Make mine a Meka G1
Let's start with the Meka G1, which is the cheaper and simpler of the two. Newegg sells the keyboard for $122 right now, compared to $140 for the G-Unit. Although it may not have quite as much street cred as its Fitty Cent-inspired relative, the G1 still comes with more frills than basic mechanical keyboards.
Thermaltake sticks with an understated aesthetic dominated by a matte-plastic body and matching keys. The keys are a slightly different shade, but they're just as impervious to fingerprints and smudges as the other surfaces. Naturally, Thermaltake makes a "combat white" version of the G1 to match its arctic-themed cases. That model retains the black key caps, so it's not a complete white-out.
The contours on the G1's key caps are slightly deeper than those of the G-Unit, but the keys appear otherwise identical. Despite using the same black switches as the G-Unit, the G1 sounds a little more muffled when typing at speed. It's not any quieter, but the sound of each keystroke hits with a duller cha-chunk.
With only one exception, the Meka G1 follows the standard US keyboard layout. Thermaltake has replaced the left Windows key with a function key used to access the Meka's media controls. As someone who uses the Windows key daily and has grown accustomed to its position on the left, I found the move fairly frustrating. Sure, it eliminates the possibility of accidentally bringing up the Start menu while gaming, but that issue can be addressed without messing with the layout.
The Meka comes with a detachable palm rest, pictured above, and a couple of flip-down feet to provide 10 mm of lift at the back of the keyboard. Finding a comfortable typing position shouldn't be a problem unless you have a penchant for ergonomic designs. Thermaltake lines the bottom of the keyboard with rubber pads to ensure it won't slip around once you have things dialed-in.
Although the Meka G1 is pretty subdued overall, the red LEDs denoting the Caps, Scroll, and Num-Lock status are surprisingly bright. While they fall well short of blinding (in part because red LEDs are less dazzling than blue ones), the glow can be a little distracting while gaming in the dark.
Just below those LEDs, along the rear edge of the keyboard, sits a collection of tightly packed expansion ports. There are two USB 2.0 ports in addition to headphone and microphone connectors. In such close quarters, larger thumb drives may obstruct access to the other ports. Combining the audio jacks with 1/4" plug adapters will be a squeeze, as well.
The audio ports are just pass-through connectors linked to 3.5-mm jacks at the tail end of the Meka's beefy, braided cable housing. They're joined by a pair of USB plugs: one for the keyboard and the other for the USB hub inside.
Thermaltake throws in a USB-to-PS/2 adapter for luddites and hard-core gamers. Those two camps don't share a lot of hardware, but the Meka G1 only offers n-key rollover when it's attached to a PS/2 port. When running off a standard USB connection, the G1 can only register six simultaneous key presses.
|This year's Steam Holiday Sale is on||33|
|Our bonus TR live stream is up right now!||3|
|Minecraft: Story Mode coming next year||5|
|Join us this evening for a bonus TR live stream||10|
|Hang your PC on a wall with Lian Li's new O Series cases||25|
|100Mbps Internet available to most Americans, but not from multiple ISPs||60|
|Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones reviewed||156|