By: Ben Joubert
May 20, 2016
I have often been surprised at all the different subreddits out there, which practically covers any subject you can think of. One of them I feel is fairly universal would be the oddly satisfying pictures, or GIFs one. There is just something oddly satisfying of some strange science experiment, or two seemingly random objects, fitting perfectly together. There are also some other really random oddly satisfying GIFs, such as something falling in slow motion and either completely shattering on the floor, or flattening only to bounce straight back up. We do encounter these oddly satisfying feelings every day, and here in Calgary, Alberta, close to the Rocky Mountains is no different. The mountains give us a multitude of activities to do, but many of them require you to wear some sort of uncomfortable boot. Recently, I went hiking with a couple of friends for the entire day. I wore some big hiking boots, which were appropriate for the activity. By the end of the day, I was ready to take them off, and that was a really oddly satisfying experience. It is like the feeling you get after skiing the entire day, and taking off those big and heavy ski boots. I think in any category, there will be different things that provide oddly satisfying experiences. In the computer world, one such experience would be with mechanical keyboards, when for a while I do not use Blue-type switches, and then return to them. I find it really is oddly satisfying to hear the nice click when a Blue-type switch bottoms out. To see if I can reproduce this experience, I took in GAMDIAS' Hermes 7 Color mechanical keyboard for our review today. Using TTC Blue switches, how will they compare to the usual and well-known Cherry MX switches? Read on to find out!
The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color arrived in a big brown corrugated box, along with another mechanical keyboard, the GAMDIAS Hermes RGB, which I will also be reviewing in the coming weeks. Just like previous products we have received from GAMDIAS, the package was shipped from Brea, California via UPS Standard to the APH Networks offices here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Other than some dents and scratches on the outside of the box, it was all in good condition. Inside the shipping box were the two products stacked on top of one another, and quite a few plastic air pockets to cushion them during transport. With that in mind, let us take a look inside the box to see how its contents fared.
Although the shipping box was slightly damaged at the top, it did not affect the products on the inside. I found the packaging to be fairly simple. On the front is a picture of the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color keyboard, and surrounding it are the different seven colors the product features. To the right is the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color name, and below that are some other feature highlights, such as the seven color neon light spectrum, metal plate for added durability, fourteen different lighting effects, and the GAMDIAS certified mechanical switches. The left and right sides are fairly simple as well. The right side has some corporate information, while the left just has the GAMDIAS logo. The top and bottom of the box advertises some other features of the keyboard, which I will explain in further detail later on in the review. At the back are the technical specifications, system requirements, and package contents. Overall, the packaging is not too cluttered, and gets all the required information across quickly.
Before we move on, here are the technical specifications of the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Key Switch: GAMDIAS certified mechanical switches
Key Switch Type: Blue
Dimensions: 458 x 220 x 44 mm
Built-in Memory: 8kB
Polling Rate: 1000Hz
Multimedia Keys: 7
Switch Lifecycle: 50 Million
Backlit: 7 colors
Anti-ghost: N-Key rollover
Windows Key Disable: Yes
All-Keys Lock: Yes
Cable Length: 1.8m (Braided Cable with Gold-plated USB Connector)
WASD& Arrow keys Change: Yes
Consecutive Attack Mode: Yes
Customizable Lighting Effects: Yes
The packaging was very simple. The keyboard itself was covered in a small foam bag to keep it safe. The cable was wrapped up and tucked away in a box that runs the length of the box. Another thing inside was a small manual, outlining the installation procedure and how to use the backlighting effects, as there is no software for the GAMDIAS 7 Color keyboard. All the ways for configuring the backlight and other keyboard functions will come through different key combinations instead of through software. Lastly, there were two GAMDIAS branded stickers.
The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color is a full-size keyboard, and as such, is fairly big. Quite a bit of the extra size of the keyboard is found at the top where it slopes down. It does look good, and if you are already committing to a full size keyboard, then a few extra inches in this area will not be much of a concern. Along with the big size is a heavyweight as well. The keyboard weighs in at 1.1 kg, but luckily, you will most likely not be moving it around much because of its size. The weight also helps to keep the keyboard stuck to your desk instead of moving around. The rest of the Hermes 7 Color's design is very simple. One of the main design features is the exposed aluminum backplate, which makes the overall build quality very solid. It also makes the key switch bases to be slightly visible, giving it a very minimalist look. The exposed base of each key allows for the keycap to be removed without a keycap remover. However, the keycaps do not easily come off, and quite a bit of force has to be exerted to remove them. I quite like this, since it ensures the keycaps do not fall out during travel, even though I do not see myself traveling with such a big keyboard. The exposed plate design also makes cleaning the Hermes 7 Color after some time of use much easier. Removing the keycaps and brushing the dust away should be an easy process, because there are less small corners for the dust to get caught in.
