When I was putting together a new, entry level gaming computer I bought the RG100 Gaming Keyboard from Powercool through Amazon. It’s a low cost, lightweight wired keyboard that boasts programmable macros and changeable back lights. Being honest, the style and design resonated with me which was part of the reason I bought it. However, the big question really is whether it actually was worth it in the end. So, let’s go on with it!

Installation

The RG100 is really easy to install, as you probably expect. It’s a plug and play keyboard that, to get working as a standard keyboard simply involves sticking it into the USB post. However, in order to sort out the back light colour that you want to use, you need to spend a bit more time playing around.

The instruction leaflet that came with my RG100 was written in broken English, at best, so it took a while to get my head around what it was trying to say. Even then, once I had finally understand what keys to press to get it to change colour, the hassle was far from over. I would have to press the key combination multiple times before it actually registered what I wanted to do. And if that wasn’t enough, pressing a different combination to change the intensity of the back light ended up changing the colour again!

In short, it took me about 5 seconds to the keyboard working, and at least 45 minutes getting the back light colour the way I wanted it… Considering that the macros are really easy to record, this is a small thing, but as it one of the selling points that Powercool push for the RG100, I think it is worth noting how damn annoying it is! Especially if you decide to change the colour at a later date…

Effectiveness

Okay, where to start… This is a budget, entry level gaming keyboard and it’s best to keep that in mind and not expect too much from it. However, the response time is actually pretty good for the price. There is a slight delay between key presses and the computer’s response, but in games like MMOs and Single Player games it’s not really noticeable. This is, of course, in part due to the slower pace of these games than Shooters like Counter Strike, but all in all the response time isn’t bad as long as you are not competitive.

If you are, or want to be competitive, playing things like Counter Strike or Titanfall, you’ll definitely notice it! Due to the fast paced nature of these games, plus the reaction time needed in order to play at higher levels, the delay will really grate on you.

But the delay isn’t the only issue here… The biggest one is the connection between the key being pressed and the signal sent to the computer. If you are running around in a game, holding down the W key for an extended period of time, the connection with start to fail over and over. In fact, your character will start to “skate” forward as if you were tapping the key instead of holding it. There’s no way to tell when this is going to happen either, and there’s no pattern to the occurences!

So no matter what type of game you are playing, this will likely cause you to have a really bad time! In fact, the only way to cancel the error, albeit temporarily, is to press a different key whilst holding the one that is playing up… This resets the connection and lets you play normally again. Oh, and it’s not just in games either… I tried holding down K in Word and after about 30 seconds it did the same thing.

Usability

Whilst we’ve covered the major aspects of the Powerline RG100 already, it is worth looking at the usability from a comfort perspective. Gaming keyboards should be comfortable to use as you could be spending a prolonged amount of time with your hand or hands positioned over them. In order to remain at your best in terms of concentration and reaction, you need to be in a comfortable position and not dealing with pins and needles or anything like that.

This is one thing that RG100 gets right. The design is low enough that you can rest your arms and hands comfortably on it for hours at a time. On top of that, the angle that it sits at is perfectly set to make your life easier. The lightweight build means you can put it anywhere you need and the smaller design means the keys are easy to reach in a rush.

Of course, all of this is let down by the horrible key press issue stated above. The fact that the keys are easy to reach is great, because you’ll spend most of your time hastily pressing a random key just to get rid of the juddering steps your character’s forced to take…

Cost

As the Powercool RG100 is a budget, entry level keyboard, it is up against a myriad of similar keyboards, all for about the same price. So, is it worth it compared to the others?

Well, the quality of the plastic that it’s build with is strong and durable, and the back light is nice and bright. The keys feel responsive (even if there is a delay), and the design looks really aggressive and stylish. So, on all of those points it is definitely worth the £20 you’ll have to part with to get it.

Just don’t expect miracles! When professional gaming keyboards cost upwards of £200 (for a cheap one), you need to be realistic with what you’re going to get. This is a budget keyboard, and you’ll be completely aware of that by the time you’ve used it.

If you’re looking for a budget keyboard to get you started, this is pretty good, but it really is just to get you started. If you want to become competitive, you’ll almost certainly have to upgrade at a later date.

Summary
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Powercool RG100 Gaming Keyboard
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