Honestly, I’m not sure what I was expecting when Razer asked us to review the Anansi MMO Keyboard. I usually don’t find much use in peripherals that claim to add this and that kind of “feature” for gaming, as they often get in my way rather than help me perform in my gameplay. How glad I was to find out that the MMO KB from Razer truly does offer some tools that make it ideal for the hardcore MMO gamer. On top of these functions, a slick design, great backlighting, and the ability to set custom profiles make this keyboard one of my new favorites for gaming. Is it enough to justify the $99.99 pricetag? That’s up to you to decide… if, like me you’re mainly an MMO guy with a lot of different games on your desktop, it might be just the board you’re looking for.
One of the more prominent features that make the Anansi ideal for MMO gaming are the 7 thumb-modifier keys just below the spacebar. These can essentially be assigned to any combinations of keys you can imagine. CTRL+ALT+DEL getting you down? Program it! But chances are you’ll get more use when you’re using the T1-T7 keys for what they’re intended: programming controls for your character in your MMOs. I was toying with it on my Shaman/Druid in Rift, and used the T-keys to make control of my pet easier, as well as accessing my side hot-bars.
You can customize these keys to do anything you want (like every other key on the board), all the way up to 50-stroke macros), so really the limits are up to you. For my own gaming, I find it best to control certain repeat actions that simply can’t be done easily on a regular keyboard. I’m a mouse for character-movement player, and KB for spells and actions, so having the ability to put so many different actions at the tips of my fingers was really welcome. And Razer’s very robust configuration utility makes programming these things for each game or user on your PC really easy. You’ll have to go to Razer’s site to get the utility though, as it was oddly not included in the packaging.
Additionally, there are five dedicated macro keys off to the left of the board. Like the T-keys, they can be used for whatever you wish, so it’s pretty easy to imagine matching your character’s hotbars with these keys. It works wonderfully, once you get used to their placement (I more than once pressed an M-key when I wanted to press Tab or CAPS). And while I didn’t see it mentioned specifically in the documentation, it would seem the Anansi has some fairly solid anti-ghosting features in place. I tried my damnedest to make the thing miss my keystrokes but was unsuccessful. This is a bonus for the PVP-er in all of us.
Oh, and one last note: gaming mode. Not a new concept, but the ability to disable the windows button certain functions that you might accidentally press is a welcome addition. I don’t want to die because I accidentally alt-tab, and this prevents that.
This part is always up to the eye of the beholder and all that, but Razer always does a fantastic job at making their hardware sleek, stylish, and damned pretty. The keys themselves have a matte finish to them, which almost makes them feel rubber, but they’re basic membrane switches, which is in stark contrast compared to the Rosewill RK-9000 I reviewed last time. They’re very soft, quiet, and responsive, but they feel a little odd when compared to a mechanical keyboard with more “feedback” per press.
What’s absolutely gorgeous about the Anansi is its backlighting. It’s LED, and can be set to either a certain color, or to cycle through a series of shades. It’s perfect for dark-room gaming and looks absolutely beautiful to boot. The face of the KB is a mix between a matte finish and slick, shiny sheen on the far left and right sides. The HUD display for num-lock, caps-lock, etc. is lit with LEDs too, keeping with the aesthetic of the entire board.
The major downside of the design is that there are no ports on the KB for USB or audio, which seems like such an easy thing to have when the Anansi already has all these other features. We’re power-users more often than not, and having these things right on the board would have been nice. Bonus? There are track and volume controls on the F-Keys, which is always nice.
In the end, the Anansi MMO Keyboard is a fine upgrade for anyone looking to get off of their basic Dell stock KB. It has quite a decent set of features, customization, and a gorgeous look to boot. The downsides are that it’s missing some more ancillary things that a hardcore gamer might expect (USB ports), but those can be easily overlooked if you really only want to make sure your board performs. That last part is crucial, and Razer’s Anansi is definitely up to that task.