Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
The ROCCAT Pyro employs a very simple layout with mechanical keyswitches, RGB LED backlighting, and a detachable wrist rest. The layout is also island-styled, meaning the aluminum backplate is exposed with the switches sitting on top. This makes it so the backplate is easier to clean, as there is more space between the keys. The ROCCAT logo is printed just above the arrow keys with the product name below in smaller font. The black-colored aluminum backplate feels great and gives the ROCCAT Pyro a clean appearance. You do not have to worry about leaving any fingerprint marks on the metal surface thanks to its matte finish. The aluminum backplate also makes it so the keyboard does not bend easily, which is always a positive. The sides and the bottom are made from a quality textured plastic. Overall, ROCCAT did a great job with the build quality of this keyboard in my opinion.
The detachable wrist rest does its job fine, albeit nothing special. My average-sized hands were able to sit comfortably on the wrist rest when using this keyboard for various typing purposes. The wrist rest is designed to connect to the keyboard by physically interlocking them together. It will fall off the keyboard when lifted. However, it does not move when the keyboard is planted on a surface, which is likely the case every time you use it. A magnetic attachment would have been better for keeping the wrist rest connected in my opinion for ease of use. The wrist rest does pick up dust pretty easily, which could be annoying depending on how clean you want your wrist rest to be. The design is very plain, with the ROCCAT logo on the bottom right being the only noteworthy feature. I do also wish the surface of the wrist rest was made out of a softer material such as plastic foam, but it does its job in the end.
The ROCCAT Pyro measures in at 3.60cm height, 44.70cm width, and 15.20cm length. The wrist rest adds 6.5cm of depth to the keyboard. These measurements make for a standard medium profile QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard weighs about 1.1kg according to ROCCAT’s website. This definitely leans towards the heavier side, but is justified by the mechanical switches and strong build. The ROCCAT Pyro felt quite solid to type on with no noticeable body flex thanks to the strong aluminum backplate.
The ROCCAT Pyro came to us with a typical QWERTY ANSI layout with 104 keys. As such, the keyboard is packed with the full number pad on the right side with all of the indicator lights and a volume control knob located above. These indicators glow white when the function is activated, which includes Caps Lock, Number Lock, Scroll Lock, and Windows Lock; the last denoted as “Game Mode” here. All of these are pretty typical for a gaming keyboard, although the indicator lighting design is unique. The illumination zone is a horizontal strip where certain sections of it will light up depending on which function is currently active. The bottom row is spaced out in a standard fashion with the Windows, Fn, Ctrl, Alt, and Menu keys all being equal in size.
All of the secondary keys are located towards the right side of the Pyro. These secondary functions are activated by holding down the Fn key while pressing your desired secondary key. Going from left to right, F8 functions as a mute button while F9 to F12 are for media functions, including previous Track, Stop, Pause/Play, and Next Track, respectively. I like there are no redundant volume control keys as the volume control knob already serves that purpose. The scroll key at the top activates the Game Mode function, which disables the Windows button. Finally, the up and down keys adjust the RGB lighting brightness. Key functionality can be further customized in the ROCCAT Swarm software, which we will explore later in this review.
The ROCCAT Pyro uses acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic keycaps. Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) keycaps are better because the material is harder and retains its color better. However, the keycaps on the Pyro feel smooth and are nice on the fingers when pressing down on them. The lettering of each key is printed with a laser etching process, which removes the black cover to reveal the translucent plastic. The font choice looks good and is legible thanks to the size.
If you do not know what a mechanical keyboard is, there are three types of keyboards in the market today. Membrane or dome keyboards are the cheapest and easiest to manufacture but generally have poor typing feel and response due to squishy keys. Next is the scissor switch keyboard, which can be thought of as an enhanced rubber dome with two extra interlocking plastic pieces connected to the key and the keyboard. This creates a better tactile response and typing experience in comparison to the aforementioned membrane. Mechanical keyboards cost the most because each key switch is an independent part.
Removing the keycaps reveals the TTC Linear switches marketed by ROCCAT. Taking a closer look, these red-colored switches essentially appear to be clones of the commonly used Cherry MX Red switches. The maximum travel distance is 4.0mm with actuation at 2.0mm. The Pyro actuates at about 45g of force when pressing the keys. The mechanical switches feel very nice to type on and make a nice clicking sound not too loud or distracting. This keyboard is rated to last 50 million keystrokes in its lifetime. The LED for each switch sits under the respective key and looks great when the keyboard is plugged in.