The exact specifications of the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color's size is 458mm in width, 220mm in depth, and 44mm in height, which is a bit on the bigger side. This is, in part, due to the wrist rest that is not detachable. I am quite disappointed by this, especially at this keyboard's higher price point, and I would have expected it to have a detachable wrist rest for the flexibility for the end user. Although the wrist rest cannot be removed, it is big enough to be comfortable. The wrist rest is made out of the same material as the rest of the keycaps as far as I could tell. GAMDIAS' website does not go into detail about what the keycaps are made out of, but you can tell it is just plastic. The keycaps, as well as the wrist rest, attract fingerprints, but this is slightly hidden by the backlight. If you are picky to have a very clean appearance for your keyboard, I would suggest keeping a cloth close by to keep the fingerprints away.
The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color has a standard US QWERTY layout. However, there are quite a few extra icons on the keycaps to the right and to the left of the keyboard to display all the different functions of the keys, ensuring it is easy to remember the different keyboard commands. The Hermes 7 Color is also a mechanical keyboard, which contributes to how heavy it is as aforementioned. Other types of popular keyboards in the market today are keyboards with membrane and scissor based switches. The membrane keyboard is the cheapest and has a squishy feel to it when typing, while the scissor keys are more responsive, and work well for everyday office use. The mechanical keyboard is the most expensive of the three, because each key switch is an independent part. Most gaming keyboards today feature mechanical switches because of their responsiveness, and the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color is no different. Another feature found in good gaming keyboards is NKRO, or N-key rollover, which the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color has. This means that each key actuation is scanned independently to ensure they are all recorded, and no pressed key is missed. This is helpful for gaming when you have to press multiple keys at once.
Starting at the top left of the keyboard, we have the first set of special keys from F1 to F4. F1 in combination with the Function key will launch your default media player, while F2 and F3 in combination with the Function key will skip backwards or forwards, respectively. Fn + F4 will switch your WASD and arrow keys, which is helpful for both left-handed users, and in certain games where you cannot reconfigure the keys for certain tasks, such as camera panning. I will cover the keys from one to zero in the backlight section. Pressing Fn + Q will enable Consecutive Attack Mode, which means if you press the key and hold it down, it registers as multiple key presses. Lastly, on this end of the Hermes 7 Color is the ability to lock the Windows key for gaming sessions, which is a common and required feature on products of this type. The Windows key can be locked by pressing it in conjunction with the Fn key. To indicate that the Windows key is indeed locked, along the top right a small light will light up under the Gaming title. Unfortunately, there are no user-programmable macro keys.
From F5 to F8 are more media key functions. I am not sure why they did not group all the media keys together, and instead placed the arrow and WASD switch function in between. Fn + F5 will Play or Pause, F6 through to F8 plus the Fn key will either mute, decrease, or increase the volume, respectively. Fn + F11 allows you to lock all the keys on the keyboard, which is a fairly specific use case, but a welcomed one if you have pets around that could potentially walk all over your keyboard. Fn + F12 lets you set preset lighting configurations, and to save them with the different keys from one to five. These presets are saved to the onboard memory, which is 8KB. Moving further along the top of the keyboard, there is a way to reset all the settings on the keyboard back to factory using Fn + Pause Break.
Mechanical keyboards come in different brands and types of key switches. Most keyboards feature OEM Cherry MX switches, but from the manufacturer's website, the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color features GAMDIAS certified mechanical Blue switches, which are actually made by TTC. These boast a fifty million actuation lifecycle, and according to TTC's website, are similar to Cherry MX Blue switches. Since Cherry's patent on these switches expired years ago, manufacturers such as Kailh and TTC are free to emulate their original Cherry counterparts. TTC switches are also found in other GAMDIAS products with other flavors of switches.
Common types of switches found in mechanical keyboards include Blue, Black, Red, and Brown. Blue switches are aimed at typists, while Black and Red switches are aimed at people who enjoy to spend more of their time gaming instead of typing. The differences between these switches come mostly from the actuation force required. Black switches have the highest actuation force at 60cN, meaning they are the stiffest. RTS gamers have found these switches the best, because they will not cause any accidental key presses. Black switches also have a stronger spring, meaning the key is ready to be pressed again much quicker, allowing for it to be repeatedly pressed more than other key switches. Due to the high actuation force, however, fatigue becomes an issue during long gaming sessions. Meanwhile, Red switches have the lowest actuation force at 45cN. The light actuation force also means that the key can be pressed repeatedly in a short amount of time. Both of these switches are linear switches, meaning they are the simplest, and they will not have the loud tactile bump Blue switches have. Brown switches are a middle ground between Black and Red switches.
