Review: Roccat Suora F/X mechanical gaming keyboard

The Roccat Suora F/X is a solid mechanical keyboard with a boatload of features in its driver software—including an arguably questionable feature that has scarcely been seen since 1995. Regardless, the Suora F/X  easily holds its own against the competition.

The Roccat Suora F/X is a “frameless” mechanical RGB keyboard, which is to say it’s relatively compact but not a tenkey-less model. Although many Roccat gaming keyboards have a very large desktop footprint the Suora F/X is relatively minimalist.

Suora F/X Feature highlights and specifications

The Suora F/X comes is available in two different models: one based on Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, and the other based on Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches. Both are common and popular switches for mechanical gaming keyboards. Sooper Sekrit Smite Code March 17 2017: APFD572799DF70214

If you’re not familiar with the switch types, know that both Brown and Blue switches both provide a firm, tactile feel. Cherry MX brown switches are moderately noisy but don’t “click” when they are pressed. Cherry MX Blue switches make an audible “click” when they are pressed, and this is either highly satisfying (especially for typists) or maddening (for anyone else) depending on your preference.

suora-1

The Suroa F/X review unit came with Cherry MX Brown switches, which generally speaking are my second favorite switch type.

Key differentiating features for the Roccat Suora F/X can be summed up as follows: It’s a little more compact than full-size keyboaads, and it adds a row of dedicated keys just above the number pad: Mute, Volume Up/Down, and a Game Mode button. In addition, the Roccat’s driver software is intuitive and feature rich, easily on par with similar software form big league competitors such as Razer, Logitech, and SteelSeries—although the current UI could be streamlined and improved a bit (more on that later).

The Suora F/X also provides semi-dedicated programmable macro keys by adding a ‘gaming mode’ to the block of keys above the arrow keys (i.e. Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down). Pressing the Game Mode button toggles the block into macro keys (M1-M6), to which you can assign macros recorded in the Roccat Swarm software. The Game Mode button also disables the Windows Key.

suora-2
Roccat Suora F/X (Credit: Roccat)

Other features for the Suora F/X are fairly standard for mechanical keyboards, and include the following:

  • Available in Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Blue switches
  • Advanced anti-ghosting with N-key rollover
  • 1000Hz polling rate
  • 50 million keystroke lifecycle
  • Multimedia functions
  • 6 programmable macro keys
  • Cable channels underneath the keyboard

Suora F/X performance evaluation

For pure typing and gaming, the Suora F/X performs as expected, which is to say as good as virtually any mechanical gaming keyboard based on Cherry MX Brown switches (or an equivalent). Note that durability and reliability of the keystrokes and LED’s isn’t something I can really test within a couple weeks of using the keyboard.

The additional media controls (mute/ volume control) aren’t quite nice convenient as the roller used on Logitech and Corsair keyboards, but at least they get the job done without having to press a FN+Function key (as on the Razer Blackwidow) or programming a macro and assigning it to another key.

The cable channels underneath the Suora F/X are actually some of the best I’ve seen. They hold the cable securely in pace so you can route it up the middle or out the left or right side. (Many keyboards offer this feature, but it’s rarely well implemented and results in loose, uncooperative cables.)

Using a game mode toggle is a clever solution to providing dedicated macro keys without increasing the keyboard’s footprint. However, there is a bit of a downside. Generally speaking the left-side of the keyboard (near the W-A-S-D cluster) is the best place for dedicated macro keys, where they can be quickly accessed in the heat of battle for fast-paced games. Having to use the cluster above the arrow keys is less convenient.

suora-3Also, I find it odd that the Roccat Swarm software doesn’t enable you to assign macros to any key on the keyboard, which you can do with Razer’s Blackwidow keyboards and their Synapse software. This would have made the entire right-hand side of the keyboard usable as a block of macro keys.

Roccat’s SWARM driver software has always been some of the most feature-loaded software in the industry. However, I’m not sure bringing back the ability to make the keyboard noisier was something we wanted. With Roccat Swarm, you can assign a key noise to play every time you press a key, including 2 “pewpew” variants, typewriter noises, clicks, or (probably the best) NONE at all.

I applaud the effort, but after about 10 minutes of constant “pewpew” noises in an Overwatch match, even I—a lover of clicky, loud, mechanical blue switch keyboard noises—had to turn off the feature. And I suspect it’s a feature most of us can live without.

Another area that could use some improvement in the Swarm interface is the clunky drag-and-drop key assignment/macro editor. It’s not awful, but it is awkward from a UI standpoint. Heard of right-clicks Roccat? Might want to look into them. (Also on the wishlist: It would also be nice if the macro recorder could record mouse clicks.)

swarm_4
Roccat Swarm for Suora F/X

Available lighting effects are fairly similar to other RGB boards. You can assign any key any color, or assign blocks of keys different colors. You can also choose from a variety of effects (breathing, color shift, etc.), but they must be applied to the entire board (i.e. you can’t assign different effects to different sections of the board.)

You can store up to 5 onboard profiles, each with their own colors and settings, but switching between them is also a bit awkward. The Suora F/X lacks a dedicated profile switch key, so you either have to do it manually in the software, or set up associated applications to launch each profile.

Unfortunately, the current version of the Roccat Swarm software for the Suora F/X seems like it still has a few bugs to work out, and the UI could be streamlined.

Overall: 8/10 

At around $140 (as of this writing), the Roccat Suora F/X is a solid contender in its space with a price largely in line with its competition. The current iteration of the Swarm software could use a little work. (Also: I kind of missed the voice of the guy that voiced previous versions of the Roccat software, back when it awarded achievements and told you how to record macros on the fly.)

I don’t rate it quite as highly as Razer’s Blackwidow series (a perennial favorite, among others), but the Suora F/X is also less expensive (around $30 on average).

Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 and Roccat Suora F/X
Size comparison :  Top — Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2;  Bottom– Roccat Suora F/X (Credit – Bryan Edge-Salois)

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Sooper Sekrit Code #2 for SMITE:  APFD572799DF70214

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