Author Topic: Logitech G513 - my take on Romer-G tactile  (Read 4861 times)

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Offline BYTEME

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Logitech G513 - my take on Romer-G tactile
« on: Sat, 12 January 2019, 15:45:55 »
Be kind - new here and my first review is a questionable item ;-)

OK - I know the G513 isn't in the same class as most of what is discussed here ;-)  But being a Blinkenlights kind of guy the idea of a tastefully lit keyboard attracts me.  I'm not really a gamer - no disco setup on my workstation - and none of the 'backlit' keyboards available to date have really caught my eye...  I'm not really into the wash of light behind the keys, I want truly lit keycaps in a sea of black so they stand out legibly, with a tasteful font that doesn't scream 'gamer' .  So the whole idea behind the design of the Romer-G switches makes total sense to me - to get that effect you need to illuminate the keycap center while containing the light from spreading outward to adjacent keys.  The theory is sound to me.

Researching the Romer-G's, I was disappointed to learn most keyboard enthusiasts didn't care for them.  Of course things like this are personally subjective so nothing ventured nothing gained, and I put an Amazon coupon together with some Xmas cards and figured I'd try it for myself, ordering the Romer-G tactile version in an attempt to get as close to my favorite Cherry MX Browns.

So I open the box and even before the G513 is out of it's plastic bag I hit the keys and...  'meh'.  OK, that's not entirely fair - let's get it hooked up.  Plug the usb braided cable that seems thick enough to work as a backup for the transatlantic cable into the pc (apparently the lighting consumes enough power that in order to provide a courtesy usb socket on the back side of the kb requires separate wiring in addition to the one for the kb itself) and I am suddenly back on the 70's dance floor with a wash of color changing rainbow flowing across the kb.  OK - I guess Logitech has to visually impress to make you feel value for the $130 US they ask.  Though more distracting than anything else, I am impressed by the keycap lighting effect the Romer-G provides - the tasteful cap fonts are in fact beautifully lit with virtually zero light wash from behind.  Personally, THIS is the led lighting I have been looking for.

Now to install the Logitech Gaming Software to get things under control.  I'm struck by the need of a 123MB download to accomplish this, and yes it is in fact more bloated than needs to be focusing primarily on gaming than productivity.  In fairness, I recognize that my desires are likely not that of the target audience - this is marketed as a 'Gaming Keyboard' after all.  But soldering on - first things first, going through settings to disable a lot of the unseeded crap including something named ARX and Discord which apparently attempt to use the local network to sync lighting across other Logitech products I do not own, or similar gaming oriented apps for mobile devices.  All this time I'm typing on the kb trying to discover if I can live with the feel in order to enjoy the lighting...  not quite yet.

The LGS software is not truly required to use the keyboard, but it appears the only way to set the per-key rgb colors which can then be saved into one available user slot inside the kb controller.  Speaking of which, only a limited subset of the available effects can be stored locally - many seem to be actually controlled by the LGS software running in the background and so not able to be saved internally.  I won't go into a lot of detail on the software side right now as I really have little use for it - for now I have managed to save a static per-key layout within the kb itself which is fine by me atm.

At this point the key feel is a bit better - not perfect, but better.  I'm not sure if Logitech revised these switches over time, but I seem to recall reading many people felt the keypress was 'mushy'...  My initial impression is a discernible tactile bump - less so than the MX Brown, but still there - followed by a 'gritty' or 'scratchy' plunge to the bottom, hitting the plate with a solid clack.  I now understand that the Romer's will never be an MX, but can I get them acceptable - or even likable?  The answer - for me - is yes.  It took several hours, but after applying a tiny amount of teflon lubricant to the switch plunger, the grittiness has been minimized to the point I feel I can enjoy the experience.  I now feel I can use this kb and have fun doing it.

Obviously one major downside is that the keycaps are proprietary and as they seem to be coated ABS with lasered fonts they will not have the life of better materials, and who knows if replacements will become available.  I suspect that with the led keyboard market continuing to expand, and Logitech being a market leader for peripherals that there is a good chance some company will follow up in time.  But atm they feel good enough to enjoy - the coating used has some fine texture so are not the super slick plain ABS tends to be.

