Tt eSports Meka G1 Thermaltake and Tt eSports Meka G1 gaming subdivision, Tt eSports, enjoy skirting extremes—even where usually unexciting keyboards are concerned. In December we looked at the company’s Challenger Gaming Keyboard Pro ($69.99 list, 3.5 stars), a traditional take on the kind of keyboard aimed at die-hard FPS lovers. Now we meet the Meka G1 ($139.99 list), loaded with hefty construction and serious mechanical key switches that address concerns of diminished functionality once game windows are closed. But its refreshed focus paradoxically results in the loss of the features one typically associates with gaming keyboards. Don’t mind the lack of lights, digital displays, or macro keys? Then the Tt eSports Meka G1 is for you. Otherwise, your search for the ideal blend of typing convenience and fragging efficiency does not end here.
Still, it’s unheard of to see so much attention paid to something other than the bling on a gaming keyboard. In stature and overall feel, the Meka G1 more closely resembles the Das Keyboard($129.99 direct, 4.5 stars) than the Challenger. Measuring about 1.6 by 16.9 by 6.3 inches (HWD) and weighing about three pounds, it’s highly sturdy, but doesn’t take up an obscene amount of space on your desk. (Attaching the included palm rest will increase the depth by a couple of inches.) The layout is essentially the standard 104-key configuration, with one difference we’ll get to presently. The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock lights are a shockingly bright red, and a hub on the rear of the keyboard provides two USB 2.0 ports and headphone and microphone jacks. To use these, you’ll need to connect all the patch cables to the appropriate ports on your PC’s rear panel, in addition to either USB or PS/2 for sending typing data. (You’ll want to use the latter if you want full N-key rollover capabilities.)
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The Meka G1′s most unusual functionality features are its key switches. Rated for a mind-boggling 50 million key presses, they’re of the Cherry MX Black variety. These are both non-tactile and non-clicky—meaning you get neither physical nor auditory feedback when you press a key. These are widely considered ideal for gaming, as they diminish distractions that can affect reaction times and all but eliminate the chance you’ll accidentally register a key press twice if you don’t completely release the key.
In our tests, the Meka G1 more than satisfied, proving accurate and comfortable during regular typing tasks and gaming (in titles as diverse as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Civilization V) alike. The balance between appropriateness for both uses is about as good as we’ve seen on any gaming keyboard. We have to admit, though, that for typing purposes, we prefer the Cherry MX Blue switches. The kind used on the Das Keyboard, they are both tactile and clicky, and feel crisp and natural in ways the Blacks can’t quite manage. But the presence of mechanical keys at all propels the Meka G1 far ahead of most keyboards, and even without the feedback it delivers an outstanding typing experience.
Tt eSports Meka G1
But improved typing doesn’t come without a cost—beyond even the already steep purchase price. First, you’ll have to sacrifice the left Windows key. Ostensibly removed to eliminate the problem of getting booted to windows from your full-screen game when you accidentally hit it instead of the Ctrl or Alt, this means you can’t use it in windows, either, and that’s when you may really want it. I rely so much on windows key combinations—all performed with the left one, of course—that its absence complicated my ability to perform everyday windows tasks. It’s nice that Thermaltake has made that key a function key that turns F1-F7 into multimedia controls (Reverse, Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Increase Volume, Decrease Volume, and Mute), but whether those will benefit you more than the Windows key depends entirely on your personal usage style.
Then there’s the issue of other special gaming features: The Meka G1 doesn’t have any. Though many gaming keyboards offer an array of programmable macro keys, digital displays, and other fun extras that can streamline the way you play your favorite game, the Meka G1 provides nothing of the sort. Its additional goodies are definitely more of the laid-back variety: a 1,000-Hz polling rate, a thick “military-grade” cable (which we found stiff and difficult to route), and a gold-plated USB connector. Laid out on your desk, this is not a keyboard that would stand out in a crowd, to say nothing of a LAN party.
The appropriateness of the Meka G1 to your computing life, then, is ultimately all about priorities. If gaming gizmos are your thing, something like the Microsoft SideWinder X4 ($39.95 list, 4 stars) or the Logitech G19 will suit you better. If pure typing precision matters more, a clicky Das Keyboard is the way to go. But if your gaming and productive lives are in near-perfect balance, and you’re looking for a keyboard to match, the Meka G1 could well be it.