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Now, I already know what you’re thinking. “But Steve,” you say. “I thought mechanical keyboards were the ideal keyboard of choice for gaming, especially StarCraft II. Why is this a dome keyboard?” I’ll admit, I asked myself the same thing. And while I can’t vouch for the overall life expectancy of the Razer Marauder, I can say that – even as a rubber dome keyboard – it does a fine job at responsiveness and control in any game, even for the sake of typing or day-to-day use.
But let’s get right down to business. The Marauder is the “Fast and Furious” of gaming keyboards, if at the very least for it’s flashiness. The keyboard is lit up more than a Christmas tree, with customizable backlights for the keys, accent lights, logo lights, and even the underside of the keyboard. And while the default color of choice is blue, you can set it to just about any color you desire, albeit the results aren’t exactly perfect, but oh well. Such is the flaw with LEDs, but I won’t hold that against Razer.
The reason this keyboard, unlike most rubber dome keyboards, is tailored to StarCraft II players – and makes a suitable gaming keyboard in general – is the design and the layout. For starters, you’ll see that the keyboard itself is much shorter than a standard 101-key keyboard. That’s because the number pad and the center keys (i.e. Home, Print, Scroll Lock, Insert, the arrow keys, etc) are merged together. When Numlock is off, you have all the usual functionality of those center console keys. When it’s on, you now have the number pad available to you. A mild inconvenience, but this is a gaming keyboard, not an office keyboard.
Additionally, the keys are raised higher than a standard dome keyboard and make it feel a lot like a mechanical keyboard, but definitely quieter. It also takes a bit of getting used to if you’re coming off of a standard office keyboard, especially with the new key heights and sensitivity. You may find yourself, like me, getting double-registers on some key presses. But, in time, that goes away and it seems to work really well in the game environment.
Of course, the extra frills like the built-in APM (Actions Per Minute) lighting system is just neat, at best. You don’t really need fancy LEDs to tell you how fast you are at StarCraft, but it does make for an interesting sight to see the lights gradually change color depending on how quickly you’re clicking and moving your units in the field. Beyond that, you can turn the LEDs off, as well, depending on what mood you’re in. Since the lights are in three separate zones – keys, accents and undercarriage – they’re also all independently controlled, so if you’re not looking for that Tokyo Drift look, you can ease off on the Lite Brite effect.
When it comes to non-gaming applications, the keyboard does well. I can type quickly on it, the keys are generally responsive – albeit a bit OVER responsive at times, but that might just be me – and it even works well in other applications such as Photoshop and Word and various internet browsers.
The only real downfalls to this keyboard are the potential oversensitivity of it and the fact that it requires two USB ports to operate. However, it’s built strong, it has a thick braided cord and it should last a long time. And it looks mighty fancy, too, especially if you’re a fan of glow sticks. Basically, if you can get it at a good price, the Marauder makes for a good gaming keyboard that’s quiet on the click-clack of mechanical keyboards and still provides the same level of responsiveness.
EXTRA FEATURES: 6/10