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ROCCAT SOVA MK Gaming Lapboard Review

ROCCAT SOVA MK Gaming Lapboard Review

ROCCAT's SOVA MK is another addition in the market to the range of gaming lapboards to make gaming comfortable in your lounge room. Let's take a look.

@chad_sebring
Chad Sebring
Published Fri, Dec 2 2016 11:37 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: ROCCAT

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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While we have had our hands-on the LAPDOG from Corsair, we never got our mitts on the COUCHMASTER from Steiger Dynamics. However, they are no longer the only players in this market with widely recognized products. ROCCAT has now also taken gaming, comfortably, to the living room. In all three designs, there are distinct differences, but this latest product most closely resembles the LAPDOG, yet is still a design all its own. Where the COUCHMASTER is the only model which will support both right and left-hand gamers, ROCCAT has also chosen to build their design in support of right-hand users only, as it is the largest segment of users to cater to.

There are many differences between the ROCCAT and Corsair solutions as well, and most tend to favor this ROCCAT design. First of all, the keyboard is built in with this model, and this removes the assembly factor. ROCCAT made their couch gaming system out of plastic, and it is smaller dimensionally, meaning the unit is lighter and is much more user-friendly when it comes to actually using this product on your lap. They also did not opt to use one large pillow underneath of it, ROCCAT decided on four smaller pads which afford the same level of grip, but without the self-centering design that Corsair put out. There is also much more that ROCCAT added to their take on comfortable couch gaming, but we do need to leave something to talk about later in the review.

Today, we are covering one of two models of the ROCCAT SOVA, the SOVA MK. The vanilla SOVA is a membrane based gaming lapboard, where the SOVA MK uses mechanical switches; and not any of the typical ones either. The whole idea with designs such as these is to allow those with comfortable furniture, and PCs connected to your TV, to game without the need of a desk. Even as excited as we were when we looked at the Corsair LAPDOG and rated it highly for what they delivered, we feel we may have jumped the gun a bit there. ROCCAT and the SOVA MK Gaming Lapboard is where we would spend our money. If we only knew then what, we know now. Once you lay your eyes on the ROCCAT SOVA MK, it won't take long to sort out all of the features and see why this product is the better of the two.

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Aesthetically, there is much less of the SOVA MK to see if you are not looking at the keyboard and because it uses only a TKL keyboard layout, it does not need to be as broad as what Corsair built. It may not have brushed aluminum on top, but the textured plastic that makes up the ROCCAT frame, along with the name being cut into the bottom, and a logo the size of my hand on the right, all dress up this product nicely. Cloth covered, padded feet add comfort and slide resistance, there is a groove to hide cabling, there is a mouse bungee of sorts, and on top of blue LEDs glowing from the keyboard, and you can also 3D print parts for this product as well. This means you can color coordinate the bungee to the wrist rest insert, the mouse pad, and even a mobile device holder, of which ROCCAT will sell you one separately.

On the technical side of things, the mouse pad is 275mm by 240mm of the 646mm width and 280mm from front to back. The wrist rest is the smaller of the two panels, but you can see that both of these parts are replaceable. As well as the padded feet, which have the SOVA MK standing 37mm in height. The SOVA MK, as any ROCCAT product does, still supports Easy-Shift, this time with a 28-key EazyZone. There are two additional USB 2.0 ports for a mouse, headset, or any portable media as well. It uses ROCCAT Talk which means you can use mouse functions on the keyboard, and keyboard functions on the mouse, as long as the mouse is ROCCAT produced. There are multimedia keys, there is a four-meter break-away cable, it can store 512KB of profiles and Macros, and it has a 32-bit MCU. By default, the SOVA MK also uses a 1000Hz polling rate, has anti-ghosting and NKRO support, and the switch of choice for this model is the TTC brown switch. The SOVA MK is also weighty to be able to stay in place while using it, and ROCCAT lists it at 2350 grams or just over five pounds.

