5-Way Mechanical Keyboard Roundup: Top Decks For Gamers And Enthusiasts
AZIO MGK-ARMATO Design And Performance
The AZIO Armato is a sleek looking keyboard that is designed for both gaming and multi-media. It comes with a black brushed aluminum chassis and red mesh panels that are enough to add some bling, without being overly gaudy. At three pounds it's quite a beast though, making it the heaviest keyboard in the round-up. And thanks to the additional macro keys it is also the widest, but will still fit comfortably on any desktop.
Like the rest of the keyboards featured here, the Armato includes its fair share of extras, such as macro keys, red back-lighting and dedicated multimedia keys. Unlike the K70 RGB though, everything the Armato does can be accessed directly from the keyboard, so you can change lighting effects and macros by simply pressing hotkeys.
The palm rest ads over two inches of depth to the keyboard, which can be a lot on a tight desk, but the added comfort is appreciated. The wrist rest is attached to the base of the keyboard via a magnetic connection, so you don't have to worry about cheap plastic clips breaking. It also make removing it a breeze.
The Armato doesn't require any software to make everything work. Instead everything is plug-and-play and done at the hardware level. Once the keyboard is plugged in you can access all the multi-media functions, including the volume, mute, play/pause, and track functions. In addition, there is a large volume scroll wheel that can adjust the volume by scrolling the wheel up or down. We can see why AZIO extended the wheel beyond the border of the keyboard for easier access, but it did make it look a bit funky.
The Azio Armato uses Cherry MX Brown mechanical key switches that are gold-plated, rated up to 50 million-keystrokes, and each have their own red LED just above the switch stem. The MX Brown switch was first introduced back in 1994 as a special ‘ergo soft’ switch, but it has become one of the most awarded switches because of its light, tactile, non-clicky response. Brown switches really fill the gap between Red and Blue switches. They give typists a nice tactile bump and are still fast and light weight enough for high speed gaming. The Armato also features full N-Key rollover, so each key pressed is correctly detected, regardless of how many keys are being pressed at once.
Along with the traditional F1 through F12 keys along the top, the Armato also includes shortcut keys for popular features such as email and search. In addition, the function keys also allow the LED lights to adjusted in real time by simply pressing a few buttons on the keyboard. While it doesn't give you the same level of control as a software suite, it does put easy customization at your fingertips. No matter how hard you try though you are stuck with red lighting here. It's the only color option available. So if red isn't your favorite color, this might not be the keyboard you are looking for.
The Armato has red backlighting that can be changed on-the-fly via a function "FN" key. There aren't a ton of settings offered, but you have the options to turn the lights on, or off as well as set them to pulse mode. There are also stylized options, where the key that is pressed will glow for a few seconds after it was pressed. Make sure you check out the video embedded on the first page to see it in action.
AZIO MGK-ARMATO PerformanceThe AZIO Armato feels like a quality product. From the enclosure and keycaps to the overall design, everything was top notch. To top it off the Armato has comfortable MX key caps, so on most fronts the Armato is a real winner. The included multimedia keys also worked well. At first we weren't impressed with the look of the volume scroll wheel, but after using it our initial opinion slightly changed. It made adjusting the volume a breeze because unlike most scroll wheels on modern keyboards, it can be accessed via the side, so you aren't forced to place your finger over the precise area to adjust volume -- just reach out to the side of the board and you'll find the wheel.
The lighting effects on the Armato were not overly impressive when compared to other products on the market, but it does offer red backlighting that can be changed on the fly using hotkeys. We were also happy to see AZIO include a magnetic wrist wrest with the keyboard. Not only did it provide an extra level of comfort, but the magnet allows it to easily be connected and removed. We prefer this design over a rest with plastic clips, that could potentially break, any day.