ROCCAT Horde AIMO Keyboard Review — Mechanical by Design
ROCCAT has promised to bring a new meaning to the word extra in the Horde AIMO Membranical RGB keyboard, but how true to their word are they? Let's find out
I’m quite the fan of ROCCAT, not just because they have “cat” in their company’s name and it sounds cool to try and say, but because I’ve always found their products to be of excellent quality. I was eager to receive and try out the ROCCAT Horde Aimo as I’m currently setting up a home office to work from, so I was passionately keyed up to tear off the packaging and throw it onto my new desk. The Horde Aimo is the big sister to ROCCAT’s previous keyboard, simply named Horde, and it’s available in grey, white and black and purchasable on Amazon.
I had never owned a mechanical gaming keyboard before, so this being my first time I had hoped that I would be blown away; however, initial reactions to mechanical keyboards can be jarring–and I fall into that category. As I was extracting the keyboard out of its box, it felt like I was pulling a great beast out from its lair but it was (otherwise) disappointingly tame. The design didn’t look nor feel very premium, but more archaic for such a new keyboard. Although it wasn’t very heavy, it was much bulkier than any of my previously owned keyboards. The ROCCAT Horde Comes into the keyboard wrestling ring weighing in at 1.1 kg / 2.42 lbs and 235 (L) x 530 (W) x 42 (H) mm.
When you think of wrist support, you imagine a piece of equipment that supports your wrists, right? That’s not usually something too far-fetched to assume. Unfortunately, with the Horde Aimo, I didn’t feel like I had this abutment. Thankfully, the wrist support is detachable and it does clip on and off with ease, but it wasn’t as comfortable as I hoped. The cold, plastic texture of the support did help keep my somewhat big hands reposeful while I typed, but I did have to take a few short breaks to do some wrist-rolls.
The issue here, in my opinion, is the lack of actual support. A soft padding material would have made the world of difference. I also found that with the “wrist support” attached, it took up a ton of room on my desk. Even if this was made smaller, the keyboard itself was unnecessarily large, so if you have a small to medium sized workstation, then you may have a hard time keeping this colossal keyboard sitting pretty. It seems like a continuing issue here with ROCCAT on maintaining a manageable size, as this concern was seen also in their Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard too.
The design that ROCCAT chose this time puzzled me as I found that there was a lot of starved space crying out to be made better use of around the periphery, hence adding to its bulky stature. It felt extremely busy for my liking with not enough spreading out of the buttons. The build is entirely plastic, but it does feature some stylish accents that do set it apart from a lot of standard looking keyboards, but I’m not a massive fan of its hard-plastic surface. The keycaps are also covered in a matte-black finish, which I did like the look of and it felt pleasant under my finger-tips. One issue I did notice was there is no USB passthrough or a USB hub available, which could be a make or break for some buyers looking to purchase this particular keyboard.
ROCCAT has introduced what it calls “membranical” keys – basically, they’re still membrane keys, but they have an extra layer that adds a tactile feel bringing the best of both worlds between the membrane and mechanical. Dissimilar to mechanical boards, where the keys are prorated, membrane solutions use full-size layers that catalog input when a key is pressed to create an electrical route between an upper and lower layer. I really enjoyed how it felt to type, it was crisp but not loud and soft but not too light that you were left wondering if you actually hit the key properly.
There are five macro keys on the left and on the upper-right side of the keyboard, there’s a long stretch of buttons and a massive dial, which I had initially thought was a volume turn-wheel, but oh no, this was a lot more sophisticated than that. This dial can control everything from media to the keyboard’s color scheme to the RGB backlighting’s brightness. The “Big Wheel,” as I like to call it, is the enforcer behind features like dpi, volume and zooming in and out. If like me you enjoy customizing whatever you can get your hands on, then this too can be used to do that. The dial is also fully compatible with Windows 10 dial functionality, making the Horde AIMO currently the first keyboard in the market with this feature.
There are individual buttons for volume, mic level, key brightness, lighting color, RGB effects, swapping between windows like the usual alt-tab press, and a user button. A straightforward press of these buttons allows the dial to control that function which makes ROCCAT complete geniuses on this aspect and where I’m left wondering why all keyboards don’t have this simplistic feature?
When it comes to the light show ROCCAT promises to ignite with the Horde Aimo, this is one of the areas they have fallen quite flat on, to my disappointment as I love a good firework display in my gaming gear. Under normal lighting, ROCCAT’s intelligent lighting system is very hard to see any light at all, the brightness is just far too dingy. It only really comes to life at night in its seemingly vampiric nature, but again even then it’s not very illuminated. A cool aspect though is that you can change the color scheme and RGB lighting via ROCCAT’s Swarm software, which is free to download.
Using the Swarm software is extremely simplistic. Here you can easily assign macros using the systems drag-and-drop feature. You can also change practically any key on the entire keyboard with ease using the Swarm software and also an option to assign weird sounds to keypresses since the typing is quite soft then this is the new evolved way to annoy anyone within listening distance or freak out your cat or dog. In this software, you have the endless possibility of choosing between 16.8m colors that are all customizable, but is this feature, in fact, useless when you almost need to sit in the dark to witness the wonder?
I believe ROCCAT have a great template with the Horde Aimo, something that could be amazing but isn’t quite there yet. I think if it was a little on the cheaper side, it wouldn’t feel like such a hard sell as it currently sits at $99 on ROCCAT’s website. All in all the ROCCAT Horde Aimo is a decent keyboard with some great features, feels satisfying to type on and the “big wheel” element is genius, but I would hold out on buying just yet as I think ROCCAT can and will do much better.
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