I compared the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color Blue to another keyboard with original Cherry MX Blue switches, and I found the TTC switches to be close, but still distinguishable, to the Cherry MX model. The Blue TTC switches were responsive, and, of course, had a very loud and satisfying click from key actuation. If you bottom out your keys, you will also hear a hollow metallic sound. The sound originates from the key hitting the aluminum plate, and further reverberates throughout the hollow parts of the keyboard. Honestly, throughout daily use I doubt you will notice the differences between the Blue TTC switches found on the Hermes 7 Color and real Cherry MX switches. It is important to note Senior Technical Editor Aaron Lai had a completely different experience with Red TTC switches on the GAMDIAS GKC1001 Mechanical Gaming Combo. As well, even though the manufacturer's website says GAMDIAS certified mechanical switches for both the Hermes RGB and Hermes 7 Color, you may not necessarily get the same switch manufacturer. For example, this keyboard utilizes TTC switches, while the GAMDIAS Hermes RGB has Kailh switches.
On the back of the keyboard, there are five different rubber pads, one at each corner plus another in the center bottom, to ensure it does not move around during use. There are also two feet that can be extended to change the angle of the Hermes 7 Color, which also has rubber pads. Its 1.1 kg weight is also of great help to keep it from moving around. In the middle of the back, there is also the model number and some other product specific details. The 1.8m braided cable leads out from the middle of the keyboard, but it is not detachable. The USB connection features some glamorous gold, but it will ultimately not affect performance in any way. However, when the USB is not plugged in, it does look pretty.
There are fourteen different backlight options to go with on the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color, all of which are accessed through keyboard commands. Using the function key in combination with the number row '6' to '0' reveals some of the first lighting options. At number 6, you can adjust the lights to zig zag through the different rows starting at the top right. Fn + 7 is a simple breathing mode. Number 8 makes the lights wave outward from whichever key you pressed. At number 9, the colors start on the outside top right, and works its way inward around the outside edges, circling closer and closer to the center before restarting. The last of the lighting functions is at 0, and this lights up each key press with the corresponding color for a short amount of time. The rest of the lighting effects are found above the arrow keys. Fn + Ins is a simple wave starting at the left working its way to the right. Fn + Home is sort of like a snake slithering over the keyboard. Fn + Del is another wave, but with a different rotation. Lastly is Fn + End, which is just a static, all the keys are on deal. Fn + PgUp or PgDn will speed up or slow down the lighting effects, respectively. The numbers on the top row from one to five are the presets, and can be configured using a few commands in conjunction with the Fn key.
The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color was comfortable to use. It is a full sized keyboard, so it does take up quite a lot of space on my desk, but the number pad was a welcomed addition compared to my previous tenkeyless keyboards. I found the TTC Blue switches to be responsive, and the key actuation throughout the keyboard was consistent. The Blue switches also had the satisfying click they are known for. While they do make an absurd amount of noise, they really are a joy to type on. For my own personal preferences, I would really have appreciated a detachable wrist rest, since it would have been nice to have the keyboard not use up as much space on my desk as it does. Overall, I had a pleasant experience using the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color.
I think the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color really falls in between the less expensive single color backlit mechanical keyboards and the more expensive RGB mechanical keyboards. The seven-color spectrum lets you show off a nice and colorful setup, but without having to pay the extra money for the RGB version. The overall build quality of the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color is good. The exposed aluminum plate provides solid build quality. The keyboard also features everything for a gamer, such as the NKRO, Windows key lock, as well as having some other interesting functions for gamers like Consecutive Attack Mode. Using different commands on the keyboard, lets you change many of the settings on-the-fly, which is very useful. There is also fourteen different lighting options, and you have the ability to make up to five presets thanks to the 8KB built in memory. The TTC Blue switches are responsive, and the actuation throughout the keyboard is consistent. The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color MSRP comes in at $100 USD at press time, and in that price range there are a few things I would expect to be included. It is disappointing you cannot detach the wrist rest, and there is no software support for the keyboard, which would have made controlling and editing the lighting effects quite a bit easier. Using a bunch of different commands in combination with Fn to make your own preset is awkward. There are no user-programmable macro keys either. If you are very picky, the hollow metallic sound when bottoming out the keys may also bother you. Overall, the GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color was a comfortable keyboard to use at a competitive price point if like the lighting effects. If you are willing to give up the seven colors for genuine Cherry MX switches, a detachable wrist rest, and user-programmable macro keys, the Fnatic Gear Rush G1 is available for the same price.
GAMDIAS provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
6/10 means A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 6.4/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The GAMDIAS Hermes 7 Color is a well-built keyboard with some flashy lighting effects to go with it.
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