One of the more up and coming company’s in the gaming keyboard market for me has been Thermaltake. They have introduced a wide variety of keyboards over the past few years including their Poseidon line. We have seen well priced keyboards from the Poseidon lineup that have also included backlighting and a clean look. For a lot of gamers this is the only way to get that clean styling and backlighting without completely breaking the bank. Today I have the chance to take a look at their newest Poseidon keyboard, the Poseidon Z Forged. The Z is how TT distinguished their non-Cherry keyswitch models but now they only make the Z. The Forged in the name however is completely new, this is because this specific model has a metal plate across the top, giving the keyboard a more solid construction and adding to the styling. So let’s dig in and see what it’s all about!
Product Name: Thermaltake Poseidon Z Forged
Review Sample Provided by: Kingston
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|Number of macro keys||10 KEY X 5 SET|
|Number of game profiles||5|
|Gold plated USB||Yes|
|Dimension||503 X 156.2 X 43 MM|
|Keyswitch||TT certified mechanical blue or brown|
|Onboard memory size||64KB|
|Polling rate||1000 HZ|
|Backlight||Yes, full blue backlight|
|Wrist rest||Yes /Detachable|
|Onboard audio jacks||Yes|
|Onboard USB port||2|
The Poseidon X Forged comes in a standard sized keyboard box. The packaging is black but the front of the box does have an interesting texture in the background. The front also has a large photo of the keyboard across it as well as the Poseidon branding. Down in the bottom right corner they use a large sticker to distinguish which keyswitch the keyboard has, in this case our sample uses what they call a Tt Blue Switch. Below that they have highlighted a few of the key features, the aluminum faceplate, backlighting, the long life of a mechanical keyswitch, and something called ISS (Instant Shift System). Around on the back of the packaging we have another photo of the keyboard, this time each of the keyboards features are highlighted with a red circle around them and a line leading to a short bit about the feature. They also list the features and system requirements in a few languages
When I opened the box up I was surprised to find that Thermaltake covered everything up with a piece of cardboard with the Poseidon Z Forged branding on it. I think the idea here was to show that this isn’t just any keyboard for them. Under that the keyboard is wrapped in plastic and it sits with a cardboard tent above it to keep it from moving around and also to house the detachable USB cable and the wrist rest.
For documentation you get a small paper with warranty information as well as a slightly larger paper that is a quick installation guide. The keyboard doesn’t come with its software, they ask that you download that directly from the website.
Photos and Features
So the Poseidon Z Forged is a black keyboard with a full layout meaning it has a number pad. On each edge of the keyboard Thermaltake slipped in a stack of macro keys making this a fairly large keyboard at nearly 20 inches wide. Beyond the Tt Esports by Thermaltake logo up above the number pad they went with a very clean design though. They skipped out on having LED indicators above the number pad to instead put the indicators directly in the specific keys. So the caps lock doesn’t light up unless you have it pressed for example. This clean look goes perfectly with the aluminum top plate that runs the length of the keyboard. I will admit when I first read about the Poseidon Z Forged I assumed that Thermaltake was trying to do something similar to Corsair where they just use the keyswitch backplate as the keyboard. That design makes cleaning out your keyboard easier and keeps the design simple. This isn’t like that, the Forged is basically a full plastic keyboard but with a formed brushed aluminum plate on top of everything.
Also included with the keyboard is a full length wrist rest. This is good because at this length most standard wrist rests wouldn’t be long enough to fit the Poseidon Z Forged. The wrist rest forms to the curved edge of the keyboard and slides into place with two small arms with magnets in them to lock it into place. Normally a wrist rest like this would just use a plastic clip to keep things in place. I love the idea of the magnets here because in the past I have broken a few of the clips. In this case though I think there was something wrong with our sample. The two magnets weren’t attached to the actual wrist rest in any way, I actually had to put them into place and quickly move everything together letting the force of the magnet holding onto the keyboard to keep the magnet in its place. After talking to Thermaltake I can confirm that this was a defect, the retail keyboards should have them glued into place.
