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Peripherals

Keyboard: Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum
For my day-to-day work at TR, I need a keyboard with the full 104-key layout many know and love, thanks to our extensive reliance on Excel. Once I'm off the clock, though, I'm happy to ditch the numpad for a so-called "tenkeyless" board. I'm already a happy user of Logitech's G502 Proteus Core mouse, so it only made sense to give some of the company's other gaming peripherals a try.

Enter the G410 Atlas Spectrum. This gaming keyboard would earn those stripes simply for the fact that it lets me get to my mouse without creating an awkward wrist or shoulder angle. That narrower width isn't the only distinctive thing about this keyboard. Logitech uses its proprietary Romer-G switches under each of the G410's keys. Unlike the feathery, linear Cherry MX Red switches in my daily-driver Corsair K70 RGB, these switches combine a fairly light weight with a tactile bump that feels a tad crisper than the MX Browns in my now-retired Kinesis ergonomic board. 

The Romer-G switches felt a tad weird after such a long time with the linear MX Reds in the K70 RGB, but I quickly warmed up to them. Each keystroke feels positive thanks to the tactile bump. Each key is also individually backlit, and somehow, Logitech's RGB LEDs seem more vivid than other RGB lighting I've seen. That may be because each Romer-G switch has an LED right in the center of the switch post, combined with some kind of lens on top that may serve to focus the light better. As a result, it seems like more of each LED's photons are directed up and out of the key cap.

Cherry's MX RGB LED switches use an LED mounted toward the top of each translucent switch housing, and that housing then serves to diffuse the light both around and up through the key cap. That's a cool effect in itself, but I prefer the more focused, vivid light from the Romer-G switches. No, the Cherry and Logitech switches aren't functionally different from one another, but if you're obsessed with the quality and intensity of light like I am, Logitech's approach simply looks better.

Each of the G410's LEDs are individually customizable in Logitech's Gaming Software utility. The company also includes several baked-in animation effects for the folks who just want to see scrolling rainbow patterns on their keyboards without any effort.

A couple other touches on the G410 make this board feel worthy of its "gaming" label. Its four large rubber feet mean it won't slide around your desk at all, even during regular typing. Logitech also includes a slide-out dock in the base of this board that can hold a phone running the company's ARX Control software. This app can display at-a-glance info about custom key and button profiles on all of the Logitech hardware connected to a given PC, and it can also display system stats like CPU and RAM usage. Neat.

Mouse: Logitech G502 Proteus Core
For the Breadbox's mouse, I figured: why mess with what works? I already use Logitech's own G502 in all of my day-to-day computing, so I'm happy to pair another one with this system. The G502 has Logitech's trademark dual-mode scroll wheel on board, along with buttons for on-the-fly DPI switching, back and forward buttons, and a "sniper" button that temporarily drops the mouse's DPI when extra precision is needed. The G502's optical sensor can be set to track at resolutions anywhere from 200-12,000 DPI in 50-DPI intervals, though I prefer a saner 800 DPI for general-purpose mousing.

All of those buttons can be assigned to dozens of different functions in Logitech's Gaming Software utility, and if the baked-in button settings aren't enough, Logitech gives owners the ability to assign simple keyboard shortcuts and more complex macros to the G502's buttons. I just wish the light-up "G" logo on the palm rest was backlit with an RGB LED. The single-tone blue light starts to look out of place if you play with the lighting settings on the G410 keyboard at all. Yes, this is a minor complaint.

Gamers can customize the G502's mass to taste, as well, thanks to an included pack of weights that can vary the mouse's base weight by up to 18 grams. Even better, these weights can be placed toward the front or rear of the mouse to vary its center of gravity. I personally like to use two of these weights toward the rear of the mouse to counteract the hefty scroll wheel mechanism's mass.

Headset: Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum
I already keep a relatively high-end, open-back stereo headset hooked up to my main PC at all times, so I was curious to see how Logitech's $150 G633 Artemis Spectrum compared to that pair of cans for the Breadbox.

Unlike my stereo headset, the G633 bristles with programmable buttons, customizable RGB LED lights, and whiz-bang audio-processing tech. In its most fancy mode of operation, this headset plugs into a PC with a USB cable, and its onboard settings are all managed using the same Gaming Software utility as the G410 and G502. Those LEDs may not be necessary, but they do look neat.

The biggest love-it-or-hate-it feature of the G633 is going to be its 7.1 surround sound emulation. I'm personally not a fan of this technology in general, since it's always made me nauseous after a while. Before that issue kicked in with the G633, though, I felt as if I was more immersed in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive than I do with stereo cans. The 7.1 emulation sounded pretty natural to my ear, sea-sickness aside, and audio felt far more "positioned" than it did with a plain old stereo signal.

The G633 can also be put into a plain stereo mode, and that's how I used this headset for most of my time with it. Overall, I've got nothing but praise for the G633's sound quality. While open-backed headphones might sound "airier," the G633's closed design provides tight, deep bass and remarkably detailed treble response. Those characteristics are useful in games, where the G633 reproduces explosions, gunfire, and the crunchy sound of footsteps with aplomb. I also liked listening to a wide range of music on this headset, although I might dial back the mids and highs a bit for non-gaming sources.

The only shortcoming of the G633 is its relatively sensitive microphone. Skype callers could easily hear me typing while I used this headset. If you use a loud  keyboard or you're a heavy typist, the G633 will probably pick up that noise. On the upside, the mic is automatically monitored through the G633's earcups, so you can hear yourself speak while calling out commands in games or Skyping.  Swinging the mic out of the way automatically mutes it, too.