Thermaltake Tt Premium X1 RGB
The macro master with speedy keys
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.