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Sound BlasterX Vanguard KO8 Mechanical Keyboard Review

By: Chad Sebring | Keyboards in Peripherals | Posted: Feb 21, 2017 4:52 pm
TweakTown Rating: 76%Manufacturer: Sound Blaster

Inside the Vanguard KO8 RGB

 

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The keycaps are typical to what we find in most mainstream keyboards, and that is made of an opaque white plastic, painted black, and then have things laser etched to reveal the RGB backlight through them. One significant difference to these caps is the way in which they lock onto the switches. Omron switches use an outer ring that surrounds the switch which is open in the middle. This means the caps use four small tabs to fit into the ring on the switch, rather than a centralized stem, like Cherry and Kailh use.

 

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This image clarifies what we mean by the design of the switch being open, with an outer ring used to actuate the switches. Down the middle of each switch is an SMD LED, and with the case of the switch being while, they also glow brightly once the LEDs are active. Under the shift key, we can see that the torsion bars are contained inside of the keyboard, and dummy switches are used to allow the bars to lift the longer caps.

 

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All of the thin flat keys along the top edge of the Vanguard are rubber dome switches. Since they are not primary switches that will get most of the use, we do not find it to be a bad thing that they are not mechanical.

 

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Five screws allow the frame to come apart, but only after prying at many small tabs along the outside edge of the keyboard. The top half just fills in the gaps between sets of keys for the most part, while the lower section is ribbed and will support the steel plate well, removing resonance and vibrations.

 

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This is not the cleanest PCB we have run across when opening keyboards, but not the worst either. There is quite a bit of dust found all over the PCB, and clear indications of flux residue. The solder points are clean, and the mounting of the LEDs are too, and while we never see it, we do like the look of black PCBs.

 

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The processor of choice inside of the Vanguard KO8 is this one from ST Microelectronics. This is a mainstream ARM Cortex-M0 48MHz 23-bit MCU. This is where the custom lighting profile is stored and is in control of the LED modes and all actions of the keyboard.

 

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Once we powered on the Vanguard KO8 RGB, it came to life in a mode called Wave Rainbow. The colors revolve through the 16.8 million options as they move from left to right, slowly, across the keyboard. The logo matches the LED mode this time, and once the wrist rest is on it, it balances the angular structure along the back.

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