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Acer Predator Aethon 500 Review

By Joseph Bradford on September 01, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Acer Predator Aethon 500 Review

Acer’s Predator Aethon 500 mechanical keyboard tries to hang with the luminaries of premium gaming keyboard design: Corsair and Razer to name a few. And in some ways it definitely holds up. However, while the Aethon keyboard aspires to be counted among the premium keyboard choices for discerning gamers - and the price tag of $180 definitely shows this - it’s hard not to feel as though there are a few cut corners along the way.

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First off, some specs:

  • Durable Kailh Blue Switches
  • Keys: 109 standard keys, 5 Macro keys, 1 Mode key, Total:115 keys
  • Press Keys Force: 60 ± 10 cN
  • USB Report Rate: 1000/500/250/125 Hz at 1/2/4/8ms
  • LED: RGB LED
  • Durability: Switch Life 70 million Strokes per Key
  • Actuation Force: 50±10gf
  • Actuation Distance: 1.9±0.5mm
  • Total Distance: 4±0.4mm
  • Interface: USB 2.0 (Full Speed)
  • 10 Lighting Effects: Lightened/ Breathing/ Reactive/ Scroll/ Ripple/ Radar/ Fireworks/ Blink/Wave/ Customize
  • MSRP: $179.99

The Aethon itself is a hefty, sturdy keyboard that definitely exudes a premium build design at first glance. As a result, the keyboard feels incredibly solid compared to cheaper keyboards on the market. However, it’s a shame that the same level of build quality didn’t extend to one of the more important aspects of a mechanical keyboard: the switches.

While the Kailh Blue switches themselves aren’t bad - they feel incredibly precise and each keystroke is punctuated by a satisfying click, I can’t help but wonder why actual Cherry MX Blues weren’t used in the Aethon itself. Kailh Blues definitely aren’t bad switches - however it’s hard not to long for the Cherry MX. The Cherry Blues simply feel faster and more precise. And when you’re spending $180 on a keyboard, you want the real thing.

For those who are just getting into mechanical keyboards, however, the Kailh might be just fine. They are fantastic for typing (such as this review) and I never feel as though a key doesn’t engage like I did when using my old Razer keyboard. I did notice though that I longed for a faster switch while playing games such as World of Warcraft and Black Desert Online Remastered during testing. I never felt when using more complicated key strokes during the heat of battle that I could reliably hit the right skill every single time, especially when running Heroic Dungeons in Battle for Azeroth. However, when I went back to my previous mechanical keyboard (which was pretty cheap to be fair) as well as my membrane Razer keyboard, I longed for the actuation and response of the Aethon.

The Predator Aethon 500 also comes with a discrete media control panel on the top right of the board. Being able to control my music or videos without touching the mouse or interacting on screen has been incredible, and while the volume knob sticking over the edge might be a bit off putting at first to the overall profile, I found having that extra room to grab onto helped in the long run.

However, the most disappointing feature is the hand rest. On most other keyboards, a well angled hand rest would be welcome. I especially like the fact it doesn’t move around during use thanks the magnetic connection between it and the keyboard. The rest is comfortable....for a while. It’s however, a little disappointing that there simply is no cushion on this rest of any sort. Long stretches of gaming found me constantly rubbing my wrist due to the fatigue caused by the rest. While that’s good in terms of forcing me to take breaks every now and again, I’m not sure that was the intended purpose behind the design. And as someone who works a full day and games at the same PC, it’s hard to breakaway when you have an assignment due. 

One of the other main features is the RBG lightshow your keyboard can produce. The Acer Aethon 500 has each key individually backlit and allows you to customize every aspect of your keyboards RBG goodness….provided you can find the program that controls it. Unlike Razer which prompts you to download their Synapse program whenever you plug in one of their devices, I had to do some digging to find the Predator program for the Aethon. It’s not listed on the keyboards page on Acer’s website, but a quick Google search set me up nicely.

The program itself is pretty straight forward: you can control the way your keyboard lights up, the colors it uses, and so much more. It’s somewhat on the skinny side in terms of total number of effects your keyboard’s RGB can do, and it’s shame you cannot program your own effects in there, but the ones you do have are satisfying. I also appreciate the on-keyboard lighting indicators for whether your caps/num locks are engaged - the actual backlight of the key will stay solid on some profiles, or in the case of multi-colored scrolling effect, the backlight will always be different than the ones around it.

Conclusion

The Acer Predator Aethon 500 isn’t a bad keyboard. It’s well built and it offers plenty of features to make it feel like an overall premium product. However the issues it does have, such as the less expensive, though well-performing Kailh Blue switches instead of using the premium Cherry Blues, as well as a lackluster handrest give me pause to recommend this keyboard at full price, especially when procuts like the Corsair K95 RGB is just a little bit more and sports the Cherry MX Reds, which are typically preferred by gamers. However if you can get the Acer at a discount or if the price happens to drop a bit (currently Amazon has this at $149 instead of it’s normal retail) it’s definitely one to keep in mind for that next upgrade.

Pros

  • Kailh Switches do feel good when typing
  • Well built body, sturdy. Doesn’t move when using
  • Built in Media Center is easy to use
  • RBG is always great to have

Cons

  • Kailh Switches don’t exude premium value compared to Cherry MX counterparts
  • Software is hard to find
  • Hand rest is poorly thought out in terms of providing overall comfort.