Thermaltake Tt Pre­mium X1 RGB

The macro mas­ter with speedy keys

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB - –ALEX COX

IF WE HAVE ES­PORTS

to thank for any­thing, it’s that ev­ery man­u­fac­turer worth its salt (and with any money in the pot) is cre­at­ing a di­vi­sion to drib­ble out gamer gear that, at least in some cases, pushes the en­ve­lope even for those who have never tasted Moun­tain Dew. Does the Thermaltake X1 RGB do any­thing par­tic­u­larly new? Well, yes, sort of. Does it need to? Ab­so­lutely not. But we’re glad it ex­ists.

The in­ter­est­ing bits, then. Top of the list, just be­cause it’s so silly, is the odd fea­ture that en­ables you to con­trol your key­board’s light­ing and macros from your phone. It’s a lit­tle bit paste-and­pa­per in its con­struc­tion, and we’re only 80 per­cent sure we trust its meth­ods, given that it tun­nels to your PC di­rectly, but it’s kind of neat to be able to ad­just the twin­klies with voice con­trol, and even us­ing Alexa. You can, though, pull off all of these func­tions di­rectly on the key­board us­ing var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of Fn-what­ever. This in­cludes a su­per-neat macro pro­gram­ming func­tion, mess­ing with the speed and di­rec­tion of built-in light­ing ef­fects, and even mix­ing col­ors to paint in­di­vid­ual keys us­ing F9–F12 as a pal­ette. Ba­si­cally, that cell phone soft­ware is friv­o­lous at best and use­less at worst, and we prob­a­bly wouldn’t even bother with the rather aw­ful desk­top app, given the huge level of con­trol you have on the key­board it­self.

That light­ing is pretty enough, packed with neat pat­terns, re­flected off a sil­very key­board back­ing, and ex­tend­ing as far as the high­light logo on the top-left and the mute tog­gle top-right. There’s a fivelevel bright­ness switch, which ba­si­cally en­ables you to flip be­tween dim, off, and back up to dim again—we ap­pre­ci­ate not be­ing blinded for once, if we’re hon­est—and be­side it are the macroen­abling game mode, and a Win­dows key tog­gle. A vol­ume roller sneaks in above the ded­i­cated me­dia keys, al­ways a nice touch, even when it’s as rough and cheap feel­ing as this one, and in the box is a mag­net-mounted plas­tic wrist rest, which is, we can ex­clu­sively re­veal, def­i­nitely a plas­tic wrist rest. It didn’t wan­der off any­where while we were us­ing it, so that’s a plus.

Un­usu­ally, as in this is the first time this in­vet­er­ate key­board re­viewer’s got his fin­gers on them, Thermaltake has man­aged to bag Cherry’s long-ges­tat­ing MX Speed Sil­ver switches for the X1 RGB. They ac­tu­ate su­per-high, at al­most half the dis­tance of their clos­est cousins, the MX Reds, and they’re sim­i­larly lin­ear, mean­ing there’s no bump, and lit­tle in the way of sound. Oddly, although they also match up per­fectly with MX Red switches in terms of ac­tu­a­tion force, Speed Sil­ver switches feel much more pleas­ant, with the murky squidge of Reds re­placed by a crisp, smooth, bouncy ac­tion. There are rough edges here, such as a wob­bly backspace key, which sounds like it’s made of alu­minum foil, but it’s an over­all pleas­ing set of switches.

Check­ing more boxes, there’s a passthrough for both USB and a four-pole head­set jack, both of which are rare in other key­boards, so that’s nice. Re­ally, the X1 RGB does it all, and it’s highly com­pe­tent, so we’re not sure whether to blame Thermaltake for the vague en­nui it cre­ates in us or not. Per­haps we’re sus­pi­cious of those slight rough edges and janky soft­ware, per­haps we’ve seen so many great key­boards re­cently that a merely very good one just can’t cut the mus­tard, or per­haps the X1 RGB is some­how not quite as ex­cit­ing as the sum of its parts. More likely, we’re just be­ing grumpy. If you’ve been dy­ing to get your hands on MX Speed Sil­vers, and you’re one of those peo­ple who’ll hap­pily spend an hour pok­ing around at your key­board’s lights, and a fur­ther two hours set­ting up macros for your fa­vorite games, this is prob­a­bly your dream key­board—but it ain’t cheap.

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