ROCCAT Suora FX RGB Illuminated Frameless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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Product: ROCCAT Suora FX RGB Illuminated Frameless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Provided By: ROCCAT
Price: ~139.99 Online at time of publication

 

Introduction:

It's actually been quite a while since I had the privilege of reviewing a mechanical keyboard. We've got quite a few keyboards over the past year from the likes of ROCCAT and Thermaltake and we even have some new hardware coming from HyperX in the very near future, but as these are popular items, I don't often get the chance personally to test them out. When ROCCAT contacted us recently with a request to review some new hardware, I made sure that I spoke up first - and chose the keyboard with the loudest mechanical switches that I could. I love the feel of a nice solid tactile TTC Blue Switch. Due to the short supply and high demand, ROCCAT has moved away from Cherry switches and now favors TTC switches - which boast even longer lifespan than Cherry Switches. I've never had a Cherry switch fail, and I've used a keyboard or two that comes with TTC switches, and they've performed admirably as well.

Due to the popularity of mechanical keyboards, I figured the only way I would get to review one is if I picked a loud keyboard and this one certainly fits the bill. It is also frameless, features full RGB per-key lighting and some nifty software that makes it work well for an enthusiast that wants something really custom, or even that discerning individual that merely wants a fantastic mechanical keyboard. While the design of the physical hardware is quite minimal - being frameless and all - the overall package and performance is fantastic and we'll cover more of that in the review.

Box Front Box Back

 

First Look:

One thing that I found quite interesting with the Suora FX was the frameless design of the keyboard. There is no extra ridge around the outside edge that hides the underside of the keys. It's interesting, but not the first of it's kind. Still, it is a different design element that I'm used to seeing. Before we get too much more into that, I should take a look and show how ROCCAT has packed this slim, attractive keyboard in a very slim and well-protected package.

In The Box

 

While the bundle isn't robust by any means, you really get everything you need with a keyboard: the keyboard. Also, ROCCAT includes a quick install guide and a link to download their latest software. While I used to be opposed to this idea, the fact that this ensures that you get the latest drivers and firmware updates for your device is not a bad idea. As some issues with earlier drivers and firmware can be resolved before they are even noticed by the consumer.

Bundle

There is no denying the simplicity and minimal look of the Suora FX keyboard at first glance. The features and fancy that are packed into this evidence themselves when it's plugged in however. Speaking of plugged in, ROCCAT once again uses a gold-plated connector that works at up to 1,000Hz polling rate to make your game interface lag-free. They also put the name of the device on the USB connector so you know what you are plugging and unplugging on the back of your PC. This saves you from tracing the wire through the rats nest of cables that often is bred behind gaming machines.

Connector

 

On the next page we'll continue looking at the Suora FX a little closer and then jump into features and specifications before we dive head-first into testing.


Closer Look:

The build quality and feel of this keyboard is very nice. The keys are solid and they don't rock on the switches and feel cheap. As you can see in the images below, there are a couple of features that ROCCAT has added their custom touch to. One is the custom "Windows" key logo - their ROCCAT logo. This key can be disabled by the touch of a dedicated button located at the far top right of the keyboard. It is listed "Game Mode" and this will disable the Windows key so accidentally pressing it won't kick you out of your favorite game.

The other think worth noting at the moment is the key bunch located above the arrow keys. These are traditionally Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down. By default, these keys still function in that regard, but these are the M1 - M6 keys that can be assigned Macro functions. In fact, you can assign all keys on the keyboard (except the top row) to pretty much any function you want through the SWARM software.

Close - Profile Macro Keys

 

I've mentioned several times that this keyboard is "Frameless" and perhaps you can get an indication of the idea in the pictures above, but until you see the beauty that is frameless up close and personal, you don't really understand the design element and how much is slims down a keyboard. The image below shows it best, but again, it's something to witness and enjoy first-hand. That being said, it's not a life-changing feature, but it is a nifty design that I really enjoy and find super attractive in a keyboard.

Frameless

Frameless

 

Features and Specifications:

We'll share some of the key features and specifications of the Suora FX keyboard below, but for all the latest information and updated drivers, support and enhancements, please check the product page right here.

Overview:

The Suora FX is unmistakably the mechanical keyboard of choice for gaming purists. It boasts a frameless design, the result of which is a pure and efficient keyboard for gamers who like to plug and play right from the box. Its philosophy is raw and undiluted performance, which is exactly what gamers get thanks to its robust, compact build. Built with a durable aluminum-alloy housing, its features include solid mechanical keys with a 50 million keystroke lifecycle plus a comprehensive 16.8m illumination system, and much more. The Suora FX is the mechanical keyboard that gives you raw power, unchained.

