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August 30, 2013

Armaggeddon Stealth Raptor MKA-7 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


Since my last review of the Armaggeddon Black Hornet MKA-3, I haven't been seeing anything new in Armaggeddon's product lineup. It was only by chance that I saw this new baby on the shelves, fancy that!.... gave a call to Armaggeddon and within a few days I am checking out the all new Stealth Raptor MKA-7 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.



The Stealth Raptor comes into the market at RM499 (MSRP) but I found that you could get it cheaper in retail stores (for about RM450-ish). This places it in rivalry of other top branded mechanical keyboards... I thought Armaggeddon is supposed to emphasize on affordability? Unlike the previous flagship Black Hornet, the Stealth Raptor is a full-sized 104-keys keyboard with a choice of 4 types of Cherry-MX switches available. Coming in at the same price should mean a better value since the Stealth Raptor looks to have more features as well.

Here are the features straight off from the website:

  • Available In Red, Blue, Black and Brown Cherry MX Mechanical Switches
  • High quality Cherry MX switches and long life up to 50 million operations
  • 3 segments total 104 mechanical switches built-in with backlight effects.
  • Unique “Maldives Blue” LED backlight
  • 6 fully Macro-AbleTM keys
  • Adjustable keys effective time in 7 speed transmission from 1ms ~ 16ms
  • Adjustable polling rate: 125Hz/250Hz/500Hz/1000Hz
  • Multimedia keys with built-in program
  • Adjustable keys response time
  • Adjustable backlighting effects on keyboard button
  • Characteristic keycaps for WASD and arrow keys
  • Gaming mode option for deactivation of windows key
  • 1.8 meters multiflex cord wrapped with ultra-durable cable jacket.
  • 1 Megabyte Built-in onboard memory
  • USB cord management system design for your convenience
Packaging

The Stealth Raptor comes in an overall black box with gold / yellow accents. The front featured the keyboard itself with big rugged styled text depicting the name. A small window reveals the directional keys for users to test before making their purchase. Some features of the Stealth Raptor were also highlighted around the window for quick reference.


The back contains a plethora of information in regards to the Stealth Raptor. Every feature, every switch, their actuation weights, keyboard i/o layout, even a small specification in multiple languages are all stuffed at the back. It feels a bit too 'crowded' to be honest. Armaggeddon could do well with a map of the keyboard's layout.

The sides are further inscribed with the contents and specifications of the Stealth Raptor while the two end flaps have the usual Armaggeddon logo and branding.

The Unboxing



Everything slides out from the side flap encased in a plastic shell, and in the box you'd find the Stealth Raptor keyboard, instruction manual, driver mini-CD, a bag of silver replacement caps with key puller and replacement rubber feet.


I am glad that they finally decided to include the key puller, absolutely essential for 1st time owners in my opinion but Armaggeddon stuck to providing silver keycaps which has little function aside from changing the colours; Would've been nice if they are textured or has some unique properties that would make the keycaps special. The package is also missing a wrist rest; I actually loved the wrist rest that came with the Black Hornet MKA-3, not too sure why they didn't include that this time around.

The Keyboard



The Stealth Raptor MKA-7 is heavy and built like a tank with no flex to it. the layout is standard QWERTY. Matte black and fingerprint proof they keys are what you would expect from a good gaming keyboard today. The slanted area below the spacebar seems like some sort of a wrist rest, it's not obtrusive but not a lot of use being there.


We have the blue version under the keycaps.


Compared to my trusty Logitech G510, the Stealth Raptor has a slightly smaller footprint and brighter LEDs at that. Though I'd say that the packaging mislead me to believe that the Stealth Raptor will have uniform Maldives-blue LED lighting instead of the permanent orange LED on some parts.


Cabling is said to have "ultra-durable cable jacket" which looks like a normal cable, honestly, I was expecting some sort of special braided cable. This terminates to a USB plug and 3.5mm audio jacks for the audio passthroughs on the Stealth Raptor.



