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Friday, August 15, 2014

Tt eSports Poseidon ZX TKL Mechanical Keyboard Review

Technical Specifications
Fully Back-Lit (Blue)
Tt eSports Certified mechanical switches
Faster Response switches
Anti-Ghosting and Windows Disable key
Media Keys

Small and light
Extra keycaps with keycap puller
Tactile feedback
Sturdy build quality
Adjustable LED brightness

Unable to macro keys

A very simple keyboard with not much functionality

Today we will be taking a look at a mechanical gaming keyboard made by ThermalTake. ThermalTake has always been associated with PC cases, PSUs and water cooling unit, but they ventured into gaming peripherals awhile back and its line of gaming peripherals now follow under the label of “Tt eSports”. I personally have used their “black element” gaming mouse and I felt that it was pretty impressive. I would say that its ergonomics is even on par with the Razer’s Deathadder which garnered much gamer’s affection in terms of comfort. And now, they have come up with their latest “TenKeyLess” mechanical gaming keyboard. The Poseidon ZX (which I will refer to as ZX) comes available in two switch type, the Blue switch edition and the Brown switch edition. I’ve gotten myself the Blue Switch as it is my personal preference. Is this mechanical keyboard on par with the other gaming keyboards that are already in the market? Can they contest keyboards made by Filco, Ducky, Razer or SteelSeries? We won’t know until we’ve tried it! Let’s GO!

First Looks
When you take the ZX from the shelf, you will first notice how small the box is compared to the other giants right beside it. It looks really neat and compact that you will really wonder if your keyboard is really in there. On the front of the box, you will see the full view of the keyboard, accompanied by the Tt eSports logo on the top right hand corner and the switch information on the bottom right hand side of the corner. One thing to note, however, is that the ZX does not use the conventional Cherry MX switches, and we will go in depth about it later on. The switches are certified by Tt eSports with a 5 year warranty to it which is really good, as people usually want to be assured that they are not getting a cheap mechanical keyboard that will break in say, a month of usage time. This is a good move by ThermalTake as it reassures its customers about the quality of the switches. The back of the box will show the keyboard in full view again, this time furnished with information about the media keys, the LED brightness adjustment and the Windows Disable Key. It also states that this keyboard requires Windows operating system, and deciding to test if they have made a misprint on the box itself, leaving out Mac operating system, I decided to try the keyboard on my friend’s Macbook. And to my surprise, it is really not compatible with Mac! Mac users, sorry but you will have to look elsewhere for a mechanical keyboard!

Front and back of the box
The small sized keyboard in bubble wrapping


As you open up the box, the ZX lies in a bubble wrapping to protect it, nothing special about it. But one thing to really take note is that it has a really small form factor and it occupies the whole box, which is why the box is so small and compact. As you unload the contents, you will find an extra set of red “W, A, S, D”, arrows, Tt eSports keycaps, a keycap puller and a quick start guide. There is no driver CD included as there are no software to macro your keys anyway.
Stuff that are inside the box
"TKL" Mechanical keyboards that does not have the NumPad

In the aesthetic department, the ZX is not really as sleek and nice-looking as the Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition, but it looks simple and straightforward. I kinda like the design of the ZX as it isn’t too flashy; neither does it look like your normal day-to-day keyboards. Removing the numpad is a wise choice, even though they were not the first to pioneer it, as we seldom find the need for the numpad unless you are an accountant who will dance you fingers all around the numpad. That being said, you seldom find games that requires the Numpad so I guess this is a reasonable move as it frees up your desktop space and adds in the portability factor. The keyboard has a slight gradient, and it’s a bit higher at the top part of the keyboard, probably to make typing easier and more comfortable. The back of the ZX also comes with “feets” that props the ZX up to an optimal height for comfortable typing.

Back of the keyboard with the "legs"

The blue LED back-lights

Plugging the USB into your PC will breathe life into the ZX with its Blue LED back-lighting. At first I thought it was a bit too bright in the dark, but after tuning the brightness down by 2 levels, I was just plain happy with it. The keys are evenly lit and every key has a fair share of the lighting, making it look really cool. The keycaps have a smooth matte finish to them and it felt really comfortable to the touch.

Not Your Usual Cherries
And now, for the most important component of the mechanical keyboard, let’s take a look at the switch.  The ZX does not use the conventional Cherry MX switch but instead uses the Kailh switch, which is a complete high end China clone of the Cherry MX switch. More information could be found on Google, but the general gist of it is that they function in the same way except that the Kailh switches do not use gold plated connection points. The Kailh switches are able to use keycaps and O-ring dampeners made for Cherry switches, while potentially slashing a huge price cut from the original Cherry switches. You may wonder about the quality of the Kailh switches, but Tt eSports has got it backed up with a 5 year warranty on the switch, so no harm trying I guess?

 Top section of the switch
O-rings on one of the keycaps

The blue switch edition of the Kailh switches takes after the Cherry MX blue switch which is a non-linear, clicky and tactile switch. It produces a loud and audible click upon actuation. Comparing it to the Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition 2013 Edition which is using Cherry MX blue switches, I can say that there is little to no difference in the typing experience. The feedback felt exactly similar to the Blackwidow and I was very impressed with this clone switch. Uncapping one of the keycap will reveal the top structure of the Kailh switch and it is designed in the same fashion as the Cherry MX switch, making Cherry MX keycaps compatible with the Kailh switches.

Test Run
To write an unbiased review on the ZX, I tried typing and gaming on it for a week before penning my thoughts down.
I really liked typing on the ZX as each key actuates effortlessly and I could type on it for hours. The only drawback is that there is no wrist rest included, and your palms will be on the surface of your desk as you type, which is definitely not a deal breaker, but would be a plus point if it is included. Like the Cherry MX blue switches, the ZX produced a lot of noise as I was typing, and when I typed faster on it, it became a loud “noise” factory, disturbing my family. I bought O-rings that are used in mechanical keyboards to reduced travel distance and noise produced and it felt and sounded much better and softer. The noise produced is still there, but it’s bearable. The media keys (activated by pressing the Fn and F1 to F7 keys simultaneously) were particularly useful as I did not have to expand my media player when I was in the midst of typing or gaming, and I am still able to switch tracks, and increase/decrease the volume. There is also a key that switches the keyboard from a normal mode or to gaming mode by disabling the windows button, so that gamers do not accidentally press the windows button by mistake which might in turn cost them a match. The keys were very responsive and gave the right amount of tactile feedback that I was seeking.
Media keys from F1 to F7

Priced at SGD$109, the Poseidon ZX is a very basic mechanical gaming keyboard that offers all the key requirements for gaming but is lacking in terms of macros. The USB cord of the ZX is not detachable, which in my personal opinion is a right choice as I have had bad experiences with Razer’s Blackwidow tournament edition being loose and having poor connection. It really saves a lot of space because of its TKL form factor, so people with a small desk would find this the right size to get. The keys itself feels really good when typing, and were responsive. If you just need a basic mechanical keyboard, then this is the right one for you. However, if you need the macro functions, then you will be much better off with other keyboards like the Razer Blackwidow Tournament edition. Overall, I feel that this keyboard is a good entry-level mechanical keyboard for gamers who are on a tight budget but still wants a good mechanical keyboard.

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