One thing rings true about all of these solutions, though; they are not very friendly to your bank account. If you are looking for the SOVA with rubber dome switches, it will set you back $149.99 from the listing we found at Amazon. As we write this, we do see that Newegg and Amazon list the SOVA MK at the same price and both with free shipping. If you are prepared to shell out $199.99 for the SOVA MK, it seems you may have a wait, as both locations currently show no stock available. It is not much of a gap, but this SOVA MK is a bit cheaper than the LAPDOG, and it does not even ship with a keyboard. That is an extra cost of choosing Corsair for your solution. The COCUHMASTER is the cheapest initial solution, but there too you need to buy a keyboard before you can compare to what ROCCAT delivered right out of the box. Even before we get started, it is not hard to see the savings that the SOVA MK design has.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation

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The ROCCAT SOVA MK front panel of the packaging leaves little to the imagination as to what this product is for. Of course, there are mentions of the mechanical switches, the layout, and just what switches are inside, but the image of a user on the couch in from of the TV says it all.

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The left end displays the naming and another view of the switches, while the midsection covers things like its SWARM, MOBA, MMO, FPS, and RTS approvals. At this end, we see the features built into this lapboard, where the illumination, software, Easy-Shift, polling rate, sound feedback, and anti-ghosting are all mentioned.

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What you do not see on this longer side is a reference to some of the accessory parts, and a long view of the SOVA MK. At this end, we see mentions of the 3D printing support, we can see the model number and serial number, and also some information about the company.

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Both of the smaller side panels are identical, so we are only showing it once. The product name and description are off to the left end, an image of the SOVA MK sits in the middle, and the right end explains a bit about the SWARM software.

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On the back, the images show how the SOVA MK can come apart in certain sections, how to use it, and what comes on it. Features are listed in the middle of the panel, while below are many repetitions of the features in various languages, with the specifications found to the right.

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Inside of the box, we find our SOVA MK wrapped in an anti-static bag which also protects the finishes. The cable and mouse bungee are held in the back, while the paperwork can be found under this lapboard.

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What we have here is the mouse bungee or cord tending bracket. It is upside down from the way in which it installs, but from this angle, we can see the groove for the mouse cable, and the teeth which help grab the cable and keep it in place.

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The four-meter cable has a rubberized coating on it, and connects to the keyboard with a specialized end, and is how the cable breaks away from the lapboard. There is a hook and loop strap offered so you can always keep the cable tidy, but at the end of the cable, we find two USB 2.0 connection to power the keyboard as well as the extra pair of USB 2.0 ports on the SOVA MK.

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The quick-install guide is just that. It is very basic as it shows how to connect the SOVA MK cable, and how to connect it to the PC. The rest of it shows features specs, and a few images of the product. The smaller insert offers disposal information, as some locations require special care if and when the SOVA MK should stop working after the warranty expires.

ROCCAT SOVA MK Gaming Lapboard

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When the SOVA MK is laid flat on the table, both sides are identical, except for being mirrored images of each other. You can see the pads under the lapboard, and we find the sides are angled to make gripping them easier. Near the back edge, on both sides, the ROCCAT name is carved in it as well.

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The central section of the SOVA MK contains this 84-key mechanical keyboard built right in. There are lock LEDs at the top edge and more keys than just the standard row of F-keys along the top. Command keys run down the right side, and we can also see the Easy-Shift key on the left, as well as the naming just under the keyboard.

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Multimedia functionality is housed in the F-keys. Here we find the mute, volume down, volume up, calculator, play/pause, and the stop buttons from left to right.

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The next group offers last track, next track, my PC, browser, LED light adjustments in five levels, and a record button for Macro programming.

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For those that do not run down the right side of the keyboard, these command keys work a dual purpose. The top function is the default, and using Shift will allow you to use the Pause Break, a Number Lock which we do not see a need for, and the Scroll Lock.

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Below the keyboard section, we have a texturized wrist rest. This panel is removable, and on it, we see the ROCCAT name and logo cut into the panel, and left shiny to contrast against the texture.

