A mix of styles

Logitech has released new, cleaner looking gaming keyboard using RGB Romer-G switches.

Logitech continues its push and re-entry into the gaming peripherals market in 2016, this time adding another keyboard under the Orion brand to the mix. The Logitech G G810 Orion Spectrum is, as the name implies, an RGB mechanical keyboard using the company's proprietary Romer-G switches. But despite the similarity in model numbers to the G910 Orion Spark announced in late 2014, the G810 has some significant design and functionality changes.

This new offering is cleaner, less faceted (both in key caps and design) but comes much closer to the feel and function than the tenkeyless G410 from last year. Let's take a look at how the G810 changes things up for Logitech G.

Keyboard Design

The G810 Orion Spectrum is a full size keyboard with tenkey (also known as the numeric keypad) that has sleeker lines and more professional lines that its big brother. The black finish is matte on the keys and framing but the outside edges of the keyboard have a gloss to them. It's a very minimal part of the design though so you shouldn't have to worry about fingerprints.

At first glance, you can see that Logitech toned down some of the gamer-centric accents when compared to either the G910 or the G410. There is no wrist rest, no PCB-trace inspired lines, no curves and no sharp edges. What you get instead is a keyboard that is equally well placed in modern office or in an enthusiasts gaming den. To me, there are a lot of touches that remind me of the Das Keyboard – understated design that somehow makes it more appealing to the educated consumer. 

This marks the first keyboard with the new Logitech G logo on it, though you are likely more concerned about the lack of G-Keys, the company's name for its macro-capable buttons on the G910. For users that still want that capability, Logitech G allows you to reprogram the function keys along the top for macro capability, and has a pretty simple switch in software to enable or disable those macros. This means you can maintain the F-row of keys for Windows applications but still use macros for gaming.

On the right hand side you'll find the media controls that were missing on the G410 with its tenkeyless (TKL) design. There is a button to enable gaming mode (disable the Start button), RGB enable/disable, volume mute, media playback controls and a volume wheel. The wheel feels really nice, and Logitech talked about the design process of dialing in the right amount of weight, tension, shape and material for such a control. My favorite part is that lack of momentum; even if you flick it quickly, it will stop instantly but still is easy to move with very little effort.

The bottom of the G810 shows a set of five large rubber feet and a pair of adjustable angle legs, each with two height settings. The G910 Orion Spark only offers a single height which just means you'll have more configuration and comfort options with the new model. 

Comparing the two most recent keyboard releases from Logitech G, the G410 above and the G810 below, you can clearly the size difference associated with tenkeyless keyboards and those with the tenkey segment. Yes, the G810 will take up more room on your desk or in your backpack if you are on the move, but for my use model the numpad is a necessity.

Though a small point, the USB connection on the G810 Orion Spectrum is squared off and easy to handle, though you might see instances where the housing is large enough to come into contact with other connections, be it USB, HDMI or other. I did not have this problem on my own desktop machine but for SFF devices like the Intel NUC, you might want to consider that chance.

Typing Sound and Feel

Most of the decision that goes into picking a solid keyboard is how the keyboard feels when you are typing on it. If you do any kind of writing, emailing, productivity work, etc. then you'll know that typing on a bad keyboard for any length of time makes for an awful experience. It could be the sound that annoys you, it could be an increase in typos caused by varying keystroke qualities and more. 

Coming into this review my keyboard of choice was Logitech's G910, a keyboard that uses the same Romer-G key switches but has some unique faceted keycaps that are meant to help users find proper finger placement quickly while gaming. I happen to like them for typing out long documents as well, but I could see how many might not.

Typing on the G810 had nearly an identical feel to typing on the G910, with some slight deviation in the vibration of the device on the desk caused by alternative weighting and backplate design between the two keyboards. The G910 is very heavy, with a thick metal backplate that is attached to the switches. The G410, that was released last year, used a plastic backplate that gave the keys a "springy" sound that I didn't care for. The G810 falls in between these two, though it sits much closer to the experience with the G910 than the G410.

By using standard concave keycaps, rather than the faceted design on the G910, the G810 Orion Spectrum will appeal to many more users, removing some hurdles in keyboard to keyboard transition and just from the appearance alone. The facets gave the G910 a "gamer" centric style to them, while the G810 looks more minimalist and professional.

If you are curious about the sound difference between the G410, G810 and G910, I have a WAV file you can download right here that will demonstrate it. I recorded these with a Zoom H6N at about the same distance as my head sits from my keyboard. Clearly the G910 is the quietest of the three tested models, though the G810 is not far behind. Most noticeable is the disappointing reverb associated with the key presses on the G410.

RGB Functionality and Software

Logitech's implementation of the G810 with its Logitech Gaming Software suite is pretty much unchanged from the G910 in terms of color profiles, sync capability with other Logitech G hardware, etc. LGS continues to be a good software package that is simple to use and uses images and diagrams to very easily allow users to customize their hardware.

Using LGS you can set per-game profiles that start up and adjust keyboard colors and settings automatically, change each keys color to one of 16.8 million options and set the custom function keys as well. I tend to be the boring type that sets the color of the keyboard to a single, static color, though others in the office like a little more flair sitting on their desks. The benefit of RGB keyboards like the G810 is that you get the flexibility to decide that on your own.

Pricing and Conclusion

The G810 Orion Spectrum will be available starting on February 8th with an MSRP set at $159. Amazon.com already has the keyboard listed on its site for presale and mentions a limited time pack-in of Tom Clancy's The Division (!!) through the end of March, making this new keyboard even more appealing. My problem with this pricing is that it's actually higher than the Logitech G910 Orion Spark. Though it has an MSRP of $179, it is selling on Amazon.com for just $137! The G410 Atlas Spectrum is still sitting comfortably at $129.

Assuming the pricing gaps will be addressed by the market itself, there is a lot to like about the new Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum keyboard. It combines the custom built Romer-G keyswitch with a design aesthetic that is appealing to both hardcore gamers and the PC enthusiast without being gaudy or edgy. You do lack some of the added features like an Arx Dock, the dedicated G-Keys and the ability to record macros on the keyboard directly when compared to the G910, but Logitech makes up for some of that with the ability to reprogram the often dormant Function key row. If you are on the look out for a solid mechanical keyboard that is equally impressive for both gaming and productivity, with the flair of RGB, the G810 Orion Spectrum should fit the mold perfectly. Though I'll likely be sticking with the G910 on my own desk, the G810 has made a statement, earning a spot on our gaming test bed!