Review: Thermaltake MEKA G-UNIT Keyboard
1/8/2012 by: Ryan Glovinsky
A couple months ago we took a look at Thermaltake's Tt eSPORTS MEKA G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, today we are taking a look at their latest entry into the high-end keyboard market, the Tt eSPORTS MEKA G-UNIT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.
While the MEKA G1 was aimed at retaining the feel of the IBM mechanical keyboards of the ‘80s and early ‘90s while still labelling itself as a gaming keyboard, the MEKA G-UNIT is being touted as a full-size mechanical keyboard dedicated towards gaming (and apparently rap music aficionados, given the name).
Thermaltake has added a variety of features to make the MEKA G-UNIT more attractive to gamers, which we will address throughout the course of the article.
On the Thermaltake MEKA G-UNIT, the primary draw of the keyboard is the fact that it is a mechanical keyboard. Thermaltake opted to use Cherry Black switches for the MEKA G-UNIT which are considered highly effective for gaming. The differences between each type of switch were detailed in our Thermaltake MEKA G1 review.
However, one note should be made about Cherry Red switches which were rare at the time of writing of our MEKA-G1 article. They are currently back in full production, although as mentioned in the previous article, oftentimes the Black switches are preferred due to being less sensitive to accidental key presses. The inclusion of macro keys (which were not on the MEKA G1), are a welcome addition, as well as the use of discrete media keys.
For more information about mechanical keyboard switches, click here.
Packaging and Accessories
The MEKA G-UNIT keyboard comes in a very durable, thick cardboard box.
When the box is opened, the user is greeted by a diagram of they keyboard describing features, as well as the CD case holding the software and manual.
The keyboard is wrapped in a plastic cover, and the cable comes in a small, synthetic drawstring bag with a velvety feel. The detachable wrist rest comes wrapped in a plastic cover as well.
Also included is a synthetic pouch to put the keyboard in for transport or storage.
Design and Construction
The keyboard comes with a removable USB nylon sheath cord, which has the effect of making the cable tangle-free. Also, the way it plugs in is at a horizontal angle, and there is a cutout on the keyboard that allows the user to thread the cable through it. This makes it so the cable comes straight out of the assembly, but protects the cable from being torn out (e.g. in case it is tripped over).
The keyboard also has two extra USB ports, as well as headphone and microphone jacks, which all get routed through the single USB. The downside of this implementation is that peripherals that require a bit more power will not function correctly in the extra USB ports on the keyboard, since it would be one USB port on the computer powering both the keyboard and up two additional devices.
The top right of the keyboard has media keys and controls for audio, as well as control of the brightness of the keyboard backlighting. It is also worth noting that all of these keys function without installing the included keyboard software, but the software is required for use of the macro keys and more fine tuned configuration.
The keyboard is a full sized keyboard, with number pad and full sized keys for almost everything. It was decided that the Enter key be the large “L” shaped style rather than the standard “Candy-Bar” key shape. In order to fit the larger Enter key, the Backslash key, which normally sits above the Enter, was moved to the left of the Right Shift key, and the Right Shift was shortened to make room. The effects of this change will be noted later in the review.
The backlighting for the keyboard has four modes: low, medium, high, and pulse (which makes it constantly fade and glow between the other three settings). However, backlighting is not available for the whole keyboard, just the following keys: Left Shift, Left Control, W, A, S, D, Space, Arrow Keys, and 2, 4, 6, 8 on the number pad. The user can choose which of those keys to have backlit by using the keyboard software.
The keyboard also has two stands to change the angle the keyboard sits at, which have rubber pads on both the flat and angled configurations to prevent the keyboard from sliding. The wrist rest also fits in nicely and provides comfortable support for the wrists.
Games tested have been Starcraft 2, Skyrim, Team Fortress 2, and Worms Reloaded. Adjusting to the keyboard for typing takes very little time, and noticeably increases the speed at which one can type. This is assuming you are switching from a non-mechanical keyboard, if you already own a mechanical keyboard that uses Black switches, the feeling of typing will be identical. Since key presses are not as distinct as on a keyboard which uses Blue switches, there is a higher rate of error due to accidental key presses, but no more than on any non-mechanical keyboard, and the linear feel of the key presses on the Black switches is vastly superior to typing on any non-mechanical keyboard.
The MEKA G-UNIT software is easy to install and set up. The user is given the option to switch modes, set up macros, change lighting, and use the Instant Shift System (which allows the user to use either the Shift, Ctrl, or Alt key to quickly switch between macro groups and give immediate access to all 60 macro keys).
An interesting ability the user is given in Game Mode is the ability to bind up to 8 regular keys on the keyboard as macros in addition to the dedicated T1-T12 keys. This is what is meant by having 60 macro keys: T1-12, plus 8 bound regular keys equals 20. There are 3 macro groups, so 20 programmable keys makes 60 overall macros available in one profile. Unfortunately the keyboard does not appear to have the ability to save separate profiles other than the macro group. This option would be a welcome addition for gamers who play a multitude of games and would like to have profiles for each one. However, having up to 60 overall programmable keys was more than this reviewer needed, and the limitation did not end up being an issue. The lighting system gives the user a GUI based way to change the settings in the same manner discussed earlier using the brightness key, and also gives the ability to turn on and off backlighting for separate keyboard sections.
The foremost issue with the MEKA G-UNIT, at least based on personal experience, is the design decision to use a large Enter key, to move the Backslash key, and to shorten the Right Shift key. This caused frequent typing errors as the right pinky finger is required to move out further in order to reach the Right Shift key. What would often happen is the pinky would instead hit the Backslash key instead of the Shift key, or often hit it instead of the Forward Slash/Question Mark key.
In situations where it was necessary to type a backslash, the Enter key would be pressed accidentally, as that is where the Backslash key is normally located. It should be noted that while this design caused this reviewer much annoyance, it is a matter of personal preference, and others who used the keyboard seemed to adjust to the different design much more easily.
At an expected MSRP of $129.99, this keyboard provides an excellent value given the features. Having backlighting available for the whole keyboard would be a nice touch, but lacking it does not take away from the keyboard’s performance.
Overall, the Thermaltake MEKA G-UNIT is a great keyboard with a humorous name at a decent expected price. Other than a few issues that are simply a matter of personal preference, this keyboard has everything a user could want from a mechanical gaming keyboard.
Given the product quality, we're proudly giving away our Editor's Choice award.
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