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- Well-built aluminum chassis.
- Customizable keys and lighting.
- Premium Cherry MX key switches.
- Dedicated macro keys.
- Media playback buttons and USB pass-through.
- Big footprint.
- Industrial design may not be for everyone.
The G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB is a solid if unspectacular mechanical gaming keyboard with a bevy of useful features and fun extras.
Design and Features
From its coloring to its design flourishes, the KM780$149.99 at Amazon flaunts an industrial look. It appears distinctly tough, with a brushed aluminum face, a pattern on the detachable wrist rest reminiscent of steel cross-hatching, and metal piping on the top and sides. The aluminum is anodized military-grade plate, so if you should ever need such durability on a keyboard, the KM780 means business. The metal is sleek, though I almost wish there were a version that dropped the piping.
The style adds some chunkiness to the keyboard: It measures 1.8 by 20.3 by 6.7 inches (HWD) without the wrist rest, which adds an extra 2 inches to the depth when attached. That’s all around larger than the more elegant Tesoro Gram Spectrum$118.99 at Amazon (1.0 by 17.5 by 5.3 inches), and wider than the already-large Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum$179.99 at Logitech (1.4 by 19.8 by 8.2 inches), so it definitely occupies quite a bit of desk real estate. Though it takes up some additional space, the piping along the top does double as a mouse cable holder via a plastic clip in the center.
With all that room, you do get plenty of extra buttons. In addition to the alphanumeric keys and the 10-key pad, there’s a column of six macro keys on the left side, four profile switch keys above them, and a row of media playback keys on the top right. Alongside the media buttons is a volume scroll wheel (similar to the one on the new Razer Blade Pro), which for me is a handier way to quickly change volume than using buttons. To go with it, there’s a neat (though rather pointless) LED grid that lights up from left to right to show volume level. There’s also a USB pass-through on the top edge, which allows you to plug your mouse or other peripherals into the keyboard—this is a feature missing from the Corsair K95.
As for the keys themselves, plenty of features are packed in. The keycaps are concave and the rows are contoured, which makes the keyboard slope along nicely to your hands when the kickstands are up. Our version includes mechanical Cherry MX RGB Brown key switches, but Red and Blue are also available for the same price, and you can get any of them without RGB lighting.
Since our unit does include the RGB keys, the lighting effects were on full display. You can keep the color static and switch between multiple moving effects, such as a slow fade across colors or reactions to each key press. A more unusual setting is “changeling,” which lights up a key when you press it, but then the color gradually changes and fades away. The lighting could be a bit brighter through the keycaps themselves, but it looks good overall. The light splashes down onto the keyboard deck from beneath the keycap, like a car’s neon underbelly onto a dark city street in The Fast and The Furious.
Performance and Software
The Brown switches provide fast double-tap response (the actuation distance is 2mm) during gameplay and a fine feel for typing. It’s a satisfying keyboard to type on through the day, as it doesn’t require much force but still provides aural and tactile feedback, though the keys are a lighter touch than I prefer. The KM780 includes full N-key rollover and 100 percent anti-ghosting to prevent input jams during intense gameplay. The keys are rated for 50 million strokes, but needless to say, I didn’t quite get around to testing that many.
G.Skill’s free software, which lets you customize the lighting and key functions, is largely competent. It’s not slow or prone to freezes like Tesoro’s, but also not as streamlined as Razer’s. Everything can be managed from within a few tabs, though becoming acquainted with setting locations takes some time. For instance, finding where to switch between preset lighting effects was surprisingly difficult—it was easier to find where to change the settings for those effects, which seems backward to me.
Macros are a bit confusing as well, since the functions of each button and menu aren’t entirely clear—you’ll figure it after tinkering if you have experience with this kind of software, but I imagine first-timers will need some tutorial help. Profile modes one through three correspond to the M1, M2, and M3 buttons on the top left of the keyboard, and as with the macros, it takes some trial and error to figure out what you’re doing. Beyond macros and changing specific key functions—very straightforward thanks to an interactive keyboard diagram—you can also tweak basic things like polling rat
The G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB is well built and a breeze to type on, with extras like customizable lighting, media playback buttons, and setting profiles to justify its place in the high price tier. It’s a bit bulky, and the design is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If its aesthetics do speak to you, I can’t imagine walking away disappointed with its performance or feature set. That said, some similarly priced keyboards, like the Corsair K95 RGB and the Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum, have a bit more general appeal and might better fit what you’re looking for in a keyboard this expensive.