The G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 Mechanical Keyboard

G.Skill supplies the Ripjaws KM780 keyboard inside a well-designed cardboard box. The artwork theme of the box is focused on a picture of the keyboard itself and promotes its most important features. Inside the box we found a basic quick start guide, a large wrist rest with a soft top layer and a container with a keycap removal tool and ten red "gaming" keycaps with ridged top surfaces. Three of the keycaps, the W, A and D, have their top greatly beveled and facing towards the central S key.

 

Some companies keep their designs plain and serious while others make them complex and aggressive. The Ripjaws KM780 is something in-between. Everything on the keyboard is black, with the metallic company logo at the top of the keyboard being the only exception. The keycaps are mounted directly onto the aluminum top frame of the keyboard, which aluminum surface is somewhat overly prone to fingerprints. Plastic decorative flaps with the company logo imprinted on them extend from the sides and a metallic tube surrounds the keyboard.

Aside from the standard 104 keys, there are several extra keys on the KM780. Six programmable "G" keys can be seen to the left of the keyboard. These keys are also mechanical and illuminated, like the main keys. Right above the "G" keys and the ESC key, G.Skill placed the macro recording and mode selection buttons. The three smaller buttons to their right are the Windows key lock, the brightness selection and the timer buttons. It is worthwhile to mention that is the first time we saw a dedicated timer button on a gaming keyboard.

Five more flat buttons can be found to the right side of the keyboard, followed by a metallic volume control wheel. Four of them are used for the basic media functions and the last one is the volume mute button. Right below the volume control wheel, G.Skill installed a LED bar indicator that displays the master volume level of the system. It is a cool feature but we found a minor bug: if the main audio device changes, e.g. USB headphones are connected, the bar does not reset itself and one has to turn the volume all the way down in order for it to display the proper volume level again.

As the mechanical keys are rather tall, G.Skill placed most of the flat buttons into plastic frames that elevate them a few mm, providing easier access and limiting the chance of accidentally pressing a mechanical key while trying to push one of the buttons. Only the three smaller Windows key lock, brightness and timer buttons are not elevated, probably because the designer thought that their use is infrequent/secondary.

  

One USB port and headphone jacks can be found at the rear right side of the keyboard. There is also a switch that can be used to turn the KM780 into a standard keyboard, disabling programmability and n-key rollover to maximize compatibility. This sometimes is necessary with very old motherboards or even while accessing the BIOS of more recent systems.

G.Skill also installed a plastic "cable mouse holder" on the metallic tube at the rear of the keyboard. This can be moved at any point across the tube or, if it is not going to be of any use, folded beneath the keyboard. Do note that unless the keyboard's feet have been extended, the cable holder does not fit beneath the keyboard unless it is at the rightmost edge of the tube, where a slot for it exists. The extra container with the additional keycaps can also be attached to this metallic tube.

Beneath the keycaps we found original Cherry MX RGB switches. These were exclusive to Corsair for a year since their launch in 2014 and apparently G.Skill jumped on the opportunity the moment that exclusivity period was over. The Ripjaws KM780 comes with either Red or Brown switches at this point of time and this pictured is the Brown version. Cross-type supports can be found beneath the larger keys.

As for the backlighting, the Cherry MX RGB switches currently provide the best visual experience possible. Their clear bodies allow the most uniform distribution of lighting around the key and that is especially apparent with mixed/complex color settings. In theory, the Cherry MX RGB switch can have any color of the RGB scale (that's about 16.8 million colors) but, as we have mentioned in all of our RGB keyboard reviews to this date, the human eye cannot possibly differentiate more than a couple dozen colors. It is highly unlikely that the vast majority of people will care to choose any other color than the few core colors provided by the software.

There is just one major issue with the backlighting of the G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 and that is the lighting of the flat buttons at the top of the keyboard. The lighting color of these buttons, including the volume level LED bar indicator, cannot be changed and is always red. So, if the main backlighting color of the keyboard is changed to any other color than red, these buttons are a major visual dissonance.

Quality & Performance Testing

In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be realized. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (Cn). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 Cn = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users.

The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 Cn. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduces the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but use only the results of the typical sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.

