Next Gen RGB: Element Keyboard Review

WhirlWind FX was kind enough to give me a test/review product for their newest release in the Element Keyboard. I was pretty hardstuck into my old Corsai K70 boards of the past, but I have been wanting more and more to dabble into the lighter side of custom keyboards. Element seemed like a perfect place to start as I wanted to start with a reliable RGB driven board to customize the look of via custom keycaps. I just wanted to make a clean looking board that popped with color and had some style behind the customization, and Element was perfect for this.

The board itself is relatively minimalistic but feels and looks very well crafted with an “aircraft-grade, anodized brushed frame”. It touts a small form factor especially for a full 101 key set. The bezzles are trimmed and tight with the lateral sides having a sleek slope which helps to accentuate the brushed aluminum. It’s just one of those tiny things you notice and appreciate when it comes to build quality in a keyboard. Speaking of build quality, it’s sturdy relying on a good amount of pressure to get any real flex out of it, but realistically when would you ever just be pushing into the center of the keyboard?

As of right now you have the options between Khail Linear Reds or Sticky Blues, with more switch types to be available later on. These are set with a 70 million keystroke lifespan so they shouldn’t be shitting the bed on anyone any time soon. Outside of the board just being visually striking with its sleek design and flashy RGB, WhirlWind took their Element keyboard to the next level with their open platform lighting software, Signal. You have your basic array of RGB settings and can customize each key individually, but the real core behind it comes from their ability to replicate the actions being displayed on your monitor in real time onto the keyboard. Some of the larger companies are capable of doing this through proprietary means with specific game publishers, however Element has developed a system to circumvent all of that. It can detect and recognize moments in game that can be reflected on the keyboard itself. Timothy Sun the CEO and Founder showed me hands on how it worked at PAX East and it genuinely seems like the next step forward in keyboard integration for gamers. You can be drinking a shield pot in FortNite and the Element Keyboard reacts to by showing the whole board turn blue and drain from left to right as you finish it in game. The open platform nature of it allows accessibility to anyone familiar with HTML5 and Javascript Canvas coding experience to design their own settings to use and share with others. The best example I can think of would be the creation and sharing of Stream Layouts in Streamlabs OBS except for the reactive visual use of your Element Keyboard.

My Finished Custom Set

Cons:

I wanted to start with the Cons first just because the Element Keyboard is so new and the Signal Software is constantly being updated so some of these issues very well could be resolved sooner rather than later. Since I had the board before release, I ran into a few boot up issues where the board wouldn’t recognize my PC turning back on and I would need to unlpug and replug the USB in to reset it. There has been a patch recently to help with this however, it has happened once since. It isn’t anything huge, just a minor annoyance that will inevitably be fixed with another patch. The Signal software is easy enough to navigate, but for those becoming more newly accustomed to custom RGB settings, it may take some time to get a feel for. One very tiny point, the stock ABS keycaps are serviceable. I prefer the more matte feel of PBT caps and the full black ABS hinder what is the most visually appealing part of the board in its RGB. The first thing I did was order a set of double shot puddin shine through keycaps and it emphasizes how gorgeous this board truly is 10 fold. As of right now on their site, you can preorder a very similar if not the same set of keycaps I ordered and trust me you will want to get them to fully utilize the RGB. Because the board is so minimalistic in form, there are now set media keys so you are reliant on the Function key for all of this. On top of that, it is incredibly difficult to find dedicated double shot PBT keycaps for media keys let alone puddin style ones, so I had to order a seperate set of JUST media keys and I sanded off the lower 2/3rds to help match the rest. So, Whirlwind, if you are listening, Double Shot Puddin PBT keycaps for the F5-F12 Media keys.

F7-F12 Media Keys sanded to match

Pros:

I know the cons section seemed long but in reality the few issues I had with the board were either minor or just personal preferences. Not a single one of those cons can take away from how wonderful this board has been to use for the past few months. I think I’ve said it 4 times already but you’ll hear it again, the Element Keyboard is gorgeous. The sleek design, the small form factor, and the vibrant RGB make for an RGB fanatic’s wet dream. The Signal software is revolutionary and takes immersion to a level no other company is able to replicate as openly or consistently. The software literally can render what is happening on your monitor and replicate the color scheme in real time on your keyboard. You will have access to download shared game specific features designed by others in Signal as well, so the more active creators get, the more everyone can use them. The board is light enough to use for travel compared to the other bulkier full 101 boards on the market. I don’t know if this is breaking news, but I was informed that they will also be venturing into the 60% realm this year as well, so if you want an even smaller board with pop to it stay tuned. It is also very reasonably priced on sale right now for 99$, giving more bang for your buck compared to some of the competition. All in all, WhirlWind FX’s Element Keyboard is a beautifully deigned, well implemented, RGB focused mechanical keyboard with a fleshed out and potentially deep software in place for future customization. It very quickly and very easily replaced my previous Corsair K70 LUX and will be my go-to gaming keyboard for the foreseeable future….maybe until they release their 60% board.

WhirlWind FX’s Element Keyboard

4.5 Blue Shield Pot Animations out of 5

Dr. Bob
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Dr. Bob

Friendly Neighborhood physicist who just so happens to enjoy drinking 12 beers and playing videogames all night. Always streaming at Twitch.tv/WickedGoodGaming

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