MSI GK80 Keyboard and GM70 Mouse
I don’t think it would be unfair to say that if you are anywhere near the PC gaming scene, MSI will be a name you are all too aware of. With their famous red dragon logo (who I only recently learned is called ‘Lucky’), signature red colour schemes, and aggressive looking products, MSI has normally been a brand to focus on ‘gamer’ focused product, sporting accents and design choices that scream ‘gamer’ like there is no tomorrow. That said, they do some products that are markedly on the more ‘stealthy’ side of things, e.g. their ‘Pro Carbon’ series of motherboards are distinctly more muted in their appearance, though naturally, they sport RGB like every other mid to high-end board of 2017/18.
This is going to be a combined review of these two products. I got both at the same time, and it made sense to pair two products that are traditionally viewed as ‘going together’ in the same article. A review of MSI’s highest end headset (the Immerse GH70) is also coming shortly. The products we have today are certainly aimed at the traditional ‘gamer,’ for sure. It’s often said that peripherals marked as gaming ready can vary fairly wildly in their quality, and it does seem that you can slap the term on any product you feel like, and mark the price up accordingly. Right now, at MSRP the GK80 keyboard will run the buyer for 160.00 USD, or – looking on Amazon Germany – 180 EUR. This puts it at the very top end of the gaming keyboard price spectrum, and really isn’t much cheaper than some excellent custom boards from the likes of Das Keyboard, WASD, and even highly sought after items like the White Fox and products from Topre. The mouse is equally highly priced, available from Amazon US @ $108.43 (at the time of writing), and Amazon DE for a very high 145.90. I expect a lot from these products, for these prices.
We will cover the keyboard first, and the mouse second. I will – as is traditional – take the time to say that reviews of products that cannot be benchmarked in the traditional sense are inherently hard to review, and will, therefore, be subject to near complete objectivity in terms of how they are to use. Other yardsticks, e.g. build quality, features, and price, are significantly easier to talk about objectively.
In terms of features, the GK80 comes equipped with everything that the average person (who wants a high-end board) could possibly want. A little list for you now:
- All metal (aluminum) frame.
- Cherry MX ‘Red’ switches (MX Silver are also available).
- Per-key RGB backlighting with software control.
- Dedicated multimedia keys.
- Full N-Key rollover support + 100% anti-ghost support.
- Full-sized palm rest and additional keycaps.
- 1000Hz polling rate.
- Braided and gold plated USB-A cable.
So, fairly full featured. It should be noted, however, that other high-end boards also offer this extensive list of features, and can do so for less money than the GK80. This product, therefore, has work to do. Right off the bat then, the switch choice. Cherry Red switches are most often seen by most as the ‘gamer’ switch, and because I have never actually owned a red MX equipped board, later on I will cover the typing experience that I had with this product.
Moving on. We can immediately tell this is a very ‘busy’ product, with a lot going on. Right away, a fairly nifty (depending on who you are and what you own) features jumps out in the form of the ability to control modes on MSI branded motherboards and graphics cards. This could be seen as a bit of a gimmick but could have uses if you are the type to switch GPU or MB profiles on the fly. It’s not a necessary addition, but then again nor is per key RGB, so it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
MSI is very keen to heavily promote its own software, Mystic Light (no prizes for guessing what this does) and the ‘Gaming Centre.’ Just for clarity’s sake, I will be tackling the software associated with this product in a combined mouse/keyboard piece, rather than both used with the software separately. I feel as though this is fair, as MSI has been keen to emphasize the ‘parity’ of their Mystic Light and MSI Gaming Centre focused products.
Some final points before we unbox the board and begin to look at it in more detail. Nice to see are dedicated multimedia keys, for controlling your various music players. I have always looked out for boards with this, though for 160 USD, I would be crying out if it didn’t have them! There is also a USB 2.0 pass through, which can support 500mAh charging. Fine for most smartphones, not for larger tablets. Finally, the presence of an attachable wrist wrest is good to see, though – as above – I would be very irked if this weren’t included for 160 USD. With all of that out of the way, we can unbox the keyboard and begin to take a closer look. Afterward, we will go through the software, ‘use’ of the keyboard, and finally the conclusion. So far though, and I have to say ‘so good.’ At least on the outside, the keyboard isn’t lacking anything that I would want, price point of 160 USD or not.