I'm a big believer in splashing out for nice peripherals. They're the part of your PC that you see and feel, and therefore have a big impact on your experience and enjoyment of your computer.
Of all the peripherals, getting a mechanical keyboard can make the biggest difference. The first time your fingers feel the assured, precise keystrokes you realise that PCB boards are a cruel prison that you never knew you could leave.
The G512 Carbon is Logitech's latest offering in RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. Outfitted with a choice their proprietary Romer-G switches in tactile or linear, or their new GX Blue tactile switch, the sleek keyboard retails for AU$179.95.
If you're new to mechanical boards, it's worth reading this primer. I spent most of my time with the linear version of the G512, which has an actuation point of 1.5mm under 45g of force, and a total travel distance of 3.2mm - which is very similar to Cherry MX Speed's 1.2mm actuation and 3.4mm travel under 45g of force.
This creates a light and fast feel, allowing your fingers to flutter over the keys. The keystroke registers before you get any physical feedback, however you naturally will almost always bottom out the key anyway (especially as it doesn't have far to go). It takes some time getting used to, but can allow you to type - or game - with newfound speed.
I usually opt for tactile keys, but was ready to fall in love with Logitech's linear offering. At first I kept accidentally creating lines of "sssssss" as my hands rested on the keyboard as I thought about what to type.
It can feel a bit like a hair trigger, which makes me wonder about their effectiveness during a game. It'd be very easy to accidentally hit a key without even realising, and while I never specifically noticed it doing this — I certainly encountered errors whilst typing.
In comparison to a board I have with Cherry MX Speed switches, I found the Romer-G's quieter with a little more resistance. I came to prefer this typing experience because it gave me enough feedback to not try and bottom out the key, while still remaining light enough for fast typing.
In my limited time with the tactile version, it's probably closest to Cherry MX Browns - tactile, but not clicky. They offer a little more resistance and thus assurance at the actuation point, which feels a little more familiar and comfortable.
Aside from my own preferences regarding linear switches, both feel smooth and well-built. In fact, the entire keyboard is a thing of beauty. I like hardware that's sleek and high quality, and baby - the G512 has got it.
The body is encased in "aircraft-grade aluminium alloy". While I can recognise how silly it is to care about a keyboard being 'aircraft-grade', I'm still totally a sucker for thinking that maybe having such a rigorously tested material will make my consumer product more powerful.
The keys are backlit individually by an RGB LED that sits bang in the centre. The caps are a gorgeous, deep matte black which makes the backlighting stand out that much more. Plus, I like the font they used - simple, clear, and elegant.
They also have Lightsync RGB, providing a gamut of customisable colours to backlight your keys. The lights are vibrant and beautiful, thought a few keys seem to have slight shadows when not viewed from directly above. And, when you're using a keyboard, you rarely look at it from above.
The software allows you to have the light change according to your games, audio, or screen, but I had issues early on.
When I first started using the G512, my lighting preferences seemed to reset every time I turn off my computer, defaulting to a rapid wave of rainbow light that I find too distracting.
There is an option to save your preferences to the keyboard, but it just would not work. I just had to open the software and fiddle with it each time I turned on the PC, which was tiresome. That combined with the relatively limited control really made me start to feel frustrated with the G512.
Thankfully, the software has since pulled it together to deliver a seamless lighting experience. I can now also sync the lights to my Logitech G560 speakers, which previously simply would not light up. So I'm glad to see Logitech have worked out the kinks in their Lightsync software.
I did try out the specialised gaming feature while playing Dota - which mimics your health and mana bars with lights along the keyboard. It left numerous keys unlit, which resulted in me fumbling during my late night gaming session. It also didn't provide any kind of useful feedback, because who actually looks at their keyboard to see how much health they have left?
There's a good degree of customisation available, allowing you to light zones or individual keys however you see fit. There's also various different modes, like breathing, and changeable speeds.
Like all good keyboards, there's also a USB port available at the top, giving you easy access. The braided cable feels strong yet flexible, and splits into two connections at the end — one for the keyboard and one for the USB port. It's a shame it doesn't give you two ports, like my DAS keyboard does, but perhaps I'm being greedy.
The feet that kick out to raise the board feel sturdy, and give a nice tilt. While the height at the bottom end of a mechanical keyboard can take some getting used to, ultimately it feels more comfortable and natural than a super flat keyboard.
Then we come to the most baffling part of the keyboard - something I can think of no other name for than "the b-hole".
I do not know what this is, but it is in the centre of the top of the board. It looks like there's a thread inside, like it's supposed to screw onto something, but I've no idea what. I have never encountered this before nor seen it in use. I'm sure it has a function, I'm just ignorant.
I have stared at this hole for more time than I care to reveal. This keyboard has a b-hole and I don't know why.
So we had a bit of a look around and Keychatter also wondered what this mystery hole was all about.
They managed to find a video from 2017 that called for developer kit applications for Logitech's Bridge SDK. Using a HTC Vive Tracker, the outcome was to have your keyboard reproduced in VR.
Although the the Vibe Tracker mount is seen as being on the edge of the keyboard, it looks like it was moved to the rear — hence the hole.
Although the project is no longer going ahead, the The G512 Carbon wasn't the only keyboard to be left with a small, butthole shaped memory of it. Vale.
All in all, the Logitech G512 Carbon is a good looking mechanical keyboard, and the proprietary Romer-G switches feel smooth and well-built. It took some time for it to grow on me, because the key caps feel grabby out of the box, and the Lightsync software was infuriating before it was updated, but after teething issues settled it's a beautifully sleek keyboard to enjoy.
- Sleek, minimalist mechanical keyboard with Logitech's proprietary Romer-G switches.
- Premium build feel, with aluminium body.
- Lightsync RGB provides vibrantly coloured key backlights that can sync with your games, audio, or screen.
- Early software issues that resulted in a frustrating experience, that have since seemed to have cleared.