This month, Gigabyte has introduced two new peripherals to the AORUS family. Earlier this week, we looked at the new AORUS M3. Today, we’re looking at the other half of that equation with the AORUS K7 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Its RGB Fusion enabled, features genuine Cherry Red switches, is entirely programmable, and looks sleeker than any other board we’ve had in this year. But is everything as good as it seems on the surface? Let’s find out.
Here are the specs:
- MSRP: $129.99
- Switch Type: Cherry MX Mechanical Gaming Switch (Red)
- Switch Life: 50 million keystroke
- Key Profile: Standard
- Travel/Activation Distance: 4mm to the bottom, 2mm to actuation
- Peak Force: 45g +/- 15g
- Cable Length: 2m
- Simultaneous Key Input: USB N-Key Rollover (NKRO)
- Report Rate: Max 1000Hz
- Backlighting: RGB fusion - Per key, 16.8M customizable color
- Multimedia Hotkey: 22 function keys, combination work with “Fn” key
Form and Build Quality
With that out of the way, let’s break the AORUS K7 down a little bit. As the spec list indicates, this is a fully mechanical keyboard making use of Cherry MX Red switches. They’re linear switches, which means there’s no tactile bump and feel quite light to the touch. For gaming, they work great. Hitting that 2mm actuation point feels almost effortless. For typing, they’re less ideal for mechanical newcomers as their sensitivity can result in more typos. As a gamer who has leaned on Cherry MX Browns for years, however, I found the transition to be fairly seamless and that they feel better than ever to game on.
As is the preferred style for RGB keyboards, the K7 features the “floating key” design allowing you to see the clear switch housing underneath. I’m a big fan of this style, even without the flash and pizazz of RGB lighting. When you have it, though, the colors can really shine out and blend together to create a nice bed of color under the keycaps. If you’re using single key lights, you’ll get some light bleed, but it’s more contained than on other boards we’ve seen and goes with the territory on this design.
The keycaps are double shot ABS plastic. Fans of custom keycaps will be pleased to see that the bottom row uses standard key sizing, opening the doors to the majority of custom MX sets. For quite some time, keyboard manufacturers leaned heavily on adjusting this bottom row, so it’s nice to see them move away from this trend and make life easier on the keyboard enthusiasts out there.
When it comes to the quality of the build, the K7 earns serious points for its top plate. Present here is an slick brushed aluminum top plate in Gunmetal Grey. The edges are trimmed with an orange stripe that just looks fantastic. Even though aluminum tops are nothing new, the top plate on the AORUS is rigid and dense across its whole surface. The bottom edge extends out, giving you a natural point to pick up the keyboard and feel how sturdy it is; and though it doesn’t look any denser than the K70 I used previously, it certainly feels that way despite being fairly light in weight. It’s also worth noting that this is perhaps the quietest mechanical keyboard I’ve used.
The K7 is light on additional features, but one unique quality is its two rear feet. Rather than featuring flip out feet like most keyboards, the AORUS uses metal wheels to extend risers, giving you more customization for your typing angle. Still, at this price point, I would have appreciated a USB pass through or a braided cable.
Lighting and Programmability
Let’s get to the meat of it, though. This is a mechanical gaming keyboard in 2017, which means two things. It’s RGB enabled and you can reprogram any button to do essentially anything you would want. All of this is possible within the AORUS Engine software, which, as of this writing is still in beta with a full release expected in several weeks.
For now, you should go in knowing that the software is functional but visibly in the works. Right now, changing the lighting on the entire keyboard is easy enough but performing more advanced tasks, like assigning lighting to different key sets, is harder than it needs to be. The onscreen keyboard doesn’t remember what’s already lit when you switch effects, for example. There are also no layers and only speed and direction parameters for certain effects. Using the spectrum slider isn’t the most accurate either; I might clearly be in the “bright green” section on the screen but the actual color displayed might already be sliding into a different hue, like teal. Programming macros and hotkeys is easy and bug-free, however, so the limitations aren’t across the board. Syncing lighting effects to other Gigabyte RGB Fusion peripherals is as easy as checking a box, also.
Hopefully these issues get addressed in a future update, but until then the keyboard’s onboard controls provide a healthy amount of customization. There are 8 preset colors and a handful of effects and common lighting schemes that can be customized for speed and direction. There are also 10 levels of brightness, which is substantially more than any other keyboard we’ve tested. Alongside those are your usual secondary functions for media controls, opening your browser, or calculator. If there were a way to record macros straight from the keyboard, it might be possible to avoid the driver entirely if you chose.
The AORUS K7 is a very good keyboard that’s in wait of a software update to reach its full lighting potential. If you don’t mind waiting on AORUS Engine or are content with onboard customization, the K7 is a slick and well-built choice. While I wish all software was ready to go alongside its hardware, the world of advanced gaming peripherals is entering a place of software updates that continue for months and years after release. Gigabyte’s latest AORUS board is no exception and has the potential to be great. Right now, its customization options are just more limited.
The product discussed in this article was provided by public relations for the purposes of review.