- About the XANOVA Magnetar XK700…
- Keyboard and Utility Impressions
- End-User Experience and Conclusion
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
LOCK Indicator LEDs
It is refreshing to see a better placement of LED indicators for the locks. This allows the user to notice the lights easily, while the traditional placement above the NUM pad usually gets hidden away by the keycaps.
Keycap Font Design
It is interesting to see XANOVA chose to have Case Capital instead of ALL CAPS for command specific keys such as Tab, Caps Lock, Shift/Ctrl/Alt. The A is basically an inverted V just to go along with the XANOVA’s brand lettering. They could have used a better design for the ‘Q’ and the ‘G’ but nothing really to talk about (but I did!). Media keys bounded with function keys.
Memory Foam Wrist Rest
Most units that I’ve tested are with hard plastic wrist support, with fewer coming with a rubber surface on it. This is the first keyboard I tested to use memory foam with a rubber base. While I do appreciate it, it would have been nice to see its edges being stitched to prevent the cloth top to may come out in time. It is a very wrist pad, and while it is soft, it shouldn’t allow heaviest of users to sink their hands on them.
The underbelly has ample rubber grips, even on the pop-out feet. It does create enough friction on the granite and glass surface.
The ‘side skirts’ makes an illusion the keyboard has more steep, especially with the feet popped out.
They keycaps are ABS plastic. I am curious to know how motherboard makers like Motospeed CK108 and Glorious PC Gaming Race GMMK are providing ABS double shot keycaps. However, Motospeed uses the much cheaper Kailh switches, while the GMMK have multiple choices- with mine coming with the swappable Gateron switches.
Once upon a time, mechanical keyboard brands used metal balancers. While they’re still used, some keys with metal balancers create a different actuation sensation compared to shorter keys. With the introduction of plastic balancers used in keys like SHIFT and SPACE, the sensation is similar.
Switch Type/On-The-Fly Features
As you would have guessed it, it is sort of in the category where HyperX Alloy Elite and Corsair K70 RGB. There are differences between the three. The only additional switches on the XANOVA Magnetar RGB is the volume rocker and the toggle switches for the RGB and Volume. Corsair K70 has the mute on/mute off switch with the basic media keys. HyperX only has the basic Play/Fast Forward/Pause media keys on the HyperX Elite. They all offer Cherry MX switches, with Corsair having the option of LP variants.
The Toggle switches are great to have for people who want to adjust backlit’s brightness On-The-Fly. The mute on the Magnetar RGB works when you hold the volume button.
If you’re new, you should know we hardly talk about illumination effects PC peripherals and components have. While they do command a certain premium, at best we look at colour accuracy and brightness. The best way to understand its lighting choice’s accuracy is setting it to white as RGB lights need to manipulate with colour to mix and generate close enough white. In most cases, you won’t notice the tint. Some keyboards have a faded tint of other colours. The XANOVA Magnetar did that rather well unless you compared with a white-only backlit keyboard.
The XANOVA uses SMD LEDs with transparent housing in its switches. These are better since traditional LEDs are put over the switches’ housing and have solder stems soldered on the PCB. In time, we’ve seen such LEDs eventually die out because of the stress on those stems while actuating. Therefore, at times it requires re-soldering those contacts on the PCB. To be fair, Cooler Master uses some sort of a protection cap over such LEDs on the CK550, but I’ve seen SMD LEDs provide much better brightness level. Those caps do add an additional diffusing layer.
Why SMD LEDs soldered on PCB are a better option in the long term? SMD LEDs are directly soldered on the PCB, with the illumination coming through the transparent housing and diffused by the translucent keycaps.
I wasn’t able to find any utility on the Xanova to update the keyboard (if any). This was tested on the 13.0.0 version of its utility.
Back Light/Key Light
I am not sure why XANOVA has “Back Light” and “Key Light” options separately since the only difference is the manual colour selection option on the latter. As you can see, there are plenty of black light effect options to keep most people happy, while you can control these LEDs on the fly. The XANOVA uses a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 microcontroller.
I’ve noticed the keyboard gets confused between on-the-fly control options and the utility pre-selects. As a result, the LED lights shuts off randomly after dabbling between on-the-fly and software settings. While its unlikely people would do this, none of the mechanical keyboards with both on-the-fly controls and utilities have done anything like this. The only way I was able to reset that was either to unplug the keyboard or just close the XANOVA utility. Usually and preferably, on-the-fly keys/software utility take over on a last-used basis.
What I do love on the XANOVA utility is the ability to set profiles and the ability to disable or remap any switches. You can disable added combo keys such as ALT+TAB and ALT+F4. De-bouncing time can be adjusted. What I would have liked to see is the ability to switch between profiles on-the-fly. Cooler Master did that on the CK550 with alternate function embedded on the horizontal numerical area.
EQ is where you record and set your macros, delay times and input values.
Overall, the only complaint on the XANOVA Magnetar is the confusion of LED controls as mentioned earlier, which should be solved with a new driver or firmware. However, the utility should have onboard download/flash utility.