With titles like ‘Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn,’ and a giant-list of fall games on the horizon, now is the perfect time to upgrade your current tech. Gaming keyboards, headsets and Mice don’t have to be expensive, you can find really great devices with some standout features if you know where to look.
I’ve done a lot of Genius reviews in the past, and I’ve always talked about how well their devices are manufactured and I like to promote the low-cost they continue to offer. So when the Manticore was finally announced for the States, I wanted to try it out for myself. I’ve spent the better part of two-weeks with the keyboard, and there are a lot of functions that I want to cover.
On the marketing side, there’s the 16 million backlight color palette to customize your keyboard, it’s a nice addition to the design but it is just a cosmetic option really. Backlighting is essential for paying in low-light areas though, so if you tend to play in the dark, this devices will certainly….shine. For the lighting choices, the keyboard comes in three main sections [Keys, F-Keys, Macros and Standard Buttons], [Arrow keys and Function Keys] and [The Numeric Keys and their Functions] these sections can be assigned different lighting options. There are really 16 million hues, colors and choices here, and you can assign any color to each of the three sections. You could go RED+WHITE+BLUE for 4th of July, all white, whatever you want. You can even adjust the brightness of the keys, or just turn all of the lights off if your prefer. Cosmetic choices help the keyboard standout on a shelf, but the functions are what will keep you using it.
This keyboard is centered around Macros and Macro customization, even on the fly. This makes it a terrific keyboard option for an MMO, a genre that requires macros consistently. As you see on the left-side of the Manticore, there are eight macro keys. The real bonus to these Macros are the three Player Setups that the keyboard allows. You could in theory, assign up to 24 Macros and have them all ready for your disposal at any time by switching to P1-P2-P3 with a push of the button. I don’t know if you would use 24 macros, but the option is there, which is nice.
That’s not the best part though, players can make new macros, on the spot, with the ‘Master Record button’. This means no switching to other software, or leaving the game when you want to assign new ones. It was really great in parties or raids, when the group kept changing or items were getting low. I could simply change-up Macros on the fly without skipping a beat. As stated on the website, “The Manticore also has 32 kilobyte onboard memory, and 20 keys can be pressed at the same time without any ghosting effect.” This I can account for, I had one or two incidences when my ‘W’ key would stick from long runs (I couldn’t remember my autorun assignment) but that cleared up once I started breaking-in all of the keys and really got things moving.
For the spec-heads the Manticore boasts a 1,000 hertz report rate with a 1millisecond response time. It’s lightweight at only 1003g and uses a High-speed USB 2.0 cable with two outputs to connect to your PC (more on that in a bit).
On the ‘nice feature’ side, there are grooves underneath the keyboard so that you can route the USB cable in different directions and have them exit the back in either the middle, right, or left hand side, a nice feature to keep an area clean. That pales in comparison to the dual USB inputs on the back of the keyboard though. This means you can have your mouse and headset plugged into the keyboard, and the keyboard is the only thing tethered to your PC or PS3. That was an awesome feature, especially on the PS3. Now since I decided that I was going to mention the PS3 testing I want to be clear about a few things. If you are a PS3 users you can read the notes below, or just skip ahead.
[toggle_content title=”Manticore Keyboard and the PS3 Disclaimer and Notes:” class=””]Now the Manticore was not designed for the PS3, so don’t expect to work in every game ever made, but I was also helping to outline the new Final Fantasy 14 preview with one of our other editors and I gave it a test run.
First of all, I can confirm that the keyboard works with MY PS3. I have a 60GB Slim, I was using the SteelSeries Sensei RAW Frost Blue Gaming Mouse plugged into the Manticore, that was plugged into the PS3. Now the inputs that the Manticore uses is perfect for a number of reasons: one it is cleaner since you plug other accessories into the keyboard; the second follows that because PS3 players tend to sit on a couch, far away from their TV’s. If you do this, then the Manticore would be perfect since you can plug your mouse and headset into the Manticore, then the keyboard is the only thing that has to travel to the console.
The keyboard uses two-USB outputs since it also runs the accessories you plug into it. The cord was about 5 feet but cheap Amazon USB Extenders worked here in the office to give me the extra 2 feet I needed to reach the couch.
Now all of the buttons worked in Final Fantasy 14, except the 8 Macro buttons on the side, which was a shame since the Manticore has such a great Macro System. Other than that, all buttons could be mapped using the PS3 UI in the FF14 beta (which could change at the end of release). The mouse worked perfectly as well and I was basically playing on the PS3 as easily as I would on a PC. I can’t promise that it will work 100% for everyone, but I can confirm that it worked for me.
I tried the same set-up with Counter Strike GO, but the mouse didn’t work and the keyboard did. So it’s definitely touchy when it comes to working with games. Since I had such a great experience with FF14 though, I wanted to share with other users. [/toggle_content]
Now back to PC users, which should have zero problems unlocking any of the Manticore’s awesome features. The software included loads in about 2 secs, and you can start customizing lighting, macros and adjustments in just minutes after opening the box. I should mention how large this keyboard is, it’s a giant. The keyboard has the dimensions (W*H*D): 54.3 x 3.0 x 20.0cm making it’s one of the largest I’ve ever used. I enjoyed it much better than previous keyboards that try and minimize space by cramming all the features together, if I wanted that I would just use a keypad.
The GX Gaming Manticore keyboard is now available in North America for the suggested retail price of $79.99 but you can save a few dollars if you order from Amazon (when this article was written). It’s a well designed, feature rich keyboard that offers you the same (if not more) features than other keyboards at a lower price. It should at least be on your list for comparisons, you’ll find that the keyboard trumps a lot of models, and the price is hard to beat for such a diverse keyboard. I’ll be taking any questions you might have on Twitter, so just click the Twitter link above in the byline and I’ll do my best at answering them for you.