Before checking out the review, make sure you check out the my unboxing and first impressions here!
The Logitech G910 Orion Spark mechanical gaming keyboard is uniquely different from any other keyboard I've used. Various elements of the keyboard, including the switches, "Arx Dock" (we'll get to this later), and even the shape of the keycaps makes it stand out. This all has both its positives and its negatives, and we'll get through all of it in the review below!
The Logitech G910 Orion Spark has the typical 104-key layout, alongside an additional 5 macro keys on the left and 4 macro keys on the top. It also has 4 small keys in the top left corner allowing a user to switch between different macro configurations. To add to this, it has two buttons above the print screen/scroll lock/pause cluster that are dedicated to switching the back-lighting and "Game Mode" on and off-- "Game Mode" being a feature that disables the Super keys (i.e the Windows keys) so that they're not accidently pressed during gameplay. To the left of these are three blue LEDs for the num lock, caps lock and scroll lock.
Above the numpad are volume controls, including a scrolling volume wheel and mute button, and above that are additional media buttons that allow a user to pause/play, stop, and skip or rewind media. All of the extra keys mentioned-- that is, besides the standard 104-keys and macro keys-- cannot have their LED color changed. They are all a faint blue, except for the profile keys which are orange and red. There is, however, an illuminated clear glass/plastic logo at the bottom which illuminates in different colors with the rest of the keys, as well as an illuminated "G" to the left of the ESC key with similar attributes.
The keycaps are made of polycarbonate that is first painted and then the legends are then laser-etched. This isn't very optimal, as it means that the legends will wear off over time. Given that the keycaps belong to unique switches, it means finding replacements would be fairly difficult.
The keycaps are in the DCS profile but are not flat and have a design where most of them flare up on the edges. This might be difficult to get used to at first, but I believe that once a user has gotten used to them it has its advantages, such as the chance of your keys slipping off and hitting the wrong key is less likely (no matter how much Doritos flavoring is on them).
The keyboard profile (the angle at which the keycaps rest) is sloped oddly-- they slope backwards rather than forwards. This makes it extremely uncomfortable for those not used to flat/low-profile keyboards and those who have wrist problems. Luckily, standing up the feet of the keyboard returns it back to a more ergonomic keyboard profile. The feet do have their own little rubber anti-slip pads, for those who are curious.
At the very top of the keyboard sits a slide-out "Arx Dock"-- this is basically a smartphone/tablet dock for the Arx companion app I'll cover in detail below.
The body of the keyboard can only be described as a starship out of Star Trek-- it has holes on the sides and looks very rugged. You're able to take off and replace the wrist rest-- two different wrist rests come with the keyboard, and under the wrist wrest is black glossy plastic. One thing I really dislike is that the keyboard's cable is not removable. Most manufacturers design the keyboard's cord to be a detachable mini-USB cable. This means that if the cable is damaged then it can simply be replaced, as opposed to RMA'ing (or repairing, or scrapping) the entire keyboard. It also makes portability much easier, as there isn't a giant cable sticking out of one side of the keyboard, and things like custom cable length (or cable customization) are out of the question.
The keyboard comes with its own exclusive "Romer-G" switches manufactured by the Japanese company Omron. Omron isn't exactly a well known name in the keyboard-enthusiast world having only produced ALPS-style switches a couple of decades ago (while they were based on ALPS switches, they had significant improvements all-round in comparison to the standard ALPS switch). Logitech appears to have contracted them for the switch design, and it has actually turned out quite good.
The switches are weighted at 45g, which is the same weight as Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Brown switches. They also have a very high actuation point of 1.5mm, which is about 25% higher than Cherry and Razer switches, meaning that you do not have to press the keys as hard or as deep in order to register an actuation. The Romer-G switches are rated at 70 million key presses, meaning it is the longest-lasting keyboard switch in production. The switch itself is a large, square white stem that sits in a pale blue switch body. The stem is hollow and the LED sits inside the hollow portion of the switch. This is in contrast to Razer and Cherry MX switches where the LED is simply mounted on top of the switch. In this case, the overall lighting effect is significantly more pronounced and less prone to uneven backlighting of the legends.
The switches have a very light tactile bump-- similar to that of Cherry MX Browns-- and they are significantly quieter than any other mechanical keyboard switch I've used.
