We recently took the Roccat Kone AIMO mouse for a spin. Now, we have its keyboard stablemate, the Horde AIMO to run along side it.
Roccat is slowly building up its AIMO RGB peripheral range. First we had the Kone mouse, now the Horde keyboard and, say in a padded bag behind me, is the Khan AIMO headset.
So, apparently gamers love LEDs everywhere. Fortunately, the Horde AIMO is not so shouty about its lightshow.
Roccat Horde AIMO design
The Horde AIMO is what the kids are calling a membranical keyboard. Yes, it’s a membrane keyboard as opposed to a mechanical one. Well, apparently it’s more of a membrane/mechanical hybrid. See, membranical.
Basically, what you have here is a single sheet of little rubber contact domes rather than individual switches for each key. Generally, this makes membrane keyboards a lot less expensive than their mechanical counterparts, but they’re also less durable and, some might argue, less precise. One thing that this style does have over the mechanical boards, they’re not as noisy.
The Horde AIMO does need its space. It measures around 18.5 x 9.0 inches including the removable wrist rest.
The overall look of the keyboard is quite confused. In some parts it looks like it wants to be all stealthy and angular, whereas others it’s smooth and organic. Unfortunately, it just comes across as awkward.
There are five macro keys on the left-side of the board and, on the top edge, what looks to be a cardholder. This could be handy if you forget the macros you set for particular games.
Over the upper-right side of the keyboard, there’s a very long row of buttons and an oversize dial. This isn’t just for volume, as I assumed; the dial can control everything from media to the keyboard’s colour scheme to the RGB backlighting’s brightness.
As is the very nature of its closed-in, island-style membrane keys, you only get light escaping from each individual letter cut-out rather than having it spill out the bottom of each individual key cap.
Roccat Horde AIMO performance
As much as I love my mechanical keyboard, sharing a room with someone who’s ears work when using one can lead to glares, tuts and, on occasions, that look.
The Horde Aimo isn’t entirely silent, of course, but it’s certainly a lot easier on the ears than its mechanical rivals.
The spacing between each key is enough to be comfortable but also speedy.
The Roccat’s claimed midway actuation point (how far you need to press down on each key in order for it to register) is more like 3/4 way from my experience. However, it still gives it a sense of precision when compared to other membrane keyboards I’ve used previously.
I did enjoy the tactile feedback that I got from the Horde too. Other membrane boards have felt much more spongy and indirect.
Overall, the Horde AIMO does make its case as a gaming keyboard, perhaps not entirely convincingly yet though.
The Horde Aimo actually coped perfectly well with the likes of Doom, Star Wars Battlefront, and CS:GO. Once I had settled in, it felt almost as comfortable and precise as most the mechanical keyboards I’ve used recently.
The long line of buttons along the top are handy little shortcuts when combined with the dial. However, it does take some button bashing to get what you want. Sometimes I was convinced that it was quicker just to dive in to the software.
My enthusiasm for the big wheel changed when I discovered that what looks like a person icon (the key right next to the dial) activates Windows 10 Dial support – you know, the fancy stuff that the natty Surface Dial peripheral does. So, you are able to control the volume without having to press another key first, zoom in on whatever you’re looking at, or opt to use it as an ‘undo/redo’ dial. To activate your chosen function, just press the person key again. I found the undo/redo option particularly handy. It really does make a difference thanks to the speed at which it handles these actions.
You can also add another ‘custom tool’ option to the Dial menu using Windows 10’s Wheel options in the Devices menu in Settings. This lets you assign three more functions to right and left rotation, such as various keyboard shortcuts or even individual letters, numbers or Fn keys, as well as ‘clicking’ the wheel itself (the person key as you can’t actually click this wheel).
As well as that unexpected trick, the tactile knob lets you control the volume, LED brightness, switch between individual windows instead of using Alt-Tab, cycle through different RGB profiles and change the overall colour scheme of the keyboard when you press its corresponding key.
Colour me muted
The Horde has five half-height macro keys down the left side. Sitting lower than the other keys should prevent them being accidentally triggered. They can be easily configured to your needs using Roccat’s Swarm software. This is the same tool that you can use to alter the RGB lighting.
While the RGB options extend to your usual colourwave, breathing, heartbeat and snake schemes to name just a few, Roccat’s new AIMO intelligent lighting system is arguably the most interesting. Not only does it sync your colour scheme across other AIMO devices you might own (such as the Kone AIMO mouse in the picture), but it also adapts to the way you use them. The lights will fade in and out when you’re idle and then change colour more rapidly when you’re typing or clicking and moving your mouse.
Before you assume that all of this will prove distracting, it doesn’t. This is mostly down to the Horde AIMO’s subdued lighting. I am hoping that this is actually the reason for the dull lighting.
Roccat Horde AIMO review conclusion
To start with I wasn’t that convinced by the Horde AIMO. It looked awkward and oversized and the lighting wasn’t as bright as I was expecting. However, bit by bit, it grew on me.
I liked that I could type without fear of being hit across the face by a half-dunked biscuit, for a start. What I thought was dull lighting, actually makes sense when gaming in the dark. This level of brightness is enough to illuminate, yet not enough to distract.
Also, once you have learned the way of the dial, you do become quite reliant on it. I do miss it when I am at the day job.
It might be expensive for a non-mechanical keyboard but, if you pretend it’s a mechanical board in ‘whisper mode’, then it’s not half bad.
Roccat Horde AIMO price and availability
You can buy the Horde AIMO keyboard right now for £90 from Amazon and other outlets.