Though G.Skill is mostly known for its RAM kits, the company also makes several gaming keyboards. There are four models in its lineup, with the KM780 sitting at the top rung, and the RipJaws KM570 (See it on Amazon) I'm reviewing here filling the budget slot. The company claims this keyboard marks their return to the "humble roots" of the mechanical keyboard, so it's a no-frills (or at least fewer frills) keyboard with a simple design, RGB lighting, and your choice of all the popular Cherry MX switch types. Let's see if it's a respectable budget pick.
Design and Features
The G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 RGB keyboard is a full-sized keyboard with a compact footprint. There aren't any extra buttons on the sides or top row, and there's no wrist rest, so it doesn't take up as much space as some of the more feature-rich mechanical keyboards on the market. In spite of its economical use of space, it doesn't skimp on quality or functionality, as it still has plenty of features gamers look for in a keyboard.
The entire keyboard is encased in plastic, but it feels like it's very hard, sturdy plastic. My sense is that it would hold up to some serious abuse, but there are also cheaper keyboards with aluminum decks as well. The KM570 I tested has Cherry MX Brown switches, but G.SKill has a KM570 variant with Cherry MX Blue, Red, and Speed Silver as well. Cherry MX Brown is the sweet spot between a smooth and clicky-type switch, having a little of the best qualities of both.
Key spacing is perfect...
I found it really enjoyable to use for typing. It's far less clicky than my daily driver; a Razer BlackWidow, which makes every email sound like I'm typing an angry manifesto. Key travel is great, and the subtle resistance about halfway down is part of the Cherry MX Brown experience. Key spacing is perfect, too. I didn't find my fingers tripping over themselves as I typed, which is excellent given my modified hunt-and-peck style of typing and big hands. The keys have a slight ergonomic curve on their face, giving my fingers a solid place to strike each key without them slipping around.
Since the keyboard keeps things simple, there aren't any dedicated macro keys, but there is an macro recording key labeled "MR" at the very top right for macro recording. It's pretty simple and very handy, as it doesn't require you to open up the G.Skill software to program macros. You just tap the MR key, hit the button you want to program, record the macro, and hit MR again when you're done. You can toggle it on or off by pushing Fn+MR so you don't accidentally record accidental macros. It's really cool and so easy to use, and the macro lives inside the keyboard instead of your computer.
...there is an 'MR' key at the very top right for instant macro recording.
What the KM570 doesn't have are ports of any kind. At all. Which is weird, because the USB cable has two connectors, one for the keyboard and one with a pass-through USB icon on it. But no such pass-through exists, at least on this model. It's really bizarre, and my best guess is they just have a lot of split USB cables kicking around and wanted to use them up. It's also a bummer for a keyboard with an MSRP of $99 to not have USB passthrough.
While the keys feel excellent and sturdy, I did notice a slight polish developing on the keys I use most for gaming, specifically the right side of the spacebar and the WASD keys. The lettering on the keys is molded into the keycaps so they aren't going to rub away, but I've had my personal keyboard for much longer and the key face wear isn't nearly as noticeable. It's surprising for what seems like a quality keyboard.
Since this is an RGB keyboard, there are a ton of lighting options built into the software, with enormous flexibility for customization. The lighting looks fantastic, super bright, with colors that really pop. The presets are also awesome. My personal favorite is Rain, which pours random "drops" of color down the keyboard. It's kind of like in the Matrix, when they look at the terminal showing all the code, but multicolored. It's just one of eight built-in lighting schemes. You can also customize lighting for each individual key, and you can also toggle effects to run on top of your preferred color scheme, which is very cool.
The G.Skill software is pretty standard fare, letting you make all kinds of adjustments and customizations. You can link programmed profiles to games or application, so the second you start up, say, CS:GO, the keyboard switches to your pre-programmed profile. You can customize lighting, program macros, rebind keys, and set them all to a profile so all those quirky little adjustments don't get in the way of your normal, non-gaming time using the keyboard.
The software is a snap to use, and the options it affords are abundant. In addition to lighting options, you can also assign functions to individual keys. Clicking the key in the software under the Customize tab brings up a key assignment menu. The options include macros, rebinding keys, Windows functions, and more. Every single key on the keyboard is open for customization, and the software lets you know a key already has a user-programmed use by highlighting it in red. Just mouse over any key and instantly know the specific function you assigned to it.
The KM570 is designed for gaming, and I'm happy to say it does the job really well. The keys feel so good to use, and that goodness makes its way into gameplay. I felt like I was a little bit better thanks to the tactile feel of each keystroke. Couple that with the comfortable key faces and excellent spacing, and this is one of my favorite keyboards I've used for gaming. Its smaller footprint makes it easier to angle the keyboard on my desk too; something I can't do easily with my much-larger Razer keyboard.
The G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 fluctuates in price from $100 to $75, but $80 or so is more typical. As we publish this, Walmart actually has the better deal:
- See it on Amazon
- See it on Walmart with free shipping