Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
The XPG Summoner is a big keyboard, especially when the wrist rest is attached. Otherwise, it is well-designed. There is a grey brushed aluminum plate right beneath the keys. This aluminum plate is a big plus in build quality and keeps the keyboard rigid. The sand blasted aluminum also looks great. The corners are rounded to avoid sharp edges, while the top right is raised to the same height as the other keys. The volume scroll wheel is located here as well as a dedicated mute button. All the LED indicators are on this raised platform and they have white LEDs. The white LEDs stand out from the rest of the keyboard, but the white color is neutral so does not break the unity of whatever LED mode is on the rest of the keys. Behind the raised platform is the USB passthrough, while the cable does not lead directly out of the center; instead a bit more to the right.
The XPG Summoner comes in at 445 mm in length, 135 mm in width, and 44 mm in height. For a full-sized keyboard, these are standard dimensions, but this is without the wrist rest attached. The wrist rest adds another 88 mm to its width. Needless to say, the two together takes up a lot of room, but obviously this is unavoidable to have an effective full-sized keyboard and wrist rest. The wrist rest is one of the best that I have tried. It is nice and large to ensure your wrists actually rest properly, while the leather is smooth and well-padded. The padding is soft enough to be comfortable, but firm enough to not just let your wrist sink down too much. Just keep in mind it lifts your wrists quite a bit, which some people may find excessive. The keyboard is lighter in weight than usual. It comes in at 951 g, where mechanical keyboards are generally over 1 kg in weight. Overall, the XPG Summoner is a well-built keyboard with a promising start.
Many RGB keyboards today come without software to control the RGB effects, instead, there are pre-programmed modes that can be activated. It is personal preference which is better. In my personal opinion, I think software allows for greater control over the RGB functionality. The XPG Summoner has pre-programmed functions, which can be found from F1to F5. The different profiles are indicated by the keyboard lighting up in different colors. Macros can be recorded to specific profiles and then completely reset through one action as well. To switch between different lighting modes and brightness levels, one uses the arrow keys. There are seven fairly standard LED effects to choose from.
On this side of the XPG Summoner, we mainly have the media controls. These are found from F10 to F12. As previously mentioned, all the volume controls are on the raised platform at the top right of the keyboard. The scroll wheel has a cutout in the aluminum, which makes it a lot easier to use it. What I also appreciate about the keyboard is even though the arrow keys change the LED effects, there are no extra markings made on the keycaps. Sometimes some keyboards can have too many markings and make the keycaps look complicated. A simple straightforward design is appreciated.
The market has been flooded with many different types of keys switches. There are a few big names on the market now, but the one that has stood consistently for the longest has been Cherry MX. All the key manufacturers have similar naming schemes. Usually, the type of key is indicated by a color for mechanical keyboards. There are other types of keyboards with different key switches. They are either scissor switches or membrane keys. They all feel different, but mechanical keyboards have been universally accepted as the keyboards for gaming. What makes mechanical key switches different from one another is the force it takes to actuate the key, the way the force is applied, and how far down one must push the key for it to actuate. Cherry MX Red, which the XPG Summoner has, have a low force of actuation, linear application, and a short actuation distance, making them sensitive compared to others.
Cherry MX truly has a high reputation for quality. Their keyswitches simply perform better and still have a feeling that is unmatched in my opinion. The Cherry MX Reds on the XPG Summoner are no different. The keys do not feel squishy at all; rather the action is crisp. They are nice and sensitive, which is more of a preference, but important to note. The keys have excellent tactile response and are not too loud. Some mechanical keys can be exceptionally loud, but Reds are generally quieter. Overall, the Cherry MX Reds on the XPG Summoner are great. The keyboard also comes in Blue and Speed Silver. Blue is better for typing. On the other hand, the Speed Silver switches are similar to Reds, but the Speed Silver have a shorter actuation distance, making them way faster for gaming.
Also pictured above are some of the red keycaps included with the keyboard. They are WASD, arrow, and Windows keys. They bring an extra gaming look to the keyboard. The XPG Summoner also features N-Key Rollover, which is to say any number of keys can be pressed simultaneously and every keypress will be registered.
I have briefly mentioned the RGB capabilities of this keyboard before; they are controlled through different key functions. The default backlight color is red and each profile has a different color. Unfortunately, all of the profiles have Gaming Mode on as default, and turning it off switches the color back to red. Therefore, it is impossible to use the keyboard for day-to-day tasks in a color that is not red if you want Gaming Mode to be off.
The different lighting effects are static, breathing, trigger, explosion, color cycle, color wave, and WASD mode. Breathing and explosion uses the color of the profile you are in. If you are in the default profile, these lighting effects will be red. Color cycle has a fast breathing animation, but switches color each time it comes on. Color wave features a wave of different colors moving from the left to the right. WASD is fairly self-explanatory with only some keys highlighted on the left-hand side of the keyboard. The lighting effects are basic and the functions to control them are quite limiting. This is definitely an area for improvement.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software