Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Keyboard Conclusion
The most common phrase that stuck out to me from reviews when I was selecting a mechanical keyboard for my own use was “I’ll never switch back to a membrane keyboard again” (or some variation thereof). If you’ve tried a mechanical keyboard, you’ll probably agree. I hesitate to agree that they are better for gaming however, and I feel it is unfortunate they are commonly marketed as such. The main benefit of a mechanical keyboard, in my opinion, is their build quality is generally better than a typical membrane switch keyboard. Coupled with the durability and feel of mechanical switches, this usually leads to a better product overall.
In essence, you can’t really go wrong with any mechanical keyboard, and that includes the Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Illuminated edition. I would take the time to learn the difference between the different types of switches to determine what you prefer (and try them out personally!), but you’ll generally get what you pay for. I think the only downside (if you can call it that) is the main cost of mechanical keyboards are the switches themselves – making most offerings almost identical, in price and features. I don’t see a whole lot here that places the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated ahead of the competition, but it isn’t behind either. If you like Cherry MX Black switches and red LEDs, you’ll also get a decent programmable keyboard along with ’em.
The Cherry MX Black keys were a great experience. The keyboard seemed to register at most six simultaneous keypresses (+ modifier keys) in my testing in Normal mode – you gain a little more in Gaming mode, but I rarely find myself pressing six keys at once (even with Shift/Ctrl/Alt) so this should be sufficient for most users and par for the category. I didn’t encounter any significant issues while testing – not even any minor issues, for that matter. Overall, a solid offering that fits right alongside others in the category.
I’m not normally a fan of red as a color (my preferences are usually on the other end of the spectrum) but it is well implemented here and looks great. Red is a great color for use in low-light environments that gamers would (stereo?)typically find themselves in, and is executed beautifully here. I didn’t care for the extra G-Unit dragon branding, but that’s such a minor personal nitpick that it barely merits a mention – how about, “I’d prefer a more streamlined design approach to branding?” Although overall the keyboard fits right in along with others in the category, I think Thermaltake could still refine the design to be even more attractive. The red colored strips on the sides should be narrower or non-existent (or, failing that, just light ’em up!) – they seem extraneous otherwise. Otherwise the rest of the keyboard is just as pleasing to the eye as many other products, and the typeface used for the key legends are sharp and readable. Thermaltake may not have a design language as identifiable as products from companies like Razer and Corsair, but there’s enough here to prevent the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated from looking like a generic wedge of keys.
Mechanical keyboards are notorious for being solid and heavy. While there’s definitely some heft to the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated, it didn’t have the “last-resort zombie apocalypse weapon” feel of some other mechanical keyboards – the primarily plastic construction keeps weight down, but the entire plank could be a little more stiff. This isn’t something that you’ll notice when its sitting on a desk, so it isn’t a major issue but the overall stiffness and “floor plate” of a keyboard can affect the feel of the key presses. I don’t have another keyboard on hand to compare, but I almost wonder if a stiffer keyboard would give a different, more satisfying feel to the Cherry MX Black switches.
The MEKA G-Unit Illuminated has a bit more functionality than many of its peers due to the dedicated media controls and 12 dedicated macro keys. The built-in USB ports and audio jacks work great, and are welcome additions to keyboards in this price category. Of course the detachable wrist/palm rest is a nice feature as well, and the simple and effective driver software rounds out the functionality. Whether you just want the typing experience that mechanical keyboards offer or the additional programming features and response time of a gaming device, the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated will accommodate you.
All of this adds up to the ever popular “is it worth it?” discussion. As of late September 2013, the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated was on sale for $99.99 (Amazon / NewEgg), making it one of the less expensive back-lit options for mechanical keyboards. The normally listed price of $129.99 fits right in the middle of mechanical keyboards with backlighting and additional USB/audio ports (unlike the eSPORTS website MSRP of $149), so if you manage to get it on sale it is a decent value. The “extras” like the carrying case and detachable wrist rest don’t hurt either.
Possibly the worst thing I can say about the MEKA G-Unit Illuminated keyboard is that it doesn’t do a whole lot to separate itself from the competition. Then again, it follows the “Back-lit Programmable Mechanical Gaming Keyboard” formula pretty closely, so I wouldn’t expect it to. If you like what you see, prefer Cherry Black switches and manage to snag one at a good price, you’ll probably be satisfied.
+ Detachable USB cable with built in cable management
+ Two USB ports
+ Headphone jack creates less “electronic noise” than many others
+ Bright, even, adjustable backlighting
+ Macro functions work as described
+ Carrying case included!
+ Good attention to detail
– Doesn’t offer much that you can’t get with any other product
– Primarily plastic construction
– Dedicated media keys are nice but hard to activate by feel
Final Score: 8.10 out of 10.
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