Roc­cat Vul­can 120

A sec­ond look at me­chan­i­cal key­board de­sign


ME­CHAN­I­CAL KEY­BOARDS have been a sig­nif­i­cant part of the PC gamer’s tool­kit for the last seven years, and with good rea­son. Those sim­ple rec­tan­gles laden with Cherry switches pro­vide those who in­vest in the pricey prod­ucts with a feel­ing un­like any that a mem­brane or chi­clet key­board could pro­duce. The re­spon­sive­ness and the im­me­di­ate and tac­tile na­ture ex­uded by those switches is sec­ond to none.

Since those early days, we’ve seen re­fine­ment upon re­fine­ment. So much so that the ques­tion has to be asked: Where do you go from here? How do you stand out in such a crowded mar­ket? It’s a tough one, but Roc­cat be­lieves it may have the an­swer.

The Ger­man man­u­fac­turer, known for its bud­get-ori­ented head­sets, mice, and key­boards, has typ­i­cally not been seen at the pre­mium fron­tier of PC gam­ing pe­riph­er­als. Its key­boards, al­though tout­ing some fan­tas­tic fea­ture sets and pack­ing a plethora of Cherry switches, of­ten lacked the de­sign flair and high­end ma­te­rial use of some of its more pres­ti­gious com­peti­tors. It al­ways seemed to cater more to­ward the would-be or younger gamer, rather than some­one truly se­ri­ous about where they place their dig­its.

The Vul­can 120 stands in stark con­trast to Roc­cat’s tra­di­tional of­fer­ings. It’s clean, so­phis­ti­cated, and far more el­e­gant than any­thing we’ve seen in the past from Roc­cat, and for a com­pany that’s look­ing to clean up its im­age and lean more on that Ger­manic de­sign her­itage, it’s def­i­nitely a good start. The sin­gle sheet of brushed alu­minum is sim­ple and smooth, un­blem­ished by any ob­tru­sive gam­ing in­signias or brand­ing. The key switches, a cus­tom built me­chan­i­cal vari­ant, are raised, trans­par­ent, and fully lit with the now in­dus­try stan­dard ar­ray of RGB LEDs, and al­though they haven’t come from the de­sign houses of Cherry, they’re some of the bet­ter be­spoke switches we’ve seen.

Roc­cat’s Ti­tan Tac­tile switches are smooth and re­spon­sive un­der touch, like some strange amal­ga­ma­tion of a Cherry MX Red and an MX Blue, all mixed in with a su­per-low ac­tu­a­tion point (1.8mm ver­sus 2mm). They’re an ab­so­lute joy to type on, ev­ery key­press ce­ment­ing it­self down into place firmly, with only the faintest of clicks be­hind it. It’s a sub­tle feel­ing—very sub­tle—yet still strong enough to let you know it’s there. It’s quiet, too. Well, quiet for a me­chan­i­cal key­board, at least—no louder than that gam­ing sta­ple, the MX Red, that’s for sure. But it’s that im­me­di­acy and feel that we like the most, es­pe­cially in game. This is all thanks to how the key switch works in con­junc­tion with the key cap it­self.

FEATHER IN ITS CAP In short, this is all down to just how small these key caps are. At their thinnest, each of the Vul­can’s caps are just over 3mm thick, and at the fat­test part of the cap they’re 6mm. Com­pare that to a stan­dard cap found on a Corsair K70—7mm and 10mm re­spec­tively—and that’s a lot less over­all plas­tic in­volved, which in turn means lighter caps. It doesn’t sound like much, but re­duc­ing the over­all weight in the cap means you have to ap­ply slightly more pres­sure on each key to ac­ti­vate the switch (we’re talk­ing mi­nus­cule amounts in re­al­ity). That’s bad, right? Well, kind of. Of course, for ab­so­lute im­me­di­acy, you’re still go­ing to want a lin­ear switch (an MX Red, for ex­am­ple), but for those who are keen typ­ists, or who don’t rely on split-nanosec­ond re­sponse times, this makes a big dif­fer­ence. Each click is more force­ful, and it sounds and feels bet­ter. The thicker caps sud­denly feel damp­ened, there’s less tac­tile feed­back from them, and the sound is al­most muf­fled in com­par­i­son. It’s a small ob­ser­va­tion, but one that makes a re­mark­able dif­fer­ence in the over­all feel of the Vul­can.

Ul­ti­mately, Roc­cat’s Vul­can 120 is a strong ad­di­tion to Roc­cat’s lineup. Its uncompromising use of build ma­te­ri­als, uti­lized along­side the bril­liance of those key switches, makes it a key­board to look out for, and a def­i­nite con­tender for any­one look­ing to in­vest in a se­ri­ous piece of pre­mium fin­ger-punch­ing luxury. As far as switches go, Roc­cat’s Ti­tan Tac­tile, for this re­viewer at least, is one of the best out there right now.

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