A while back I had a conversation about mechanical keyboards and gaming gear with Brett from Bloody Gaming. Since then I have extensively used one of their high performance keyboards – specifically the B820R – and I’m here to share my findings with you.
Out of the box you get the keyboard itself with an attached six-foot USB cord, a tool for removing keys, a bag of several orange keycaps and a quick start guide. The orange keycaps let you quickly identify specific keys. For example, you might use them on the WASD keys so you can easily see them while gaming. Or you can use them over the keys you use most often for work related software. I do a lot of photography and used the keycaps in my image editing software.
While made of mostly plastic, this Lightning Strike keyboard feels very sturdy. The USB cable is braided and should withstand heavy use. I am told that the keys are rated for over 100 million actuations and having spent a considerable amount of time using the keyboard, I can believe it. That is to say that while typing literally hundreds of documents and playing all manner of games on this keyboard I have not detected any signs of the components breaking down. One interesting aspect of the keyboard is that it is designed so that any liquid that manages to get inside will flow out of it which is a nice touch. Since the keys are activated by light switch and the PCB is coated with water-resistant material, you don’t have to worry about contacts corroding. By the way, this is a full size keyboard so users who require the number keys off to the side will be satisfied.
As is typical for these devices, my keyboard has two feet on the bottom that can be flipped out and raise the unit towards you at a slight angle. I find the raised keyboard to be comfortable to use for non-gaming tasks such as writing and editing documents. Bloody Gaming tells us that the key response time is 0.2ms. It is impossible for a human to verify this without the use of software. The manufacturer does offer this software on their website for you to use while testing your keyboard and mouse. Using that program I did find the Lightning Strike keyboard to be significantly faster than my laptop’s integrated keyboard and the external keyboard I often use.
For the record, the keys have a shorter travel distance than most commonly used keyboards meaning you will not have to press down as hard as you used to for the keystrike to register. Once I got the hang of this I did notice a slight increase in my WPM count.
The keys light up and you can choose from several default arrangements like a cascade effect or have the lights pulse. With the supplied software you can choose from additional lighting effects or customize your own. I like to arrange attack keys in red, defensive keys in blue and healing keys in green.
I know that there is some concern over the noise from a mechanical keyboard when the keys are struck. If you are going to get a mechanical keyboard then you have to accept that it will be louder than less expensive keyboards. In all honesty the noise from the Light Strike keyboard wasn’t that loud in my opinion but this is my first mechanical keyboard so I am not sure how the noise level compares to other models.
My only real gripe regarding this keyboard’s performance is that the keys are smaller than I anticipated. I found myself making a fair number of typos because my muscle memory caused me to strike the wrong keys out of habit. I don’t blame Bloody Gaming for this as I replaced my laptop earlier this month and I had similar problems with its integrated keyboard. I would have preferred larger keys but I got used to the layout quickly enough.
If Bloody Gaming’s Lightning Strike keyboards have a flaw, it is the software used to support them. They provide a number of programs on their website that you can use to adjust your devices. The problem is that the interface is not always easy to figure out for a newcomer to mechanical keyboards like myself. The program is helpful when explaining how to assign macros…
Unfortunately, customizing the key lighting was not so intuitive. Better documentation or a wizard within the software would be helpful for beginners.