Review: The ROCCAT Isku FX will light up your gaming world
Macros and software and 16.8 million colors, oh my! Since a majority of my gaming time comes via PC, I'm a bit of a gaming peripheral junkie. I think I have something like four headsets, five gaming mice, and two keyboards. I'm always looking for a great peripheral that will find a home on my desk. I'm like Daddy Warbucks for keyboards and mice. While I've never danced with ROCCAT's Isku gaming keyboard, I recently adopted the newest model -- the multicolored ROCCAT Isku FX. And I can even set the color to make it the curly redhead it needs to be.
Let's talk about the most obvious feature of the Isku FX -- the colors. The difference between the Isku and the Isku FX are the lighted keys. They're visible enough to see without the 16.8 million colors you can assign to light them, but when they're lit, it's a pretty gorgeous sight. Some colors definitely look better than others, but the sheer amount that you can assign is still impressive. All of the lights won't change, though, as the thumb keys and num-lock lights will stay the default blue color. There's also six adjustable brightness levels, so you can make those colors pop as much as you'd like.
There's a nice amount of features that comes with the Isku FX. In addition to a lighting gaming atmosphere (like your keys lighting up based on in-game actions), you get your thumb involved in the gaming action with three programmable thumb keys. Especially handy for MMOs where your thumb just rests on the spacebar, waiting to jump, now your thumb can use the Thumbster keys to unleash attacks. There's five macro keys with on-the-fly macro recording, as well as ROCCAT's EasyShift buttons that they're known for. With EasyShift, you essentially get more programmable buttons in the area of your keyboard that gets the most traffic -- around the WASD.
You can swap profile preferences on-the-go with a simple button press, manage all of the cables running rampant through your desk, and control media and music while you play -- all while resting your wrists on the front of the keyboard. You're pretty much getting quality customization to go with a good gaming atmosphere with the Isku FX.
The software that you install with the ROCCAT Isku FX is just like that which with all ROCCAT devices. You're getting an easy-to-navigate hub where you can set up your keyboard to suit your preferences. I can only compare it to Razer and Steelseries' software, but it compares favorably. There's the nifty trophy system built in, as well. So you can see how many times you've hit a certain key and get a trophy for it, because my wife sure as hell isn't giving me trophies for sitting at the computer all night.
Let's bring up my one issue with the keyboard. For the price of $99, you can get ROCCAT's base mechanical keyboard. Now let's make no mistake, while the Isku FX is not mechanical, the keys still have good action to them and have no problem registering key inputs, mechanical is still the best way to go. You're not getting the zone lighting with dynamic in-game events being portrayed through the keys for that price, but mechanical is the way to go for hardcore gamers. Also, while it's a nice effect to have the lighting reflect in-game events, like taking damage turning your keyboard red, it's not really necessary. I know I don't look down at my keyboard that much while I play League of Legends or MMOs, mostly because I know where my fingers are and looking down could cause me to miss something, but it's all for atmosphere. So like I said, hardcore gamers might prefer ROCCAT's upcoming mechanical keyboards to the bright lights of the Isku FX.
Other than that, it's hard to find a lot to complain about with the ROCCAT Isku FX. If you're in the market for a gaming keyboard and don't care if it's mechanical or not, you'd be hard-pressed to find better than the Isku FX. With a dynamic lighting experience that is evolving your gaming space, the Isku FX is carving its space in the gaming keyboard market.
Illuminated keyboard with 123 keys
Enhanced anti-ghosting capability
3 programmable Thumbster Keys (T1-T3)
5 programmable Macro Keys (M1-M5)
20 additional Macro Keys (Easy Zone)
5 Profile-Status LEDs
3 Status LEDs (Caps Lock, Easy Shift[+], Num Lock)
1000Hz polling rate, 1ms response time
2m USB cable
You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at LLiebl@GameZone.com