A New Kind of Romer-G

Logitech has a refined keyboard with Romer-G key switches

Logitech isn’t a company afraid of taking risks. In 2014, they shook up the mechanical keyboard market with their new Romer-G switches, a custom challenger to the popular Cherry MX. The Romer-Gs were nothing if not divisive, however. While some users loved the higher tactile bump offered by the original, others found them to be too soft compared to their MX counterparts.

Today, Logitech presents us with a new take on their Romer-G in the form of a brand new linear switch, found exclusively in the new G513 Carbon Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The G513 is a refined and upgraded take on last year’s G413. Can this pair of refreshes combine to create something all their own?

Let’s find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $149.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Key Switches: Romer-G (Linear or Tactile)
  • Key Durability: 70 million keypresses
  • Actuation distance: 1.5mm
  • Actuation force: 45g
  • Total travel distance: 3.2mm
  • Connection Type: USB 2.0
  • Indicator Lights (LED): 2
  • USB Ports (Built-in): x1, USB 2.0
  • Backlighting: Yes, RGB per key lighting
  • Special Keys
    • Lighting Controls: FN+F5/F6/F7
    • Game Mode: FN+F8
    • Media Controls: FN+F9/F10/F11/F12
    • Volume Controls: FN+ PRTSC/SCRLK/PAUSE
  • Keyboard Dimensions: 132mm (H) x 455mm (W) x 34mm (D)
  • Palm rest Dimensions: 88mm (H) x 445mm (W) x 21.5mm (D)
  • Weight: (w/o cable): 1020g
  • Warranty: 2-year Limited Hardware Warranty

The G513 comes in both linear and tactile varieties, indicated with a small graphic on the front of the box. The keyboards are otherwise identical, including in the packaging and presentation. We see the usual “beauty shot” on the front of the box, as well as the feature highlights on the back which we’ll go in depth on soon.

Unpacking it, we see that the keyboard is actually quite simple. There are no extra macro keys or dedicated media buttons, making for a layout that is fairly standard. In fact, the main change comes in the indicator lights, which have been pared down just Caps Lock and Game Mode (Windows Lock) and are also RGB enabled. This space is instead used to highlight the brushed aluminum top plate and glossy “G” branding. 

I’m a fan of the overall look. It’s a simple and elegant, fitting just as well at an eSports tournament as an office.  Not only does it look good but the aluminum top plate is heavy and rigid, lending an air of quality to the slate and eliminating flex.

The samples we were sent feature the “Carbon” finish, which is almost identical to standard gunmetal. There is also a silver version available as a Best Buy exclusive.

As a gaming keyboard, it can feel a bit sparse. No dedicated macro or media keys, no volume roller, no RGB strips; for $150, these features are plentiful in the competition at this price point. At the same time, not everyone wants a keyboard that screams “gamer.” The G513 provides this functionality through secondary commands along the function row. Your function keys can also be rebound or assigned to a macro command and even be set to auto-switch depending on the game being loaded. Another interesting feature we can see here is the G513’s ability to store onboard lighting profiles, as seen by the folder icon on F6.

Also included in the box is an excellent faux leather palm rest and set of ten replacement gaming keycaps with ring-style keycap puller. The palm rest is easily the best I’ve found included with a gaming keyboard, featuring a good half-inch of padding at the center. The leatherette material also feels fairly durable and resistant to wear, making it a clear step up from the already-nice palm rest included with the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2, the only gaming board with a comparable pack-in. It doesn’t attach to the keyboard but features six rubber feet to keep it from sliding around, and can comfortably be used with any other full-size keyboard you may own.

The replacement keycaps feature the same angular face as the original Orion Spark keyboard. For typing, they feel a bit odd, but for gaming work well to help you locate your primary keys without needing to look down at the board.

Taking a tour around the keyboard, find that the back and sides are fairly standard. The sides are unadorned, save for a bit of branding on the left. The bottom features six non-slip rubber feet, plus two more on the rubber tilt feet. There are also welcome cable routing channels, both for a headset (the vertical channel) and to act as a kind of mouse bungee (the “U” on the upper left).

