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. With the B830, we see another problem: the software happily allows you to configure functions for features that don’t exist on this keyboard, like RGB lighting effects and macros for the `0-key pad. The “missing features” thing seems to be a generic problem for Bloody: for example, the web page for the B830 touts its included wrist rest, but our review sample did not include one.
The switches on the earlier Bloody keyboards were linear, and felt almost identical to Cherry MX Red switches. These new LK Optic Blue switches have a clicky feel, like Cherry MX Blue switches, but a reduced 3mm travel as opposed to the 4mm travel that’s standard for most desktop keyboards. Although keyboard preference is a very individual thing, I found that I liked these switches a lot better than the original linear optical switches.
However, Bloody’s original weak points of a high price and poor software remain. With an MSRP of $159.99, this keyboard is playing in the high end keyboard market, and– key switches aside– the hardware and features are several steps behind the best in class designs.
Bloody claims the LK Optic Blue switches will last for 100 million strokes (on their web site, at least; the box claims only 50 million key strokes), but their 1-year warranty is much shorter than most of their competitors’ warranties.
Still, the key switches are the draw here. You might think they’re similar to Cherry MX Speed switches, 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 competitive keyboards have 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 B830 LK Optic keyboard is being offered at a huge discount from several online vendors.)
Bloody B830 LK Optic Keyboard Conclusion
Bloody’s new LK Optic Blue switches are a significant improvement to their original Light Strike switches– at least if you like clicky switches.
But the Bloody B830 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 plain 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.
At the time of this review, this keyboard is being heavily discounted from its $159.99 MSRP, now available online 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 key lighting
– Clumsy utility software
– Only a 1-year warranty?
– Very high MSRP