AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

AZIO's new Armato mechanical gaming keyboard gets examined to determine if it deserves a place on your desk.

Published Jun 6, 2017 9:52 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Manufacturer: AZIO
12 minute read time
TweakTown's Rating: 93%
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The Bottom Line

The price is heavy, but the AZIO Armato is not only stunning to look at, it is a pleasure to use. The feature set is good for a device without software, and the longer the Armato is under your hands, the better it feels and the more productive you become.

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 99

AZIO has been known to make some slick keyboards in the past, and this is the fifth such keyboard we get to look at. This new keyboard reminds us a lot of the MGK 1, but this time dressed to the nines and put on some steroids. As AZIO puts it, this is a product which embodies simplicity, it is pure in its design, and is bold in appearance. Of course, there are many features packed into this peripheral, but keeping to the idea of being simple and pure, there are no drivers to muck up the experience.

AZIO has brought forth a keyboard which has bold red accents, and it topped with aluminum, which has been brushed and polished beveled edges, to offer the looker that everyone wants sitting on their desk. There are high-end details added like mesh inserts that go along with the paint color of the steel plate, and the red LED backlighting. Every switch but one is backed with a Cherry MX Brown switch, which offers a tactile feel to the press without all the noise of blue or green switches. From any angle, there is much to be had, and this keyboard is a pleasure to the eyes.

Today, we have you all here gathered to look at the AZIO Armato gaming mechanical keyboard. Not only does it boast what we just addressed in the paragraph before this one, but we are just touching the surface as to what all this keyboard is capable of. There is a full assortment of multimedia keys, an array of productivity boosting buttons set to the F-keys, and also a set of Macro buttons with an on-the-fly Macro record system. We haven even touched on the lighting yet either. While the only color of LEDs may be red, there are three modes to choose from, one of which is a custom mode, or they can be turned off as well. With everything the AZIO site shows this keyboard to be capable of, and from what we have gathered in using the Armato, we feel that this is one mechanical gaming keyboard you are going to want to get to know on a personal level.

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In the chart provided by AZIO, we see an image of the keyboard on the left. To the left of the image it shows the Armato is 236.22mm from the front edge of the wrist rest to the back edge of the keyboard, and below the image, it states the Armato is 482.6mm wide. It also hints at the color scheme where the majority of the keyboard is black, with bold, bright red accents used. This image also drives home the fact that this keyboard is produced with a US QWERTY layout, the cable attaches to the right end of the keyboard, which leads the eye to the volume knob extending past the right side of the Armato.

Listed on the text side of the specifications, we see that the Armato also goes by the MGK-ARMATO-01 model number, and it interfaces to the PC via USB 2.0. All but one key is a Cherry MX Brown switch, and the steel plate matches the LED backlighting, as both are red. There is NKROP support, but there is also 6-key rollover support as well. The cable is six feet long, and the Armato can be used on any Windows OS since and including XP. The brushed aluminum and plastic keyboard are 6.5" deep, it is 19" wide, and it is 1.2" thick without the wrist rest. The rest will add 2.8" to the depth of the keyboard, and it is only ½" thick. With the keyboard and the rest, it weighs in at three pounds, and you also get a key puller in the box, all covered by a two-year warranty.

If the Armato has you interested, you will have to shell out a bit of money to get on of your own. There are a lot of features and abilities of this mechanical gaming keyboard, so as we see the $117.99 list price, we can see where AZIO0 is coming from with the price. At the same time, $120 goes a long way in the gaming keyboard market, and even though this keyboard is stunning to look at, it does lack driver customizations, and it lacks RGB LEDs which it seems everyone is after these days. AZIO sticks to their guns with the Armato mechanical gaming keyboard, and while it may lack in a few areas, it more than makes up for the losses with things many other companies are not doing at this level.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation

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All of the external packaging is made of matte black cardboard, with metallic red printing to deliver the information. We see the right half of the keyboard on the left side of the front panel, the AZIO name at the top-right corner, and we see Armato backlit mechanical gaming keyboard in the bottom-right corner.

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Both of the smaller ends of the box are identical, and the longer sides are blank. The smaller ends have the company and product name off to the left, leaving room for a full view rendering of the keyboard in the space remaining.