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The entire right end of the SOVA MK is left to be used with a mouse. Again, this panel is removable, and to keep the surface the same across its entirely, a large ROCCAT logo is painted on, as not to cause issues with mouse tracking.

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Under the SOVA and SOVA MK, you will find the four, rather large, padded "feet." These are what keeps this weighty lapboard comfortable and also reduces slippage while on your lap. Each of the pads is removable, in case you want to use it in a table, and again we see the ROCCAT name and logo cut into this as well.

SOVA MK Continued

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Along the back edge, still, underneath the SOVA MK, we found the connection point for the four-meter cable, as well as the location of the additional USB 2.0 ports. This way you can have the keyboard and a mouse connected, and still have room for headphones or whatever device you need to use.

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As we removed the padded feet of the SOVA MK, we found that under this foot is where the product sticker is located. If you do happen to pitch the packaging, you still have the information protected here for future reference.

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If you remove either of the pads from the front edge, you will find a cut-away section of the frame with the words "Push To Release" found in it. By pressing this one we can remove the wrist rest panel, and the one to the right allows a way to remove the mouse pad insert.

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This is part of the 3D print area of the design. You can easily print off a panel to insert in both locations. Minimally, if you have no plans to print parts, this also makes it simple to clean both surfaces.

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We removed the single-shot keycaps, which are painted over leaving the legends opaque to reveal these switches. These are TTC brown switches, and if asked how they feel, we cannot tell much of a difference between these, Kailh, or Cherry MX switches.

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Moving around to the back edge, we went ahead and installed the cord tender in the appropriate manner and location, near the ports under the keyboard. This will help with keeping the mouse on top of the SOVA MK, as there are no raised sections to aid in this matter along the mouse pad.

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There is also a deep groove which runs along the back of the SOVA. This allows one to slide in the extra cable from the mouse and has room for multiple cables as well. This way everything stays neat and tidy when it comes to moving or using the SOVA MK.

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We were thwarted in trying to disassemble the SOVA MK by a hidden screw, so we left well enough alone and powered it up. The keyboard section offers one color of LED lighting, but the blue color can be adjusted in five levels of brightness. We also chose to use the KOVA in white, so it stood out, and also affords us the ability to use ROCCAT TALK.

SWARM Software

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After choosing the device at the top of the SWARM window, you can begin to see the options the software affords. Here we can play around with the sound feedback, LED feedback, character repeat, or reset the SOVA MK to the defaults. You can also scroll down a bit on this page, but it only offers a couple more LED feedback options.

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The key assignment provides the ability to program the keys to darn near anything you can think of. You can remap keys, set keys to Macros, pick through a selection of games to launch, and even look through their preset collection. To the right, you can choose this view, or you can have all the keys listed vertically.

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Key illumination is where you can change the way the LEDs display lighting. You can select the preset mode, and choose from the options below, or you can go custom, and set them up any way you like. This is also where you can adjust the brightness with a slider, rather than using only five presets the F11 key offers.

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Along with all of the settings we just explained, you can also set as many profiles as you wish to make. This means that for every game or application you use the most, you can adjust the SOVA MK to be ready for anything you want it to do. Simply add a profile in this menu, and then it can be selected when programmed from the first three windows we showed.

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The Macro Manager is also laid out well and has many of the features that users desire. There are games on the left which can be used to pick from a huge list of predefined commands, and it is also where you would add new Macros to program. Once that is done, you can check off the timers, delays, repeat, and is also where you find the Record button to start programming the actual key combinations.

Gaming and General Impressions

DOOM

After many hours of usage, we do rather like the SOVA MK for gaming. Not just at the couch, but as one who uses a keyboard in our lap, the SOVA is also an advantage to us at the desk. The wrist rest is deep, the keys are easy to access, and while playing many hours of DOOM, we found no discomfort while gaming with this product.