So any of you who have ever wanted to replace your keycaps and ran into issues with a non-standard layout will be disappointed to find out that the Poseidon Z Forged also uses a non-standard bottom row. This seems to be a trend with a lot of gaming keyboards but I’m not sure why. Basically a standard keyboard row will fit a total of 15 standard keycaps each standard keycap being called a 1u. Well a standard bottom row will have a 6.25u spacebar and four 1.25 keys on the right side of the spacebar and three 1.25 keys on the left. For some reason Thermaltake went with larger 1.5u Ctrl buttons on both sides and to compensate the function key is a smaller 1u key and the spacebar is a 6u.
Speaking of function keys, we have a few on the Poseidon Z Forged. To adjust the brightness of the backlighting you can hold function and press up and down on the direction pad. Up in the F keys we have media controls as well as mute and volume. There is also the F10 Profile button that flips through your macro profiles. When you do this the profile LED color changes. Then next to it is the backlighting button that flips through the keyboards different lighting modes.
For macro keys Thermaltake went with an interesting layout. You get a stack of five macro keys over to the left of the keyboard and then another five over to the right of the number pad. I’m not sure how well the macros near the number pad will work out, but it is an interesting variation.
On the back edge of the Poseidon Z Forged Thermaltake slipped in a small USB hub. In addition that that the keyboard actually has a built in sound card that gives you heaphone and microphone hookups right on the keyboard without the need for passthrough connections. I’m actually really shocked that they were able to get the backlit keyboard, two USB 2.0 ports, and an audio card all on one USB cord. Typically even just adding a USB hub requires an additional cord for the power needed to push it on top of backlighting.
Here from the side profile we can see the radius of the back of the keyboard and we can also better see that the metal part of this keyboard is a top plate that goes over the plastic base of the keyboard. We can also see that they went with a standard OEM style key profile with a tall row 1 and keys angling on the other rows to form a slightly curved profile. I like that the macro keys also follow that same profile as well.
The bottom of the Poseidon Z Forged has a few things going on. In the middle we have the standard sticker with your serial number and all of the required federal certification logos. To keep the keyboard from moving around Thermaltake has put a few inch wide and ¼ inch tall rubber pads on the bottom. You get three on the front edge and then on the back they have two right on the flip out feet. When you flip the feet out the edge is also rubber coated to make sure you keep that traction. The feet are considerably wider than normal as well so things should be especially stable. Then for the detachable cord we have a few tracks to route the cord. What I was disappointed in though is there aren’t tracks that actually go out the sides of the keyboard. It seems weird to have three different options to route out the back of the keyboard and two out the front but no sides.
Much like some of the Cooler Master keyboards, the Poseidon Z Forged tucks its USB plug up under the keyboard. The benefit to this is it allows you to run the cord through the tracks and pick where you want the cord to come out. There are downsides though. For starters if you need to replace the cable you have to be careful that the plug isn’t too thick as it won’t fit. Getting at the plug is a bit of a pain as well. Personally I would prefer the plug be on the back edge of the keyboard for this reason. In addition, I wouldn’t be against seeing this be a Micro USB connection rather than Mini USB. That is a preference call, you can find both plugs depending on the keyboard. I just like having it be the same plug as most phones and other devices for simplicity.
Thermaltake didn’t use a standard USB cord like most. The Poseidon Z Forged’s cord has the Tt branding molded right into the cord end. The cord itself is much thicker than a standard cord, to the point where it is a little hard to move around. They also put a tight sleeving on the cord for additional protection as well.
As I mentioned a little earlier Thermaltake has for the most part moved away from Cherry keyswitches and they now use what they call a Tt Certified switch. For starters I know there is a lot of debate as to if going away from Cherry MX keyswitches is a good thing. Stepping back and taking a look at it from a manufacturing point of view I do understand why Thermaltake and a lot of other manufactures have moved to other switches. The popularity of mechanical keyboards has completely overloaded Cherry and over the last few years there has been at times a full year waiting list for switches. Going with a different switch helps lower costs and in some cases it is the difference between actually having switches to build the keyboard or not. I will give Thermaltake credit, with the move they have had great pricing on the Z keyboards, this is more than Razer can say.
SO with the keycaps pulled off we can see that the Tt Certified keyswitch is a Kailh. This is one of the biggest manufactures of knockoff Cherry MX’s so no surprise here. We can also see that Thermaltake is using a plate mounted design for stability and they have painted the backplate bright blue to match the switches and to match the blue backlighting of this keyboard. Over on the enter key I pulled it off as well to see what they are using as far as stabilizers. I was really happy to see that they are using a Cherry style stabilizer. This design uses a stabilizer bar that is under the plate and much much easier to work with if you ever replace keycaps. Ironically if it wasn’t for the non-standard bottom row replacing the keycaps on this keyboard would be very easy.
