So our first mechanical keyboard review goes all the way back to 2008 and from them it really hasn’t stopped, not to mention all of the keyboards I personally have picked up over the years. What I’m getting at is that I’ve had the chance to check out a lot of keyboards but up until now they have always had some variation on a Cherry MX switch or other popular switch types like Topres’ so you would forgive me for being a little excited about optical keyswitches hitting the market. Well, it just so happens that I’ve had a few come in recently and for more than a month I’ve been switching between them. Today I’m going to dive into the first, the Bloody B975 Light Strike Optical Keyboard. The brand name might be a surprise but some of the guys behind a few of my favorite keyboards have been working with Bloody so I’m interested in seeing where things go with them. For now, though, let's see what the B975 is all about.
Product Name: Bloody B975 Light Strike Optical Keyboard
Review Sample Provided by: Bloody
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Well, the Bloody branding lives up to its name. The box for the B975 has a red bloody handprint right in the middle of the front with the bloody name in it. Beyond that, there is a picture of part of the keyboard over on the right, and over on the left, they highlight the Light Strike optical switch as well as our specific sample as having a brown like feel. Around on the back, we actually get a proper full photo of the B75 including both of its wrist rests. Most of the left side of the back is dedicated to the optical switches, talking about both their orange and brown variations and what sets them apart. The bottom left is all about RGB lighting, then over on the right bloody has listed off some of the other key features. Each has a description below it.
Once you get inside, right up on top you have a bunch of accessories. There is a full wrist rest wrapped in foam as well as a red one with plastic on it. Then there is a bag of keycaps.
For documentation, you get a quick guide that is a few pages thick. It basically covers how to get the keyboard up and the features. Then with it is a warranty card with a thank you and a link to the website to sign up and deal with warranty issues.
Most keyboards don’t come with much for accessories but the B975 comes with a whole bunch. I will touch on it more in the next section but you get two different wrist rests setups. The red one can replace part of the black one for a little extra bloody styling if you need it. Then there are 16 different keycaps. Basically, you get a full set of gaming keycaps in red with a unique(ish) shape and a set of transparent caps. The red ones are double shot with red on the outside and transparent under for the legends. You get QWER and WASD and F to cover both shooters and MOBAs. I called the red shape unique(ish) because if you look closely they actually have the same shape that the original Logitech G910 Orion Spark caps had. Personally, I didn’t like them at the time for typing, but they might be good for gaming.
Photos and Features
The bloody B975 has a bezel-less design, this means there isn’t a ring around the keycaps that keeps dust and dirt down inside of your keyboard. The casing is all plastic and this was the biggest thing that stood out to me when I first got my hands on it. There is an aluminum backplate on top but it is a little thinner than normal making the B975 feel a little light when you hold it. Normally this makes a keyboard feel cheap but giving the board a good twist shows that it is still solid and it doesn’t make any noise. It has a full F row, alpha keys, and number pad in a traditional layout.
The aluminum backplate does have the bloody logo, hand and all right above the direction pad. While I personally don’t mind the logo I bet some people aren’t going to want this. I also prefer a cleaner look overall with the logo facing away from me. I don’t need to look and be reminded what keyboard I have, already know.
So the F keys up along the top do have a function layer built in. You have volume controls over on the left, F4 to F7 are media controls, and then F8 is a windows key disable button. I like having these options but the bright white legends for the function layer might be a little much. In daylight, I can see them better than the other backlit legends and then at night you can hardly see them at all. Actually, it's not the brightness that bothers me, I think I would prefer they be hidden up under the bottom edge of the keycaps so they are easy to see when typing but a little cleaner look. Speaking of in this photo, you can better see the other styling cue that bloody went with. In every gap between keys they put chrome lines, it reminds me of when people would put extra chrome trim around every door on their car.
For status indicators, the B975 has the traditional LED lights. They swapped their location though. The print screen, pause, and scroll lock keys are all over above the number pad and the status LEDs are in their place. This does mean less print screen presses when going for delete and the indicators might be a little easier to see in your peripheral vision.
So other than the weird placement of the print screen button and the pause and scroll locks that go with it. The B975 has a traditional layout. That means it has full support for replacement keycaps without having to worry about getting the correct length spacebar and bottom row buttons. But honestly, I’m not sure anyone would have a need to replace these caps. The B975 comes with double shot keycaps. Officially they are ABS, but I was questioning this and I was told they do mix in a little PBT in. The result is a little more texture than you normally find on an ABS keycap and a little thicker kepcap, in general, translates to a firmer feeling keypress. You can see that texture in the picture below zoomed into the keycap from above and below.
