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Making contact

The Vulcan sports the popular "floating keys" look. However, the switches are even more exposed than normal. Roccat uses extremely low-profile key caps that do away with the lengthy sloped edges of standard key caps. You can see exactly where where the key stem meets the key-cap mount.

While the Vulcan's key caps have a smaller overall width compared to standard key caps, the tops of the caps are actually slightly taller overall than usual. Unlike many low-profile key caps, the tops of the Vulcan's caps aren't completely flat. Instead, the key caps are bowed inward slightly—just like standard key caps with the skirts cut off.

Strangely, though, the bottom row of key caps in the main section of the keyboard are latitudinally convex rather than longitudinally concave like the rest of the keys on the board. The bottom row of the arrow keys and numpad, meanwhile, are still concave like the rest of the key caps. I'm not sure what the reasoning behind this design decision is. Perhaps Roccat wanted the main bottom row to match the space bar, which is usually latitudinally concave in standard key cap sets.

For all that, the design of the bottom row has never bothered me in all my time with the Vulcan, but I think it's a bit odd nonetheless. My only real complaint with the key caps is that I wish they were double-shot ABS or PBT plastic instead of the standard single-shot ABS plastic. I can't say I enjoy the chintzy and greasy feel of this plastic.

Where the Vulcan 120's design does get weird is in the center-to-center spacing of its switches. Switches topped with standard key caps are usually crammed together just close enough so that the edges of the key caps won't rub against each other. Since the Vulcan's caps don't have skirts, Roccat has, for some reason, decided to position the switches slightly closer together than normal. This change isn't really noticeable just by eyeballing it, but if you hold another keyboard up to the Vulcan, you'll notice that the positioning of the switches is that little bit different.

I didn't know about this oddity when I began using the Vulcan, but I did notice that I was missing keys a little more often than usual while typing. I first chalked that experience up to the board's key caps, but I now think that the primary culprit was the bizarre switch spacing. Since then, I've grown used to the spacing, and I don't think it causes me any problems. If you plan to use this keyboard long term, I don't think the spacing should be any kind of deal breaker, since you should get used to it. Nevertheless, I can't wrap my head around why Roccat would break from standard switch spacing when it doesn't improve the keyboard in any discernable way. The keyboard isn't even smaller than other full-sized boards as a result of this change, and it's actually even wider than Corsair's recent keyboards.

Let's finally get to talking about the switches themselves. You may notice that the Vulcan's switches look a little odd. Roccat has again gone with something unique, but I'm glad for it in this case. The Vulcan is equipped with a full set of Roccat's new Titan switches. Like many recently developed switches, Titans have less total travel and a higher actuation distance compared to most Cherry switches. Versus the average Cherry MX, Titans have a total travel distance of 3.6 mm as opposed to 4 mm and an actuation distance of 1.8 mm instead of 2 mm. That doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it is noticeable, particularly the shortened actuation distance.

Titans are tactile switches, and the tactile bump is almost right at the top of the travel, unlike the closer-to-the-middle tactile bump of Cherry Browns. The shortened actuation distance goes hand-in-hand with the raised tactile bump, ensuring that the bump still closely corresponds to the actuation of the switch. The tactile bump feels like a more noticeable version of what you get from Cherry MX Browns, but it's not as strong as that of Blues.

I've been a fan of Cherry MX Browns for a while, and as far as I'm concerned, the Titan switches are improved Browns. Titans are slightly snappier thanks to their shortened actuation distance and have a little bit of extra oomph in the tactile bump that feels just right for a light tactile switch. The travel of the Titan slider is just a smidge smoother, as well. Sadly, the wobble present in Browns is present in Titans. Even so, I may keep using the Vulcan for a little while simply because it is currently the only keyboard available with Titan switches.

The Vulcan is advertised to have N-key rollover (NKRO), but the keyboard's behavior in AquaKeyTest doesn't corroborate that claim. The number of keys that can be active at once isn't entirely consistent, which is often the case for keyboards without NKRO. The board's controller seems to max out at thirty-one keys, but depending on which keys are pressed, I've found that it will reach a max of 29, 30, or 31 registered presses. When maxed out, a few of the keys sometimes rapidly flicker between active and inactive. That said, the Vulcan has no problem going above twenty active keys at once, which is more than enough for gaming and typing, so the lack of true NKRO isn't a real problem. 

Software

Roccat's Swarm peripheral software isn't the prettiest software out there, but Roccat has done a good job laying out the options. All the settings have clearly marked labels and aren't hidden away in an excessive number of tabs and sub-menus. I appreciate the ability to pin particular settings to the tab that greets you, making it possible to have all the settings you care about immediately presented, and the rest out of the way. One setting in particular that I'm glad can be ignored is sound feedback. When this option is active, the software will make a designated sound when any key is pressed. All the available sounds make me feel foolish while using the keyboard.

Another setting I'm somewhat confused by is part of this keyboards namesake: Aimo. According to Roccat, Aimo purports to be a "state-of-the-art intelligent lighting system that reacts organically to your behaviour without the need for extensive configuration. It is enriched by the apps and devices you use, presenting fluid, nature-inspired scenarios."

The problem is, I have no idea what exactly that means or what it does. With a mind of its own, Aimo seems to cycle through colors, briefly change the color of keys and the surrounding keys when actuated, change the lighting in a rubber-banding motion when system volume is muted, reset the color cycle when the default playback device is changed... and that's all I've been able to determine. There may be a few other actions it responds to, but I haven't encountered any in the months I've spent using the Vulcan 120 Aimo. This feature seems to be a strange one to tack right onto a product's name. The marketing mumbo-jumbo is also incredibly goofy. Also, the Vulcan's knob can't adjust the lighting brightness when Aimo is active. The knob instead moves the lighting effects around a little. Thankfully, Aimo is entirely optional on what is otherwise a fine keyboard.