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.
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.
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.