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Review: Logitech G910 Orion Spark

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Reaching for the stars

In high-level competition, every little advantage counts. It is why Olympic swimmers shave their bodies before a race, why pre-med students fight tooth-and-nail for every half point on every test, and why gaming keyboards exist.

I am not a professional eSports athlete. I play competitive games, but I would not win any serious competitions. That said, I think this keyboard is pretty great, and in addition to the benefits to top-level players, it has some cool features for people like me too.

G910 Orion Spark
Manufacturer: Logitech
MSRP: $179.99

Logitech has been making gaming keyboards for a while now, but the G910 Orion Spark is the first to use the specially engineered Romer-G mechanical switches for the keys. These are tactile switches -- they require a minimum applied force before they will begin to depress -- but the actuation distance is lower than that of its closest competitors, which theoretically improves actuation speed.

A more obvious design element are the facets found on the keys. More angular than standard keys, the intent is to keep the user's fingers centered over the keys in order to decrease unintentional key presses. Almost all of the keys at least have inclines on the right and left sides, but each key within three spaces of WASD also has a lip on the top side. I could not detect a noticeable improvement in accuracy due to these facets, but they do feel like they can help keep fingers from sliding around unintentionally.

Among the three-faceted keys on the G910 are the nine custom G keys: G1 through G5 run down the left side of the keyboard and G6 through G9 span across the top of the F1 through F4 keys. Fully programmable, these keys are meant to take the place of additional functions that are usually assigned to keys furthers from WASD, or to use as macros in place of multiple key presses.

The keys along the left side took some getting used to, because I could typically hit the CTRL key without looking just by finding the bottom-leftmost key on the keyboard. With G5 in that place, I mistakenly hit it a few times when trying to quickly copy and paste outside of a game. It is not a huge deal, but it requires a bit of reprogramming, either of muscle memory or of the G5 key itself.

The last design innovation of the Romer-G switch worth noting is that it is built to allow the most light through, allowing the LED underneath to really shine (so to speak). The G910 comes with four lighting modes, each boasting millions of colors. The first lighting mode is Freestyle, which simply allows the user to assign any color to any key at will. For regular use, I just go with this, with all of the keys set to a dark green.

The Zones mode groups certain keys together and lights each group individually. WASD is its own group, lit up while the rest of the letter keys are dark, the G keys are a group, the F keys are a group, the number keys are a group, the arrow keys are a group, and the keys to the right and left of the space bar are a group. This could be used to quickly find important keys and re-center for those who look down and move all around the keyboard.

The Commands mode seems more functional for learning a new game or keeping track of games that use a lot of key commands. Upon loading the Logitech software, common games are detected and their profiles loaded. When playing a particular game, only those keys that have a function are lit; useless keys are unlit. Some of the newer releases were not automatically added (for example, Civilization V was detected but Civilization: Beyond Earth was not), but profiles can be manually created for any new games.

The last lighting mode, Effects, is simultaneously the silliest and the prettiest. Different visual effects can be applied, including a rainbow wave, a slow illumination and delumination, a random key twinkling, and lighting that shows up and slowly fades after a particular key has been pressed. They are neat to play around with, but they are far from functional.

Another use for the lighting is to help visualize the heat map, which is probably the most useful feature for the average gamer. Before starting up a gaming session, the user can initiate key press recording. This part of the software keeps track of the play session, counting how many times each key is pressed.

The reason this is useful is that it provides a visual for which keys are used and to what extent. For instance, if the Y key is used more frequently than the T key, it would make sense to switch the mapping in order to decrease the travel distance of the finger between WASD and the desired function. In extreme cases, it can help to move a game function from a key that requires the player to look at the keyboard to one that is easily touch-typed.

The one major downside to the heat map is that the key recording seemed to take a significant chunk of my CPU process, slowing down the game I was playing while it was active. My rig is getting on in its years, so newer systems may not be affected like this.

Along the top of the unit is a simple docking area for a phone or a tablet. This is not a true docking station with any sort of electronic connection, but it is meant to be used for games with second screen capability or along with the Logitech companion app ARX Control. This app can be used to quickly launch games, monitor vital system statistics, remotely control audio and video, and easily remap the G keys. The app's functionality is not necessary for the operation of the G910, but it is a cool free addition. 

Overall, the G910 Orion Spark is a fine product. Though most non-competitive players will not notice a huge difference in performance, it is clear that a lot of work went into engineering it specifically for gaming. The keys have a nice tactile feel without being too clicky and loud. The lighting modes run the gamut between form and function. The key press heat map can help improve players of all skill levels. For those willing and able to plunk down the cash, the G910 Orion Spark is a great gaming keyboard.

[This review is based on a retail unit of the keyboard provided by the manufacturer.]

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Logitech G910 Orion Spark reviewed by Darren Nakamura

 

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Darren Nakamura
Darren NakamuraAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more + disclosures


 


 


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