When it comes to gaming keyboards, there are literally hundreds of options. While mechanical switches are the switch of choice for gamers, more manufacturers are releasing gaming keyboards with optical switches.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Our ROCCAT Vulcan Pro review looks at a pair of gaming keyboards with very smooth optical switches, one that still has that tactile bump feeling. Read on to find out why we awarded them an Editor’s Choice of 2021 Award here at Techaeris.
Table of contents
The ROCCAT Vulcan Pro gaming keyboards we reviewed has the following features and specifications (configurable when ordering):
- ROCCAT® Titan Switch Optical (Linear Red or Tactile Brown)
- 100 million keystroke life-cycle
- Removable ergonomic palm rest
- 512kb integrated macro & settings memory
- 6 programmable macro keys
- ROCCAT® Easy-Shift[+]™ technology
- 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor
- 1000Hz polling rate
- ROCCAT® Swarm software suite
- System requirements: USB 2.0 (or higher), Internet connection (for driver software)
- Operating system: Windows® 10, Windows® 7, Windows® 8
- Dimensions: 3.20 x 46.20 x 23.50cm (1.26 x 18.19 x 9.25 inches)
- Weight: 1150g (2.54 lbs)
What’s in the box
- ROCCAT Vulcan Pro optical gaming keyboard
- Detachable palm rest
- Quick Installation Guide
For the most part, keyboards follow a fairly similar layout. In the case of the ROCCAT Vulcan Pro optical gaming keyboard, it has a lower profile design. The faceplate is solid, crafted from brushed aluminum. The clear optical switches rise above the faceplate, and the thin keycaps appear to float above these. Being thicker and clear, the switches allow the RGB LED lights to shine through rather bright. A small cutout near the middle of the top edge where the nicely braided 6′ cable is attached. The cable is also thinner than many other braided keyboards I’ve seen, making it that much nicer.
Besides the increased LED brightness, the raised keycaps also make it easier to dust out the keyboard. Typically, with a recessed style design and keycap, it can be a bit of a pain to blow the dust out from inside your keyboard. With this design, dust and anything else blows off the face of the keyboard very easily.
Aside from the usual 6-row layout, the Vulcan Pro has a full-sized number pad, a volume mute button, an FX toggle button, a volume toggle button, and a control knob in the upper right. The control knob adjusts the volume or the RGB lighting brightness, depending on which toggle button is illuminated. When Game Mode is enabled, the INS, HOME, PG UP, PG DN, DEL, and END keys double as Macro keys. Up to four profiles can be stored as well on the F1 through F4 keys. Because of the extra buttons and knob in the upper right, the num lock, scroll lock, caps lock, and Game Mode LED indicators are on the keyboard’s bottom right. At first, it took a bit to remember to look there when glancing at the status of those functions, but overall it’s not a huge deal for me as I don’t look at them often.
Along the bottom edge of the Vulcan Pro keyboard, which is finished in a textured black plastic, is a glossy groove in which the top edge of the included palm rest attaches magnetically. The palm rest is thin, matte black plastic and features the ROCCAT icon in gloss black in the lower right corner.
Finally, the underside of the keyboard has two adjustable feet near the back and a long rubber-like strip along the bottom and two along the top edge for added grip and stability.
While you don’t need it, you should probably install the ROCCAT Swarm Windows application to take full advantage of your ROCCAT Vulcan Pro keyboard. Once installed, you’ll also need to update and download the Vulcan Pro module through the update center.
You can add a typing sound with the application, adjust the repeat delay, repeat rate, and cursor blink rate. Up to five profiles can be created, with only four being saveable to the keyboard itself. A macro manager is also present, and users can assign functions to any key on the keyboard, including the six keys, which double as macro keys. The last tab lets you select different illumination options, including the AI-powered AIMO intelligent lighting. You can also set your own custom mode on a per-key basis. Finally, the app is used to update the firmware on the keyboard as well, so it is worth checking once in a while to make sure it’s up to date.
One thing I will mention. When adjusting the sound setting and lighting options, you need to apply them to test them out. In other words, there is no preview. It’s a minor issue but worth mentioning.
Overall, the ROCCAT Swarm Windows application is pretty straightforward to use.
Many gamers and coders swear by mechanical switches due to their responsiveness and speed. In the case of newer optical switches, companies like ROCCAT claim even better performance.
“ROCCAT’s new Titan Switch Optical equips you with the mechanical keystroke feel you know and love, but with a level of performance you’ve never before experienced. It harnesses the speed of light with firmware that recognizes each keystroke cleanly, distinctly and with zero delay. Infinitely faster yet with double the durability, there’s literally not a single drawback. The future is here, and it’s optical.”ROCCAT product page
ROCCAT offers up two Titan Optical Switches for the Vulcan Pro: Tactile Brown and Linear Red. The Tactile Brown switches offer a slight tactile bump without being loud. They have a 1.8mm actuation point and a 3.6mm total travel distance. The Linear Red switches, on the other hand, have a very smooth, consistent keystroke. This switch has a 1.4mm actuation point and a 3.5mm total travel distance. Both switches have a 45gf operation force and are tested to 100 million keystrokes, so you know they’re going to last a very long time. If you want to read more about the company’s optical switches, you can check out its website.
So how do these ROCCAT Titan Optical Switches perform? Like other optical keyboards I’ve tried recently, the Vulcan Pro gaming keyboards are very responsive and a treat to use. I had no issues while gaming, and Game Mode works great with the extra macro functionality. The Tactile Brown switches do have that tactile bump that many gamers like, but personally, I preferred the Linear Red with their buttery smooth keystrokes. In fact, the Vulcan Pro with Linear Red switches is currently my favourite keyboard. Either switch choice is great for in an office as well, given their relatively silent operation. In other words, you won’t be annoying the rest of the office with your clackity clacking (unless you choose a typing sound effect).
As far as actually typing performance, I easily hit my 100wpm average on MonkeyType.com and peaked out a few times around 113wpm.
With an MSRP of US$199.99, the ROCCAT Vulcan Pro optical gaming keyboard with linear or tactile switches is on the upper end of the keyboard price range. However, with its smooth typing, great responsiveness, and lower profile design, it’s worth every penny, in my opinion.
I’ve used a lot of keyboards over the last few years with switches of all types. Each generation of switch gets better and the ROCCAT Vulcan Pro keyboards with their optical switches are easily one of the smoothest I’ve used. If you’re looking for a smooth, responsive, relatively thin gaming keyboard, the ROCCAT Vulcan Pro is a great choice with its choice of linear or tactile optical switches. Both variations of these keyboards were an easy Editor’s Choice here at Techaeris.
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ROCCAT Vulcan ProUS$199.99
- Excellent build quality
- Slim, low-profile feel
- Great performance
- Linear or tactile optical switch choice
- Macro functionality
- Includes magnetic palm rest
- Bright RGB LED lights
- Relatively easy to clean
- Can't preview typing sounds or RGB illumination without applying
- Odd num lock/caps lock LED indicator light placement