Most helpful positive review
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Decent mechanical keyboard but not great.
on August 27, 2012
I purchased this keyboard to replace my Logitech G15. Searching around I couldn't find any place nearby that had mechanical keyboards to test the feel of the different switches so I was left to blindly choose which one I thought would work the best for me. I went with the black instead of the reds to try to alleviate any accidental key presses. The blacks are very stiff. About as stiff as a normal membrane keyboard - which isn't really a bad thing. My first impressions of the keyboard were very positive. It looked nice, had a nice weight to it, the large rubber feet with multiple adjustments were great, you could customize the setup between the DPad and the num pad, overall it was an impressive keyboard.
Being able to adjust the location of the DPad for macro keys is a great idea. However, this removes the ability to use the function keys at the top of the keyboard. Most games don't use these, but things like Alt+F4 has it's use in certain situations. Being up so high I didn't find these to be in a great location. I stuck to using the macro keys to the left of the keyboard.
One thing I noticed quickly was the sharpness of the corners on the keys. When gaming I press the space bar with the side of my thumb. My old G15 had an oversized space bar so I simply just pressed down on the middle of the key. The Mech5 has a normal sized space bar. This resulted in me pressing down on the corner of the key. After a short while of gaming my thumb became sore and irritated. It was a simple adjustment to move my thumb a bit higher on the keyboard, but it was an unnatural adjustment.
Another thing I noticed was the markings on the keys were not consistent. The left shift in particular was very light - as if it had been used for a long time. How I place my finger on the shift key I don't press down on the lettering so it was definitely not from use.
I knew going into it that the Mech5 didn't have any backlighting and I was okay with that. Until I actually used it in dim lighting. I can type upwards of 80 words a minute and have no problems finding even the rarest of symbols, but it was natural just to glance down at the keyboard from time to time for whatever reason. The lack of backlighting isn't a huge deal but they included a bit of it on the macro keys with a really nice red - why not just use this throughout the rest of the keyboard? This also would have alleviated my above complaint about the cheap marking on the key caps themselves if they chose to have backlit keys.
After a few weeks of use I was still happy with the keyboard, but wasn't blown away like I was hoping to be. The sound and feel of the mechanical keys were great. Gaming on it felt more natural than a traditional keyboard as keystrokes could be performed faster. But again, with the Cherry MX Black switches being so stiff it didn't feel like a vast improvement. I ended up purchasing a Corsair K90 in order to see how big of a difference there was between the blacks and the Cherry MX reds. I have to say, I easily prefer the reds. The blacks are nice, but don't have too different of a feel of a traditional keyboard except that they are linear and travel downwards very smoothly instead of the uneven resistance of typical rubber membranes. The reds are very sensitive, but not to the point where you can't touch the other keys without them being activated.
I ended up returning the Azio Mech5 and keeping the Corsair K90. The K90 for the same price had a few added features like multimedia keys and a mute button. The large dial of the Azio was nice, but with the lack of a mute button it took several full rotations to quiet the noise. The K90 is an absolutely beautiful keyboard with the aluminum and tons of backlighting. The Azio is a striking keyboard as well with its massive frame and aggressive styling. The two are very different from every aspect and it ultimately comes down to a matter of taste. I was happy with the Azio Mech5 but for the same price the Corsair K90 is a slightly better product.
I would recommend the Azio Mech5 to anyone if they prefer black switches over reds. If the reds are too sensitive for you and you love blacks, the Azio is a great choice. Just know that it has a few shortcomings. If it would have had backlighting and better keycaps and a mute button I probably would have stuck with it. Many of the mechanical keyboards don't have any multimedia keys or volume dials and many don't have macro functionality so the Azio definitely has it's place. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I really liked the keyboard, but I didn't $100 like it.