In this review I am going to be looking at one of the samples we have received recently from a company called Dragon War, they are a Japanese gaming peripheral company who are new to CCL.
We received several samples from them in the hopes of them becoming an item that we would then eventually sell the first of which we are going to look at is the keyboard that was provided, the Dragon War darkSector, which is Dragon Wars’ second gaming keyboard, it certainly looks the part as well with a blue backlight =.
Specifications and Features
There is not much to say in this are the keyboard is pretty much a plug and play affair, the keyboard does not have any macro keys and nor does it come with any additional software, much like some other gaming keyboards it’s designed to have as little set up time as required, to make sure that your gaming downtime is limited.
In other features the keyboard has a nice deep blue led backlight, a 1.8 metre long braided cable with blue highlights finished at a rather large gold plated USB connector, which has a connector which is designed to reduce the stress on the cable.
The keyboard is low-profile in its design with low profile laser etched keys; the keyboard is designed to be silent in operation as well.
The keyboard is a rubber dome affair, which means that the keyboard features a membrane under the keyboard and as you press the key you compress a rubber dome, which then completes circuit. This tells your computer that a key press has been made and is then registered on screen. Because of this the Dragon War darkSector does have a small level of tactility from each key press where you feel the dome compress.
There are many other types of keyboard switch about at the moment, which we have gone into more in depth in past articles but the main three groups are, rubber dome, scissor switch, and all forms of Cherry MX which itself has four main variants being, brown, blue, red, and black your preference may vary and I am lucky enough to have tried and used all of them as I have gone through quite a large amount of different keyboards over my time working at CCL (personally I have settled on two Ducky keyboards, one for home and one for work).
The backlight is achieved by LED’s spread around underneath the keys of the keyboard being dispersed by a reflective layer just above whilst still being under the membrane which the keys press against, this means that the backlight is remarkably even across the whole of the keyboard.
The Box and the Product
The keyboard is packaged in a box that neatly fits the keyboard, with little room for the keyboard to move about, as the keyboard is supplied with nothing else, it seems fairly sane not to package it in a massive box like some manufacturers.
The box shows off the keyboard and lists the features that we have already mentioned above, one feature it proudly states is that the keyboard has “Semi-Mechanical Keys” although from prying several of them off, it is clear that the keyboard simply doesn’t have them, the larger keys such as the + and the enter key do have stabilisers but the keys themselves are not mechanical in any shape.
The keyboard features a very solid metal back plate which gives the keyboard a nice weight and alongside the anti-slip rubber patches on the back helps to prevent the keyboard from moving about in use.
The Dragon War darkSector as stated features a very nice braided cable which is securely fastened at both ends, it routes into the back of the keyboard just above the number pad and at the USB end goes into a large USB connector. Both ends have a stress reducing outer cover to help lessen the likelihood of cable fatigue. The braid is very nice as it is both blue and black in colour and it fits nicely with the style and design of the keyboard itself.
How do you test a gaming keyboard?..........with games of course. However the first main test was seeing how well this keyboard would fare as a normal keyboard, so I replaced my battered and bruised Ducky for a few days at work, then just started typing and I kept typing, in fact I am using this keyboard to type the most of this review.
As a daily driver, the layout did cause me a few issues, the positioning of the Home key next to a half size backspace key meant that I had a few issues with pressing the home key and then deleting the wrong words, the arrow keys on this keyboard are compressed into the main block of keys meaning a shorter right shift this again meant that I did have one or two occasions early on that meant I would almost start typing a few sentences above where I wanted, however after a short period of time I became accustomed to the layout and errors pretty much disappeared (this will no doubt make the switch back to my Ducky a fun experience). The only other layout issue I experienced was due to the small F-Key row, however this was mainly because of the dependence on these for work (our internal software relies heavily on these keys) so this is minor gripe for more regular day to day use.
So onto some use in games, what better way spend some time, after using it as my work keyboard I had thought that the layout issues I encountered would be problematic, however this did not appear to be the case, I ended up playing the majority of the games we use when testing graphics cards. Games like Bioshock Infinite, Dirt Showdown, and a few oldies such as Mafia 2.
Whilst testing it in games it performed admirably, with every combination of keypress being registered. The compact size of the keyboard also meant that I did not have to stretch my hands across and everything was easily usable, when using the more standard WASD layout. If you are a person that uses the arrow keys instead of WASD, the keyboard is probably not for you as the PG Up and PG Dn as well as other keys are in a closer proximity to the arrow keys.
Gaming performance is often dictated by the amount of keys that you can press at once, this is often described as keyboard ghosting. Whether it is reloading whilst crouched, moving and jumping or some other bizarre combination, the ability for each key to be acknowledged at the same time can be crucial in a fire fight. The darkSector keyboard appears to have an FPS gaming optimised matrix, which means that the keyboard and subsequently the pc can register multiple key presses at once in the WASD area. Upon testing further the darkSector appear to register up to 4 key presses in a row such as ASDF and still be able to recognise inputs from the Control and Spacebar separately. In our test you could successfully carry out the manoeuvre mentioned above, which would be a fairly common key press, apart from the jumping.
The dark keys are the ones that the PC registers
I have to be honest, whilst in use the Dragon War darkSector keyboard we used had several of the keys on the keyboard fail over the course of the review, to be fair to the device and to rule out a potential manufacturing problem we got another keyboard and plugged it in. We have run this one through the same tests, including plugging it into and out of the machine multiple machines for everyone in the office to have a go with it and it seems to be performing admirably for the moment.
As this is number two of our sample reviews, all the weight of whether we stock it rests on the second keyboards shoulders, but for the moment it seems to be doing okay, apologies for this inconclusive review, we hope to have a solid answer in the next day or so.
We have two mice from Dragon War that we are also currently having a play with as samples and will have reviews up shortly on them as well.