Zowie Celer­i­tas II

Zowie Celer­i­tas II

HWM (Singapore) - - Contents - By James Lu

The Zowie Celer­i­tas II is a rar­ity in the me­chan­i­cal key­board world be­cause it’s one of the few gam­ing key­boards that doesn’t use a Cherry MX-style switch. In­stead, it uses a Flaretech op­ti­cal key switch made by Tai­wanese man­u­fac­turer Ado­max to Zowie’s specications.

Like Cherry MX-style switches, op­ti­cal switches also con­sist of in­di­vid­ual switch mod­ules mounted in a me­tal plate over a printed cir­cuit board. How­ever, there are no elec­tron­ics in the switch mod­ules them­selves. In­stead, sur­face-mounted in­fra-red op­to­elec­tronic com­po­nents on the cir­cuit board pro­vide the sens­ing in con­junc­tion with a prism in the switch slider. The op­ti­cal sen­sor al­lows for a much faster conrma­tion of the key­press with a de­bounc­ing rate (the amount of time it takes for the key to set­tle) of just 0.03ms. To com­pare, Cherry MX switches have a de­bounc­ing rate of about 5ms. The only type of switch with a lower de­bounc­ing rate is a ca­pac­i­tive switch (i.e. To­pre). In prac­tice, this is mostly un­no­tice­able, but it’s nice to know that your key­stroke tech­ni­cally conrms faster than the aver­age Joe us­ing a Cherry MX board.

The other in­ter­est­ing as­pect of op­ti­cal switches is that they al­low for ana­log key travel. In other words, the op­ti­cal sen­sor can read how far the key is de­pressed, and out­put a di er­ent re­sult based on that. Hav­ing said that, Zowie does not use this fea­ture in the Celer­i­tas II, and it only reads lin­ear on/o in­put.

De­spite its ex­otic switch tech­nol­ogy, the Celer­i­tas II doesn’t ac­tu­ally feel that di er­ent from a stan­dard Cherry MX-style key­board. The switches are lin­ear with a very smooth feel and a rel­a­tively short travel dis­tance.

They feel smoother than Cherry MX Reds, but with a heav­ier ac­tu­a­tion force – some­where be­tween Reds and Blacks. Un­for­tu­nately Zowie won’t dis­close the ex­act specs of its switches, so I don’t have any num­bers to com­pare. The clos­est com­par­i­son for me would be slightly stiffer Gateron Reds.

The key­board is full-sized, with a matte nish, and red back­light­ing. There’s a small built-in wrist rest that I wish was re­mov­able. It’s not large enough for me to rest my wrist on, but it’s too big for me to use my own wrist rest. There are mul­ti­me­dia func­tion keys and back­light bright­ness con­trols us­ing an Fn key modi er. There are no ded­i­cated LED in­di­ca­tors for the Scroll, Num and Caps lock keys, in­stead the back­light­ing changes from red to blue when they’re ac­ti­vated. I ac­tu­ally didn’t re­al­ize this at rst be­cause I had the back­light­ing turned off com­pletely.

While the key­board uses stan­dard Cherry MX stems, it has a non-con­ven­tional lay­out that makes key­cap swap­ping tricky. It uses an ir­reg­u­lar ‘big-ass’ back­wards L En­ter key, and a short right shift to make space for a re­lo­cated back­slash key. The key­caps them­selves are black ABS with translu­cent legends to al­low the back­light to shine through.

There are no ad­justable feet on the bot­tom of the key­board, so you can’t ad­just its height, but it has a fairly com­fort­able gra­di­ent that should suit most peo­ple. The key­board is hard wired in the cen­ter of the board.

Like all of Zowie’s prod­ucts, the Celer­i­tas II is driver­less and plug and play. The key­board is also quite rare in that it has PS/2 sup­port via an in­cluded adap­tor. The­o­ret­i­cally, PS/2 key­boards are su­pe­rior to USB key­boards, be­cause they aren’t limited by USB polling rates, and in­stead send the sig­nal the in­stant and in­put is ac­ti­vated. USB key­boards also have to share band­width with other con­nected USB de­vices, whereas PS/2 pro­to­col acts in­de­pen­dently of them. Once again, in prac­tice, this is mostly un­no­tice­able, but it’s nice for peace of mind.

From a purely tech­ni­cal stand­point, the Celer­i­tas II is one of the best gam­ing key­boards you can buy. For min-max­ers that want any pos­si­ble ad­van­tage they can get, the Celer­i­tas II’s op­ti­cal switches and PS/2 sup­port of­fer the low­est pos­si­ble la­tency you can get from a key­board. Hav­ing said that, per­son­ally, I didn’t no­tice any dif­fer­ence in game be­tween the Celer­i­tas II and my reg­u­lar Vor­tex Pok3r with MX Reds. I also wish there was a 60% or tenkey­less ver­sion as full­size key­boards just take up too much space.

The Celer­i­tas II uses Ado­max Flaretech op­ti­cal switches.

There are no ad­justable feet, so you’re stuck with the default height.

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