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GALAX XANOVA Magnetar RGB XK700 Mechanical Keyboard Review

  1. About the XANOVA Magnetar XK700…
  2. Keyboard and Utility Impressions
  3. End-User Experience and Conclusion
  4. Online Purchase Links
  5. View All

Disclosure: The Magnetar RGB XK700 keyboard is loaned by XANOVA, a peripheral sub-brand for GALAX.

The unit that I’ve been provided with is a pre-retail unit and the reps have notified that the problems shouldn’t exist in the retail variants. XANOVA assured that they will loan me the retail version of the keyboard to make the necessary alterations in this review. Therefore consider the cons as ‘face value’ until we make the changes. 

About the XANOVA Magnetar XK700…

XANOVA is a peripheral sub-brand for GALAX. This is the XANOVA Magnetar XK700 mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switch offerings. This is a full-set keyboard with the usual RGB offerings and a volume rocker buttons. As said in the earlier review, the peripheral market is overcrowded but it also seems to sell through whatever space any brands can get. Even with GALAX’s branding, XANOVA needs to stand out on its own, something that certain brand new offerings from established PC component makers were not able to establish. Remember when G Skills tried its hand with peripherals?

First, we need to know: How good is the Magnetar?

Packaging and Contents

The XANOVA Magnetar RGB comes in a thicc box. The packaging is missing an instruction manual and maybe a cover over the keyboard (or its meant not to have any). You get memory foam with rubber base with the keyboard.

In the back of the box, notice that there’s a typo- ‘weist’ instead of ‘wrist’.

Specification/ Features

Outlook Color Silver – Grey
Panel Material Aluminum
Switches Cherry MX
Key 107
Layout English (US)
Key Cap Color Black
Key Cap Type ABS
LED illuminated Yes
LED Color 16.8m color RGB
Input 1x USB 2.0 (Support 2.0/1.0)
N-Key Rollover Yes
OS Support Windows 7 32 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit, Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac OS 10.0-10.9
Programmable keys (Macro) Yes (With Software)
Dimensions (Keyboard) 465.8(L)mm*127.7(W)mm*44.5(H)mm
Dimensions (Palm rest) 447(L)mm*68(W)mm*19.8(H)mm
Weight (Keyboard) 938g
Weight (Palm rest) 80g
Product Code XK714C3RGABK2BBRG
EAN 4895147130071

This keyboard with the wrist rest shares similar weight as the Masterkeys Pro L. The Pro L has a metal frame internally to reinforce itself from bending in the mid-section, typically happening with full-size keyboards with pop-out feet.  The keyboard doesn’t seem to have visible gaming nomenclature anywhere (atleast visibly). The design and the integration of the grey/matte finish black colour combination are welcoming to the eyes.

Design Overview

XANOVA Magnetar RGB is Cherry MX only mechanical keyboards. Its a full-size keyboard with a soft wrist rest made of memory foam, fixed cable and RGB backlit effects with floating key design. The base of the keyboard is aluminum with branding on the ‘winged’ side skirts (typical aftermarket parts for cars) with rounded edges around the Z-Axis.

I am not sure why do we have fixed cables on mechanical keyboards, but to be fair the only full-sized Cherry MX keyboard to have removable cable is the Masterkeys Pro L. The cable has a paracord.

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.

Underbelly Area

The underbelly has ample rubber grips, even on the pop-out feet. It does create enough friction on the granite and glass surface.

Pop-Out Feet

The ‘side skirts’ makes an illusion the keyboard has more steep, especially with the feet popped out.

Keycap Type

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.

Balancers

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.

Illumination Impression

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 protective 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.

Utility Impressions

 

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 takes over on a last-used basis.

EQ

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.

Profile/Macros Tab

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.

The unit that I’ve been provided with is a pre-retail unit and the reps have notified that the problems shouldn’t exist in the retail variants. XANOVA assured that they will loan me the retail version of the keyboard to make the necessary alterations in this review. Therefore consider the cons as ‘face value’ until we make the changes. 

Cherry MX Blue’s clickity clacks…

Since this XANOVA Magnetar RGB keyboard uses Cherry MX Blue, it is going to be high up there. Naturally, other Cherry MX switches would have lower footprint.

Sound Profile

Of course, the base and keycap material resonates with the sound of the switches. The base plate of this keyboard is aluminium. As you would expect, the LED/Volume toggle switches are not mechanical.

XANOVA’s challenges

The main issue is market dominance depending on the region. XANOVA is GALAX’s peripherals sub-brand but prefers to have an independent branding, similar to what Gigabyte tries to do with AORUS. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. GALAX did have a HOF series keyboard. If they made plans to have a new sub-branding, we should see something very promising as an option to consider.

Availability

As of now, these keyboards are available in domestic eRetail sites- in a few Asian countries. Eventually, XANOVA would be available in a larger stage once it is able to set itself up in a majority of the countries. It makes sense to push XANOVA in countries where GALAX has a presence. And since it’s a good product, I don’t any real reason why you shouldn’t shortlist this option.

The XANOVA Magnetar’s listing is on sites from Singapore, HongKong and Malaysia. In a HongKong based eStore, this is sold for HKD$ 1099, which translates to USD 140.12. So roughly it comes a bit under INR 10,000/-. This is, of course, not considering factors like taxes and import charges products carry when imported by the distributor.

Additions and switching to Gateron

It needs the On-the-fly keys to switch between profiles. CM CK550 embedded this function with numbers 1-4. First four Fn keys could have been hotkeys for default applications- browser, calculator, Windows Explorer and default set media player. As an addition, XANOVA could work on a way to implement a mic mute option that works for both 3.5mm and USB mics, simply because nobody did it (or did it for 3.5mm outputs). Of course, added options like the mic mute might add into the cost. Remember, all of this is taken care of by a single 32-bit ARM controller.

XANOVA MAGNETAR RGB should have dedicated media controls (Play/Pause/Stop/Next/Previous Track) and use Gateron switches for an attractive fully-loaded keyboard. I’ve tested two Gateron switch based keyboards the GMMK and the CK550. Gaterons are cheap, but the build quality, actuation and reliability are equal to Cherry MX, based on my experience with the GMMK that I still have and various discussions in the Reddit forum.

To conclude…

The keyboard is good and I have no reservations to shortlist this for purchase. This is hardly surprising since screwing up a Cherry MX/Gateron keyboards would be a difficult task. The warranty is either one-year or two-year, depending on the country you’re buying it from. Ideally, it should be a two-year warranty irrespective of where its sold.

  • Ability to remap/deactivate any keys
  • LOCK LED Placements
  • Cherry MX
  • Memory foam wrist rest
  • Could have assigned the first four functions for Windows-specific applications
  • No ability to swap between profiles on-the-fly


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