Hardware Review: ROCCAT Ryos MK Glow Keyboard

German peripherals manufacturer ROCCAT is releasing a new line of gaming keyboards, which includes the baseline Ryos MK, the illuminated Ryos MK Glow, and the Ryos MK Pro with per-key illumination. I got my hands on the MK Glow, a mechanical keyboard that proves that ROCCAT continues to improve upon its established designs while innovating new features as well.

The Ryos MK Glow is the high-end version of ROCCAT’s earlier gaming keyboard, the Isku, which we reviewed last year. Straight off the bat, we see that ROCCAT has trimmed a centimeter off the Isku’s rather large size, making it take up slightly less desktop real-estate. What inflates this keyboard’s dimensions is the column of five macro keys added on the left, as well as the comfortable wrist-rest. While the wrist-rest is not detachable, in my many months of using the Isku, I never felt the desire to remove it. The Ryos has a smudge- and fingerprint-proof polished look, which is a nice touch if you’re someone like me and don’t clean your keyboard all that often. And let’s face it — you’re probably someone like me.

Whereas the Isku is a membrane keyboard, the Ryos is a mechanical keyboard with CHERRY MX key switches. In case you’re unfamiliar with mechanical keyboards, they differ from the traditional and less expensive membrane keyboards by including a switch mechanism under every key, which results in a number of advantages: greater durability, the ability to press any number of keys at the same time and have them all register, and key strokes that register without having to press the key all the way down, which means less finger fatigue and less delay between seeing that enemy on-screen and strafing out of the line of fire.

As someone who does a lot of typing, I love the feel of the Ryos. While the right shift key is a little awkward to press if your pinky hits the left side of the key rather than the center, overall, I can’t see myself ever going back to a membrane keyboard. Typing on the Ryos feels smooth and fast — and a quick test confirms that my typing speed is a few words per minute greater than on a membrane keyboard. If you don’t game with a headset, that means you’ll be squeezing out those typed commands to your teammates (or insults to your enemies) a fraction quicker.

Day or night, typing and gaming on the Ryos is equally easy thanks to the illuminated keys. While the Isku’s illuminated keys were difficult to read when viewed at an angle, ROCCAT has resolved this issue with the Ryos — regardless of the obliqueness of the angle, the keys appear illuminated. Another upgrade over the Isku is the rubberized stabilizers that lock the keyboard in place. I’ve been accustomed to having my keyboards slide out of position when I get a little too heated in FPS gameplay, but I was pleasantly shocked at how well the Ryos stays the hell put.

Now, no gaming keyboard would be complete without macro functions. The Ryos allows you to assign a secondary key function to every key, and you can store over 500 macros in the keyboard’s 2MB of flash memory. Between the flash memory and the in-built processor, the Ryos’ macros and advanced functions won’t affect your system’s performance in the slightest.

As an added touch for gamers, the driver software comes with ROCCAT R.A.D., a cute little stats-tracking program complete with achievements you can share on Facebook. Want to know if you strafe left more often than right in your FPS gaming? R.A.D. will tell you how many times you’ve pressed the A and D buttons. You likely won’t get much utility out of R.A.D., but if nothing else, it’s a novelty that is well-executed.

Ultimately, ROCCAT’s Ryos MK Glow is an upgraded, mechanical version of the Isku, which was a great keyboard to start with. ROCCAT fine-tuned its recipe and poured it into the mold of a mechanical (i.e. superior) keyboard; the only real question is whether you should stick with the MK Glow or opt to pay a little more for the MK Pro — stay tuned for Game Front Senior Editor Ron Whitaker’s review of the MK Pro.

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