Roccat’s Vulcan mechanical keyboard is one to watch

Roccat Vulcan

One of the surprise highlights of this year’s Computex has been, of all things, a keyboard – and a Roccat one at that. It’s not that the German firm makes a load of bad kit – the Khan Pro headset and Leadr mouse are both recent successes – but they’ve also never really broken through to becoming first-rate purveyors of must-have peripherals. The Vulcan, however, is a convincing argument to start thinking otherwise.

Technically, the Vulcan is actually a trio of keyboards you’ll be able to choose from when they launch around autumn time: the £149 Vulcan 120 Aimo, which comes with a detachable wrist rest and the maximum shininess of full RGB lighting; the £139 Vulcan 100 Aimo, which is the same sans wrist rest; and the £119 Vulcan 80, which lacks the wrist rest, RGB, clutch of media controls on the top-right corner and the silvery brushed aluminium finish of the pricier models.

Regardless, every variant shares the two things that make this an enticing mechanical board. The first is the Vulcan’s switch, a new, custom design Roccat are calling their Titan Switch. In-house switches can sometimes feel like the designers were leaning over their desks to copy Cherry’s answers, and while typing on the Vulcan isn’t exactly a transcendent experience, it does combine the best parts of multiple familiar switches without any of their annoyances.

Roccat Vulcan top down

There’s the swiftness of MX Reds, the slight tactile bump of MX Browns and Blues, and the perfectly-judged travel depth of MX Speed Silvers, give or a take a few tenths of a millimetre. Audio feedback is spot-on, too – there’s a hint of clickiness, but unlike with, say MX Blues, it never sounds like someone is violently crushing a sack of dried leaves next to your ear.

The second thing is the slimline key caps. I’ll admit to balking when I first saw these, thinking my fingernails would get caught under the one behind whatever key I’d be hitting, but instantly they feel perfectly natural. If anything they’re more agile, reducing the weight of each key cap for a nimbler input – perfect for games – while the tactile switch and generous key spacing keeps the chances of an accidental depress low. Thinner key caps also mean the backlighting is a lot more pronounced, if you’re into that sort of thing; almost the entirety of each switch is visibly illuminated.

Roccat Vulcan media keys

Build quality is high across the board (for want of a better word), particularly on the more metallic 120 and 100 models. These seem a lot more sturdy and robust than most Roccat gear I’ve used, though the 80 isn’t exactly fragile either. Some more bonus features would have been welcome, mind – there’s no USB charging port, let alone a passthrough, and you’ll have to make do with reassigning the function keys instead of dedicated macros keys.

Still, the Vulcan has already shown itself to be a brilliant board at its core, with feel and performance as good as anything from the likes of Corsair, SteelSeries and HyperX and the rest of RPS’ best gaming keyboard line-up. If there were ever a peripheral that could propel Roccat into the top tier, odds are this is it.

11 Comments

  1. Hunchback says:

    Is it just me that just doesn’t get the whole RGB thing with “top end peripheria” that’s going on lately?

    I totally get backlight keyboards, i have a Logitech G710+ that has all the keys lighted, but it’s subtle, white light that only lights up the symbols on the keys. Why in the world would you need your KBD to shine like a Christmas tree? Considering people mostly “game” in the dark, this would be so annoying to have, especially if you wear glasses and you have this huge light reflecting at the bottom of the glass, making it shine…

    Am i just weird or old? Or both?

    • level12boss says:

      I recently got one of these “rainbow specials” myself, mostly just for the novelty factor (I also have young kids, they love this kind of thing).

      I’ll tell you what though — customizing a color coded layout for the games you play actually has its uses. This is particularly the case for my aging brain and busy schedule, where I might not sit down to play something for two or three weeks at a stretch. I often simply forget what key does what. Seeing the color coded layout definitely helps trigger the memory about the various functions in the game and the corresponding key to press. So there’s that.

      And even just for backlighting it’s also quite nice to be able to pick the hue and intensity in a really fine grained way. You don’t always get that with plain back-lit keyboards. With these babies though, you can set the intensity quite low or quite high. This eliminates any dark room problems like glare. So there’s also that.

      What I’d really love as a value-added to these keyboards is better integration with “gaming effects.” When I gorefully splash a pile of baddies into a puddle on the dungeon floor, for example, it would be a wonderful thing to see my keyboard suddenly explode into a bloody red color, then trickle a rain of red giblets for a second or two. As it is, I think this kind of integration is limited to sort of color matching what is happening on the screen, which isn’t nearly as exciting.

    • mcGreen says:

      RGB is not about making it look like a rainbow, its about being able to customize it to your liking. If you want, you can have the same subtle white lighting as with your G710, but if you’d like some cool green or red once in a while you can do that too.

    • Kemipso says:

      It’s nowhere close to a necessary feature, but I like being able to pick the colour for the backlight. I don’t change it once set in a room, or see the point of any of the fancy dynamic effects.
      Still, dark purple is pretty nice on a black desk :-)

    • Crafter says:

      You are not alone !

      when I look at gaming keyboard, I feel like they are all designed for 12 years old and car tuning enthusiasts.

      I just want something minimalistic; ergonomic and with good keys.

      • bloodnok says:

        It’s not clear that we’re the target audience. (I’m certainly not since I have four IBM Model Ms in working order, which I expect will last me to the grave…)

  2. timespike says:

    I have a previous keyboard product from them (the Skeltr – a membrane keyboard that allows you to switch between inputting your keystrokes into your PC or a mobile device connected via Bluetooth) and I’ve been very happy with it. It was Not Cheap, but I got exactly what I paid for (and wanted) and it’s held up to extensive use well.

    So it really doesn’t surprise me that subsequent products of theirs are good.

  3. OmgBiscuitsNomNom says:

    … they’ve also never really broken through to becoming first-rate purveyors of must-have peripherals.

    Eee, how exactly is that “standard” set? Roccat has been one of the foremost competitors of Razer in the continental Europe since its inception. Kone was one of the best mice in the earlier days of gaming peripherals (bar the sometimes-faulty wheel). They were one of the first (and only, sadly) who used thumb macro keys on their keyboards. Their Ryos TKL Pro is still one of the best TKL gaming keyboards on the market. And so on. Seems to be a pretty clueless remark.

  4. mrt181 says:

    Seriously, your keyboard and key switch technology ignorance is mind-boggling. Research Topre, Halo, Hako etc. switches and update his article

  5. Premium User Badge

    keithzg says:

    Meh, any switch less clicky than a Blue just doesn’t feel as good to me. And if I *was* trying to get quieter switches, I’d just go Hako or Zealio. And considering how increasingly common keyboards with hotswappable switches are getting, I’m definitely not too interested in one where I’m stuck with whatever switches it comes with.

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