It’s no secret that the market is flooded with gaming keyboards, and that when you boil them all down, they all pretty much have the same set of features. Sure, some might have mechanical switches or fancy RGB lights or a million macro keys, but they’re all pretty much the same standard keyboard you’ve known and loved forever. Rocccat has brought something new to the table with their latest keyboard, the Isku+ Force FX.
What separates the Isku+ from other gaming keyboards are its pressure sensitive keys. According to Roccat, these keys can register multiple different functions depending on how hard you press down on the keys. This nifty little feature should make it easier to hit macros, improving in-game reaction time. It sounds cool, but how does it play out in the real world?
You can check out the Roccat Isku+ Force FX on Newegg for $100.
Design and Comfort
The Isku+ is made of plastic, but don’t let the plastic fool you into thinking its flimsy. It’s solidly built, thick enough that it won’t bend if you try, and didn’t slide around on my desk during my time with it. This is a full 123 key keyboard, so those with smaller desks or people who just don’t like their keyboard taking up all their real estate might want to look elsewhere. I found the Isku+ kind of big and clunky for my tastes, but if you want a numpad and all the media keys, you’ll be happy.
This is a membrane keyboard, meaning keys feel squishy and lack the “oomph” of a mechanical keyboard. I’ve gotten quite used to mechanical keyboards, and I just can’t make the switch back. However, if you haven’t started worshiping at the church of the mechanical keyboard, I don’t think you’ll have a problem.
Aesthetically, it’s got a 90’s techno vibe, which you’ll either love or hate. Customize-able RGB lighting is nice, and you have full control of the color. There’s also some neat illumination effects to choose from, like breathing, blinking, and heartbeat. I also really appreciated the ability to control the brightness, as I love all the RGB lights but find most keyboards to be far too bright. All these options mean you can get your Isku+ to look exactly the way you want it to.
Comfort-wise, the Isku+ gets points for me for it’s big, chunky wristguard. Without a wristguard, I find I experience a lot of wrist fatigue after a long day of writing, or a long night of gaming. And unlike some other wristguards, the Isku+’s doesn’t painfully dig into my wrist.
Features and Performance
The Isku+ has your standard 1000Hz polling rate and 1ms response time you’d expect from a gaming keyboard, but obviously, that’s not what you want to hear about. The real star of the show are the force-sensitive keys. That’s right, the QWEASD keys are force sensitive. Using a special chemical underneath the keys, Roccat has figured out a way to get rubberdome switches to responded to pressurized input. You can assign up three different macros to each key, one for each different level of sensitivity.
You can also customize how much pressure is needed to trigger each of these three levels. You can even bind a key to toggle the force-sensitively (I like using one of the three “thumb” key macros that are right below the space bar) If all these options sound overwhelming, you’re not alone – I spent a ton of time playing around and trying to come up with the most efficient and effective macros. Luckily, Roccat has a bunch of game-specific options for a bunch of different popular titles, for those of us who’d rather just jump into a game.
These force-sensitive keys a very cool idea, and I give a lot of credit to Roccat for trying something new. Don’t just dismiss these as a gimmick – these things are actually pretty useful. In game, I found the force-sensitive keys were responsive and consistent, and it definitely works as advertised. In my short time messing around with them, I felt like I barely scratched the surface of what they’re capable of.
After some initial adjustment, I felt like I was performing simple actions like reloading and switching weapons easier and more fluidly. I could definitely see hardcore gamers coming up with some really cool macros that’ll take their abilities to the next level.
Unfortunately, Roccat’s Swarm software just didn’t play nicely for me. While I appreciated the plethora of options, fine-tuning, and custom macros I could set up in Swarm, the software was slow and prone to crashing. Hopefully this is just an isolated bug and Roccat gets it squashed sooner rather than later.
If you’re in the market for a new keyboard and don’t care about mechanical switches, the Isku+ Force FX is worth your time. I’d love to see it take off and see some of the cool ways to use the force-sensitive keys.