The frame of the Vanguard is rigid, does not flex easily, and with the mix of shiny and textured plastic components, the KO8 RGB is nice to look at. We did not mind the extension along the back to make room for the multimedia keys and LED lock indicators, and while we typically leave wrist rests off the keyboard, the shape and texture of the one offered here not only helps with wrist pain and not sliding off the surface of it. It also makes the Vanguard look better with both pieces combined.
The light show is fantastic; there are many modes to choose from. You can adjust everything about the profiles, and you can even create your LED patterns where the board is all one particular color, or just certain keys illuminate when that profile is active. Sadly, though, right about now is when we run out of nice things to say. We could mention the 26-key rollover support, but we would have loved if it came with NKRO.
Similar to when we looked at the MO4 from Sound BlasterX, on paper these products look stunning and will drive you to want to buy them. If not for the failure of the software, these products could have been amazing, but the reality is they come at you as mediocre at best. When most companies make an RGB product, they add it to something which already is feature rich, and delivers everything you could want.
It seems that with the Vanguard KO8 RGB, that is the one selling point that works well, but is likely the only reason to want this keyboard. Without an easy way to program the Macros, no way of knowing what the SBX button does, and no options in the Connect software to remap, easily use a Macro editor or do anything outside of lighting and updates, this is what failed the Vanguard. Something in the literature, a tutorial online, something needs to be said as to how to work all of the features and know what you are doing beyond the basic needs.
From what we have seen inside of the keyboard, there is plenty of grunt from the MCU to take on the level of options this keyboard should have delivered, but sadly their software does not deliver much ability to do anything other than make it look pretty.
With the cost that Sound Blaster is asking for the Vanguard KO8 RGB, we expected more from it. As we mentioned earlier, it does look fantastic with the LED light displays via Aurora Reactive lighting, and we did enjoy typing on it, but that is worth maybe $90 at best to get a mechanical keyboard with backlight support and multimedia keys. The fact that the Vanguard demands $159.99 to obtain it, we feel that the Connect software needs an overhaul, more options, and features need to be added to it, and a Macro record button for on-the-fly programming would have been a tremendous addition.
Stacking the Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Vanguard KO8 RGB up against other mechanical gaming keyboards at this price, it falls short in delivering what the price suggests, and if you want something completely customizable, this is not the solution for you, at least not with the current software.
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
Product Summary Breakdown
|Overall TweakTown Rating||76%|
The Bottom Line: Sound Blaster's Vanguard KO8 is stunning to look at, but once you dive in, you find many of the shortcomings. The limited software does nothing to deliver a feature-rich product, even though the price suggests it will.
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