The future of mechanical keyboards looks bright, as more and more advances in this peripheral are brought out with each iteration. Roccat answers the challenge of innovation with their newest peripheral, the Vulcan 120 AIMO, armed with a new in-house switch, thin half-cap keys to show off the switch housing, and AI-powered lighting. How good is it? This is our review of the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO.
- MSRP: $159.99
- Key Switches: Roccat Titan Switches
- Actuation Distance: 1.8mm actuation point (tactile, silent)
- Actuation Force: 45g
- Key Travel: 3.6mm switch travel distance
- Onboard Memory: Yes, 512kb integrated macro & settings memory
- Programmability: Macros, Lighting, All keys remappable
- ROCCAT® Easy-Shift[+]™ technology
- 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor
- Cable: Braided 1.8m USB cable
- Response Rate: 1000Hz polling rate
- Software: ROCCAT® Swarm software suite
- Illumination: AIMO-enabled, RGB per-key illumination with 16.8m colors
- Accessories: Removable ergonomic palm rest
- Dimensions: 462mm x 235mm x 32mm dimensions
- Weight: 1150g
Roccat came out of the gates swinging with their new flagship Vulcan line. The Vulcan 120 AIMO has many familiar features, which were previously included in former models. It comes with fully programmable RGB lighting, which is controlled through Roccat Swarm software, and mechanical key switches, which have become a staple for these devices. The Vulcan line comes in three versions: the Vulcan 80, the Vulcan 100 AIMO, and the Vulcan 120 AIMO we’re reviewing today. The 80, being the most basic of the line, is without the volume wheel, and has only single-color illumination. The 100 AIMO and the 120 AIMO have two main differences: the 120 has a magnetic wrist rest, which is very comfortable, and is a Best Buy exclusive at this time.
It doesn’t matter which model you choose, each of them will give you the same high-quality performance that you expect from Roccat. When it comes to constructing they started with a brushed aluminum top plate. The rear and sides are plastic and have long rubber pads to keep it in place on your desktop. Even though the Vulcan is very thin, it still boasts a sturdy construction with little to no keyboard flex, even when you really press down hard, and I have. It has a very familiar feel to it, even when typing, and it took very little time to get comfortable using the Vulcan.
We haven’t even talked about the RGB functionality yet, which says a lot about its appeal and construction. It looks very modern and even futuristic with how they constructed the face, and how the switches are exposed allowing you to see the inner housing of each key. Not only do the half-caps look good with their “floating key” design, it gives you a really good sense of how the RGB lighting works. The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is one of the most interesting keyboards I have ever used.
When it comes to items normally on a keyboard, we take a quick look at how the overall key and indicator locations are. All of the keys are where you would expect them to be, however, the indicator lights are shifted below the number pad. The indicator lights also now have a Game Mode LED to show when you are taking advantage of that feature on the keyboard.
So if the indicators are on the bottom, then what’s on top? The new volume knob, volume mute, volume up and FX buttons. I plugged this board in and the first thing I did was test the volume wheel. It worked well and I use it if for those moments in a game where you need a quick adjustment, and you really don’t have time to go into settings to make the change.
When it’s all said and done, however, you just want a keyboard that is going to respond well in games, and that’s easy to type on. Great news for you keyboard enthusiasts, the Vulcan line is the first to feature Roccat’s new Titan key switches. It is worth noting that these switches were developed in-house by Roccat specifically for the Vulcan keyboards. They are a very tactile key switch not too far off from the Cherry MX Brown switches, meaning you feel a little bit of a “bump” when they key activates. This feature is a little more evident when you really take the time to focus on it but feels great and exceptionally responsive.
Roccat’s 100 and 120 Vulcan also feature their new intelligent lighting system, AIMO. AIMO has promised to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to adapt the lighting to the way you play. Using the AIMO system you will see unique pulsing lights always in motion across your keyboard that seems random at most times. The base colors out of the box include, green, blue, and a red/orange mixture, and these are cool by themselves but not indicative of the AI promised to us in AIMO.
So where does the AIMO come into play? After you download Roccat Swarm software for your computer and turn on the AIMO setting, you will begin to see its magic. The colors shift and change in random and different ways that feel random yet reactive, sending cures of light out from your keystrokes.
After weeks of using the keyboard, it is hard for me to see a discernable pattern to the AIMO settings, but I am continuing to test and play with it so that I can truly see it at work. With each keystroke, you will see how the lighting behind the pushed keys will change as you push them, and then all of a sudden an explosion of color shoots out across the keyboard and the rainbow of colors that is left behind is a beautiful thing. When you stop pressing the keys it returns to its more laid back gradually pulsing colors.
The software is supposed to be adaptive, and it most likely is. The only thing I can say for sure is, just like my favorite character from Star Trek, Mr. Data, artificial intelligence takes time to learn and adapt to its ever-changing environment. I am sure with time I may see more of a pattern to the lighting of the keyboard and I will definitely keep it in mind when using my games going forward.
Aside from the AI settings, there are a few other color settings if you feel like having a more traditional lighting scheme for your keyboard, such as breathes, ripples, and rainbow waves that are all customizable. You can also set your own lighting scheme to really make it your own.
The Vulcan 120 is one of the best keyboards I have used, and the best keyboard Roccat has made to date. For $159.99, it’s a very high-end keyboard competing against the likes of Razer, Logitech, and other peripheral companies. It stands out as a unique keyboard, and Roccat definitely wanted to expand the peripheral market and refused to come out with a “more of the same” attitude. We don’t know how well the AI functionality works with the keyboard in the long-term yet but I will try to update this review with more details as I find them. I would definitely recommend this keyboard as the top choice for gamers everywhere.
- Titan Switches feel great and are very tactile
- Unique aesthetic
- Lighting is bounds above the rest in uniqueness
- Typing is easy and gaming responsive
- Unsure of the true impact of AIMO AI
- Unnecessary extra volme buttons
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.