Along the back edge of the B975, the cord is built in. The benefit of this is the connection is solid and can have a strain relief, but I really prefer a detachable cord. It's nice to be able to swap them out if they go back or just change them out with a sleeved cord that matches your setup. The cord, however, isn’t too bad. It is sleeved in black, given the love for blood red I’m surprised bloody didn’t go with specks of red in the sleeving. The cord has a built-in Velcro strap to tie up any extra length and for easy transport/storage. Then at the end, it has a red USB connection with the bloody logo on it. You aren’t going to have any trouble figuring out which is your keyboard behind your PC with this plug. It has a built-in strain relief as well.
On the flip side, literally. The B975 has four inch wide but not very thick rubber feet, one near each corner. Then in the middle, there are two built-in plastic tabs for support in the middle. The flip out feet just have one angle so there isn’t any adjustability there but they do have rubber grips on the end, in bright red in true bloody style. There aren’t any built-in cord raceways built into the bottom. Partially because the cord isn’t detachable, but I wouldn’t have been against seeing one run across for a headset cable. If you look closely down at the bottom edge you can see two mounts for the included wrist rest.
So those two mounts have a plastic tab that sticks up to help line up the wrist rest. Then they include two screws to attach it. The brackets from the wrist rest are metal and given this mounting style, I don’t see this breaking at all. The downside is you can’t put it on or take it off quickly. I think it depends on the person on if these are good or bad for them.
With the keyboard flipped back over, right side up, we can get a better look at the wrist rest. Now keep in mind there are two parts, the base that runs the full length of the keyboard and then the part on the left. The left section is something you see more on gaming-focused keyboards as gamers only use their left hand when gaming and have their right hand on the mouse most of the time. This design gives you a little more rest for your wrist. Now they did include a bright red copy of the left part as well, I toyed with swapping it out but I really don’t like the bright red look so I stuck with the black for my testing. Functionally they are both the same, it's just a different color. It's rare to see keyboards come with things like additional wrist rests, hell a lot of them don’t come with one let alone two.
Before finishing up, I can’t talk about the B975 without diving into its keyswitches right? So bloody isn’t using a traditional switch at all. For starters these are optical mechanical key switches, specifically, they are what they are calling the LK Libra or the LK3. Their third revision of the Light Strike optical switch. They come in two verities, you have the brown with tactile feedback just like a normal MX Brown would have. Then you have the orange that is linear. Bloody is saying these switches have a 0.2ms response time and an actuation point of 1.5mm. For reference, a normal Cherry switch has a 2mm actuation point and the speed models actuate at 1.2mm. Both switch types have an actuation force of 45 cN, just like the Cherry Red and Browns. It's clear they were trying to stay in that same range. What really stands out when you check them out though are the built-in stabilizers that each switch has. The stabilizer is integrated into the stem to help keep things lined up. Speaking of stabilizers, the wider keys do get additional stabilizers, they are using a cherry style in keyboard design. The spacebar actually uses four of them in total, there should be no problems even if you are pressing it on the outmost edge.
So for performance testing, I have been using the B975 off and on for a few months now actually. Because it has been on my main PC I have had a lot of writing as expected, and some gaming as well mixed in. I’m using it while typing this right now as well! So how has the B975 been working? Well switching from standard switches to the optical switches didn’t end up being an issue at all. The same goes for the layout. Because most of the keyboard has a traditional layout I was able to get on the B975 and just go. In fact, if anything moving the print screen button was a plus. I wouldn’t have ever considered it but from time to type I do bump it and now I don’t have random screenshots showing up in my Dropbox folder (it automatically saves print screens). I basically dropped the whole wrist rest early on, my desk can get jammed up with a lot of stuff that I’m working on so I like to have space. Plus I didn’t like the uneven effect of the two-piece design, as I type more than I game I have two hands on the keyboard more than I don’t.
