G-Skill KM780 review: a keyboard that ticks the boxes but doesn't endear itself
One of the coolest things about the mechanical keyboards category is also the front-runner for the most frustrating. Theoretically, anyone can make a decent keyboard. It’s 2017, nobody dominates or leads in the keyboard space like Apple do in the smartphone world. So why do all the options look so damned similar? When did innovation give way to a relentless barrage of homogeneity? Where did all the good keyboards go?
These days, it often feels the biggest differences between the companies competing in the gaming keyboard arena has nothing to do with their products and everything to do with their brand identity. Did they find their feet in the accessories space or migrate there after finding success with something else?
With G.Skill, it’s the latter. Specifically, components. The Taiwanese brand started back in the 1980s as a memory module manufacturer and has have gone on to become a staple of the enthusiasts and eSports space. The company latest contribution to the world of mechanical keyboards, the KM780, ticks all the right boxes but doesn’t exactly turn heads for originality. If you've used many mechanical gaming keyboards, you'll probably have heard this one before.
The KM780 is a wired, mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches touting a 2mm actuation distance. It supports G.SKill’s own RGB lighting drivers, with enough on-board storage to manage up to three profiles.
In addition, the KM780 also boasts USB and audio passthrough, 100% anti-ghosting and N-key rollover on all keys, 6 programmable macro keys (running along the left edge of the peripheral) and a handful of media buttons (play, pause, forward, back, mute and a volume slider) to round out the upper-right corner.
The keyboard also comes with a detachable wrist-rest and a carry case for the extra custom key-caps that come included with the KM780. G.SKILL offer a number of variants for the product, letting you choose between RGB backlighting, red backlighting and also take your pick of red and brown Cherry MX key-switches.
As far as these sorts of gamer-in-mind mechanical keyboards go, the KM780 sits towards the larger side of the crowd. This bulk is mostly owed to the the additional media and macro keys on the thing, though the wrist-rest does also deserve partially credit. A far cry from ultracompact offerings like HyperX’s Alloy FPS Pro, it’ll positively sprawl itself across your desktop.
All these bells and whistles that G.SKILL have tacked on here help serve to give it a fair amount of utility. Of course, as always, the value of things like the programmable macro keys and media controls are going to come to whether not you can actually bring yourself to use them with regularity.
For what it’s worth, the volume slider does feel more tactile than a lot of other incarnations of the feature I’ve used in the past. However, that being said, the slider often failed to correctly interface with my PC. It would sporadically reset the volume level on my monitor (for no discernible reason) and straight-up refused to interface with the volume slider for my HyperX headphones. Over time, these drawbacks and incompatibilities discouraged me to lean on it too much.
As far as lighting goes, the KM780 comes in either single (red) backlighting or full per-key RGB variants. The latter here relies on G.SKILL’s customization software, which isn’t awful but definitely doesn’t carry the level of polish or ease-of-use you can find in similar offerings from Razer, Alienware and the rest of them. This might sound like a gripe but, when the mechanical keyboard space is so homogenous, that bit of extra polish goes a lot further than you’d think it would.
Still, there’s a subtle contouring at work on the keyswitches of the KM780 which serve to make it a reasonably pleasant keyboard to type on. Again, it’s very much the same old story.
The Cherry MX switches on this thing feel responsive and tactile - like they always do. They’re a little loud - as they often are. Your mileage may vary - as it inevitably does. There’s nothing here that you can’t find elsewhere - and often a better price.
The G.Skill KM780 brings a few novel ideas and solid keyswitches to the table but doesn’t really do enough to distinguish itself from the dozens of other per-key RGB mechanicals. It ticks all the boxes but doesn’t do much to endear itself.
In terms of the actual utility offered by all the USB and audio passthrough that’s been built into the KM780’s hardware - I found that all the extra cabling necessitated by the USB and audio pass-through resulted in a setup that struggled to justify itself.
The Bottom Line
The KM780 is a perfectly good mechanical gaming keyboard that tries to pass itself as something more by bundling in as many physical add-ons as possible. Unfortunately, the increased price that comes with that bundling means that you’re really going to have to be ready and willing to make use of those perks in order for it to be worth the padded price tag.
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