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The back of the box has Armato at the top, followed by features such as the powerful, massive, and robust design, the reduced, refined, and reinvigorated layout, and discussed the precise, efficient, and instinctual usage of it. The sticker we see in the bottom right corner is used to show the product, as well as delivering the specifications and the package contents.

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Inside of the box, we find dense foam panels surrounding the Armato as well as a pair inside of the lid to keep the keyboard in place while on the way to your door. To keep the keyboard free of dust and scratches, it is shipped in a plastic bag which has AZIO; elegantly fierce printed on it. Under the keyboard is where you will find the cable, extra bits, and the literature.

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The wrist rest is squared off in its shape, with blunt edges all the way around. It is lightly textured and uses magnets along the back edge to attach to the front of the Armato keyboard.

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The user guide not only shows how to connect the keyboard, but there is a well-written section on using the F-keys, how to program Macros, and how to work the customizable LEDs. We do believe we were only supposed to get a single smaller insert, which one side shows a happy face, and inside of that panel is a congratulatory statement of your purchase.

The other side asks if you are troubled, and if so, the inside gives out the information needed to let AZIO rectify the issue. There is also a black plastic keycap puller included in the kit to make cleaning the keyboard much easier.

AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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The left edge of the Armato is stylish with the bright red mesh insert present here. The red breaks up the thick aluminum top plate, and the plastic edge of the lower frame section seen below it. We can also determine that the keycaps are not at the best angle to use, but there are feet and a wrist rest to correct the lack of ergonomics.

AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 09

There are eighty keys on the main section of the Armato, and there is a lot going on elsewhere too. We can see the red paint showing between the keycaps, and we also see that the red mesh is carried along the top edge of the keyboard as well.

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At the extreme left edge of the Armato, there are an extra six keys that can be used for Macros and programming. To use these, press the record button, then select A1 through A5, the lock LEDs will flash, you can then program up to thirty-one keystrokes, and when done, press record again to complete the Macro recording session. You may also notice that the Windows key is also the Windows lockout key.

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All of the F-keys do double duty in this design. F1 will open the default browser, F2 opens the default mail handler, F3 is for your favorites, and F4 is used to search Windows, but in Windows 10 it brings up Cortana.

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F5 will open the calculator and F6 open the default music application. F7 is used to lower the LED intensity in three stages, where the F8 does the opposite.

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F9 will set the LED lights into a Breathing mode, and F10 makes the keys reactive. F11 is used to set a custom LED layout, by pressing it twice the lock LEDs flash, select which keys you want lit, and then use function and F11 again to set the chosen lights ablaze. F12 can be used to turn whatever mode is active on or off.

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At the right end of the keyboard, we find the standard layout of thirty keys, with all the commands, the set of arrow keys, and a full number pad. At the top, we see the lock status LEDs just above the rounded multimedia buttons, and the red aluminum volume knob.

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The average user can more than likely suffice with the use of the Armato in 6-key rollover mode. However, AZIO also made sure to accommodate the fastest of typists and gamers out there, allowing the use of the Delete key to activate full on NKRO support, both of which feature anti-ghosting support.

Armato Continued

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The right end of the Armato offers the same mesh we saw on the left end and across the top of the keyboard, but this time there is the red volume knob protruding out with the AZIO logo on the end of it. We have also extended the feet at this time, which has all of the keys angled forward, and are much easier to access and use in this fashion.

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The cable that powers the Armato is six-foot-long and comes out of the keyboard nearer the right edge. There is a cloth braided sleeve covering the cable, and near the end, we find a Ferrite choke before we run into the gold-plated connection with the AZIO logo cut into the connector.

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Even the bottom of the keyboard is highly stylized, and while it looks good, it is done for structural rigidity of the keyboard as well. There are six feet found under the Armato to securely grip the desk, and right in the middle is the product sticker with the model and serial numbers on it.

AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 20

The feet at the back flip out to elevate the back edge of the Armato and raise things slightly more than half of an inch. The feet click solidly into the open position, and the ends of both feet are rubberized to keep the same level of grip as if the keyboard were still flat on the desk.

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After using the keycap puller to remove a few of the caps we see that the Armato is backed with Cherry MX Brown switches. We also see the impact the red painted steel plate has, and also that the torsion bars for the larger keys are built into the keyboard and are not exposed.

