Aorus K9 optical keyboard
A REMARKABLY SOLID EFFORT - IN EVERY SENSE - BUT GIGABYTE’S LATEST DOESN’T QUITE HIT THE MARK
Gigabyte’s latest gaming keyboard is a classic keyboard design, reassuringly slab-like in both appearance and apparent construction. It sits on your desk, weighty and immobile, and the all-black, relatively unadorned construction goes with any PC setup.
The K9’s switches are optical, but they’re also still mechanical, by the way. There’s still a hardware-based switch, but the actuation is based on an optical trigger. The benefit is that, being light activated, key strokes are faster. The switches are also longer wearing. But in use, the in-game benefits feel negligible – pro eSports types might see the benefit of the faster debounce, but for regular gamers the speed difference simply doesn’t seem apparent, and the benefit of longer life similarly seems a touch overwrought.
The K9 uses Flaretech switches in either Red or Blue varieties, which equate to similar Cherry switches. We received a Red version for review, and they’re not our favourite switch, even on Cherry-powered keyboards, but on the K9 they feel a little more… watery? The lack of clickiness is the Red’s whole schtick, but the action seems particularly lacking in the Flaretech switches.
The other neat feature of the K9 is that it comes with not only spare keycaps for the WASD, cursor, and Escape keys in orange, but it also comes with spare switches, so you can make those keys offer different tactile experience. On this Red keyboard, the spares are clicky Blue numbers, and while they’re not as responsive as Cherry’s, the combination of colour and tactile clarity is kinda neat.
And, on top of that, Gigabyte claims that not only is the keyboard splash-proof, but that it will also operate under water. Oddly, no IP (ingress protection) rating is given, so we’ve no idea how that should relate to solids like dust and other particulates.
Unfortunately, the K9 is also on the expensive side for what you’re getting, and it doesn’t feature any dedicated media or volume keys, or a wrist-rest, or even a USB passthrough, all features you’d expect for a keyboard that retails for nearly $200. If you can find one for closer to $150 then it’s more appealing. $189 • www.aorus.com