Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Not only has Sound Blaster come out with a gaming mouse for the masses, but they have also taken on the mechanical keyboard game. Compared to mice, mechanical keyboards are a more fickle beast. Layout drives many customers to individual choices, as does its features. What is likely the top reason to migrate to a particular design, is the type of switches under all of the keycaps. Sound Blaster decided to follow one of the product leaders in the peripheral game, and not only modeled most of its design from Logitech, but they also chose to step out on a limb and use Omron mechanical switches. You may also know these switches from previous reviews, but Logitech calls these RomerG mechanical switches.
There are many differences between the Sound BlasterX keyboard, and what we saw in the comparable keyboard, and this is what sets them apart. In our opinion, some of the later Logitech keyboards have been a bit over the top is styling, and many appreciate a standard look, feel, and layout; it gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sound Blaster has taken the latter route and is bringing forth a keyboard with a fair bit of style to it, yet it is still subtle, that is until the backlighting kicks in. The software between the two shows stark differences between them, but there is no way you can look at this Sound BlasterX keyboard and not immediately think Logitech.
The Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Vanguard KO8 RGB mechanical keyboard boasts plenty of features to intrigue us. The Omron switches bring users a 70 million click lifespan to each switch, which is a massive amount of clicks. The switches have the feel of Cherry MX brown switches, but in no way share the stem system of the typical mechanical switch. Along with many standard features found on mechanical keyboards today, the one thing that sticks out to us is that this keyboard offers 26-key rollover support. Not NKRO, not 6-key rollover, but 26-key. We have much to show with what follows, and if you like to venture away from the mainstream products, have a long look at this Vanguard KO8 RGB gaming mechanical keyboard and see if you should jump ship or carry on about your business.
The specifications offered from Sound Blaster on the product page do cover quite a bit about this mechanical keyboard. The color option is black, where the sections of frames and keycaps are black, but the steel plate inside is painted white. They do not mention that it is made of plastic, but we do see that it is 215mm from front to back, 465mm from side to side, and it stands 37.6mm in all its glory. There is a detachable wrist rest with this keyboard, and if you choose not to use it, the depth shrinks to 149mm from front to back. They do also say that the switches are mechanical, there is no mention of the Omron branding, but they do cover the lifespan of each switch. The switches used in this design require 45 grams of force to actuate, the travel is limited at 1.5mm, and from open to fully compressed, the travel is 3.5mm.
The system requirements are typical of a mechanical keyboard, but they also address some things others do not. Much like game requirements, the Vanguard KO8 requires a Core2 Duo or AMD processor at 2.8GHz or more to function at its best. It shows that it is entirely compatible with any motherboard, it needs 1GB of system memory to run well, and you also need 600MB of storage to take on the software. The contents of the box include the Vanguard KO8 RGB keyboard and a two-meter cable. A detachable wrist rest is added, and there is a keycap remover and quick start leaflet. The last thing customers will want to know is how long the product is covered by Sound Blaster, and this chart says that period is one year from the date of purchase.
As we looked around to try and locate the Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Vanguard KO8 RGB gaming mechanical keyboard, we came up empty with all of the major retailers and e-tailers. At this time, there is only one option if you chose to buy this keyboard, and that is to buy it directly from Sound Blaster. On the product page, the price is listed right at the top of the page, and you can click on it to start the ordering process. It was at that time that we saw it listed for $159.99. At this level of cost, there are many choices to go for, and in what we have viewed in previous reviews, the competition at this level is tough to compete. This raises the bar of expectations and does make life harder on what we may think about the Sound BlasterX Vanguard KO8 by the time we are finished with this review.
Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS X99-E WS - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: KLevv Cras DDR4 3000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Matrix Platinum - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Intel 730 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: SilverStone TJ11 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation]
- Page 3 [Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Vanguard KO8 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard]
- Page 4 [Vanguard KO8 RGB Continued]
- Page 5 [Inside the Vanguard KO8 RGB]
- Page 6 [Sound Blaster Connect Software]
- Page 7 [Gaming and General Impressions]
- Page 8 [Final Thoughts]