Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
The top view of the ROCCAT Magma Mini proves this product is definitely the little brother of ROCCAT Magma my colleague Jonah reviewed in 2021. From the above picture, we can clearly see the keyboard shares the same design language with the full-size model. The Magma Mini is overall matte black with a translucent top plate for RGB lighting effects. Just like the ROCCAT Magma, the Magma Mini also features straight line textured plastic at the back side of the bezel. Due to the small form factor, the ROCCAT logo is in the center of the back bezel on the Magma Mini. The other difference between this product and its bigger brother is we do not have a detachable wrist rest, which is typical for a small form factor keyboard. With the matte black color, the keyboard tries to keep things simple. For a gaming keyboard, there is nothing wrong with such a low-key design, since winning a battle is everything, and everything else is unnecessary, right? The bezel on all sides of the keyboard is present and I think the size of keyboard can be further reduced.
The dimensions for the ROCCAT Magma Mini are 308mm in width, 36.6mm in height, and 132.2mm in depth. It is a super compact keyboard, so it will not take too much space on your desk thanks to the 60% form factor design. This keyboard weighs about 460g with the cable, which I think is really light. There is no metal plate inside of the keyboard, nor are there any mechanical key switches in the Magma Mini. As such, the Magma Mini is light weight, which is a good news if you need to travel with it. The quality of plastic on this keyboard is pretty good. As an all-plastic keyboard, it still feels reasonably sturdy to type on. It is generally well-built, but it still has some flex if you try to twist it.
Unlike the ROCCAT Magma that features a standard 104-key QWERTY ANSI layout, the ROCCAT Magma Mini has a 60% form factor, hence there is no dedicated numeric keypad, nor does it have dedicated arrow keys. To get access to those functions like arrows, page up and down, and media controls, the user has to use the Fn key. Most of the secondary functions keys are located on the right side of the keyboard, as shown in the above photo. The very important Fn key is on the bottom right corner of the keyboard, so it is not hard to find. It is worth noting the Enter key is single row, which is good news for people who like a full size right Shift key. I can tell the designers of this product tried the best to make it convenient to use as a small form factor keyboard, but I am not really a fan of how these arrow keys are situated here. If you are not familiar with the 60% layout, to use arrow keys, the users has to press Fn, which is annoying if one needs to use arrow keys a lot. Also, the up and down keys do not align. For me, it will take some time to adjust to it. The 65% layout is probably better if you need dedicated arrow keys.
The keycaps on the ROCCAT Magma Mini are made out of ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, plastic. The other material commonly used for keycaps is PBT, or polybutylene terephthalate, plastic. Most people would prefer PBT keycaps over ABS as they are harder and more durable. However, PBT keycaps cost more than ABS, hence it makes sense to have ABS keycaps on this product for economic reasons. All the keycaps are designed ergonomically and are nice to press. The letters on the keycaps are translucent, so the backlight LEDs can shine through. All of the text on the keys are easy to read if you are in a bright place even with the backlight off. However, if you are in a dark place, and you are happen to be not very familiar with the layout of keys on this keyboard, then it is better for you to turn on the RGB LED lighting.
For wider keys such as the space bar or enter key on Magma Mini, a Costar stabilizer is used for support and stability. There are mainly two kinds of stabilizer design. One is the Costar stabilizer, which is essentially a wire bar that spans nearly the entire width of the keycap. The wire bar utilizes multiple clipping joints on the keyboard's top plate to reduce wobbling of the attached keycap. The other stabilizer design is the Cherry stabilizer, which is essentially Cherry switches with neither the electrical connection nor the spring on the side for support. As a keyboard with membrane switch, it is reasonable to see Costar stabilizers instead of Cherry ones. It is hard to say which is definitely better than the other. At least here at APH Networks, we believe Costar stabilizers are rattlier, but are easier to maintain, while Cherry stabilizers feel mushier.
Since the ROCCAT Magma Mini is advertised to be a gaming keyboard, even as a budget model, it is expected to be optimized for gaming performance. There are two major functions that can boost the gaming experience. First, the five-zone backlight of this keyboard can be changed to various preset modes. Although changing the backlight mode will not help you win games, it can at least give you the vibes. The second gaming performance booster is the Easy-Shift[+] button duplicator. I think this function is very important for a 60% form factor keyboard, since people can custom make lots of functions using key combinations or macros.
The ROCCAT Magma Mini has 20-key anti-ghosting feature, which means there can be twenty keys registered simultaneously by the keyboard. If the number of keystrokes at one time, say m keys, exceeds the number of n, those (m - n) keystrokes will not be recorded by the system, and ghosting may happen such that some of your actions in the game will be ignored. I remember when I played Need for Speed Underground 2 on my laptop many years ago, I could not use NOS while turning. This is because the laptop only supports two key rollover. The NOS, turning, and acceleration required three keys to be registered simultaneously. With the Magma Mini, this will not be an issue.
