The Roccat Ryos MK Pro mechanical gaming keyboard conspicuously lacks one of the most common ‘features’ of many keyboards—but if you love feature-rich mechanical gaming keyboards (and who doesn’t?) the Roccat Ryos MK Pro is a standout in its class.
Better still, if you love mechanical keyboards but you’re picky about switch types, there’s a Ryos model for each of the common mechanical switches (red, brown, blue, and black) used in gaming keyboards.
The Roccat Ryos sports all the common—and most important—features of a good high-end gaming keyboard, and ups the ante by tossing a few extras, such as ‘per key’ LED lighting so you can light up or turn off individual keys or key clusters. The Ryos MK Pro also sports not just one, but two built-in 32-bit ARM microprocessors so the Ryos can offload the (not) arduous task of monitoring your keyboard from the operating system—which provides virtually no measurable, real-world benefit but makes for a nice bullet point on a feature list.
Speaking of features, here they are:
Roccat Ryos MK Pro features
- Per-key illumination to enable individual keys or clusters of keys to light independently of each other.
- Available in 4 mechanical switch types: Red, Brown, Blue, and Black (Note: The review unit was based on Brown switches).
- 8 dedicated programmable macro keys (M1-M5, T1 – T3)
- Easy-shift[+] to assign a secondary function to virtually any key.
- N-key rollover, i.e. anti-ghosting
- 2 x 32-bit arm cortex processors + 2 MB of flash memory
- Roccat achievements: The MK Pro awards achievements to track meaningless statistics. It also talks to you
- Glossy but smudge-resistant plastic construction
- Audio in/out
- 2x USB 2.0 ports
- Integrated wrist rest. Not necessarily a feature.
The Roccat MK Pro is quite similar to Razer’s also excellent BlackWidow Ultimate gaming keyboard, with the numerous extras that one-up (or two or three-up) the BlackWidow, if only by a slight margin.
In addition to the previously mentioned enhanced LED lighting and built-in microprocessors, the Ryos also offers 3 more dedicated macro keys (T1-T3, positioned below the spacebar) than Razer’s BlackWidow.
Three extra macro keys are a worthwhile addition. Although 5-6 dedicated macro keys are enough for FPS and action games, I frequently want more—particularly for games with complex voice emote trees (such as Hi-Rez Studios F2P (free to play) MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) SMITE, and their online FPS (first person shooter) Tribes—both personal favorites). RPGs (Role Playing Games) and RTS (Real-time strategy) games such as Starcraft 2—any game that has extensive keyboard shortcuts really—can also benefit from macros.
Shift into gear
In addition, Roccat’s “Easy Shift” technology effectively doubles your macro keys—and more—by enabling a Shift key feature so you can assign a main macro and an “alt macro” to a key.
You can also use this capability to assign a macro to virtually any key on the keyboard—for example, if you want CTRL+W to run a macro, you can create one for it. (On a side note, if you know someone with a Roccat Ryos MK Pro there are probably some outstanding practical jokes you can play using this feature.)
Roccat’s Easy Shift is a useful and appreciated feature, although perhaps not quite as innovative or unique as it sounds. For example, Razer’s Synapse software (which powers the BlackWidow and other Razer peripherals) will let you assign a macro to virtually any key or key combination on the keyboard.
Rounding out the Ryos MK Pro’s useful features are some less useful (but still neat) ones.
The talking driver feature—whereby the keyboard talks to you and awards achievements, can (believe it or not) actually be useful for other things. For example, it will also walk you through recording a macro using the keyboard only and not the driver software.
It can also audibly count down the last 5 seconds of a (fully customizable) countdown timer—so you can, for example, create a countdown timer for an ability cooldown in a MOBA, and the Ryos will actually count down out loud the last 5 seconds (“5, 4, 3, 2, 1”). You can trigger the countdown manually by assigning it to a key press, or potentially assign it to keys used trigger instant-cast abilities.
And if the notion of a talking keyboard is still annoying to you, you can turn off “the voice of Roccat”.
The Ryos per-key illumination is an interesting feature that enables you to enable/disable specific key clusters or just individual keys. It’s a neat feature, but one I admittedly don’t find any useful, real-world application for.
Dedicated microprocessors are supposed to alleviate the operating system of having to deal with your keyboard driver’s overhead. It’s nice in theory, but in this era of 3Ghz+ multi-core PCs, the real-world benefit is negligible.
The MK Pro also lets you create LED macros to trigger a sequence of on/off LEDs, and Roccat generously includes a software SDK in case you’re inclined to use this feature to do really cool stuff that only a programmer could do—like making the lighting act as a visual mana bar.
It’s a neat party trick, but I have no idea why you’d want to do that aside from the cool-factor.
Roccat’s driver software is a little “busy” and could use a little streamlining from a UI (user interface) perspective, but it’s still relatively elegant and provides a powerful feature set that matches or eclipses most other keyboards in its class. However, I did experience some buggy behavior with the software. For example, I opened an existing macro to edit a timing delay, but no matter what I changed the delay to it continually reset itself back to its original value. Another missing (if relatively minor) feature is the ability to assign a default time delay -- you can record delays, edit delays, or not record delays, but you can't assign a standard delay.
Overall: 5/5 stars
The Roccat Ryos MK Pro feels (and sounds) great under the fingertips, but this feature-loaded beast doesn't come cheaply at around $160-$170. Regardless, it’s pretty telling when the biggest criticism I can really level against a gaming keyboard is that it deprives me of adding another detachable wrist rest to my collection. The Roccat Ryos MK Pro may be a big fat desktop hog, but it’s a fat cat that’s worth every penny and every square inch it consumes.