On the rear of the board, we find our USB 2.0 pass through, the thick braided cable, and an odd ¼” threaded hole. What this is for, I can’t be sure as I was unable to find additional information about it in any of the included documentation. I have to assume it’s for an unannounced accessory. On the other hand, we now have a keyboard you can screw into a tripod.

Note: the USB pass-through is fully powered, which means it requires its own header. Make sure you have two USB ports available if you’d like to make use of this hub.

Finally, we come to the big selling point of the G513 Carbon, the new Romer-G linear switches. These switches carry through all of the positive qualities of the tactile switch, sans the “bump” indicating when you’ve triggered a character. This includes the higher actuation point and shorter overall travel distance of 1.5mm and 3.2mm respectively, as well as the 45g of pressure required to actuate (for those keeping score, that’s 25% faster actuations than a standard MX-style switch). Compared to the prior generation of Romer-Gs, this puts them much closer to a standard Cherry MX Red – or even better, Cherry MX Silent Red.

Comparing normal Cherry Reds to Romer-G linears, the Romers are the objectively quieter switch. This is largely due to the “landing pad” built into Romer-G switches that cushions bottom-outs. This causes them to feel slightly softer, which was another point of contention called out by critics of the tactile version. By removing the tactile bump, they’re not only better suited to fast-paced gaming but also eliminating all of the critiques about the tactile bump being “too high” compared to Cherry MX Browns.

For both gaming and writing, I am a huge fan of Romer G switches. They’re smooth and quiet, with less key wobble thanks to the larger stem. The tactile version is one of my favorite switches ever, and I’m pleased to say that the linear edition feels almost exactly the same. The smoothness, bounciness, and extra speed offered by higher actuation points are all present and feel just as good as on the tactile version.

In fact, in every way other than the bump and now grey stem color, these switches are identical. You’re getting an extremely close experience no matter which model you happen to pick up.

Onto lighting. As you can tell in the picture of the Romer G’s stem, the wider design allows for a center-mounted LED and focusing lens directly underneath each of the keyboard’s legends. The result is a bright, vibrant illumination that doesn’t bleed all over the keyboard. The top of each switch housing is opaque, which helps keep things isolated, though does take away from some of the flair when viewed from the side. Still, the G513 features some of the brightest, best looking isolated per-key illumination you can purchase in a keyboard today.

Logitech Gaming Software

What the G513 lacks in additional buttons, it certainly does not in programmability. Inside the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS), you’re able to program all of your macros, remap keys, tie mouse clicks to button presses, or launch apps from a preset list or tie to an executable.

One of the neater features of the software is its ability to keep track of which game you’re playing and automatically switch your layout to match. When I play World of Warcraft, I have an entirely different set of bindings than I do for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Having LGS take care of that swap, even when I’m alt+tabbing back to my desktop between matches is convenient and saves my having to fuss with software – especially if I’m only alt+tabbing for a few seconds. LGS doesn’t have every game in its system, but if you’re playing something fresh, it’s as simple as attaching your profile to an executable, right on the primary screen.

Logitech’s software suite also gives you complete control over your keyboard’s lighting. It’s not as in-depth as the Photoshop-like approaches of Corsair and Razer but you can easily apply a variety of presets or custom lighting schemes without spending time fusing over millisecond lighting tails or heaping layers and layers of effects on top of each other. I personally love that flexibility and would enjoy seeing an option for it down the line, but in terms of sheer user friendliness, Logitech is much more approachable.

Inside these settings, you’ll find your standard, expected presets, including your rainbow waves, ripples, and breathes, as well as some reactive typing effects. Still, compared to other options on the market, the presets do feel slightly anemic and it would be nice to see some more creative effects added in the future.

Final Thoughts

The G513 is unquestionably a very good keyboard but is expensive for what’s on offer. It tends toward simplicity, which, at this price point, can make it seem like its missing features compared to the competition. If you’re alright with having your lighting and macro controls as secondary functions, however, I expect you’ll be quite pleased with what the G513 has to offer. The new linear switches are a win. They address to community’s biggest concern about the tactile feedback while maintaining everything that made the original great. Whether you’re gaming or writing an email, the G513 Carbon feels great to use.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from Logitech for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of Logitech but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: Logitech had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Logitech for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Logitech has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
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Consulting Disclosure: Logitech is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review.