Rosewill isn’t necessarily known for their gaming peripherals. When you think of gaming keyboards and mice, you probably think of RAZER more than anyone else. But being in the market for a new KB since my Microsoft Comfort Curve was walking its death-march, I really wanted to get back to the basics of a traditional keyboard that offered me solid design, durability (with cats and little dogs, they take a beating in my house) and low latency. If the thing had any other functions, they’d be superfluous (but welcome all the same). The fine folks at Rosewill asked me to review their demo version of the RK-9000, and while I may have to give it back now that this is published, I’m happy to report that it’s a solid and straightforward piece of hardware, though it may be missing the sorts of bells and whistles many gamers go gaga over. With a $99.99 MSRP, you have to value the quality build and solid design over all else, because this isn’t the keyboard for gamers looking to get into programmable keys and all that. It’s purely form over function.
The keyboard’s functions are light. There are no keys to forward tracks, or adjust volume. If you’re looking for a programmable keyboard with lots of functions, this one’s not for you. If however, you’re looking for a highly functional peripheral that won’t let you down in the heat of combat; you can’t really do much better than the RK-9000.
Something vastly important to me in peripherals is reliability. It keeps me sane. It keeps me calm. I don’t want my commands going unread when I’m in the middle of some firefight or dungeon. The RK-9000 excels at making sure Bill doesn’t blow his gasket during a game session. Anti-ghosting is what makes sure of this (basically this is a feature that makes sure keystrokes aren’t missed when you press them too fast or all at once).
Rosewill built the RK-9000 with Cherry MX Blue keyswitches, which are designed to be anti-ghosting completely if you use the PS/2 hookup (104 keys could be pressed at the same time without a missed stroke). This makes for incredibly responsive typing and gaming. If you’re using the USB, you have a 6-key rollover, which will be adequate for all but the most ardent button-masher. Both connections come packed in with the keyboard. I tried my best, but was unable to create interference when pressing a group of keys at once. This is extremely nice for any gamer who’s ever lost a match due to this problem facing normal KBs.
For me, while the additional features like shortcuts for sound and the like are missed, I’ll gladly take the functionality of the actual keyboard over the shiny doodads.
Solid, black, and incredibly sturdy, the RK-9000 isn’t going to impress Apple enthusiasts with its heavy design. It looks good, but it’s very basic. The keyboard has laser-printed logos designed to never wear off from excessive typing. The cable connecting the peripheral to your tower is gold-plated to ensure the least amount of latency, and braided to ensure high durability. It feels and looks incredibly well-wrought, and next to my old Microsoft KB, it looks like the Iron Throne of keyboards (sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of GRR Martin). Depending on your aesthetic leanings, you’ll either love the barebones look, or wish it had more lights (or any lights at all minus the Lock signals) and fancy curves. Here again I must stress that Rosewill’s RK-9000 is built more for function than aesthetics, so the look is really a matter of preference.
The Cherry MX Blue keyswitches have two stages of press-feeling, which makes for a very good “feel” to typing and working. It’s almost like you’re working with a typewriter, something many keyboards have lost in the error of a softer touch. The only downside to this is that the thing is loud when you type on it. My office has wood floors, and the echo can be heard over the TV (as my wife tells me). This isn’t the KB for you if you prefer stealth typing while you game. This is to be expected with mechanical keyboards using MX Blues, and honestly a part of me likes the noise for the aforementioned typewriter feel it gives. It’s worth noting also that Rosewill has already released the noticeably quieter versions of the RK-9000 that use Cherry Brown, Red and Black switches.
Perhaps the best way to describe Rosewill’s RK-9000 is simply: solid. It’s solidly built and designed, and works flawlessly. It may not be the shiniest gaming peripheral out there, but for those who prefer quality of function over quality of looks, you can do a whole lot worse than the RK-9000. It feels durable, reacts efficiently to your commands, and won’t fail you in your most heated gaming moments. It’s a purely solid addition to any gaming rig and well worth the price if you’re in the market for a new keyboard. I’ll definitely be getting one… I just can’t decide on the quieter switches, or the nostalgic sounds of the Cherry MX Blues. Maybe I can get my wife some headphones for the TV.