About the author: Joe reviews hardware based on how it fits into his life. Joe is a sales professional that manages a team, travels weekly, a part-time professor and gamer. He is a father and husband who also has the privilege of being GWW’s President.
Oh happy day! Lenovo sent me a fun package in celebration of CES 2016: a trifecta of PC gaming accessories. I was sent the new Y Gaming Mechanical Switch Keyboard, Y Gaming Precision Mouse, an Y Gaming Headset. I spent several hours with these devices giving them the field test they deserve.
Lenovo’s Y-series Gaming Keyboard is a mechanical keyboard based on Red switches. There are several colors used to define the way keys on mechanical keyboards work, and I won’t go into that here. What everyone interested in keyboards for comfort, productivity or gaming needs to know is that mechanical keyboards may be what you’re looking for. Mechanical keyboards use physical switches underneath each individual key to determine when the key has been pressed. So the colors of the key relate to the amount of pressure needed for the switch to be “pressed” by the key - and ultimately the user - for the PC to receive a signal from the keyboard. Modern keyboards use rubber domes and silicone to conduct this symphony of keys.
This may not sound like it would make a difference. Therein lies the truth of all PC accessories: you need to use them to judge them. There are a lot of details that distract from the point, which is, a keyboard, for example, should be comfortable. Other PC accessories, such as monitors, can be the biggest black holes of analysis. I use a 4K screen, in part, because its the latest and greatest tech for monitors. But I can’t read the text on the screen well in many cases - software/Windows hasn’t caught up with the hardware yet. If you’ve been reading my hardware reviews over the past several years, you know that I lean towards a qualitative analysis. That works out great for me in this case because I don’t even know where to begin quantifying performance and comparing keyboards. That is, outside of just words-per-minute typing. So how does the Lenovo Y Gaming Keyboard stack up in my field test? Quite well.
This keyboard doesn’t feel like a first for Lenovo, and it really isn’t. Over the past decades Lenovo has built a pedigree of comfortable keyboards. From a gaming perspective, I’ve loved the keyboard on the Y50 gaming laptop since the moment I first used it. Lenovo did more than port or improve upon the keyboard with this Y Gaming Keyboard. They styled the crap out of it. It’s a striking keyboard that will get anybody’s attention. Sharp lines and a smooth exterior surround a beautiful black keyboard with red backlit keys. Lenovo’s new Y-series Gaming logo sits at the top of the keyboard, above the function-keys. It pulsates by default. Lenovo has a good theme going with all of their gaming peripherals. It’s particularly more effective when viewed as a set (keyboard, mouse and headset).
This keyboard is excellent! I’m not a fan of bulky keyboards but at least the larger real-estate is being used wisely. The main QWERTY keyboard is supported by macro keys with on-the -fly macro creation, as well as keys to control the backlight brightness, audio and turning the Window key on and off with the push of a button. Lenovo didn’t miss anything in terms of function, as they also included one pass-through USB 2.0 port and 2.5″ mic and headphone jacks.
This is where Lenovo falls short, but not by much. I’m not one for customizing my keyboard. I may adjust the lighting controls. On my Razer Chroma, for example, I’ve adjusted the colors that are displayed on the keyboard, WASD, and number pad - only because I could. Off-hand, I can’t even tell you which colors I’m using. Anyway, the software allows you to customize the 6 available G keys, play with the macros (M1-M2) and adjust the backlight settings. It runs just fine in the background only taking up 6.9MB of memory.
Features/Black Hole of Analysis:
- Mechanical Kailh Red Switches
- Anti-ghosting for simultaneous key strokes
- USB Wired Keyboard
- 6 additional gaming keys with on-the-fly macro recording
- One pass-through USB 2.0, 3.5mm mic-in, 3.5mm audio-out
- Detachable palm rest design
- Red backlighting with 5 adjustable brightness levels
The Lenovo Y Gaming Mechanical Switch Keyboard retails for $139.99. At the time of writing, I found it on Amazon for $119.99.