  • ADVANCED ANTI-GHOSTING - thanks to n-key rollover
  • FRAMELESS BUILD - with focus on raw performance
  • 16.8M COLOR KEY BACK-LIGHTING - with quick access to stunning effects
  • 6 MACRO KEYS - programmable zone above arrow keys
  • ROBUST DESIGN - with tough-built metal housing
  • DURABLE KEYS - with 50 million keystroke lifecycle
  • 1000HZ POLLING RATE - for rapid-response keystrokes
  • MEDIA & HOTKEYS - for convenient control over media
  • GAME MODE BUTTON - quick launches custom gaming profile
  • F1-F4 KEY LIGHTING FX PRESETS - quick toggle: wave, breathing, ripple, solid 

Bottoms Up

 

Features:

16.8M COLOR ILLUMINATION
Configure the theme of your Suora FX in a style totally unique to you thanks to its illumination system with next-level configuration possibilities. What’s your poison? Choose from 16.8 million vivid colors and a plethora of stunning visual effects to suit your mood. Use the F1-F4 keys to quick toggle through a variety of inbuilt lighting FX presets, including wave, breathing, ripple and solidly lit. A raw-performance keyboard with style.

COMPACT & FRAMELESS
The Suora FX features a unique build in that its design is entirely frameless. No palm rest, no thick border and no thumb keys – just high-quality, durable mechanical keys mounted on a durable plate. This raw design lets you get closer in touch with the action, for lightning-fast and distraction-free gameplay. While your enemies are tying their fingers in a knot while they’re lost in a sea of keys, you’ll be one step ahead with your instinctive control.

ANTI-GHOSTING
It isn’t much good having an intuitively designed keyboard built for speed if the keys can’t keep up with your hot action. But you won’t have that problem with the Suora FX. It rocks an advanced anti-ghosting matrix that ensures every key stroke will be registered, time and time again. With its 1000Hz (1ms) polling rate will be with you every key stroke of the way, each and every time.

SOLID & DURABLE
If you play hard, you might be worried that your devices won’t be able to last the distance. No need to worry about that with the Suora FX. It might have a compact and frameless build, but make no mistake – this is a keyboard that’ll safely see you through war after war. It features a robust aluminum housing that provides a consistent gaming platform. Its solid construction is complemented by tough mechanical keys with a staggering 50 million key stroke lifecycle.

 

TechSpecs:

  • Advanced anti-ghosting with N-key rollover
  • 1000Hz polling rate
  • 50 million keystroke lifecycle
  • Multimedia functions
  • 6 programmable macro keys
  • Width 12.5 cm , Height 43.0 cm
  • Requires:
    • Windows® 10, Windows® 8, Windows® 7 64 Bit, Windows® 7 32 Bit
    • Internet connection for driver installation
    • USB 1.1 Port 

 

On the next page we'll jump right into software setup and then testing.


 

 

Software Setup:

There are some really great software features, some flashy and handy software features and one in particular horrible software feature. The mechanical keyboard with blue switches makes enough noise on it's own, but if you are so inclined, ROCCAT gives you the option of having each key press register and produce a sound over your computer speakers or headset. Thankfully the sounds are pleasant, such as; "click sound", "typewriter sound", "beam sound" and "sifi sound". The volume of each obnoxious sound can be turned up really loud and this would be the perfect way to annoy your friends. Other than that, I'm not sure what purpose this serves.

Other features on the initial screen have to do with character repeating and reaction time. A pair of settings that is probably just fine when left to default, but can be customized for the discerning enthusiast.


Swarm - Settings

 

The next tab in the Swarm software takes us to the "Key Assignment" page where you can load pre-defined key functions for popular programs and games, assign them to one of five different profiles and enter the Macro Manager interface. I mentioned earlier that you can assign macros to pretty much every key, but that is not entirely true. You can assign macros to the keys labeled M1-M6 that we looked at earlier, but you can assign different key functions to each individual key - other than the top row on the keyboard. For instance, you could assign every key on the keyboard to be the "Enter" key when a game is launched; while not useful, is a great way to troll your friend if he has the Suora FX keyboard.

Swarm - Key Assignments

 

There are a ton of macro functions, game profiles, key tweaking and more that we could spend pages covering. If you're familiar with macros, it's suffice to say that the ROCCAT Suora FX will do everything you want it to in terms of customization of macros - including key timing on press, release, delay and more.

The last main screen in the Swarm software has to do with key lighting. The Suora FX is a full RGB keyboard with per-key-lighting, so the options here are pretty much endless. It takes quite a while to set up something really custom, but it can be done as you can specify individual key color, delay, reaction and more. For those of us that just want to impress our friends with a quick and fancy key lighting scheme, there are a few effects to choose from. My favorite for sitting around and typing is the ripple effect. All of them are pretty nifty, very smooth and add a touch of flash to the otherwise super minimalistic keyboard.

