When I sat down to write my review of the Logitech G710+, I realized that I had a problem – my Windows desktop is down for the count and there are, at the time of writing, no OSX drivers for the G710+ – so I plugged it into my iMac to see what would happen. I am really glad that I did.
By now most of us are familiar with the pros and cons of mechanical keyboards. Pros: they are responsive, light on the fingers, remarkably accurate and will survive the apocalypse – or 50 million key presses, whichever comes first. Cons: they tend to be pricey and somewhat noisy. The price of the G710+ is about average for a mechanical keyboard, but Logitech has had some success with doing something about the dreaded noise.
The Logitech G710+ is designed primarily with gaming in mind. Now that I am a parent, have a job and responsibilities, my super-competitive gaming days are behind me – between the day job, the writing and the editing work that I do, it is rare that I find the time to be fully immersed in a game. I still play games, but I have to ration myself. What I do a lot of, is typing – which I do with a gusto that borders on abuse. I do not press the keys, so much as hammer them – a habit which I picked up when learning to touch type on a clunky old Apple II.
For me, the keyboard is the most important part of my computer. It has more direct impact on my computing experience than any other part of my system. I can be comfortable using a cheap monitor, I can suffer through a sub-par CPU (as long as I have plenty of RAM) but I cannot enjoy typing on a poor quality keyboard. The Apple keyboard that has been my stand-in while I shopped for a mechanical board is a prime example of everything that can go wrong with keyboard design – it looks great, but it is too cramped, too flimsy and is way too unstable – there is not a strong enough word in the English language to describe how much I loathe the Apple keyboard… and I have used worse.
To say that the G710+ is a step up from what I had been working with would be an understatement. It is a big step up from the Razer Lycosa (which is a pretty good keyboard); the difference between the G70+ and the Apple is more like night and day.
The Logitech G710+ is, first and foremost, a gaming keyboard – but it benefits significantly from Logitech’s business lineup. The keyboard is neatly laid out. The contrast of the keys – even with the backlight turned off – is just about perfect. I used to never look at the keys when I type – and seldom do now, but as I often find myself switching from Japanese to US keyboard layouts – or working with differently sized boards, every once in a while I find myself looking for a symbol, or double checking for a punctuation mark, or a number. Not enough contrast can make that difficult. My Razer Lycosa is a prime example. It looks great when the lights are off, but when the lights are on, the keys are pretty hard to identify. If you are typing at speed, you need instant confirmation. The contrast was the first thing that hit me when I opened the box. With the G710+ the keys labels are easy to identify when the keyboard is unplugged.
The next thing that hit me was the weight. It is a substantial board, even more so when the palm rest is clipped in. It sits well on my desk, does not move around and with the tilt legs extended the angle is very comfortable. While I would have liked it to have had a braided cord, the cord that it does have is thick enough that it won’t get tangled and looks like it has been designed to take a beating.
The attention to detail is what you would expect in a keyboard of this caliber: the Logitech badge is metal. The media keys, which are often neglected by manufacturers, have a solid feel to them. Even the volume dial feels substantial. With the exception of the half-height keys, Cherry MX Brown switches are sitting under every single key on the board. That is a nice touch, particularly as some similarly-priced competitors have opted to skimp in this regard.
The layout of the board is clean and uniform. Everything is the right size and located where it is supposed to be. That is as important for gaming as it is for typing. The customizable “G” keys are separated by enough plastic that they do not get in the way.
Plugging it in
Like most gaming keyboards, the Logitech G710 will eat up two USB slots in the back of your machine. They make up for it with a port in the side of the keyboard. For the most part, it worked on my iMac right out of the box – but there was a little reduced functionality. The G keys, and the keys that switch between different key configurations, require Logitech software, which is Windows Vista and above, only. All of the other keys, including the media keys, worked – extremely well, might I add.
Once plugged in, it became apparent to me that I had been adjusting my typing technique to cope with inferior equipment. On the inexpensive NEC board that I use at work, for example, I will actually start hitting multiple keys at the same time. For example, if I am typing the word “time”, I will start by hitting the “t”, but my right middle finger will already be starting to press on the “i” before the “t” is fully depressed. The board is less sensitive, so by tempering the power at which I press each key, I am able to make sure that everything is hit in the correct order. In contrast, the G710+ is a lot more responsive. Very little force is required for a proper key press, so I found myself hitting letters out of order in my first few minutes of use. Once I got going, I was able to adjust my style naturally and was soon typing accurately at full pace.
Logitech bills the G710+ as being “whisper-quiet” – I did not necessarily find that to be the case in all situations. I tend to hit my keys with quite a bit of force, so any keyboard that I use will make a racket – especially when I get going. I have had a bit of experience with mechanical keyboards and always found the clack-clacking to be satisfying – but it can be unpleasant if you have other people in the room.
While playing Left 4 Dead I found it to be, for the most part, whisper quiet. When gaming, the distance that my fingers travel and the speed at which they hit the keys differs from when I am typing. Under these conditions, “whisper-quiet” seemed a reasonably accurate representation of the noise level.
When typing, things got quite a bit noisier, but I still found the G710+ to be quieter than other mechanical keyboards that I have played with in the past. For me, this is certainly not a deal breaker, quite the opposite: I love the aural feedback, that response that lets me know that my finger has hit its target.
What I loved about the Logitech G710+
In terms of doing what it was designed to do, it succeeded in every way. I would not change the layout in any way, shape or form. I loved the responsiveness of the keys. A lot of gaming equipment, even the pricier stuff, looks like it is designed to appeal to fifteen-year-old school boys. This is designed for grown-ups and as an adult who enjoys computer games, that is something that I greatly appreciate.
Running the G710+ on OSX meant foregoing the G keys, other than that, just about everything is in the same place as on the Apple keyboard. Alt serves as the Option key and the Apple key serves as Command. Pressing the G keys simply enters numbers. I would love it if Logitech released some Mac-friendly software for the keyboard and who knows, maybe they will sometime in the future. Until then, I can live without the G keys.
As noted before, all of the other keys, including the media keys worked straight out of the box. The only configuration that was required was a quick keyboard mapping exercise that involved pressing the keys to the right of the left Shift key and the left of the right Shift key.
Where the Logitech G710+ Fell Flat
The lack of OSX support was a little disappointing – while I am more than happy to make this my Windows keyboard, I would love to be able to use it to its full capabilities on my iMac. Macs are not seen as gaming machines per se, but a lot of people do play games on them – so it might be time for peripheral manufacturers to start taking notice of them.
This is an all-round solid keyboard. It is great for gaming, superb for typing and does more than enough to justify its $150 price tag. The only thing that keeps it from scoring a full 5/5 is the lack of Mac-friendly software.
If you want to learn how it fared in Windows, look for our follow-up review at the end of the month.
What other people are saying
Amazon: 5/5 based on 9 reviews
Anandtech: “I can’t help but feel like Logitech has essentially thought of pretty much everything you’re going to want or need.”
Benchmark Reviews: “The Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard will please any serious typist or gamer, but its price makes it a tough sell when so many less expensive alternatives exist.”