The keyboard is the gateway of your interaction with a personal computer – its feel can change your entire computing experience. SteelSeries, a world-renowned maker of gaming input devices, recently introduced their 6Gv2 keyboard featuring mechanical switches. Read our in-depth review.
The SteelSeries 6Gv2 is a USB keyboard with a standard 104-key layout. It is simply a keyboard – it does not have an internal USB hub or built-in audio jacks.
The 6Gv2 has the following features:
- World’s best anti-ghosting: supports the use of all keys simultaneously
- Durable metal inner chassis
- Gaming grade durability keys: 50 million keystrokes
- 18k gold plated contacts for extremely low latency
- SteelSeries Media controls
- Mechanical keys
About Mechanical Keyboards
The 6Gv2 is a mechanical keyboard. So what?
Mechanical keyboards have a number of advantages over typical keyboards, which use an imprecise rubber dome or membrane technology.
Mechanical keyboards use switches to register keystrokes. They provide a higher level of feedback to the user to let them know exactly when a key was pressed. Additionally, another layer of feedback is provided by the sound emitted from the mechanical switches. You know movies from the 1980s/90s where people are typing on those clicky keyboards? Those are mechanical!
For an in-depth guide to mechanical keyboards, I will point you to this excellent mechanical keyboard guide on Overclock.net.
My testing methodology was simple – use the keyboard as my primary keyboard for two weeks. I typed several 5+ page Word documents and over 10,000 lines of PL/SQL programming code using the 6Gv2.
Those that know me personally are aware of how demanding I am when it comes to keyboards. After using the keyboard for that amount of time, here’s what I think.
The 6Gv2 uses mechanical Cherry MX Black switches (see the link above for full details). The keys have a very smooth feel when pressed. The feel is linear and not as sophisticated as other types of switches, such as Cherry MX Blues, which have additional bits of feedback in the feel. However, the use of Cherry MX Black switches makes the 6Gv2 a better gaming keyboard than other mechanical keyboards. I used a keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches (Das Keyboard II) for many years as well as buckling spring keyboards (IBM Model M) and can testify to this – the MX Black’s linear action is more direct and to-the-point.
Noticeably more pressure (called actuation force) is required to press down mechanical keys compared to that free keyboard that came with your desktop. Do not read that as the keys are hard to press down – they gladly depress, but only when you deliberately apply pressure. Resting fingers on the keys will not cause them to depress, which is another thing that makes the 6Gv2 a great gaming keyboard. A higher actuation force also leads to more accurate typing. The Cherry MX Black switches require slightly more actuation force than other types of Cherry MX switches.
Overall, the best way to describe the 6Gv2 is smooth and precise. It feels incredibly solid and just about every key has the same linear feel. Even after typing thousands of words per day on the 6Gv2, I did not get tired or fatigued.
Here is a short video of me typing on the keyboard:
One of the 6Gv2’s strengths is its build quality (pun intended). This is one heavy keyboard, coming in at 2.94 lbs. on my digital scale. As noted, the keyboard has a metal internal frame; I grabbed it by the corners and could barely bend it.
The exterior is constructed of very thick ABS plastic with a matte textured finish. Tapping on this plastic anywhere yields a solid sound.
The letter printing on the keys is laser-etched, which will stand the test of time. The laser etching creates an impression in the surface of the key, which is then filled with paint. The keys feel slightly bumpy when running a finger over them. Very few keyboards on the market today use a higher-quality printing process than laser etching.
Another important aspect of the build quality is how the USB cable is attached. The cable goes into a rubber washer which handles any stress from pulling on the cord or bending it. This is smart because it prevents the cable connection from getting damaged. The cable itself is about twice as thick as a standard USB keyboard cable and should stand up to wear and tear for years to come.
So basically, you could probably forego that anger management class and beat up the 6Gv2 after getting pwned in CS (by me) if you really wanted. However, I would not recommend it (facing me in CS, that is).
The 6Gv2 has 104 keys with a few minor layout discrepancies compared to a “standard” layout. For starters, the Enter key is two keys high (UK style) and as a result, moves the Vertical Bar/Backslash key just below it next to the right Shift key. If you use this key a lot, it can take some getting used to the placement change.
Another small layout change is the left Windows key, which has been replaced by a proprietary SteelSeries Media key. Pressing this key in conjunction with F1 – F6 activates the function printed on the key such as volume up/down/mute, forward/back, play/pause. By itself the SteelSeries media key does nothing so those that use the left Windows key need to get used to the right Windows key.
The SteelSeries 6Gv2 doesn’t try to be anything other than a keyboard – it has 104 wonderful-feeling keys and a USB cable. There is no integrated media hub, lights, or nonsense like that (which is out of place on a real keyboard – in my opinion, of course). The tactile feedback from the 6Gv2’s Cherry MX Black switches is fantastic; it is linear and takes a decent amount of force to push down, making it a good choice for gamers. In use the 6Gv2 is moderately noisy, however nothing over-the-top. If you work in a quiet office, this might not be the best choice, however.
The only real downside of the 6Gv2 is its price; at $99.99 it is a significant investment. For those that want the best gaming keyboard on the market, it is a small price to pay.
- Very good tactile feedback (both feel + sound)
- Excellent build quality
- Just a keyboard – no gaudy lights, etc.
- Noisier than a typical keyboard – might not be appropriate in a quiet office
Related Article: SteelSeries Xai Laser Gaming Mouse Review