Known for its memory modules, OCZ is gradually entering the gaming market niche with products like the Equalizer mouse (which we already tested). Now they’ve released their first gaming keyboard, the Elixir, part of their Alchemy gaming oriented line. At first glance, it resembles the Razer Tarantula keyboard (which we haven’t tested yet but know from Razer’s catalog). Let’s see how well OCZ fared following Razer’s lead.
[nextpage title=”The Elixir Keyboard”]
The Elixir is a big keyboard just like the majority of gaming oriented keyboards. It features several programmable macro keys that can be used to launch applications or execute commands in a game (like releasing a spell or changing weapons). It has 10 blue keys (five on each side) that can be programmed into 3 different profiles – totaling 30 personalization options. It’s possible to create a profile for a particular game – such as Team Fortress 2, which we can’t stop playing these days – or a work-related profile to launch Photoshop, Word and other common office applications. Elixir also comes with multimedia and Internet keys – the multimedia keys (launch player, play/pause, stop, previous track, next track, volume up, volume down, and mute) at the right side, and the PC controller keys on the opposite. That way the user is free to program the keys for other functions rather than launching a media player or an email reader.
Programming the macro keys is easily done through OCZ’s proprietary software. Just install the application from the CD that comes with the keyboard. Then you can assign particular command lines to a simple keystroke or select the applications you’d like to launch with a single key. Save the profile with the name of your choice (like “work” or “game”) and consider you Elixir properly brewed.
The key tops are coated with rubberized material to give the user a pleasant typing experience and hours of smooth playing. They’re also easy to clean if you have the bad habit (such as us) of eating in front of the computer. OCZ was very thoughtful when decided to ship the Elixir with spare keys: W, A, S, D, the four arrow keys, a space bar, and shift keys. They’re the most prone to having the printed letters worn out or breaking after months of abuse. Neat. Unfortunately the keys are not backlit – a choice made by OCZ to decrease the product’s final price. It’s a personal preference concerning each user. We know there are those who couldn’t care less about backlighting. But those like us who are used to playing in the dark or hitting the backlighting switch when dusk approaches missed the feature sorely. We were frustrated with a darkened keyboard when testing it at night. Yes, we’re afraid of the dark, don’t mock us.
Another low point: there are no extra USB ports on the Elixir like those found on Logitech’s G15. Of course it was another money-saving decision from OCZ so the company could release an entry-level product, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s very useful having a USB port to connect your gaming-grade mouse to your keyboard. When installing the Elixir we ended up wasting two USB ports – one for the keyboard itself and the other for the mouse. It’s nothing serious but since having free USB ports is always a good thing we actually ended up having none due to installing the Elixir. What a bummer.
[nextpage title=”Savoring the Taste of the Elixir “]
Bad pun alert: we had some chemistry going between the Elixir and our playing experience. The keys were easily programmed to our liking and soon we faced some intense Team Fortress 2 multiplayer action. The rubberized keyboard responded with precision and smoothness during several hours of gameplay. However we had to turn on the lights once the sun said goodbye due to the lack of backlighting.
During normal office use (i.e., work) the Elixir’s key configuration clashed with our own typing style. The num pad’s Enter key is to close to the right-side macro keys and we kept on hitting them instead of the Enter key with our left pinky. The layout of the End, Page Up, Page Down, Home, and Delete keys is different from regular keyboards and it also led to some misses from our part. These are, of course, very particular typing problems that we eventually managed to correct and may also never affect someone else.
The keyboard’s main selling point is its relative low price. It’s in the USD 30-40 range while Logitech’s G15 sell for about USD 85. Although it has no backlighting feature and no extra USB ports it’s still a good product for users on a budget. Plus the inclusion of a set of spare keys will definitely ensures that the Elixir keeps on brewing.
OCZ Elixir main specifications are:
- USB 2.0 connector
- Traditional non ergonomic keyboard
- Rubberized key coating
- Set of spare keys
- Ten blue macro keys
- Three user defined profiles
- Dimensions: 20" x 7.87" x 1.14" (50 x 20 x 2.8 cm)
- Weight: 1.85 lbs (840 g)
- Operating Force: 55 +/- 12g
- Travel Distance: 3.8 +/- 0.2mm
- More information: https://www.ocztechnology.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 39
* Researched at https://www.shopping.com on the day we published this review.
- Rubberized keys allow for pleasant typing and gaming
- Spare set of mostly used keys during gaming
- Multimedia and internet keys free some macro keys for other functions
- Relatively inexpensive for a gaming keyboard
- No backlit feature
- No spare USB ports
- Weird key layout