If food is the way to a man’s heart, then a keyboard is the way to the computers’s heart. The keyboard is one of the most if not the most essential peripheral for communication through computers – we type everything. Then it evolved to how gaming feels – and today, we have the Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum RGB mechanical gaming keyboard in the house.
Quick note – this is in part of Tesoro’s very own review program (which you can find here) in conjunction of their ceremonial arrival to Malaysian shores.
The box is pretty plain to begin with – a printing of the keyboard’s image at the front with its RGB light cycling through the entire keyboard, some information of the keyboard’s characteristics, a Tesoro sticker of authenticity.
At the side there is an indicator telling what type of keyboard switch is packaged into the box.
Skip the boring unboxing with pictures, take a look at our unboxing video.
Opening everything and this is what you’ll get.
[nextpage title=”Physical features”]The keyboard itself has a sleek black look, with keycaps made out of ABS plastic and laser-etched. The escape key had a pretty unique feature this time around – with the Tesoro logo sitting alone at the corner.
The Tesoro logo keycap can also be seen again on the function modifier key.
It also has a thick body – actually feels a lot like the Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid-i that I had for a while. The Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum however is a lot more heavier than QuickFire Rapid-i, but that’ll be discussed later.
Upon lifting the keyboard out of the box, I instantly try to flex it by grabbing the two sides – and I have to say that this keyboard is really sturdy.
At the bottom side of the keyboard there are four rectangular rubber feet with a mesh shape on it to improve friction, and two legs that have their feet wrapped with rubber.
I really would like to see something on this keyboard though – a wrist rest. That however, is definitely a pet peeve of mine.
Opening up the entire housing of the keyboard reveals a bright red PCB.
Turning it over reveals a very tough and heavy metal plate holding all of the keys and the PCB together. Plate mounted switches, sweet!
There was one small exposed area of the PCB though – the indicator lights for Game Mode, Num Lock, and Caps Lock. Upon further inspection, there are a few solder joints exposed…
Oh, so those are the solder joints for two UBS ports and two more 3.5mm audio jacks – presumably one for microphone and another for audio output. Well okay, Tesoro is reusing the PCB from other keyboards but at least clean off the housing a little, even though if it is at the back.
Wished that I didn’t know about this though.
On a small side note, be careful of this capacitor while disassembling the keyboard. This capacitor seems fragile.
[nextpage title=”Function modifiers”]First thing’s first – I really like that Tesoro decided to dump away the second Windows key and replaced it with another Tesoro logo and “FN” printed on a keycap. This keycap is without a doubt to modify functions.
While holding this button, there are a few other things that can be done.
- Delete key : N-key rollover
- Insert : 6-key rollover
- F1 to F5 : Profiles 1 to 5
- F6 : all-keys lock (disables all the keys)
- F7 tp F9 : Volume down, up, and mute
- F10 to F12 : Play/pause, previous, next
- Home : instant macro recording button (can only be done on Game Mode)
- Arrow keys up and down : adjust brightness (off/25%/50%/75%/100%)
- Arrow keys left and right : change lighting mode (default/single key reactive/ripple/fireworks/radiation/breathing/wave (RGB rainbow)/spectrum
I have top say though the manual that came along with the keyboard in the box is very helpful to get started with this keyboard. It even teaches you how to record macro keys! First, press FN + Home and the Game Mode indicator will blink, then press which key you wish to be programmed. Game Mode and Num Lock indicator will start blinking. Then, press whatever it is you want to record on that button and press FN + Home again to end recording. The Game Mode, Num Lock, Caps Lock indicators will blink for a few seconds, and you’re done!
The Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum is definitely one of the keyboard that features a lot of necessary features on itself without even needing to communicate with the software at all.
This specific unit that I got from Tesoro is using the red switch. Oh – not Cherry MX Reds, it’s the Kailh Red switches. It has the exact same switch design, but has a slightly higher weight to it. The Cherry MX Red switches are rated at 45g, but the Kailh Red switches used here for the Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum is rated at 50g.
A little disclosure here – the Cooler Master Rapid-i that I used to have was using Cherry MX Blue switches, and I’ve only used the Cherry MX Red switches occasionally. I’ve never did any testing on the reds before other than getting something done, but this is the first time that I’m using a non-tactile, lightweight mechanical switch.
Personally, I’ve been using my Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 for many years and I just love that keyboard. It has a pretty flat profile, has a nice little wrist rest to go along with a rubbery material to maintain the position of the wrists even for sweaty typers, and generally the membrane keys were just very satisfying to type on. Well, I even got about 90 words per minute, or WPM for short, on Typing Test’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz in a minute.
On the Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum, I can instantly get 90WPM instantly. So to those who said that red switches aren’t meant for typing, I personally think it’s just not really suitable for typing since there are other alternatives such as brown or blue switches. Also, red switches feel a lot like membrane keyboards.
For the use of gaming I feel that it’s a little tiring to hold down keys for long periods of time due to the nature of Kailh’s red switches itself. Don’t get me wrong, the keys are okay, just not suitable for me personally. I really hope that the Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum would be a little thinner than it is now.
As mentioned, the Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum has a total of 5 different profiles, and all of them are saved to its onboard memory. Actually – there are 6 different profiles – one default profile where no changes can be done, and 5 other profiles that are customizable. Each of these profiles can be tuned using the software, and oh my god there is a whole suite of customizations that can be be done on this keyboard.
[nextpage title=”Software”]Which leads us well into the software section.
I have to completely honest here – the software is the only and biggest downside of this keyboard. The interface just doesn’t work very well and if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t click on any other things if you don’t exit one configuration before proceeding to the next configuration.
Also, everything just seems too cluttered. RGB colour selection is a little problematic, as everything is cluttered together into one small slider with what presumably is all 16.8 million colours. Not cool.
Other than that, the typical stuffs can be found on the software itself – profile reset, key programming and all that good stuff. This keyboard allows all keys except the Windows and FN key to be reprogrammed. Real nice.
I love this keyboard. The features it has is over the top – it has everything all of the features to be desired on a mechanical keyboard built right into it. There are many things that can be done using the keyboard itself too – making it wee bit more independent, but of alas setting the colours and resetting the profiles can only be done via software.
The solidity of this keyboard is something to be admired, but the RGB LED was side-mounted instead of integrating on a clear housing and that caused some inefficiency in the LED’s brightness. Another pet peeve of mine is the lack of dedicated multimedia keys, but I guess by having them on FN keys are okay too.
Overall, I can rate this keyboard an excellent 9/10, but mainly lost the point because of the software. Also, clean up the plastic housing if there are no USB ports or audio jacks present. Can’t judge the price just yet as there are still no official numbers, but hopefully it’s below the RM500 mark.
We’ll update you when the official price is announced. Till then, keep typing!