Installation & Setup:
The setup for this keyboard is extremely simple and straight forward. Since this particular model lacks macro functionality, there is no software that comes with the keyboard. So, all that is required for setup is simply plugging in the two USB connectors (one for the keyboard itself, and one for the auxiliary USB ports on the top of the keyboard) and the two audio connectors (if you wish to use the auxiliary audio ports on the keyboard). Aside from the cabling, attaching the wrist rest is all that is left. I generally don’t use these, but for this particular keyboard (given its weight and size) the wrist rest seemed to complete the accessibility and comfort, rather than detract. Obviously, this will be a personal preference thing, but I felt it was important to note that for me, this one of the few cases that I went against my standard preference. After that, you’re ready to rock!
Fit, Feel, and Function:
After I had it connected, I spent about month using it for all sort of tasks to ensure I got a good feel for its overall performance, and enough time to catch any idiosyncrasies that may arise. I am going to break this section up a bit, to keep my review opinions as focused as possible.
Probably the most important part of the keyboard is the keys and how they perform. With several different Cherry MX switches in the market (Black, Red, Brown, and Blue as the most common), the Black in particular have the highest actuation force (60 centi-Newtons), which means they require the most force to depress essentially. This doesn’t mean you have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to use this keyboard, but if you don’t have any experience with Cherry MX Black switches, you will initially notice the increased rigidness of the keystrokes. Depending on what you currently have, this may be off-putting at first, but at least for me it didn’t take time for me to settle into the new feel and I quickly realized I preferred the increased rigidity. Gone are the days of accidently hitting a key or the occasional fat finger moment. Which for gaming becomes an extreme benefit, as for each keystroke will be intentional. The other upside to the keys is the spacing between each key. I would best describe the spacing as significant, yet functional. Meaning, you can easily realize if your fingers drift off a key or quickly move from one key to the next and almost never lose track of where your finger travels. This allows you make those critical keystrokes without having to look down at your keyboard to re-acquire your bearings. All in all, the keys perform flawlessly in every application and game I tested it with, with no signs of delay or missed keystrokes. They are extremely solid and appear to have what it takes to stand up to the most demanding gamer/user.
When Thermaltake says military grade cabling, they aren’t just throwing out a “marketing” statement. The connectivity cable attached to the MEKA G1 Illuminated keyboard is really no joke. This is probably the beefiest (is that even a word) cable I have ever seen come out of a keyboard. Like the keyboard itself, this braided cable built with what I would consider a little bit of overkill. Do we really need such a significant cable to connect a keyboard? As that’s hard to answer for everyone, I will simply say that there isn’t much to worry about in regards to the cable failing or breaking down over time on you. The one glaring negative I noticed about the cable, is that it doesn’t bend well at all, so if you need to snake this in some odd path for your particular setup, you may run into difficulties. Additionally, if the cable doesn’t have a lot of freedom to move around without bending, you may find it hard to move the keyboard due to the cable rigidity impairing your movement. I suppose to some, this may be a good thing as it will cut down on the keyboard moving around on you, but then again the weight of the keyboard itself also deters this from occurring. The gold plated connectors are a nice touch as well.
The MEKA G1 Illuminated is a backlit keyboard. There is a single color option, which is red. Each key is individually LED backlit and the backlighting is enabled through the use of function keys on the keyboard. You can enable, disable, and have a few options as to which LED’s are enabled all, some (like the WASD), etc… There are also 8 levels of brightness, so you should be able to find the right level of backlighting. At the brightest setting, the backlighting is extremely prominent. So, if you like your backlighting bright, this is a good candidate for you. Some detractors in regards to the backlighting I noticed in testing is that the backlighting resets with every reboot. So not only do you have to re-enable it with every system start, you need to set the brightness as well. This was extremely disappointing, as it quickly becomes painful to having to constantly re-enable the backlighting. Additionally, without the backlighting enabled, I noticed the translucent lettering on the keys (that allow the light to pass through) is not easily readable with the backlighting disabled. Which means that having the backlighting enabled, even at the lowest brightness level, is almost required (at least in my opinion). Another disappointing item is not all the characters on each key are illuminated, when there are multiple characters on the same key. By that I mean, the number keys along the top are illuminated, but the non-numerical characters are not. This may not be a deal break for some, but I personally feel it’s an oversight that should be corrected in follow on iterations of illuminated keyboards from Thermaltake.