Needs to offer more than just colorful keys
Remember when I reviewed the ROCCAT Isku? Well, the company has turned out another model, the Isku FX, which is essentially the same keyboard, except the keys can now change colors. While there are some other small things included for the slightly increased price, I set out to see if the FX was worth it over the regular Isku.
In a nutshell, the ROCCAT Isku FX is no different than the Isku except for the multi-colored keys. To be honest, when I finally saw the box, it seemed like the keyboard was split into three different “zones” that you could pick to change the color as shown in the image below. Sadly, that was not the case, and I found that out pretty quickly after browsing through the familiar-looking control interface.
Similar to the Isku, the FX sadly isn’t a mechanical keyboard and falls with the rest of those high-quality dome keyboards we love so much. Just like the Isku though, the FX also has a pretty awesome wrist rest, five programmable macro keys, on-the-fly macro recording, EasyShift, and ROCCAT Talk technology to boot.
I also want to mention just a small feature that I thank every day: there’s a small bump (like the F and J keys) on the W key for your WASD games or QWER, if you play a lot of League of Legends. Being able to find your key orientation instantly without having to look down is a stroke of brilliance that’s saved me countless times. Yes, I know ROCCAT isn’t the first company to implement this, but it’s still appreciated by this gamer nevertheless.
ROCCAT Isku price: $89.99
ROCCAT Isku FX price: $99.99
Let’s talk more about the keys
So the biggest difference between the Isku and the FX is definitely the keys, and might actually almost justify the ten-dollar increase in price. One of the problems I had with the Isku’s keys originally was that when the key illumination was turned off, you had some serious trouble seeing the letters on the keyboard since they were made transparent in order to let the light through.
Here’s where the FX really shines (or doesn’t). When the illumination is set to “off,” the letters are just as visible as a keyboard without illumination. I don’t really ever take advantage of this, but it’s still an improvement over the old design.
Moving onto the multi-color function of the keys! ROCCAT claims there are something like 16.8 million colors you can choose between to light your keys. While it’s true that you can change the shade by a little bit depending on what color you’re going for, it often just snaps to another color when it gets to the “sweet spot.” If we’re talking about the more realistic amount of colors, I would say there are maybe twenty distinct colors to choose from — not a bad selection, if I may say so myself.
The keys are beautifully lit, given that some of the colors look better than others. One thing that does bother me is that the profile, thumbster, and num-lock lights are the default blue and don’t change with the rest of the lights. This sometimes creates some color conflicts depending on what color is currently on the main keys.
Software is simple, nice, and familiar
The software has the same layout as most of the other ROCCAT products we’ve looked at so far. It’s extremely good software that thoroughly goes through every part of the customization in a clean-cut way.
I do have to mention a new addition they recently added, however: a trophy system. It seems to give you trophies when you reach different objectives like a certain amount of keystrokes or whatnot. It has potential in theory, but in practice, the ROCCAT voice seems to randomly turn up, shouting random things at you. It certainly freaked me out, and isn’t something you want when you’re in a clutch moment in a game. You can, as always, turn it off. It’s just the matter of remembering to do so for every profile you make, which tends to be annoying (especially if you make a new profile for every game you play).
Is the FX worth the extra $10 over the Isku (or even other keyboards)? I’m going to have to say no, because the new keys simply aren’t worth the additional cost. Even beyond the fact that both keyboards are oddly expensive for not being mechanical, I feel that it might have been smarter to just re-release the Isku to include multicolored key lighting instead of making an even more expensive version.
That being said, the new keys are pretty nice and might be worth it for you if you like the power of the rainbow enough. As for me? If I didn’t already have this keyboard, I would probably wait for the new Ryos coming out.