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The caps are standard. They are single shot keys where each cap is molded in white, and then has a coating of black applied to them. The legends are laser cut, and inside of all of the caps we find Cherry MX style posts, so custom keycaps will be easy to find for this as well.

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Because the volume bar is mounted to the inside of the keyboard, it makes opening the Armato near impossible. So, we just moved along and added in the wrist rest to the front of the Armato, and we know it is in place as there is a satisfying click of the magnets grabbing onto the front of the keyboard.

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The last thing to do is to power up the Armato and give it a spin. When the keyboard is initialized, the LEDs turn on from the outer edges and move towards the center until all are lit. The LEDs are red beneath all of the keycaps, but the lock status LEDs are white and do not show up well in this image.

Gaming and General Impressions

DOOM & Battlefield 1

When it comes to gaming, the Armato is first noticed for its lack of noise. Secondly, we appreciate the tactile nature of the switches, so when fingers are rested on keys not being used, they are not accidentally pressed. WE found at no time were keys not being recognized. This is due mainly to the anti-ghosting support, but we also found liking NKRO mode more, as when it came to typing we were surpassing the capability of 6-key, so we left it on NKROP all the time. The Macros come in handy for games that will use them, but not so much in these FPS titles.

We also liked that we can customize the lights to all the keys which are common to the most played game, and shut the rest of the keyboard down causing much less of a distraction. Speaking of distractions, we did find one that is hard to deal with. Due to the polished beveled edges, if the room is lit from behind the user, the exposed aluminum surface can blind you from the reflection of the light source, making you instinctively look away from the screen to see what the bright light is.

Windows and Productivity

When it comes to the day to day grind of browsing the internet or chatting away in whatever messenger is handy, the Armato shines even more. Since most of the shortcuts built into the F-keys are for productivity, the Armato makes it, so you spend less time with the mouse. This is also a great place to work the Macro magic, as they can be set to various multi-key commands for things in say Photoshop. Typing on the Armato is smooth and near silent outside of the key caps returning to the resting position with a click.

What we find is that everything in the layout is where it needs to be, and using the Armato had sped up our review writing, and allowed us near full control from this single device to play music in the background, adjust what is playing. Open the browser for research, one-click emailing, and the list goes on and on. For a gaming mechanical keyboard, the Armato excels on both sides of the fence.

Final Thoughts

We absolutely love the styling of the Armato. There is no denying that the bright red accents, the red LED lighting, with all the black, and the aluminum which is brushed and polished. That out of the way, we still have much to admire about what the Armato delivers. Since there are no drivers to control this device, AZIO has to lay out the keyboard in a way to add value as well as easy access to many key features desired in this area. We feel they did a great job in delivering a multitude of possibilities with the use of the Function key in combination with others on the keyboard. Adjustable and customizable LED lighting, Macro keys, multimedia keys and a large sound knob, all to make life as easy as possible.

In many reviews, we use this section to discuss all things wrong with the product, but to be honest, we have to dig deep to come up with two. For those afraid of the dark, there is the possibility of the polished edges reflecting light sources back into your eyes, which is a distraction, and will likely cause you to stand still in the game and be killed.

The second thing is less of an issue, but we did want to have a peek inside, and the large red knob for the volume stopped us dead in our tracks. We can only assume that the MCU is some form of an ARM processor, and more than likely it is a 32-bit on at that. We also like to look at the solder points and what is left of the flux, as it is an indication of quality. However, we found that everything about the AZIO Armato worked flawlessly out of the box, and has been on our desk for weeks now, and we have found it to be a pleasure to use all this time.

We do feel that the price is a tad rich for what we are given though. While $117.99 is not that bad when it comes to a fully featured and customizable mechanical gaming keyboard, the Armato lacks in a few areas, and we would feel much better if this product were selling at sub $100 prices. At the same time, style does carry a product past pricing for many, as there are only a few products that you want right at first glance.

The Armato is one of these products, where the style draws you in, and the more you use the product, the deeper the attachment goes. Even with the pricing as it is, we still feel many will gravitate to the AZIO Armato Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and will pay whatever the asking price is at the time.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

TweakTown award

The Bottom Line: The price is heavy, but the AZIO Armato is not only stunning to look at, it is a pleasure to use. The feature set is good for a device without software, and the longer the Armato is under your hands, the better it feels and the more productive you become.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. 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 and coolers.

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