Gaming Keyboard Final Thoughts
In the past couple of years, the mechanical keyboard market has simply exploded. Much of this is due to the expiration of the patents on Cherry’s MX mechanical switches, which led to the proliferation of Chinese clone switches which in turn led to a price and features war. Simple backlighting gave way to multi-color and full RGB; this combined with expanded macro capabilities meant keyboards had to be equipped with their own processors and memory. Cherry responded with new variations such as their MX Silent and MX Speed switches. And now Bloody comes along with their optical switches.
We’ve previously reviewed the Bloody B720 and the Bloody B188 Light Strike keyboards, and found them to be quality items, but with high prices relative to the competition and macro software, that while capable, is clumsy and non-intuitive to use. The switches on these keyboards were linear, and felt almost identical to Cherry MX Red switches. I have to say that I like these new LK Optic Blue switches a lot better: there’s something about the clicky feel combined with the short, 3mm stroke that really works for me. They feel exactly what I’d imagine short-stroked Cherry MX Blue switches would feel like.
However, Bloody’s original weak points of a high price, unintuitive software, and a short warranty remain. With a suggested MSRP of $179.99, this keyboard is playing in the very high end market, and– key switches aside– the hardware and features are several steps behind the best in class designs. Even Bloody seems somewhat confused: are these key switches rated for 100 million strokes, as stated on the Bloody web site, or 50 million strokes, as it says on the keyboard’s retail box? Granted, it’s a distinction without much real-world relevance, but still…
Getting back to the switches: keyboard geeks might draw comparisons to the Cherry MX Speed switches, as used on the Corsair Rapidfire keyboards, but they’re not: the Cherry switches actuate 1.2mm into the key travel, as opposed to the 2mm standard, but the total key stroke is still 4mm. Bloody’s LK Optic Blue switches have a total travel of only 3mm, and while the actuation distance isn’t specified, the B840 keyboard feels quicker to me in a way that the Corsair Rapidfire MX Speed-equipped keyboard does not. Right now these are my second-favorite mechanical key switches, right behind the buckling-spring capacitive switches use on the IBM Model F keyboards.
But: the Corsair keyboard has more features, much better lighting, much better utility software, a longer warranty, and a lower price. (Although at the time of this review, the Bloody B840 LK Optic keyboard is being offered at a huge discount from several online vendors.)
Bloody B840 Keyboard Conclusion
Bloody’s new LK Optic Blue switches are a significant improvement to their original Light Strike switches– their short stroke and clicky feedback will entice gamers who want maximum responsiveness in a keyboard.
But the Bloody B840 shares the same good and bad points of its predecessors: while it has a unique and clever key switch design and is well-made, its monochrome backlighting, clumsy utility software, lack of hardware features (no media controls, no detachable USB cable, etc.) and short warranty place it at a disadvantage relative to its competitors.
However, at the time of this review, the Bloody B840 keyboard is being heavily discounted from its $179.99 MSRP, presently available for $99.99 (Amazon | Newegg). This price makes the keyboard much more appealing and I’d have no trouble recommending it for gamers looking for a unique typing experience.
+ Unique optical key switches promise faster response, more reliability
+ Solid, quality construction
+ Fully editable macros
+ Metal top plate
– Limited, monochrome key lighting
– Clumsy utility software
– Only a 1-year warranty?
– Very high MSRP