The switch choice of the Magma Mini is a membrane switch. If you are not familiar with keyboard switches, there are three major types of keyboards we can buy today. Type one is the membrane keyboard, which features low manufacturing cost, but also a relatively poor typing experience. Mostly because of the low cost, low noise level, and possibility of using it in low profile applications, the membrane keyboard is the most common one in the market. The second type is an improved version of membrane keyboard. The improvement lies in the use of a scissor-like mechanism between the caps and the membrane dome, which can improve the typing experience in the switch. This type of switch is mostly used for laptops. The third type of keyboard features mechanical switches that provide the best tactile response and typing experience, and they are referred to as mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboards cost the most compared to the other two.
In this case, ROCCAT Magma Mini features membrane switches with fast, midway actuation point to strike a balance between providing a responsive yet quiet keystroke as a budget keyboard. It is still a membrane switch, and it is good for what it is, but do not experience a mechanical keyboard-like experience. I did not experience any debouncing or chattering, which is good. The use of membrane makes it possible for the keyboard to be spill and dust resistant. Note that the Magma Mini is rated IP33 in terms of protection level.
As a membrane keyboard with a solid plastic chassis and top plate, the typing sound is mostly muffled out in a good way. I think it will be fine since the potential users of this product would prefer to have a quieter typing experience anyways. Although the thock sound we normally experience from a mechanical keyboard is not the main player here, I think overall the typing sound of this keyboard is reasonably solid and satisfying to hear for a membrane keyboard.
The ROCCAT Magma Mini is a wired keyboard, therefore, it requires a USB cable to connect to the computer. This time, ROCCAT does not provide the braided USB cable. Instead, a 1.8m rubber coated cable is included, which is appropriate for the price. The cable is non-detachable. I personally prefer to not have a detachable USB cable on my keyboard, since the more connectors you have, the higher chance you will get bad connections. The USB connector of the Magma Mini is not gold plated. A gold-plated connector is only there to make the keyboard look good. There is no actual performance improvement regarding data transmission. At the bottom of the keyboard, there are six pieces of rubber feet at the front. All rubber feet can provide enough grip to allow the keyboard to be stable in where it is. Two risers at the back are not rubberized, so it may slide a bit since there is less grip.
Once the USB plug of the keyboard is connected to the computer, the backlight LEDs of all five zones will be turned on. As you can see from the above photo, the whole top plate is illuminated. If you think the lighting is too bright or too dark, you can increase or decrease the brightness using Fn+U or Fn+Y, respectively. You can also turn the backlight off by pressing Fn+I. For more RGB lighting settings, you actually need to use the software utility on your computer, which I will discuss in a moment. The ROCCAT Magma Mini does not have onboard memory to save your settings. Furthermore, it can be seen in the photo above, the illumination distribution is good for all keys, although this product does not have per-key backlighting. Overall, the RGB lighting of ROCCAT Magma Mini is decent for a budget keyboard.
The ROCCAT Magma Mini is mostly plug-and-play. If you want to customize the settings, such as the RGB lighting settings, the ROCCAT Swarm software is required. You can download it from ROCCAT’s website easily. The particular version of ROCCAT Swarm for Magma Mini is 116MB in size. Just like the keyboard, the user interface of the software is simple and intuitive.
There are three main tabs provided by the software. The first one is for general features such as key stroke sound feedback and key stroke repetition configuration. The second tab is for key assignment that allows you to configure Easy-Shift[+] mode or to record macros. The third tab is for RGB lighting effect configuration. You can change the keyboard to AIMO, wave, fully lit, heartbeat, breathing, and Fade FX mode. After you are done with your illumination settings, remember to press the apply button at the bottom right of the program and your settings will be applied to your keyboard. Overall, the software is easy to use, and things like the unwanted macros can be easily deleted in the key assignment tab. Due to the lack of built-in memory, all the settings are stored on your computer instead of the keyboard, so users need to reconfigure the ROCCAT Swarm individually on different systems.
There are two more tabs underneath for managing profiles and macros. A total of five profiles can be created and saved for the ROCCAT Magma Mini. Macros here can be applied to a bunch of popular games, for example, League of Legends, CS:GO, and DOTA 2. If the default macros library does not cover all of your gaming needs, it is also possible to record your own macros in software. Again, all the configurations are stored locally on your computer, not on the cloud or the keyboard.
Overall, my impression of ROCCAT Swarm is that it is straightforward to use even for new users. It seems like the user interface design of this software has stayed the same since forever, which makes it feel outdated compared to the competition. The good news is, the software is actively maintained according to the change log, so at least users do not need to worry about things like bugs or security.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software