One rather odd design choice is the lack of a dedicated NumLock indicator - there are two leds (also color assignable) above the numpad to indicate CAPS and GAME modes (game mode basically locks out the Win keys and others as assigned by the software).  As a programmer, the available SDK provided by Logitech interests me and I hope to be able to write some code that changes the key colors based on the status - so that operation of capslock, numlock etc can be indicated by changing the lighting of those keys.  I'm sure this is possible as there already exists communication between applications and games to change the keys in real time.  But for Logitech to only provide 'on screen' indicators for this seems an odd choice.  I note many others have already suggested to Logitech to incorporate the numlock status to the game mode led, which they can probably do in a future firmware update (though I never expected my kb to require a firmware update lol).

The package also includes a rather nice 'leatherette' wrist rest - as others have mentioned in their reviews it is actually quite comfortable and I would honestly purchase one for work if they were sold seperately.  But I digress...

In the end, I've got the setup to have a nice fixed color layout that is saved in the kb memory so does not require any software running.  The G513 will never be a replacement for top shelf keybaords, but the lighting is imo the best available and it is certainly a major step up from junk rubber domes.  $130 seems rather high for what it is, especially when good quality rgb keyboards such as the CM Pro S/L RGB have dropped to $100 but the lighting is truly better on the Romer switches.  Had it not been for some accumulated Amazon credits that brought it down to $85 for me it would probably be on it's way back.  But $85 seems fair - the build quality is decent enough and when you turn off all the disco effects the appearance is tasteful and understated (if an led kb can be considered such).  The addition of a bit of teflon vastly improves the experience and I hope that continued use further polishes the switch plungers at which point they won't be that bad at all in the scheme of things.

EDIT -

Speaking of keycaps, I completely forgot that Omron seems to now be providing basically the same switches to other manufacturers including Das (aka Gamma Zulu X50 and they offer several keycap designs but all seemingly made from the same plastic material)...  It would not surprise me if this switch design takes off as it is superior in terms of lighting compared to existing alternatives - and perhaps the feel action even improved over time (Omron is a reputable company in the industrial sector).   The more companies using this switch the more likely some Chinese company is to begin stamping out replacement keycaps - hopefully some are decent enough in terms of quality.
« Last Edit: Mon, 14 January 2019, 15:28:26 by BYTEME »

Offline daerid

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Re: Logitech G513 - my take on Romer-G tactile
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 30 January 2019, 00:16:56 »
I have the K840 (the bare-bones version of the G513/G512/G413/etc...), and the G Pro keyboard. Recently I've fallen in love with Romer-G tactiles, however... they're much better on the G-Pro than the other style. IMO, Romer-G's really need a solid, heavier base to feel right. These models that Logitech are making that have are just a flat plate with a plastic back do not do the Romer-G's justice.

Hopefully they don't do away with the G Pro model in favor or a Tenkeyless version of the G513, that would be a travesty.

Offline Aelon

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Re: Logitech G513 - my take on Romer-G tactile
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 07 March 2019, 07:38:29 »
I would especially avoid Logitech keyboards having Omron switches because there are huge durability and reliability issues about those switches and the keycaps.

I had Logitech G810 at the start of 2017.
At first everything was OK. But as time passed, few months later, I realized that the small pins of keycaps begin to break and also cracks began to form in bigger pins of the the keycaps. Not only that but keyboard slowly but steadily started developing chattering issues on all over the keys. Double press/chatter issues were all over the board. Altough, situation was still controllable or "tameable" by using some programs from the software side but after a while unfortunately chattering problem evolved into misclicks and misregisters and that was the point nothing can be done anymore and had to completely abandon using that keyboard. It was so bad that everyday I was treating multiple chattering or misregistering keys with alcohol... After the treatment, they were working fine for a few hours or days and the issue keeps recurring again. And because of broke pins, some keycaps were so loose that when I turn the keyboard upside down they were falling to the ground. Heck some keycaps even popped out from their sockets a few times while I was typing. In 2 years of usage, the keyboard was almost wrecked completely. I took a note on chattering and/or misregistering keys. In the end there were a total of 32 "misbehaving" keys.

Unfortunately the switches and keycaps used in G810, G910 and G410 are almost no different than the G513. And unfortunately G910 and G410 also suffer from same issues.

Here is the state of 2 of my keycaps. (I haven't checked all of them but most of them are more or less in this state)





It is a shame that Logitech still goes on producing new defective keyboards with Omron switches and keycaps, most probably knowing that they will share the same fate in 1 or 2 years like my G810 with steady moderate usage...

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Logitech G513 - my take on Romer-G tactile
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 08 March 2019, 16:06:37 »
Optical switches are really great, but the time comes when you can't find replacement keycaps! That's the thing about them. I just wish that they'd make replacement ones. They could make a lot of money off of those.