of the keyboard and do take some time getting used to. In this case, the M5 button kept getting pressed instead of the Ctrl button – a small but annoying issue.
When gaming, the Isku felt average when playing FPS games, however when it came to MMORPGS such a Star Wars: The Old Republic, the keyboard was brilliant with all the macros. At the push of a button, the keyboard loaded my preconfigured profile, that was customised to string together lots of attacks for just one button press.
Overall, the Roccat Isku was a pleasure to use. The on-the-fly macro recording is a brilliant feature, but would be even more so if the macro keys were spaced slightly further away. The built in wrist rest also added to overall performance of the keyboard, but does mean it will cover a lot of desk real-estate, which could be a problem for some. With an RRP of approximately £69.99, it could be considered fairly steep for some, however you are getting a lot for your money. Whilst the keyboard was slightly average for everyday use, when it came to gaming, particularly MMORPGs, the Isku is top of it’s class for membrane switch keyboards, so for this very reason, we are awarding the Isku with the following: