Not long ago, we received the Aivia Osmium keyboard from Gigabyte for reviewing. Imagine our surprise when we received another Aivia Osmium with almost no difference in the presentation, aside from having white illumination instead of blue, and featuring Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches instead of the red model. The boxes have different visuals, but the consumer has to keep a keen eye to know which Osmium he or she is buying because there is no hint in their names (like “Osmium Brown” or “Osmium Red”, for instance). Let’s test this new Osmium and compare it to the one previously reviewed – the main thing here is to know the difference between those two types of mechanical switches.
Aside from the white light illumination, this Osmium is an identical twin to the other one. It has the same robust and heavy body, and it also features a detachable wrist rest made of non-rubberized plastic. The panel with the Aivia logo on the upper right corner also doubles as a button switch for the user profiles, and it contains the Scroll/Num/Caps lock LEDs.
The main visual features can be found on the upper left corner: the macro keys (G1-G5) bank alongside two dented and illuminated wheels that control the volume and the illumination intensity. They make the Osmium’s competition stand aside.
Figure 3: Macro keys and control wheels
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
The Osmium features two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0) and two 3.5 mm audio jacks (audio and microphone). Both audio connections and the USB 3.0 can be found on the right side of the keyboard; the USB 2.0 is just around the right corner, on the upper side. This hub is fed by a cable that ends in four connectors, all of them protected by plastic covers. The thick and braided cable comes out of the upper side.
Figure 4: Audio jacks and USB ports (2.0 and 3.0)
Flipping the keyboard over, the user finds two latches for the wrist rest and four retractable feet.
Usually, gaming-grade keyboards come with an extra set of WASD keys, but the Osmium comes with four extra keys with symbols that can be used to decorate the peripheral or mark some important function or macro programmed by the user. They can be extracted by a special tool, also included.
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The Osmium is a fully illuminated mechanical keyboard, with programmable functions and even a USB 3.0 port. As we said earlier, the model we received comes with white lighting and Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches. The colors indicate the type and force of the feedback, and if the keys are silent or noisy. The Brown model is silent and features a light tactile response, that is, the user feels a “bump” when the key is pressed. This click is very small, so the key requires very little strength to be pressed down. The Cherry MX Red of the previous model was also silent, but it had a smooth linear feedback, that is, the key just went straight down with no noticeable “bump,” therefore it was less clicky.
Figure 8: Cherry MX Brown switch
The Gigabyte software has a very cool and friendly iconography. It is possible to program the G1-G5 keys to perform simple functions or advanced macros. The internal memory can store 70 new configurations, and they can be a mix of keystrokes on the Osmium and mouse clicks. This integrated macro recording system is very complete and ingenious. They can be recorded in five user profiles, indicated by colors on the Aivia panel, as we said earlier.
Figure 9: Configuration interface
The Osmium also features an anti-ghosting technology that allows up to 64 simultaneous keystrokes to be registered without error. Since we don’t know any 64-fingered humans that could have helped test the keyboard, we will just have to take Gigabyte’s word for it.
[nextpage title=”Playing with the Osmium”]
The Osmium with Cherry MX Brown switches is ideal for those who like some light feedback while using a mechanical keyboard, unlike the more smooth response given by the model with Cherry MX Red switches, that are more discreet and don’t even feel very mechanical. Here goes, again, a complaint about the lack of a better nomenclature between the Osmium models to distinguish both products; if it is confusing on a review, imagine it on the shelf. The choice of switches notwithstanding, the Osmium has remarkable precision; the sensation of being “in control” is a little more intense in this model because of the tactile response from the Cherry MX Brown switches. We found it hard to miss a click because our fingers actually felt the bump during typing.
Figure 12: Osmium with wrist rest attached
The macro keys are poorly located, because the G1-G5 keys are set in a very isolated position on the upper side of the keyboard, requiring the player to lift the hand from the main control keys (the WASD cluster) to reach them; if they were on the left side, that would just require a quick side move with the pinkie. Better yet, Gigabyte could have included a lateral set of macro keys (for more frantic commands) and kept the ones above for less urgent commands. Since we found the macro keys to be somewhat distant, we just programmed them for simple tasks, like selling junk items on World of Warcraft.
The idea of having control wheels on the keyboard like those found on mice was great. They make altering the volume and the illumination intensity very intuitive, but the multimedia controls deserved a separate set of buttons like the macro keys, and not just be associated to the function keys F1-F4.
In terms of endurance, because the keyboard is heavy, the Osmium kept perfectly stable on the table, even in the heat of battle. The thick cable is not that flexible and can be difficult to be managed. On the other hand, having a complete hub with USB and audio ports is very handy, and the user can plug a headset (digital or analogical) and a gaming-grade mouse into the Osmium and not bother to struggle with wiring behind the PC.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications “]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte Aivia Osmium keyboard include:
- Mechanical gaming-grade keyboard
- White illumination
- Polling rate: 1,000 Hz
- Switch: Cherry MX Brown
- Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.1 x 1.7 inches (454 x 257 x 45 mm)
- Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
- User profiles: Five
- Programmable macros: 70
- USB hub: 2.0 and 3.0
- Audio: 3.5 mm jacks
- More information: https://www.gigabyte.com
- Average price in the U.S.*: USD 129.99
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Osmium with the Cherry MX Brown switches gives a more hands-on typing experience in comparison to the Cherry MX Red model. This response reassures the gamer and it makes the keyboard feel more “mechanical”. The macro cluster is poorly located, requiring the user to take his hand away from the main commands. The control wheels are a great idea, and the hub is very handy when the user constantly changes gaming gear like headsets and mice.
- Gives the option of choosing a Cherry MX Brown mechanical switch over the Red model
- Full illumination
- Very stable on the table
- Complete USB and audio hub, including a USB 3.0 port
- Friendly software with helpful iconography integrates keystrokes and mouse clicks
- Ingenious wheels to control volume and illumination
- Extra keys with symbols to customize the keyboard
- No new nomenclature to help differentiate between Osmium models
- Multimedia controls bundled with function keys
- Macro keys away from main commands
- Thick and heavy cable may be difficult to manage, depending on the user’s set up
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