With the release of the Meka G Unit, the keyboard category has the most players in Thermaltake's eSports line. The G Unit itself is the third reincarnation of the Meka family, featuring mechanical switches among other gaming enthusiast features. The professional gaming market has never been hotter, nor more demanding. Let's see how Thermaltake handles the heat.
Product Name: Meka G Unit
Review Sample Provided by: Thermaltake
Review by: Adam
Pictures by: Adam
Tt. Breakaway Gold-Plated USB Connection Cable(2 Meters in Length)
Audio/Microphone Jacks Onboard
7 Easy Access Multimedia Keys
60 Macro Keys across 3 Profiles
Tt Game Mode Option (Disables Windows Key)
Authentic Cherry Black Mechanical Key Switches
Cable Management Slots Located on the Bottom of the Keyboard
64KB Onboard Memory
1000 Hz Polling Rate Limit
Detachable Wrist Rest for Maximum Comfort
50 Million Keystroke Lifespan
2 Onboard USB Hubs
USB to PS2 Adapter included
Body dimensions (LxWxH): 430x160x40mm
Thermaltake has housed the Meka G Unit in a typical rectangular box, opening clamshell style to reveal an insert with an in-depth call-out off the software included, situated in a cove to the left. On the outside, a more simple action shot of the board itself rests atop a flame spiral, with a few feature badges advertising attributes the G Unit is equipped with. The back features the same sort of call-out, but using the actual keyboard as opposed to the software.
Under the software insert, you will find the G Unit plastic wrapped and safely tucked under a cardboard cavity containing the wrist-rest and a nice, fabric carrying bag including the modular USB power cable.
The Meka G Unit's physical attributes are pretty consistent with what you'd expect from a keyboard, perhaps a little more length due to two full rows of programmable buttons in addition to the full QWERTY and numeric pad layout (and typical spacing between banks). What lies under those keys is more of a concern given the Meka line has always been, as the name implies, a mechanical keyboard. Though we will address the switches more in-depth later, know that they are the Cherry Black mechanisms.
When equipped with the optional wrist rest, the G Unit adopts a very ellipses-type shape, adding almost two and half inches to the length of the board. The rest does a good job of supporting the palms, and the riser feet prop the board to a comfortable angle. The G Unit doesn't fall victim to being too flat without the feet in use either, with a nice, natural incline in the plastic mold.
The keyboard sports a nice finish, and a consistent material from the wrist rest to the base of the keyboard. It doesn't hold fingerprints or oil from hands, which is a huge peeve of mine, and grips the lower palms well and keeps them in place. Speaking more to the facial features of the board, one of the more marketable features is the backlighting. Certain keys deemed vital to a gamer (W, A, S, D, Shift, etc.) have a nice white LED bulb underneath illuminating the translucent letters.
The under glow appeals to me for a few reasons. The first is that I am admittedly a sucker for lighting effects. More applicable is that I perhaps play right into the stereotype that gamers prefer the dark. Given that my office is connected to the living room in which we typically coax my toddler to bed, I commonly find myself working with minimal lights as well. Aside from the function, programmable 'T' keys on the left, and the 'Home' banks, there is at least one key in every section of the board with lighting. The diode underneath the key is powerful enough light the corresponding character on top, while also casting a subtle glow underneath every key in that section. To put it simply, the Meka G Unit looks great and the lighting may come in handy, too (though I feel a lack of love for MOBA fans).
ThermalTake even resized the gigantic 'Tt' logo from the wrist-rest of the Challenger and moved it to the top of the board, replacing it with a much more livable graphic of the eSports dragon symbol.
The suite included with the Meka G Unit mimics the design of the packaging using the same rough-metal theme and font form. The main window of the software presents user with a virtual keyboard and several options for customization: creating macros, lighting options, key assignment, and even the ability to switch between settings designated by 'normal' mode or 'game' mode, and up to three profiles.
You will notice an on-screen notification the first time you load the software, as well as when you make changes such as switching the profile.
Clicking on specific tabs typically launch a new window, such as the Light Options. Here we see the keyboard again, but each of the keys with illumination marked red. Along the bottom are four levels of light intensity as well as a pulse option.
These options can be applied in real time or set to apply once all changes have been made. Either way, you will notice another on-screen notification indicating the light level as well.
The macro option launches a new window, too. Here users have the ability to create or load macros, and see the key presses as well as the delay time in between.
After a live record is used, preset actions such as 'All', 'Print', or 'Undo' can be inserted any place within the string, as well as custom delay times or the option to ignore delay time altogether.
Rest assured that your effort in customization won't be lost if you take the G Unit to another computer. An on-board 64KB memory ensures that your settings will travel with you.
The marketing for the G Unit, in all its metal glory, certainly sets high expectations for the quality and durability of the board. Crafted out of a solid plastic, authentic Cherry Black mechanical switches, and gold-plated USB, it doesn't disappoint. I did have a little problem with the integrity of the wrist-rest clips that secure the rest to the board. The locking system basically consists of two solid tabs and four prongs that snap into place and allow a little flexibility. The first time I attempted to equip the wrist-rest, the left side clip snapped like a twig. After contacting ThermalTake about the problem, they immediately recreated the issue at their office and ensured it would be addressed.
The layout of the board is fairly typical, though I do have a few minor complaints. I discovered that at certain time I position my hands based on the left edge of the keyboard. So, instead of using the home row (sorry Mr. Heisman), I visually judge about where my hands should be according to how close to the end of the board I am, and usually I get pretty damn close. With two rows of programmable keys, I have found myself in trouble a few times, trying to use T9 as Q, for instance.
Usually I use the left Shift key in game, but I know plenty of instances in which the right may be utilized. Because Thermaltake has opted to make the Enter key two keys tall, the '\' key has been moved next to its '/' brother, which cuts the right Shift key in half.
Though they are minor grievances, if you usually navigate the keyboard without really looking at it, they are different enough from a normal keyboard to throw you off. That being said, if you adopted the G Unit as you primary board, I'm sure you would pick adjust to it without too much effort. Just be aware if you have ever have to switch back.
The Cherry Black switches are ideal from gamers for several reasons. Since the position of actuation and release are the same, actions such as double-jumping in Unreal Tournament require much less effort. Because of a high-actuation point, accidental presses are also less likely. In other words, unless you decide 100% to prone in Call of Duty, chances are you won't drop to the floor if you decide not to at the last moment. The fact that the key must be pressed to the base for activation, or "bottoming out", is also why no tactile response is needed.
The trade-off is that this works in the exact opposite for general typing. Because it takes more effort for each key stroke, words per minute will decrease when using Cherry Black switches, and therefore the Meka G Unit.
Though I had a few grumbles about the Meka G Unit, they can't stand to cast a shadow over an otherwise great mechanical keyboard. Despite a small plastic malfunction, Thermaltake has invested in several quality-assuring features. The software compliments the board well, and it features several LAN-friendly upgrades, such as a detachable USB power cord and a built-in USB hub. All this luxury comes at a price, however, with a price tag well over the three-digit mark. If you're in the market for a mechanical keyboard, the Meka G Unit should be on your list to consider.