There are many companies who manufacture input devices and computer headsets but few who specialize in gaming products. It is easy to comprehend that a casual gamer could be satisfied with using a typical keyboard or set of headphones, but hardcore gamers demand the best performance and are willing to pay for it. A newly founded company, SteelSeries, has the needs of gamers set as their top priority and they offer a wide range of input devices, headsets and accessories specifically designed for hardcore gamers. We received a few of their products for evaluation and we will give them a test drive today.

SteelSeries is a company who originate from Denmark and have offices in the States and Taiwan. They are aiming only towards gamers for the time being, as their entire products line-up consists of gaming accessories and input devices. Today we will take a look at a gaming keyboard and three gaming headsets, and attempt to ascertain if they make a viable purchase for the target market.

SteelKeys 6G Professional Gaming Keyboard

The SteelKeys 6G keyboard comes inside a simple looking, typical keyboard package. Inside the package you will find an uncommon bundle for a keyboard. Besides the detachable palm rest and a carrying pouch to aid you while moving between LAN parties, you will find a keys removal tool and a second set of keys. The second set includes all standard sized keys but they are grey in colour, so replacing the keys which you commonly use will aid visual navigation tremendously.

At first sight the SteelKeys 6G looks like a very old fashioned keyboard. It is very simple with no multimedia or other extra keys, with all of its keys being significantly taller than a standard keyboard.

The chassis of the keyboard is made out of thermoplastic. We don't know how durable thermoplastic is exactly, but from what we can tell the chassis is very solid and would be difficult to mark or break.

The connection cable of the SteelKeys 6G keyboard is covered by a highly durable plastic sleeving, preventing easy damage if stuck somewhere or if hit by a sharp object. You can connect the keyboard to a PS/2 port or to an USB port by using the provided adapter.

The keys of the SteelKeys 6G are quite tall, much taller than the latest x-type keyboards we are used to work with. They feature gold plated connectors to minimize lag and offer the best electric conductivity. The key travel is tolerable, not nearly as short as an x-type keyboard but good for gaming which requires solid and precise keystrokes. The return strength of the keys is very high, which combined with the travel of the keys make the keyboard unsuitable to use for office work, since the long periods of time spent typing will more than likely strain fingers. That said, office work is not the purpose of this keyboard, which instantly makes the high return strength of the keys a boon, greatly reducing the time needed between continuous keystrokes on the same key.

As we mentioned before, a second set of light grey keys is included in the package. Unfortunately this covers only the standard sized keys and none of the extended keys, which is slightly disappointing if one considers that keys like Ctrl and Tab are frequently used in gaming. When we first saw that the keyboard keys are removable, we thought that it would take quite some time to remove them one by one, especially if one changes keysets often. Thankfully, we were wrong. The included key removal tool is extremely fast and very easy to use, as you only have to press it on a key and then you pull the key off the keyboard. A very practical design since this way you could probably change all of the keyboard keys in under a minute!

It is interesting to mention that SteelSeries recommends this keyboard for RTS and MMO games but also suggests that FPS gamers should wait for their upcoming keyboard coming out in a few months. The reason is that the 6G is developed to allow multiple rapid and simultaneous keystrokes, allowing up to 8 keys to be pressed simultaneously (evenly divided between the 4 keyboard sectors) which is ideal for RTS and MMO games but useless for a FPS game where you won't be pressing more than 4-5 keys at the same time. We didn't face any problems while playing a couple of FPS games, such as Unreal Tournament 2004 and STALKER with the SteelKeys 6G nonetheless.


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