For the software on the forged Thermaltake wen with a simple design with a skin overlay that matches the TT esports styling. It also has a little diamond print on it and the forged branding to match the keyboard a little. In the middle you have a photo of the keyboard. Right from the start you can click on any key and right down at the bottom you can select if you want to set that key to do the default action, be a single key macro, launch a program, or even a full macro. I love that you aren’t limited to just the “T” keys on the left and right side of the keyboard. Up top you have five different profiles you can flip through to set profiles depending on the games you play or for everyday use.
Over on the right side of the keyboard photo is a small light options button. Here we can set the brightness for each profile. You can also flip through a few different lighting configurations. There are configurations that light up the keys needed for FPS and also MOBAs or if you want the whole keyboard. Beyond that you can turn off individual sections, for example in the photo below I turned off the number pad. You can turn off the macro keys, F keys, and whatnot. All in all the software is fairly basic but it does get the job done, you can set your macros and you have some control over the lighting even though this isn’t an RGB keyboard.
When it came to testing the Poseidon Z Forged I used it for a few weeks on my main PC. This means I spent time gaming with it and also spent (a lot) of time writing and using it for everyday usage. In that time I didn’t really run into any specific issues although adjusting to it did take a little time from my standard keyboard. Specifically I accidentally bumped the macro keys over on the right a lot. There are a lot of times I need to hit enter and normally I just go for the bottom right key on my full sized keyboards but in this case there are keys to the right of the number pad. While I like that Thermaltake was doing something different here, I personally didn’t put the extra macro keys to use. Then again I almost never need any macro keys at all.
The Kailh didn’t have any specific issues and didn’t feel as loose as some of the Kailh switches I have tested in the past. Our specific sample used a blue switch so I think I drove my wife nearly crazy with the additional noise, she is used to me using browns or clears and the blues are noticeably louder. Thee non-standard key layout wasn’t an issue because it was just the bottom row, they didn’t move anything around that gets used often. The blue backlighting was extremely bright and you have the option to be able to turn that down using the function key and the direction pad. Even turning it down a notch it was more than bright enough for me.
The metal casing that gives the keyboard the Forged name was solid in testing. A few times it was a little cold to touch at first when I first sat down but when you use the wrist rest you hardly have any contact with it, it is more of a styling feature.
Overall and Final Verdict
With the Poseidon Z Forged Thermaltake went a little bit of a different direction than they have been with their mechanical keyboards. For the most part they have done a great job recently by bringing out good quality backlight mechanical keyboards at a good price. For this keyboard they styled things up a little with the addition of a metal finish and with that they raised the price a little. In my testing the Poseidon Z Forged performed well. Just like any mechanical keyboard you get good tactile responses when you type or game. Thermaltake put together a simple software program that allows you to take advantage of the two rows of macro keys and if you want you can even program any of the standard keys as well. You get profiles to flip through if you need multiple configurations and a few lighting options.
While I personally didn’t really like the extra row of macro keys over on the right side of the keyboard, I have a feeling that those are what is going to set this keyboard apart. No one else puts them over there, I’m sure there are a few left handed gamers who will put them to good use. You don’t get a standard key layout so replacing all of the keys with a new set will be hard, but even so the use of cherry style stabilizers should make it much easier to pull the keys off and clean up your keyboard in the future. Then there is the backlighting. The bright blue backlighting when paired up with the blue backplate really makes for bright lighting, I had to turn it down a little and I almost never do that.
On the downside I would have preferred to see Cherry switches, even though I understand why they don’t use them. Especially at the Poseidon Z Forged’s price point. In fact I think that is the biggest downside to the keyboard. You see at this price you can pick up one of the Corsair keyboards with a similar feature set. The corsairs have a FULL metal design that actually integrates the backplate into the whole keyboard and they use Cherry switches. It’s not that I think the Poseidon Z Forged is a bad keyboard, I just think they are going to have to drop the price a little to something that matches the feature set a little better. With a better price this could be a nice little keyboard for someone who wants something nice, but can’t afford one of the more expensive keyboards!
Amazon Link: HERE