The ROCCAT Pyro is a full NKRO keyboard, where NKRO stands for N-key rollover. Keyboards with limited NKRO capabilities are much more susceptible to ghosting issues. When too many keys are pressed at once, your system is unable to register any more strokes. This of course can be annoying if you type fast or are just playing games. Full NKRO keyboards, like the ROCCAT Pyro, overcome this by independently polling each key. This means all inputs are detectable by the hardware regardless of how many other keys are activated at the same time. In the hypothetical scenario where every other key is pressed, it will still register the last stroke.
The back of the ROCCAT Pyro has the USB cable leading out. This cable comes out from the center and is not detachable. The ROCCAT Pyro uses a USB Type-A connection. The cable extends around 1.8m in length, which I would say is more than enough length to route around tough spots on your desk. The USB connector is not gold-platted, which is perfectly fine as the color of the ground shield will not add any performance to the keyboard. A keyboard icon is visible on the USB connector with the ROCCAT logo on the other side.
The bottom of the keyboard itself contains a total of six rubber strips with three on each side. These are there to help keep the ROCCAT Pyro in place when in the middle of an intense game or essay, depending on what time in your life you decide to purchase this keyboard. Two flip-out feet are also located on the back to prop up the ROCCAT Pyro. The feet contain rubber on the tip and body, ensuring that the keyboard will stay in place whether the feet are propped up or not. The 1.1kg weight is also heavy enough to keep the keyboard from moving when in use. The wrist rest uses the exact same rubber strips on its bottom as well to further help keep the keyboard in place during operation. With the addition of the wrist rest, there are a total of twelve rubber strips on the bottom side.
After finishing my visual inspection, I propped the ROCCAT Pyro on my desk and have been using it for about two weeks now. In games, I generally found the TTC switches provided good feedback and an audible clicking sound when hitting the bottom. The keys make little to no noise when playing slower games where the keys do not bottom out. No metallic ping was audible, even when I pressing as hard on the keys as possible, which is very good given the aluminum backplate. Even though linear keys have less travel than optical switches, I found the performance was not affected at all. When typing up this review and other documents, the keys felt comfortable to use and offered a good amount of resistance to prevent accidental actuation, although those who enjoy nonlinear switches may not agree. However, the linear switches on the ROCCAT Pyro made for a very enjoyable typing experience for me. I did not encounter any issues like debouncing or chattering while testing the Pyro.
While in the heat of gaming or crunching down on an assignment, it is easy to forget about the RGB lighting until nightfall inevitably arrives. The AIMO RGB lighting shines through the keycaps, illuminating the printed font on each key. The font is very easy to read, regardless of what brightness you have set, if any at all. As mentioned earlier, the brightness is adjustable by pressing Fn in combination with the up or down arrow key, where the up key increases the brightness and the down key decreases the brightness. There are four brightness levels on the ROCCAT Pyro along with the option to deactivate the lighting completely. The RGB lighting effects look great and all the different colors add a unique look to each key. These effects can be customized in the ROCCAT Swarm software, which will be discussed right below.
The ROCCAT Swarm software is commonly used for the company's peripherals. The ROCCAT Pyro works along with the latest version of ROCCAT Swarm, which is a 160MB download from ROCCAT's website at press time. This program unifies all your ROCCAT peripherals into one application. After installing the corresponding hardware module, you will be prompted to update the keyboard firmware. Updating the firmware was a quick and painless process.
After selecting the ROCCAT Pyro at the top for configuration, you can see there are four tabs for changing options on the Pyro. The first one is marked by a thumbtack and is used for users to pin the configuration options they choose on the next three tabs to save their favorite options to a single page. The first tab is marked General Features. One section allows users to add Sound Feedback to your keyboard on each key press. Another section lets you change the key press repetition options, including the repeat delay, repeat rate, and cursor blink rate. Users also have the option to fully reset the settings on their keyboard here. The second tab is marked Key Assignment, where users can change the functionality of each key, including the assignment of macros. You can also change the function of keys in Game Mode, as mentioned previously. Finally, the last tab is marked Key Illumination. As you might guess, this tab lets you change the effects of the backlight. This lets you choose typical static, breathing, and reactive modes. They also have their AIMO lighting for a fluid reactive and learning lighting that is said to learn your application usage and react accordingly. I kept the Pyro on AIMO lighting most of the time and I thoroughly enjoyed the reactive nature of this setting. Finally, you can also use the fully custom mode to change the LEDs on a per-key basis.
There are two more tabs underneath for managing profiles and macros. A total of five profiles can be created and saved for the ROCCAT Pyro. Macros here include actions for a library of games such as League of Legends, CS:GO, and DOTA 2. You can also record your own macros here. Overall, I found ROCCAT Swarm to be mostly straightforward and easy to use. Unfortunately, it seems like the software has stayed the same since forever, which makes it feel outdated compared to Corsair iCUE and Razer Synapse.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software