Most of my experience was typing to get a good feel for the switches though. What I found was that they feel quick, I have no way to confirm anything but response time does seem good. More importantly to me, though typing feels solid. I think the built-in stabilizers play a big part but also the thicker keycaps also help. I was a little worried about the solidness of the B975 because of its light weight but it seems the switches make up for a little of it. The 1.5mm actuation point seems spot on, the MX speed switches that I tested a while back gave me issues when typing with miss clicks and double inputs. The .3mm seems to of made all the difference and it is still noticeable compared to the stock MX actuation point. Typing and gaming alike I was happy, a surprisingly good mix. Also surprising, with all of those stabilizers there weren’t any rattle issues in my testing.
Now talked really highly of the keycaps in the last section and I still really like them. But once I started to use them I did start to dislike the font a little. Initially, the font looked normal, but with lighting on a few like the B key have a weird and are harder to spot. I also found myself hating the bloody logo above the direction pad more than I thought. Not because of the logo or location, but because it sticks up. I don’t think I have ever touched that area normally but a few times I ended up rubbing on it during normal use.
So the RGB backlighting was good, no shockers there. For my photos, I set up a color spectrum, but in normal use, I just ran orange to match the Crush build and the lighting on my other devices. The bezel-less design does leak a little light around the edges but it was only really noticeable when taking photos, not when using the keyboard. I do wish they had a good way to create your own profiles without any software like some companies have done. But being able to switch between a lot of the modes quickly with direct profile buttons (in the function layer) was nice.
What about the software? Well, right away I wasn’t a fan of the ultra gaming skin over it. The diamond plate around the edges is actually from my background, it shows because the skin has a weird X shape. Even beyond the look though, I didn’t find it all that easy to navigate. The button tab does let you reprogram each key and you can click on each of them, but the size of the keyboard should be much larger on the program. Far to much useless stuff takes up space that could be used for important things like the actual programming part. Then most likely the only thing most people are going to use, the lighting programming, is split up. All of the preset profiles are on a tab, then the lighting controls that most will want can only be found on the button page with a small RGB colored button in the top corner. Macro controls and recording is all there as well, but its again hard to see and use. Overall all of the functionality you could want is there, even uploading custom lighting effects, but none of it is easy to use or find like it should be. I’m also not a fan of the constant on docked part of the software that is on by default.
Overall and Final Verdict
So where does the bloody B975 land now that I’ve done my testing and taken a closer look at the board and the software? Well, to put things in perspective I was a little worried when I got the keyboard in, saw some of the “flashy” features and felt how light the board felt. Thankfully it didn’t turn out the way it initially was looking. I ended up really liking the switches, they basically make this board. The LK Libra’s were designed to feel a lot like Cherry Browns and Reds depending on the model you get. The browns did a good job of keeping that tactile feedback without being too loud, hard to press, and without feeling mushy. The built-in stabilizers in each switch actually make each keypress feel a little more solid, this is helped a lot by the higher quality keycaps bloody went with. This alone sets the B975 up above a LOT of the market. Most companies worry about the flashy stuff and forget that keyboards are for typing (and for gaming of course). The 1.5mm actuation point seems to be a happy medium between the stock MX and MX Speed switches, I didn’t have any trouble when gaming or typing.
If I closed my eyes and didn’t have to look at anything else I think the B975 might be the perfect keyboard for me. But I wasn’t really digging the chrome accents used on the board. I also really ended up hating the logo above the direction pad. I didn’t like its size, but more importantly from time to time it would distract me when I would end up touching it because it stands out and is really rough. I initially liked the font used for the key legends, but there were a few that ended up being hard to read, so there is some room to improve there. The software also ended up being a mess for me as well. All of the functionality was there, but it was just hard to navigate and use.
So would I recommend the B975? If you don’t mind all of the flashy stuff, sure. But I really think bloody is going to have to bring out a cleaner simpler model. All of the features are there and they have something unique with their keyswitches. Its easy to see that they have spent a lot of time fine-tuning those. Hopefully they get the clean and simple keyboard that I love to go around them. The pricing is another concern as well. Including two different wrist rests and all of those extra keycaps that I didn’t end up wanting to use at all really adds to the price. At $149.99 for the MSRP, this isn’t a cheap keyboard, even compared to other bloody optical switch models. I actually think the B845 looks like it could be a similar but better buy at a much better price. Anyhow, if you get the chance to try out the bloody switches I would do it. Rumor has it, they also have a simpler model coming out as well that might fit my style a little better. With a few of the guys behind the Cooler Master mechanicals now working with bloody, I would keep a close eye on what they have going on!
Live Pricing: HERE