In this post, I aim to give an objective review of Thermaltake’s Poseidon-Z Illuminated brown switch keyboard. It is a “budget friendly” entry level mechanical keyboard. Since this post is intended for an audience that is currently shopping for a mechanical keyboard, I will assume you are familiar with what a mechanical keyboard is and why some people prefer them. To review, mechanical keyboards have switches that come in three main styles. Most keyboard switches have the brand name prefix “Cherry MX”, which are often preferred because they have been continually improved over the decades. Think of other names like “Kailh” as a generic (they are Chinese made). There are three main styles of switches: red, blue, and brown. “Red”, has a linear resistance keystroke. “Blue” has a variable amount of tactile feedback depending on how far down the keystroke is, and has a “bump” immediately before the key press. Blues are also louder but are supposedly better for quick and accurate typing because it is easier to learn the proper keystroke force. “Brown” switches are considered a middle ground between Reds and Blues. See this PCgamer article for more detailed information on switches.
While the Poseidon-Z is backlit illuminated blue, it can come with Kailh Blue or Kailh Brown switches. The model I am writing this review on uses Kailh Brown switches. I will evaluate the product on three main dimensions: price, functionality, and design/aesthetics.
Price – 4/5
This is, in my opinion, the most important factor. There tend to be some products in this market that are horrendously overpriced, and that oftentimes correlates positively with how many times “RGB” occurs on the product page. Fortunately this is not one of those products. You can buy it on most major sites for around $75 USD, and occasionally find it on sale for $50-60. Compared to other products, you can’t beat this price. You may find refurbished/compact Corsair or Razer products around this price point. You may even find lesser known brands under this price point (but you’ll pay for it in the long run). For a backlit mechanical keyboard with a 5 year warranty, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value deal. Remember, if you buy any hardware and it breaks after 2 years and find yourself out of warranty, you’re paying twice as much. A good warranty on products whose failure rate is non-negligible is an important deciding factor (as you’ll see).
Functionality – 2/5
Out of the box, everything worked as I expected it to. There is a dedicated button which locks the Windows key, preventing accidental presses from bringing you out of full screen applications. You may adjust the brightness of the LEDs. The bottom side has a groove etched into it where you can snap the USB cord into place so that it comes out on either the left or the right side (while also allowing it to be placed flush against the desk). It has solid stands to pitch the keyboard at an angle without having to worry about them breaking. The keys, although a little louder than I expected, worked well. For the first 6 months.
One day I found myself typing something, say “music”, and it came out as “mmmusic”, or even “usic”. Whoa, did not expect that. I ignored it until it started to happen with increasing frequency, with an accompanying metallic ping noise. Typing “from bs4 import BeautifulSoup” became “fromm bs4 import BeautifulSoup”. SyntaxError: invalid syntax. Ok, I can’t ignore this anymore. Initiated an RMA with the manufacturer (twice), described the issue, got a shipping label and sent it back in the box it came in. A week or so later I got what appeared to be a brand new keyboard of the same kind. Opened it up and hooked it up and was surprised at the satisfyingly crisp button presses. The difference in the quality was so drastic I thought I had received a newer model. Fast forward to just a few months ago, where I’m doing some calculations on the num pad: “.000325 x 575” came out as “.00000325 x 575” – huh? This led to some head scratching. The numpad still malfunctions like this, making numpad style calculations impossible. If i want to do calculations, I’m better off swapping in my generic HP keyboard that came with my old desktop from 2010. At least I won’t have to type everything with a zero two or three times that way.
Design and Aesthetic – 5/5
I can’t really think of anything negative for the price you pay. Usually products that are less costly are nothing special to look at, and occasionally are an eye sore. The Poseidon-Z is compact, sleek, and has a solid feel to it. Some keys are a little smaller than normal (see the left shift key), but nothing that was hard to get used to. The keyboard leaves plenty of room for other things on your desk like speakers, mice, monitors. . . Desk space is a resource! With the blue LEDs, it looks good. In the dark, it looks great. I am a fan of this keyboard’s design and appearance.
Conclusion – 3.66/5
This is a great keyboard, don’t get me wrong. It is just unfortunate that I had two different keyboards malfunction in exactly the same way. And that malfunction was a major one that impeded the main function of a keyboard: to translate the user’s keystrokes to the computer accurately. From that I must conclude that there is a problem with the way the keyboard typically functions. That, or my experience with two independent samples was merely a statistical anomaly (but I really don’t think so). This may not be a problem for you if all you need the keyboard for is casual gaming. But if your job or hobby requires you to type accurately, then this is a deal breaker. If you feel you belong to the latter, then I would recommend keeping your cheapo keyboard or spending more on a high quality German made product. I hope Thermaltake fixes the issue in production or part selection that results in keys going bad prematurely. The keyboard is supposed to be rated for 50 million keystrokes. If that worry is resolved, I don’t see any reason why this mechanical keyboard can’t be a solid 4, if not a 5 star product.