Desktop software and backlighting modes
The desktop software is probably the best I've seen a company release in terms of responsiveness, visual layout and flexibility. It offers a clean screen for editing the macro functions, and it even includes a heat map that lets a user see which keys they most commonly press (and I guess a user can set their macros based on that).
The backlighting modes are extremely flexible. Since each switch is capable of almost the full visible color spectrum, and since almost every key on the keyboard can be individually colored, it makes for significantly wide variety of possible customization configurations. Aside from individual customization, it comes with preset backlighting profiles which include lighting up on key press, breathing (fades in and out), color waves, a twinkling star effect, and a mode which cycles through the different colors. Most of these can be set to different colors and in some cases you can choose the direction in which way the keyboard's lighting waves would travel and so on.
One major issue I had, however, was that the Logitech Gaming Suite was the most RAM hungry thing I've seen for a long time. After leaving it on for a couple of days, I found it in task manager eating almost 850 MB of RAM. I'm not sure if this due to some sort of memory leak or what the issue was, nevertheless it is extremely disappointing. Having only 4 GB of RAM in my computer, it meant that it was unexpectedly consuming almost 1/4 of it.
Arx dock and smartphone/tablet app
The Arx app was straight forward to install and set up. It scans the local WiFi network for a computer with the Logitech Gaming Software installed and it prompts you whether or not you want to pair the two. Downloading the Arx app on your smart device allows you to control various elements of the keyboard, including the macro profile layout, allows you to control the sound/music, and allows for monitoring of the computer's statistics (GPU loads, CPU loads, RAM usage, etc). It also has an SDK which game developers can use to send things like messages or mission summaries and the like. If you have a Logitech mouse, it even allows you to change your DPI and profile all from the app. Also, for the record, the phone/tablet doesn't have to be docked on the keyboard in order for the app to work-- the app will work as long as there is a network connection between the computer and the smart device.
Unfortunately this app is only available for iOS and Android, so there is no support for Windows Phone or Windows Store.
The Logitech G910 Orion Spark is a good keyboard with plenty of lighting modes and it is, for all intents and purposes, designed with gamers in mind. Including things like two separate wrist rests is a welcomed addition, and the Logitech Gaming Software and Arx companion app make the keyboard really interesting. The unique switches are what I would consider to be some of the best for gaming (pretty much linear, faster actuation) and the keycaps are also designed to less slippery.
That said, the keyboard does have a few issues.
- It appears that the keyboard uses its own unique scan-codes or something. Before Windows automatically installed the specific Logitech drivers, pressing ALT+TAB on the keyboard was doing everything from closing some windows and opening others.
- The keycap legends won't last 5 million key presses, let alone the 70 million that the switches are rated for. I wanted to see better quality keycaps, maybe even double-shot ABS, where the keycaps would last a lifetime.
- No Windows Phone and Windows Store support sucks. We've almost finished 2014, so I don't see why this is something that is still glossed over.
- The unreasonably high memory usage of the Logitech Gaming Software. This needs a fix.
- No GNU/Linux support (though with Steam machines on the horizon this might change)
- Non-detachable USB cable
Not being able to change the lighting modes from the keyboard itself is a let down.
No on-board memory that remembers the lighting setting. It's "every key is blue or nothing" without the Logitech Gaming Software suite.
Pretty much all of those are not strictly deal breakers for the majority, though, for example:
- Most gamers use Windows or OSX (98.87%), and most users do have internet access on their machines and are happy to install proprietary/third-party drivers, so the unique scan codes issue and lack of GNU/Linux support only really affects a minute fraction of gamers.
- Most companies include the same type of painted polycarbonate keycaps, including Razer, Corsair and Ducky, so it's not as if its a unique issue of the Logitech G910 Orion Spark.
- The high memory usage can (and probably will) be fixed with an update.
- It is not very likely that people would often move the keyboard, so the lack of a detachable USB cable is not that important.
If you are a Windows/OSX gamer that is looking for a sturdy, well designed and extremely unique keyboard, then I'm more than able to recommend the Logitech G910 Orion Spark. The macro keys are well positioned for quick access and the companion software is easy to use. If you use a FOSS operating system such as Ubuntu, however, then I'd suggest you check out something else as this keyboard isn't for you (right now).