This article first appeared in HWM Oct 2011.
Thermaltake is a brand commonly identified with computer chassis, coolers, and PSUs. Due to aggressive demand for gamer-centric equipment such as keyboards and mice, Thermaltake spawned Tt eSPORTS, a sub-brand specifically catering to gamers.
First showcased in Cebit in early March 2011, the Meka mechanical gaming keyboard has been designed and constructed to incorporate the popular “Cherry Black Switch”, which allows for up to 50 million key strokes in each key’s lifetime.
Mechanical keyboards have, in the recent years, become highly sought after, as they are typically assembled out of better quality materials, using individual key switches to register each key stroke, significantly cutting down on response time. Better durability and reliability are common too, as compared to rubber dome or membrane keyboards, which use inexpensive, mass-produced components which also don’t last as long.
The Meka utilizes the Cherry MX Black key-switches, which are linear (non-tactile) switches. These are considered one of the best switch types for gaming; since the gamer is likely to “bottom out”, having a tactile “bump” is not beneficial at all. Double tapping is a breeze as compared to any other key switch. Additionally, the high actuation force of the keys may reduce the chance of accidentally tapping on them.
The Meka offers two integrated USB ports, eight rubber pads, and two elevation adjusters. However, it lacks the backlighting most gaming keyboards include, except for the partially lit “Caps”, “Num Lock”, and “Scroll Lock” keys when they're executed, making it impractical to operate in a dimly lit place like a LAN shop, or your bedroom with the lights turned out. Also, because of the unconventional layout of the keys on the Meka, using it at first proved to be not only cumbersome and inconvenient, but also frustrating, especially without the one obvious missing staple: the “Windows” shortcut key. Furthermore, the “Num Lock” key has to be disabled in order to make use of the “Home” and “End” keys. The red strip located on either side of the keyboard serves no purpose other than to jazz up the Meka’s otherwise dull-looking frame.
Clearly, the Meka is not engineered for the regular typist, as the absence (or repositioning) of many function keys are far from ideal for daily tasks. Nevertheless, once accustomed to, the Meka does suffice for most gaming conditions, even without the fanciful fluff like programmable keys or on-the-fly macro recording. Connected via USB, it sports an anti-ghosting feature for up to 16 keys.
At S$179, the Meka isn't exactly what we'd call cheap, though it does come with a very decent gaming-oriented feature-set (Cherry MX Black switches, USB hub, braided cable, anti-ghosting). For something closer to the S$100 mark, you can check out the Rosewill RK-9000BL; naturally for that price, it comes with even fewer bells and whistles.