The USB and audio pass-through are placed conveniently at the side of the Stealth Raptor and right above them are two smaller buttons and a dial.

I like the idea of the behind the combination. By default, the dial would serve as the LED brightness and mode controller (brightness level adjustment, off, gaming lights and pulse), the buttons? not so much for them to do until an audio jack is plugged in then you'd find the dial functioning as a volume controller; you could still control the brightness and mode of the LED by pushing the light button then.

Neat feature? oh yes, but it could do with more robust button and dial like the rest of the mechanical keys. They feel mushy and the dial is a sorry excuse of one to take up space on any mechanical keyboard of this caliber. The LED function may also be controlled with the Fn+Scrl Lock keys to switch between the modes mentioned above.


The underside of the Stealth Raptor looks very similar to their Black Hornet, cable management channel up at the top part, two rubberized raisers at the two upper corners and four grippy rubber feet at the lower part keeps the Stealth Raptor from sliding around when you're busy gaming. In the center is a sticker that tells the users which Cherry-MX switch is on the keyboard, serial number and the warranty expiry.

The Driver Software


The software driver of the Stealth Raptor is very straightforward, 4 tabs with the usual Armaggeddon themed colours and "OK", "Apply" and "Cancel" buttons at the bottom right.


Atypical of Armaggeddon's software you will land on the "Home Base" screen upon first run of the driver software. Nothing you can do here other than read the badges and admire the military themed background, though clicking cancel will close the window.


In the Button Settings tab Nearly all keys (Windows, Function, F1 to F12, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Insert, Home, End, Delete, Page Down and Page Up keys being the exceptions) can be programmed to other keystrokes. All you have to do is to click on the keys you wanna re-program, type the alternative keystroke and click on apply. A total of 5 different profiles is available for users to program a truckload of combinations to the Stealth Raptor. Profile indicator is still missing though so one would still need to look at the software to see which one is active.



Six Macro keys can be programmed at the third tab... wait.. where are the macro keys you ask? they are right above the arrow-keys. Yup that's right, the Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down are also macro keys M1 to M6 and are only active in Gaming Mode (Fn+Prnt Scrn). These can be programmed to do multiple keystrokes, particularly useful of you're doing a combo in an MMO or action game. If games are not your thing, these can be set to other functionalities such as media keys, windows command keys, shortcuts or simply turned off.

Placement of the macro keys here are a bit weird but I suppose those of you who are into MMO and strategy games will be pleased having them there rather than off to the far left side of the keyboard. The Stealth Raptor also allows users to swap the ASDW keys to the arrow keys with ease (Fn+Windows key).


Finally the Advanced setting tab allows you to set the Polling rate (125Hz to 1000Hz), turn the Windows key on/off, set the key response time and light intensity.

Conclusion

As with other Cherry-MX blue switch keyboards, using the Stealth Raptor takes you back to the early days of computing. Keystrokes are smooth and responsive in both gaming and typing which is expected from a decent mechanical keyboard. If you don't like blue switches, you could opt for either Red, Brown or Black variety. The Stealth Raptor is solidly built and with a 2-year limited warranty gives users a piece of confidence in their purchase.

But the Stealth Raptor is far from being the perfect keyboard. As much as I liked the feel of the keys, Armaggeddon could do away with the orange LED backlit on the gaming zone. It'll probably look sharp with all the LEDs being Orange too. Audio and USB passthroughs are indeed a welcomed inclusion but I wish Armaggeddon had implemented a more decent control button and a larger click-dial for the sound and lighting adjustments; the idea behind it is a good one though. Then there is the cable, just weave-braid it will do.

Pros:
  • Built like a tank
  • Fingerprint-proof
  • Selection of MX-Cherry mechanical keys
  • USB and Audio pass-throughs
  • Multiple profile switching with onboard memory
Cons:
  • Needs to rethink on the Orange LED
  • Mushy sound/light button & dial
  • No wrist-rest, slanted area below spacebar is not necessary
  • Seems to be too pricey to compete in the local market

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