The Rosewill Illuminated Gaming Keyboard RK-9100BR

I'm keen to go ahead and get this out of the way now: despite being at least called the Rosewill Illuminated Gaming Keyboard, there's very little here beyond a selected backlighting toggle that recommends this keyboard for gamers. That doesn't make it a bad keyboard, but you should have your expectations in order beforehand.

With all that in mind, I'm pleased to report that Rosewill's Illuminated Gaming Keyboard at the very least continues Rosewill's trend of producing simple, attractive keyboards. Though I'm still very much in love with the style and design of the Corsair K90, I still appreciate the basic, functional design of the Illuminated Gaming Keyboard. More importantly, too, is now I can evaluate the Cherry MX Brown switches on a level playing field. Logitech included them in their G710+, but modified them to reduce noise. With the RK-9100BR in hand, I can tell you there's a definite difference.

As with other mechanical keyboards, Rosewill uses individual blue LEDs behind each keycap to backlight it, giving them control over which keys are illuminated. As a result, they include a toggle that allows you to switch between illuminating the entire keyboard, just the WASD cluster and arrows, everything but the number pad, or even killing the backlighting entirely (except for the Lock keys, which have green LEDs behind them to indicate their status.)

The RK-9100BR is bright at its highest setting, but thankfully there are also four levels of brightness to choose between. Note that these toggles are all handled by an Fn key that replaces the right-hand Windows key and the function keys at the top of the keyboard. As with everything else, it's an elegant, simple solution. In addition to the toggles, there are volume controls, playback controls, and home and mail shortcut keys, all mapped to F1-F12.

In terms of build, Rosewill wasn't able to offer PS/2 connectivity like they do with their lesser models; the RK-9100 and RK-9100BR require two USB 2.0 leads, one for the keyboard itself and the other for power. In exchange, though, you do get two USB 2.0 ports on the back of the keyboard, behind the number pad. The shell of the keyboard is basic rigid black plastic, and the keys employ a black soft-touch paint coating that's very comfortable to the touch. The USB cable itself is braided and of high quality.

Before even testing it, I only have two major complaints: the green LEDs used for the Lock keys are just as bright if not even brighter than the blue backlights, and unfortunately these can't be turned down or off without actually just disabling those keys. That's a minor quibble. The other is the price; the RK-9100 with MX Blue switches is $119, and the RK-9100BR with MX Brown switches is $129, and that's just plain uncompetitive. This is surprising considered Rosewill is typically a value brand, and given the minimal frills with the RK-9100's design, I think we're at least $30 over where we need to be. There are feature-rich monsters from Thermaltake and Corsair that sell for less and feature arguably superior gaming switches in the Cherry MX Reds and Blacks.

Introducing Rosewill's RK-9000I and Illuminated Gaming Keyboard The Rosewill Illuminated Gaming Keyboard in Practice
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  • ymrtech - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    Razer* Reply
  • stratosrally - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    I've been using a Corsair K60 for a year, and my solution for illumination was to purchase an Allsop Redmond monitor stand and an Antec Halo 6 LED USB lighting strip. The strip runs underneath the leading edge of the monitor stand and into a USB port on the back of my Samsung monitor for power. I drilled one of the stand's legs to hide the cable, and it is very stealthy... and casts a lovely glow downwards onto the keyboard and illuminates enough of my desk surface to have all lights out in the room when gaming.

    Instead of worrying about an individual LED failing on my keyboard that would require an RMA or a replacement, I can spend less than $8 on a new strip if it fails.

    BTW - I'm absolutely loving my Cherry MX Reds and my Corsair Vengeance K60 - and my M60 as well.
    Reply
  • ol1bit - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    I just got the Cooler Master CM Storm Quick Fire Pro with Brown Cherry keys for $74 with a $20 rebate card on New Egg. Black Friday deals..still going on today. :-)

    Liked the features it had compared with Roswell basic, and like you said the Illuminated Roswell is just too much money.
    Reply
  • greenbackz - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    I have a steelseries MERC stealth.. u can change the lights from blue, red or purple, it has media keys and also was cheaper than this thing.. why does this thing cost more when it has far less functionality compared to the SS merc? lol Reply
  • torp - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    One, your keyboard has rubber switches not mechanical, which is why it's cheaper.
    Two, some (me included) consider the extra keys a hindrance not a feature. Personally i have a Razer Ultimate and the macro keys on the left annoy me to no end.
    Reply
  • vshin - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Well that was fast. Cyber Monday deals rock! Reply
  • Zokudu - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Have you looked at the Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid? I feel like these keyboard reviews are missing some major mechanical players. Reply
  • Omega215D - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    There's also the CM Storm Quickfire TK that's tenkeyless but still offers a num-pad. It's backlit and comes a variety of switches. Similar in price to the Quickfire Rapid. Reply
  • CobaltFire - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    I work on fairly old equipment and get to use some of the older mechanical switch terminals (IBM and HP). This series is a great way for me to get a feel for the mech keyboards available today without spending a ton of money.

    That said, the Centurion is not a bad mech. I routinely use one well (-AL with a PPC, -YLW, and a -D with an LB), as do many others. It may not fit your playing style, however that is no fault of the platform.
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    I think it's time for a holiday gaming keyboard roundup with recommendations.

    Keypoints:

    Longevity/Durability

    Tactile Response/Speed - i.e. how many buttons can you press at once, response time, "trigger weight"

    Allow me to clarify "Trigger weight". Think of a gun, and how many pounds are required to pull the trigger. I want a keyboard where I don't have to push the button down very far to get the key to actuate input (which is why Cherry Switches are sort of a poor choice for gaming), but I don't want it so soft that merely touching the keys to find the home keys registers a push. My Logitech G15 which I have been using for a few years is nearly perfect)

    Comfort/Ergonomics

    Additional Features:

    USB ports on the top edge of the keyboard are tough to access. LCD screens are nice but not necessary, still they can add value. Indicator lights are a big help. It would also be nice to get some sort of register of how much juice different keyboards suck down. Does my G15 cost me an additional $10 to run over the course of a few years? It might not be a huge deciding factor but it could be an interesting read. I really like the gaming switch my G15 has. I often forget its there but it would be nice to have a keyboard's software automatically double check to make sure that this key is disabled when in full screen.
    Reply

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