Aorus K9 Op­ti­cal

A re­mark­ably solid ef­fort - in ev­ery sense - but Gi­ga­byte’s lat­est doesn’t quite hit the mark.

PCPOWERPLAY - - Contents -

Price $ 189.00 www.gi­ga­byte.com/au/

Gi­ga­byte’s lat­est gam­ing key­board, the Aorus K9 Op­ti­cal, looks like ex­actly the kind of key­board I pre­fer. Sure, I’m more than a lit­tle cyn­i­cal about the RGB light­ing fad, but oth­er­wise it’s a clas­sic key­board de­sign, re­as­sur­ingly slab­like 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.

And while I have been warm­ing to the K9’s big sell­ing point – its op­ti­cal switches - I’m still not en­tirely sold on them com­pared to my usual, trusty, Cherry MX-pow­ered key­board.

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. I’ve not had a me­chan­i­cal key­board fail on me yet be­fore I’ve de­cided to up­grade to a newer, cooler model, and I sus­pect key­boards are prob­a­bly the most up­graded pe­riph­eral in most peo­ple’s gam­ing rigs, aside from mice.

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 a dif­fer­ent tac­tile ex­pe­ri­ence. On my Red key­board, the spares are clicky Blue num­bers, and while they’re not as re­spon­sive as Cherry’s (yeah, okay, I’m a fan), the com­bi­na­tion of colour and tac­tile clar­ity is kinda neat. I think I pre­fer the dif­fer­ence in con­tour­ing that is Cor­sair’s so­lu­tion to mak­ing those im­por­tant keys stand­out, how­ever. Hav­ing two dif­fer­ent switches on your key­board while typ­ing at length is a lit­tle odd, and it does throw off my rhythm some­what; if you’re more fo­cused on gam­ing over writ­ing, it’s prob­a­bly less of an is­sue, though.

... it also comes with spare switches, so you can make those keys of­fer a dif­fer­ent tac­tile ex­pe­ri­ence.

On top of that, Gi­ga­byte claims 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.

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 pretty much fea­tures you’d ex­pect for a key­board that re­tails for nearly $20o. DaviD Holling­wortH

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