Last year, I reviewed the Ripjaws KM780R RGB gaming keyboard, G.Skill's first foray into the keyboard market. The KM780R attempted to capture gamers' imaginations with aggressive styling, but those touches made the board unnecessarily bulky. I also took issue with the rather gritty feel of the key switches on the KM780R. G.Skill is back with an all-new board today: the KM570. This gaming keyboard sticks to a more tried-and-true formula. Let's see if the company's latest effort addresses my complaints.
Unlike its edgy, rebellious brother, the KM570 has a standard black plastic chassis with no extra stylized bits sticking out. However, the outside frame is a bit thick—especially at the top and bottom—compared to other keyboards of this style like the Apex M500 or MasterKeys Pro L. The slightly larger bezels aren't that big a deal, though, and they definitely make for a sturdy board. G.Skill also gave the KM570 a standard key layout, which is another improvement over the KM780R that makes switching out the keycaps much easier.
Another design decision that sets the KM570 apart from its older brother, both visually and functionally, is the extension of a top plate to cover up the key switches. The KM780R opted for a floating-keys look, but the KM570 has a more standard construction. This choice is a mixed bag, in my view. The hidden switches fit well with the more conservative design of the KM570, but also make the keyboard more difficult to clean. Crumbs and dust can't simply slide out the sides of the keyboard and into the trash like they could if the switches were exposed. The taller plastic sides do cause the RGB LEDs to appear slightly more vibrant on the KM570 than on the KM780R, as the light doesn't escape out the sides of the keyboard.
The KM570 can be had with Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, and even Speed switches. If you aren't familiar with the different switch types, check out our guide. Unfortunately, our guide doesn't cover Speed switches, but you can still read my thoughts on them. The particular unit used for this review is rocking Brown switches, my personal favorite for typing and my close second-favorite for gaming. Cherry MX switches are incredibly high quality switches, and these are no exception.
However, the switches aren't everything when it comes to the typing experience. As I discovered while using the KM780R, keycaps are also an important factor. My largest issue with the KM780R was actually how gritty typing felt due to the poorly fitted and constructed keycaps. Thankfully, G.Skill has upped its game and has fitted the KM570 with quality keycaps that make for a smooth typing experience.
Playing Quake Champions, Reflex Arena, Borderlands 2, Supreme Commander 2, and a number of other games on the KM570 has been satisfying after how disappointing it was to play on the KM780R. Movements and actions feel as snappy as they should. The keys feel equally as responsive while typing, so no complaints from me in this department this time around. Kudos to G.Skill for fixing this issue.
The RGB LEDs aren't the only things separating the KM570 from a plain old keyboard. The KM570 has a number of extra keys and functions. First off is the macro key, which can be used to set and record macros without ever using any software. While this is a nice idea, the implementation is sort of clunky. Following the instructions and actually setting up a macro can be a chore. I'd much rather use software to set up any macros I need.
I'd like to make a quick note on the indicator lights for Num Lock, Caps Lock, etc. here. Just like the indicators and extra buttons on the KM780R, the indicator lights on the KM570 are permanently red, which can clash with some RGB profiles. It isn't a huge deal, but it'd be nice if they were color-customizable like all the rest of the LEDs on the unit.
There are also separate volume control keys. I'm not a huge fan of clicking and holding down buttons to adjust the volume. I'd much rather have a volume scroll wheel. This is actually an area in which the KM780R has a leg up over the KM570. However, I'd much rather have volume controls on my keyboard than not, so they're still welcome.
The rest of the media controls are built into the function keys, and I feel the same way about these double-duty keys as I do about the volume keys. I'd prefer separate media controls, even just a separate pause/play button, but I'll take what the KM570 has over no media controls. With how much extra space there is at the top of the keyboard, I doubt it'd be that difficult for G.Skill to add on a few extra buttons in a future version, similar to the layout of the KM780R.
The F1 through F7 keys have additional functions, as well, including opening a new tab, pulling up the calculator, locking the Windows key, and activating a timer configured in the keyboard's software. Holding down function and pressing the up and down arrow keys controls the brightness level of the LEDs. There are five different brightness levels, plus a full off mode.
Two feet are located on the bottom of the keyboard that can be flipped up to give the keyboard a little more height and slant it towards the user. They're cheap-feeling, but they still get the job done. The main issue is that they don't have rubber tips, so the keyboard is more likely to slide around a bit while propped up than not.
Surprisingly, the KM570 has two different USB connectors, even though it doesn't have a USB pass-through port. The first connector does pretty much everything necessary to use the keyboard. The second connector seems to be for transferring software settings to the keyboard, but I kept it unplugged for almost my entire time using the keyboard and had no issues.
Lastly comes the software. G.Skill is still running with pretty much the same software it was last year, which I wasn't terribly happy with. In short, it's overly complicated and flashy. A cleaner interface would be most welcome. Even so, the expected complement of keyboard settings are present and aren't hidden away too much, so it is usable and functional. However, the lighting profiles tab remains difficult to use. Trying to select the right color and configure the various modes to do exactly what you have in mind isn't always easy. Thankfully, as I point out quite often in gaming peripheral reviews, software can be updated and fixed independent of the hardware, so you aren't necessarily stuck with poor software when you buy a keyboard. G.Skill just needs to put in the effort to make its software more user-friendly.
The KM780R was a decent first start for G.Skill, but it simply wasn't up to par with the competition. In the KM570, G.Skill has a high quality product to offer the second time around—and at a reasonable price, to boot. The company has wisely done away with the unnecessary flair and has focused on functionality.
I noted way fewer negatives to the KM570 than I did with the KM780R. There is a bit of extra space around the top and bottom of the keyboard, some of which could be used for separate media controls. It'd be nice if the indicator lights were color customizable, and the software could still use some work. All told, though, these are pretty trivial complaints.
The positives of this board far outweigh its negatives. The KM570 is a sturdy keyboard that delivers a terrific user experience. Most notably, the switches and keycaps feel fantastic in use and are up-to-par. It may not have all the bells and whistles common to many gaming keyboards these days, but not everyone wants those. Some simply want a solid keyboard that won't cause a fuss, and the KM570 can certainly fulfill that role.
Not only is it high quality, the KM570 clocks in at $120, which is substantially cheaper than many other keyboards in the full-sized segment. Both Corsair's K70 and Cooler Master's MasterKeys Pro L blow a $170 hole in your wallet. Taking its wallet-friendly price and quality into consideration, I'm happy to give the KM570 a TR Recommended award.
6 comments — Last by ChicagoDave at 7:50 PM on 06/15/17
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