We did find that if you adjust your positioning between rounds that the mouse can fall off the SOVA MK, but since the cable is tended to, it does not get far or fall to its death. While we are on the topic of the mouse pad, we like the highly textured surface, as we could either lower the DPI for better accuracy, as well as when raised, you barely have to move the mouse inside of the generously sized area.

Overwatch

A lot of the same features came in handy with Overwatch as well. We liked that with the use of ROCCAT Talk we can easily shift weapons and commands to the mouse, leaving us fumbling less with the keyboard. This game had us raising the DPI, though.

As DOOM is more open world, and twitchy movement is not needed, since most things appear ahead of you, with Overwatch, lower DPI settings left us lifting the mouse quite a bit. All in all, we had no issues playing either title and quickly got used to this lapboard, and thoroughly enjoyed our time using it.

Windows and Productivity

We even made sure to write a few reviews with the SOVA MK before tending to this one, and used it as a daily driver for quite a while. Having everything right there in one device is a cool concept to use, and this ROCCAT SOVA MK is a pleasure to use whether gaming, corresponding with emails, or even chatting with friends in various message systems. We edited photos and found again, that the mouse pad texture sped up our work due to the accuracy it can afford.

Also, since this has everything built right into it, if you want to get relaxed and put your feet up on the desk, the long cable and wire management built into the lapboard make it possible without a bit of hassle involved, or cords dangling, just waiting to be yanked on by mistake.

Final Thoughts

Everything we expect from ROCCAT is tucked into this handy device. ROCCAT SWARM software compatibility means all of your ROCCAT products can be controlled from one suite, and it allows you to program the Easy-Shift system and take advantage of ROCCAT TALK as well. We also found a high level of craftsmanship and quality in the SOVA MK, just like we found in the many other peripherals we have tested in the past.

We also like that for a similar investment that the LAPDOG requires, there is this excellent TTC brown switch based 84-ky keyboard already installed and ready for your abuse. While everyone may not like the limitation to blue LEDs in this world of RGB craziness, most of our time was not spent looking at the keyboard. So really, it is just to show off to your friends. We also noticed that there is a default sleep setting when the keyboard is inactive, where the LEDs will power off, and awaken with a few flashes before defaulting to the LED pattern you have set in the software.

We like the idea of a product with 3D printable components too. The fact that you can make a new mouse bungee, and you can even make a mobile device holder. The device holder comes in handy if it allows the SWARM application to function, but with our aging phone, there always seems to be a conflict where things go belly up. If you can get the app to work, it can show you temperatures of various devices, show the PC utilizations, and even offers some basic multimedia functionality. As for the removable mouse pad and wrist rest, we are near certain that is done for cleaning, but there is no reason why you could not also 3D print parts for these as well. The ROCCAT SOVA MK just seems to have more to offer with every angle of its design, and that is something we did not see with the Corsair submission.

In our mind, so far, this is the best solution on the market when it comes to gaming from the comfort of your couch. The more compact size is a plus, the layout is easy to use, and the padded feet make it comfortable and allows the SOVA MK to stay in one place. We really cannot find fault when it comes to design, as well thought out as this is. The best part of the whole deal is that while the COUCHMASTER may come close in pricing once you add a keyboard purchase to that device, you are set to one height with it, and it may not be the height you wish to play at. The SOVA MK is the best of both worlds, as it not only is flexible to suit every right handed user out there that wants to buy one, the $199.99 price tag also made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

For the money, we really could not ask for more control, customization via software, or wish to have anything else on our lap when it comes to gaming in the living room. The ROCCAT SOVA MK, as we see it, is the one to get when it comes to gaming in comfort.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance100%
Quality including Design and Build100%
General Features99%
Bundle and Packaging100%
Value for Money99%
Overall100%

The Bottom Line: ROCCAT's SOVA MK is a beast! If you have the desire to game from the couch, do it affordably, and most comfortably, there is no better option on the market. All of this and we didn't even get to mention the features, software benefits, or the pleasure it has been using it.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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