Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 review

    There was a time, way back, when Artistic solely made sound playing cards and different audio associated tech. Being fairly so area of interest nowadays isn’t lifelike, and so they now supply a number of PC peripherals below their Sound BlasterX branding umbrella.

    The brand new Vanguard Ok08 gaming keyboard is a basic instance of Artistic’s mission creep, because it impinges on the well-occupied territory of SteelSeries, Razer, Cougar and Corsair, amongst others.

    These corporations are largely rehashing the Cherry MX vary of mechanical switches, a very fashionable alternative for critical players. With the Vanguard Ok08, Artistic has chosen to go down an alternate path with Omron switches and ship one thing noticeably totally different to the discerning gamer.

    For $139 (£159, AU$219), this gaming keyboard provides loads of plucky efficiency with quiet mechanical switches that is absolutely customizable.

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    Picture credit score: Michelle Rae Uy

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    It isn’t clear when this turned a prerequisite, however all trendy gaming keyboards appear like they’re evolving into fairground sights.

    That is regardless of the undeniable fact that the majority players taking part in with out their keyboard – except they’re new to computer systems. The Vanguard Ok08 embraces this aesthetic, with an ‘Aurora Reactive’ lighting scheme that enables the person to outline all method of funky lighting results with 16 million shade prospects .

    For peripheral lighting, the Ok08 has one of many slickest implementations up to now. Providing an enormous number of presets and customisations obtainable via the Sound Blaster Join app.

    The software program isn’t supplied out of the field, so these wanting to change the default rainbow gentle present or outline keyboard macros might want to obtain it from Artistic first.

    All alterations are saved onto the keyboard’s personal inside reminiscence, permitting them to journey with out the app to different computer systems.

    As for the format, there’s nothing particularly radical to see right here. The evaluation mannequin had a typical US format, with 5 user-definable operate keys down the left, and 6 media controls organized on the highest proper.

    Above the numeric pad are a mute key and a curler to regulate audio quantity. 

    The excessively thick braided cable exits the keyboard case on the high proper, then splits into two Sort A USB connectors on the finish of a two meter run. Considered one of these drives the keyboard and lights, and the opposite delivers a USB pass-through offering a single port, supposed largely for mouse use.

    Total, the keyboard is nicely constructed, with a big quantity of drive wanted to generate any flexing.  The 2 retractable ft positioned on the rear can enhance the shallow rake when deployed.

    The one different notable characteristic is the wrist relaxation, which is made nearly solely from plastic. 

    It doesn’t completely connect to the Ok08, and is just held in place by skinny plastic prongs trapped below the entrance fringe of the keyboard. Due to this fact, should you decide up the keyboard, the wrist relaxation gained’t be coming together with it.


    The lighting is enjoyable, however what’s going to make a considerably better affect are the switches on the Ok08, as these are revolutionary.

    Omron are higher identified for his or her mouse button switches, however additionally they designed the particular PRES. (Understand-React-Execute Swap) used within the Ok08.

    The promoting factors of PRES switches are that though the swap has a great journey distance (three.5mm), lowering finger joint impacts, they activate after simply 1.5mm of motion.

    The actuation level is not so brief that evenly brushing keys generate an unintentional press, however sufficient that it doesn’t take the complete journey of the keys to fireside.

    The logic right here is that ought to you begin urgent on the similar actual second as your Cherry MX opposition, then your key will register first, assuming you expertise the identical degree of lag.

    The actuation drive is 45g, and the PRES swap is rated for a 70 million actions, ought to your fingers not fall off lengthy earlier than hitting that quantity.

    A part of PRES swap proposition is the flexibility to make use of the identical keyboard for each typing at pace and gaming with out compromising both is very fascinating to many customers.

    Picture credit score: Michelle Rae Uy

    Testing it with Nier: Automata the place button mashing is important, we discovered zero to no latency and the keyboard additionally saved up with our instructions with precision. Taking part in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the place timed assaults and blocks are important to the sport play, we discovered its execution to be close to good.

    One other optimistic side of the switches is that they’re comparatively quiet, in contrast to the favored and thunderous HyperX Alloy Elite. For late evening players, that side might be a deal-maker, even when the Ok08 isn’t near being silent.

    One subject we bumped into was that the 5 customized aspect keys are very near the principle keyboard, and are so shut that our arms saved registering them as a left edge boundary. This unconscious reference precipitated the M4 key to be repeatedly struck as a substitute of the supposed left shift.

    Whereas most customers will ultimately adapt, that transition isn’t more likely to be in a single day.

    Picture credit score: Michelle Rae Uy

    Last verdict

    If this weren’t the primary gaming keyboard to hold the Sound BlasterX branding, we’d be extra important. However, as a primary makes an attempt go, the Vanguard Ok08 is a powerful if barely flawed one.

    The Omron PRES switches are totally different from an MX, however not a lot that it’ll put players off. Equally, the Aurora lighting know-how has a right away affect, via what number of consumers will flip it off as a distraction over time is debatable.

    The most important subject is pricing, as it’s on the excessive aspect to our sensibilities. A Logitech G610 value much less, and it is made to an equal or higher specification than the Vanguard M08. One other bugbear is the overly thick and stiff USB cable. Whereas having a USB pass-through is handy, a cable that gained’t naturally lay flat on a desk is not.

    However price ticket however, it’s an excellent choice and a powerful first try. The standard and efficiency exhibits the crew behind this keyboard could make really wonderful gaming peripherals, ought to they get subsequent designs inexperienced lit.

    Michelle Rae Uy has additionally contributed to this text

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