Swarm - Key Illumination

 

Testing:

Some hardware isn't all that fun or exciting to test, but I rather enjoy testing keyboards. I love the tactile feedback that mechanical keyboards give and the audible confirmation of key presses as well. While their is something to be said for short-stroke keys like on a laptop or thin keyboard, there still is some fantastic nostalgia and quality that comes from using a nice mechanical keyboard. After writing at BCCHardware for years and as we are just about to embark on our 11th Annual CES coverage, I really enjoying trying out keyboards to see how they feel, how they fit my typing and gaming style as well as how they perform when pounded. The keys claim to be able to withstand 50 million presses, but I came up short as I wasn't able to do that much typing and gaming in the weeks that I had this keyboard.

Still, I was able to do quite a bit of writing and some gaming with friends over the holidays and this is one reason why I enjoy testing. Working, yet relaxing with buddies while we try and conquer the battlefield.

As mentioned previously, the Suora FX uses TT blue or brown switches, but I chose the blue switches so it matches up with my Poseidon ZX I reviewed a few years ago. Both keyboards use the same switches and the Poseidon ZX is still going strong, so I've got high hopes for the Suora. I can't find any information on the ROCCAT product page for warranty, but ROCCAT has and will take good care of their customers.

Top Down

While I do love the feel of blue switches, this is not a podcast friendly keyboard. The keys are quite loud. For general typing and gaming, the feel and fit of the keyboard is fantastic, but if you spend your nights up late and gaming with buddies, your room mate will not be happy with this keyboard.

Now that I've been using mechanical keyboards almost exclusively for years, the move from one mechanical keyboard to another is pretty painless. Each keyboard has it's own slightly different feel, but it isn't as big of a change as moving from a membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard. With that in mind, typing, gaming and general use was very good right out of the box with no major errors, fumbling or issues at all. I was able to easily adapt to the different location and size of some of the keys and type just fine. In terms of WASD gaming, I noticed no difference but I did like the "Game Mode" toggle that has a different color LED to ensure you know whether it's activated or not.

Although I don't get a chance to game as much as I used to, I made sure that I took a fair amount of time to game on the Suora FX as that is the primary function and market for this keyboard. I played some Call of Duty, League of Legends and my current favorite - Ghost in the Shell. Overall, it performs like it should and moving from my previous keyboard to this one posed no issues.

While the keyboard claims to be MOBA, MMO and FPS approved, I don't play much for MMO games, so I just put it through the FPS and MOBA paces. I approved it as well.

The Swarm software adds some extra functionality, customization and lighting options, but on a Windows 10 computer, keys like the media controls, game mode and other application keys work out of the box and this is nice if you have things set up like you want and just want to pack around your keyboard. Software isn't critical for day-to-day usage of this keyboard as the defaults are very good right out of the box, but again, if you want customized pretty, the software will help you out.

 

Conclusion:

I've been using the Suora FX exclusively for the past few weeks plugged into a laptop, my gaming desktop as well as a crazy HP Elite X3 that I'm currently working on. It has worked great on all three devices without any issues and the compatibility is great. While I had been using the Thermaltake Poseidon FX keyboard on my gaming machine, the lack of number pad kept that keyboard from being my every day use office keyboard. The fact that this ROCCAT Suora FX has a number pad - and is frameless, make it take up very little room on my desk - and give it the much sought after comfort and usability of a dedicated number pad.

If you're looking for a gaming keyboard that has quality, performance, function and that is flashy, the Suora FX is pretty hard to beat. If you want a keyboard that is quiet, please look elsewhere - or at the very least try the brown switches. There are a growing number of companies using TT switches and I've had no issues with them at all.

While some may not like the frameless design of this keyboard, it is one of the big attractions for me as it is a bit different that most other keyboards. ROCCAT isn't the only one doing this, and I'm sure it will catch on and everyone will be offering a frameless keyboard in 2017, but until then, it's different and it works very well. This keyboard will be equally at home at a LAN event, if your gaming den, or even at your office where it will work longer and better that you do. Of course, it will probably annoy your co-workers, but a minor bit of trolling is always fun, right?


Pros:

  • Per-Key RGB Lighting
  • Frameless design
  • TT Switches rated for 50 million strokes
  • Lots of lighting options and customization
  • Solid feel
  • High Quality

 

Cons:

  • Some software features are pretty useless
  • No mention of warranty on product package or website

 


At the end of the day, I can recommend this keyboard even though I don't see any mention of warranty. ROCCAT has a proven track record and when combined with the TT mechanical switches, this keyboard should last you a long, long time.

If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please feel free to post it in the forum right here.