Mechanical keyboards are experiencing a renaissance in PC gaming. With both RGB lighting and floating key designs taking over the market, it’s easy for keyboards to start looking the same and blending together. We wanted something different, so we reached out to Bloody Gaming to try two of their models of optical keyboards. Today, we’re looking at the B845R, an infrared powered keyboard made for lefties and MMO players alike.
Optical keyswitches have been around for years, but they never took off in the same way as traditional Cherry-style switches. The idea is simple, instead of using metal on metal contact to close a circuit and trigger a keypress, an optical switch uses a beam of infrared light that the switch simply blocks when pressed down. The benefit to this is that the lack of contact causes less wear and tear on the switch, increasing its lifespan. The lack of metal bump also eliminates the issue of debounce, which is a type of electrical interference caused by metal on metal contacts in a circuit and can sometimes result in misfire. By eliminating this issue, Bloody tells us that they can more than double to response time of traditional mechanical switches.
Bloody Gaming, a subsidiary of A4tech based out of Taiwan, uses proprietary Light Strike (LK) switches to make the magic happen. Lest there be any confusion, the LK switches present in Bloody boards do have mechanical internals and operate very similarly to MX style switches, minus the actuation contacts. Since the board caters to gamers, Bloody has opted for a faster switch design with only 3MM of travel distance instead of the usual four. Likewise, the actuation point has also been cut down to 1.5MM from two. These switches are spill resistant, but I wouldn’t go soaking it in water.
The click on the LKs is much more distinct than on Cherry Blues and resonate with a small ping you can hear in the sound sample below. The stems - MX style, so compatible with custom keycap sets - are looser in their housings, which is immediately apparent and I’ll admit to being put off before getting used to the board. That extra wiggle also leads to a good deal more key noise as you move your fingers across the board. The springs in the larger keys are also more apparent, with the space key especially causing a little vibration to reverberate through the keys. It’s ironic that a keyboard with fewer mechanical contacts actually feels more mechanical than other mechanical keyboards we’ve tested. That said, it’s these small idiosyncrasies that make the B845R stand out from the pack when so many others are content to ape existing designs and call it a day.
A label on the front of the box states that the B845R features a “machine gun” typing effect, and I’d say that’s accurate. This is by far the loudest keyboard I’ve ever used. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends entirely on your own situation; however, I’ll say this. Typing on the B845R feels good, especially when you really get going. I’ve never used a typewriter as an adult, but I have to imagine this is a small taste of the satisfaction typists of would have felt. At the same time, it’s loud enough where my wife has forbidden me to use it while she’s in the room. Take that for what it’s worth.
The other distinctive feature of this board is its left mounted number pad. This makes it perfect for lefties but also a great macro pad for MMORPGs. As a right-handed gamer with limited desk space, I appreciate not being shoehorned into a tenkeyless to be able to move my mouse freely. Lefties can rejoice now, because there are simply too few keyboards that offer what the B845R does while also offering the usual suite of features gamers have come to expect. As a macro pad, the numpad works swimmingly.
Even if we put the numpad to the side, Bloody deserves kudos for making a keyboard that really looks unique. The keycaps are cut so the bottom corners appear sheared off. The LEDs under each key are positioned to not only shine through that key’s legend but also up onto those sheared edges, create a neat kind of edge lighting on each key.
The rest of the board also looks good with a dual surface aluminum top and hard angular corners. Under the keybed, the top plate is matte, but along the edges the aluminum is polished, causing the metal edge to stand out. I also appreciate the inclusion of eight different (bright orange) keycaps for your most used keys. The wrist rest I’m less of a fan of. It’s little more than a metal frame with a bumpy rubber mat pressed on top. It also needs to be screwed in and I have concerns about durable the plastic threads in the frame will turn out to be; one of my screws wouldn’t completely tighten.
The KeyDominator2 software offers all of the macro programming you could dream of. It also offers the ability to automatically string actions together into “combos.” This allows for next level automation that, if you take the time to really invest in it, could absolutely give you an advantage in combat.
KeyDominator2 is also where you’ll program your lighting effects. There are six presets stored on the keyboard itself with your usual assortment of breathes, waves, rainbows, and static colors that are all easy to set, modify, or throw to the side and start fresh on your own color scheme. You can store up to 10 onboard, no software needed. What’s more interesting, however, is the “RGB Animation” feature which literally allows you to animate your keyboard with frames of animation. This is a novel and straightforward way to bring advanced lighting to gamers who may have struggled with the layers and timings of competitor boards. As far as I’m aware, Bloody Gaming is the only company to approach lighting in this way and it’s about time.
For the MSRP of $129.99, Bloody’s B845R isn’t a cheap keyboard, but it brings a lot to the table for its asking price. I wish there was a little less wobble to the keys and, for this MSRP, I’d like to have seen a USB passthrough. But, if you’re a leftie that wants a full size, fully featured keyboard, or even just an MMO player who wants a slew of macro keys, the B845R has you covered.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for purposes of review.