LAYOUT & SIZE
It's a full sized keyboard with 104 keys, meaning it features the very useful number pad on the side.
The layout of the keyboard, it’s all good, until we get to the bottom row. Unfortunately it’s a non standard bottom row, with different sized keys next to the space bar. And the space bar is smaller than usual, and is a 6 unit bar, instead of the more standard 6.25 unit bar. These odd sizes won’t impact on the typing experience, but will hinder your ability to replace keycaps, or buy aftermarket keycaps.
DESIGN & BUILD
And the first impression I had was on just how thin it was for a mechanical keyboard. But even though it looks thin, it still is quite hefty at 1.05kg. So it still maintains that typical mechanical keyboard feel, mainly due to the steel top plate, rather than having the usual aluminium.
The steel plate has a similar look to something like the Razer X Chroma. So there’s a fold at the front for more comfortable use, but then they also cut off the bottom corners. The steel plate is in a nice clean white which has been powder coated. The finish has a slight texture to it, but it looks very even, and has a fine grain matte look. And so far there’s been no problems with the durability of the finish, and it also feels superb. Although since it is white, it does catch stray dirt and dust, but I imagine that it wouldn’t be much of a problem for the black version of the keyboard. Also, the branding is quite minimal, and is acceptable, although I would have prefered the LED lock indicators to look a bit more neat, but that’s just a small complaint.
So the exterior looks great, but unfortunately on the keycaps, the typeface is just like on their old ones, which are very gamery. I know for the most of us, it’s frankly is an ugly font, which looks clunky and unprofessional. This is really unfortunate, because it really could have tied up the whole sleek aesthetic of the keyboard, which would have easily fit into a professional work environment.
As for the keycaps, they’re made from standard ABS plastic, but a positive is that they’re double shot keycaps. So this just means that the cap and the legends are different pieces of plastics, so the legends will never fade away or anything.
THESE SWITCHES ARE ACTUALLY KAILH SWITCHES, WHICH MAY BE A BIT DIFFICULT TO SEE, AS THEY’RE USING A FROSTED TOP CASING, AND A WHITE KEY STEM. SO I IMAGINE THAT THE KEY STEMS ARE WHITE ON EVERY VERSION, BUT THE BOTTOM CASING OF THE SWITCH IS THE APPROPRIATE COLOUR. UNFORTUNATELY, SINCE IT IS AT THE BOTTOM, THE COLOUR CAN EASILY BE SEEN, AND DOES ACT AS AN ACCENT, SO IT DOESN’T LOOK AS CLEAN, AND THE SWITCH IS ALSO A BIT SHORTER.
The Agile switch has an actuation distance of 1.5mm, rather than the standard 2mm. And the total travel distance or the bottoming out distance is 3.5mm rather than 4mm. The actuation force required is 45 grams, but the click is at about 55 grams. And this is specifically for the blue variant.
So in theory, you would be able to very slightly actuate it faster, because of the cut in distance. But if you were to use the Red version, it would probably also just be slightly faster. This potentially could make a difference in competitive gaming, but it does definitely help in repetitive actions. But conventional blues were never meant for fast repetitive actions, but for typing, so this isn’t the greatest application. I would definitely say that there would be more of an effect with a linear switch like the reds.
But they do feel different, and it’s really nice to feel something different in the market. For typing it’s a different experience, and I actually like it. But it’s a combination of both the switches and the keycaps. It’s all just a touch more shallow. It’s quite difficult to describe, but it has a kind of a light crispy feel to it, that is unique to anything I’ve felt. It doesn’t have a deep click feel to it, but at the same time, it’s not hollow. They do feel like Kailh Blues to me, but just stop earlier. So it’s kind of scratchy, and not as crisp and also not as high pitched as a Cherry MX blue. I think by being more shallow, and bottoming out more quickly, it makes it feel sharper.
And another feature is that it has RGB lighting, with the usual 16.8 million colours. And as usual, RGB lighting on light or white surfaces doesn’t bring out the depth of colour in the lighting. A light background makes the lights seem more pale than it should be, and in turn, giving the illusion that it looks a bit cheap. But on a black keyboard, the colours tend to pop out more, and look more vibrant.
Much of the lighting can be controlled on board via the function key and the directional arrow keys. Up and down control the brightness, and left to right allows you to switch lighting modes, in which there are 7.
The lighting can be further controlled via the software that you have to download off the Tesoro website. I won’t go too deep into the software, but you can pretty much see it all here. We can further customise the lighting modes and colours than what is available on the keyboard. So we can colour the keyboard to whatever you want. This was the only way I could get plain white backlighting, unless I missed something on the board. You can set different profiles, in which you can activate on the keyboard, and that gets saved on the on board memory, rather than just on the software.
So all up, it’s definitely an innovative product, which I completely support. In such a refined market, it’s always refreshing for companies to push forward and offer something different to the norm. The quality of the enclosure feels very well made, with the steel plate, and the keycaps are ABS, but are double shot which is good. Although they’re let down by the typeface on them. Other than the font, the keyboard as a whole looks aesthetically clean, in which doesn’t seem to show very well on video. I saw other videos before I got my hands on it, and I was genuinely surprised in how it looked and felt.
The key switches are Kailh switches, so they’re modified Chinese switches that are based on the German made Cherry MX line. So quality and tolerances are generally a touch looser, but there’s nothing to back that up with these newly modified switches. And these blue switches feel great in my opinion, with a unique light and snappy feel to them.
I like most of the keyboard, but it’s held back by the font, which I really think does make a huge difference for the looks, and also the lack of customisability, with most of the features being somewhat proprietary. I would also love to see this in maybe a tenkeyless form factor, as in the end this is a gaming oriented keyboard, and many don’t require the numpad, plus it would also look cool.
But lastly, innovation comes at a price, and traditionally, it is expensive for a keyboard that uses Kailh switches. So if these features aren’t for you, then absolutely go with something else that would probably be cheaper. But I think this is a great keyboard from Tesoro, and offers something different in the market, and is the best board they have to offer.