With the release of Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy title, StarCraft II, came a number of ‘SCII’ themed peripherals to go along with it. While some are trivial, Razer has a line of themed hardware for gamers to make use of. In this review, we take a look at the company’s Marauder gaming keyboard.
Official Razer Marauder Specs:
* Full Keyboard Layout with integrated number pad keys
* Ergonomically Optimized Wrist Rest
* Reduced Desktop Footprint
* APM-Lighting System
* Laser-etched Keys
* Optimized Key Travel &amp; Spacing
* Ultrapolling (1000Hz Polling / 1ms Response)
* Braided 7 Foot USB Cable
* Dimensions: 400mm(L) * 182mm(W) * 32mm(H)
Razer’s Marauder features a solid construction and, for its build quality, is of a surprisingly small size and weight. Measuring 15.7 inches long and 7.1 inches wide, the keyboard is smaller than most gaming keyboards on the market, which usually feature large arrays of programmable keys. With the Marauder, which was designed with LAN party form in mind (being smaller means taking up less desk space and less taken up space means you can fit more people on a table, etc), it is case of form playing a large role in the design as well as function.
In fact, the company has gone so far to maximize the use of a minimal amount of overall space that the arrow keys have been embedded within the numeric keypad. The good thing about this keyboard’s smaller dimensions is that it will take hardcore RTS gamers less time to traverse the keys. While most casual gamers will not utilize this enhancement, for those gamers that participate in StarCraft II tournaments and other pro and semi-pro gaming events, they will appreciate it.
The Marauder also features Razer’s APM (actions-per-minute) lighting system, a system in which allows the keyboard to light up in various colors and patterns depending on what is happening within your game session or just how fast you are typing on the keyboard in general. This technology has been implemented on all of their StarCraft II peripherals. The included software suite allows players to setup the lighting scheme they want to have illuminate depending on the game event. Not only can it be set to change color as the rate of your key-presses increases but, for example, you can set the keyboard lights to shine yellow if an allied player is under attack and then switch over to red if your base is under attack. In the heat of battle, especially in those really frenetic sessions, players can lose situational awareness of what is going on across the theatre of war. This lighting system is a VERY helpful tool for keeping up on current events.
The keys of the Marauder are wonderful to type on as they are coated with a supple rubberization that has to be felt to be believed. I have never used a keyboard with this kind of coating before (at least, to this effect) and hope it starts a trend – very comfortable on your fingers. The one aspect of the keys which proved difficult for me to adjust was the spacing of the pressable area of the keys. The Marauder features tapered keys and this tapering makes the space between keys a little different than your usual, run-of-the-mill keyboard. Razer touts this as ‘optimized travel key distance’. Maybe for some – not for me, at first. After a couple days of usage I was able to adapt to the separation but still did not see much of an improvement in my scores with it. Also, unlike most of Razer’s keyboards, the Marauder does not feature a USB pass-through port on it.
Over the course of my reviewing the Marauder, I ran it through play sessions of everything from Combat Mission Shock Force to Call of Duty: Black Ops. The keyboard was a joy to use no matter the game genre. During StarCraft II playthroughs the APM lighting was very fun and helped keep me up on in-game events quite well. Also of use is the ability to record macros on-the-fly. This makes repetitive keyboard tasks much easier to palate and is a wonderful add-on to an already-solid keyboard.
Overall, Razer’s Marauder gaming keyboard is a very well-built unit with lots of features. While its price is somewhat debatable at about $120 dollars, especially considering the lack of a USB pass-through, it is not that much more expensive than other premium gaming keyboards on the market and the StarCraft II theme is very cool to behold – especially when coupled with the APM lighting. If you are a fan of the StarCraft series or just in need of a good LAN gaming keyboard, you could definitely do worse.