As expected from Cherry MX switches, the Ripjaws KM780 is extremely consistent and any force differences are imperceptible by the user. We measured an average actuation force of 45.2 Cn with a very low disparity of ± 3.53%. The Cherry MX Brown switch is specified to require a force of 45 Cn at the actuation point, so this average is just about right. However, do note that the actuation point of this switch design is after the maximum pressure point, as seen in their operation chart below. In order to reach the actuation point, a force of 55 Cn is required to overcome the maximum pressure point of the switch. 

Introduction The G.Skill Ripjaws MX780 Gaming Mouse
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  • Kutark - Thursday, November 12, 2015 - link

    He's an iSheeple. Pay no attention. Reply
  • fvbounty - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    They better check the Ducky Shine 5 RGB...for $165...Love my Ducky Legend great keyboard, and I've had the Corsair K95 which was nice! Reply
  • hulu - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I believe centinewton should be abbraviated "cN", not "Cn". Centi (1/100) is "c" and Newton is "N". Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    This non-standard bottom row might be the worst one yet. The left CTRL, ALT, and Windows keys are all longer than the standard 1.25x width (they appear to be 1.5x, same as the Tab key). As a result, the spacebar winds up being 5.5x long instead of the standard 6.25x. The only keyboard I know of that uses a 5.5x spacebar is the Noppoo Chic Mini and replacement 5.5x spacebars are notoriously difficult to source (to the point that most people just 3D print a replacement)

    Non-standard layouts on otherwise standard keyboards make replacement key caps much more difficult to find. It both prevents users from customizing their keyboards how they want and makes the process of replacing worn, cracked, or broken keycaps more difficult. Given that this is an RGB keyboard that was designed and marketed with end-user customization in mind it makes no sense to stray from a standard layout just to make the left CTRL and ALT keys a few mm longer.
    Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I've never understood why people want a spacebar that's a mile wide. I much prefer Apple-like layouts where you can comfortably reach at least one modifier key with your thumb. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I find the name "Ripjaws" a little bit silly and painful sounding all at the same time. It conjures up disgustingly gory mental images of metal objects doing things inside someone's mouth that would result in an emergency room visit, follow-up surgery, and probably quite a lot of reconstructive dental work. I'd purchase any other competing product first just to avoid the branding if I were in the market. In fact, I have done just that with G.Skill's RAM offerings in the past. It makes me feel far too squirmy when I see the product name.

    The highly negative product branding connotations aside, I can't see either the keyboard or mouse providing an experience that's worth the price increase over a $20 in whatever keyboard and mouse combo pack costs the least from Amazon. I highly doubt that using these will grant a 10x improvement on typing in something or dragging and dropping a file over something significantly cheaper.
    Reply
  • marcplante - Thursday, November 5, 2015 - link

    Seems to me that most everyone is using the same switches (cherry), so it comes down to design and support if/when they fall. Reply
  • theuglyman0war - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    sure but design can entail a lot! Also as some have mentioned some might actually prefer the mech alternatives for ergonomics/actuation response but miss german build quality. What I hate is that I can not find one keyboard with all my design criteria... Romer keys sound nice if they actually have a brighter LED for my aging eyes and for us stereoscopic fans fuddling in the dark. Love the removable magnetic num pad design of of the MS sidewinder x6 but it is not mechanical. Keyboard designs usually seem to come in two flavors either unoriginal and conservative playing it safe... Or over the top tacky futuristic toy weapon. And when I do get a beautiful design like say Corsair's brushed aluminum jobs...
    The LED will be do dim. Or with other brands...
    They only offer one color of LED that doesn't match the $$$ I have invested in another color scheme. Or they do not offer my favorite switch ( blues ).
    Seems silly to say ( since preference is relative )
    But with all these mech offerings it seems strange that I can not find a stylistically beautiful design with a range of choices?
    Reply
  • theuglyman0war - Friday, November 6, 2015 - link

    case in point: LOGITECH
    plasticky designs to be certain but u get the sense that there is enough build quality there that such plastic keeps the price reasonable. Plus they do strike a nice balance in the looks dept. ( not a cookie cutter standard keyboard yawn and not way over the top )
    However, same old same old choice hopscotch... Yes they do have a version with mx blues ( hurray! ) but alas only white LEDs that stick out like a sore thumb with the rest of my color scheme ( although if u r going to lack a choice I suppose white is as neutral as Switzerland ).
    Spose I could try modding every key's LED ( and mod tuts for just about every keyboard for the the same issue confirms I am at least not alone )
    But LOGITECH is going to release an RGB version ( problem solved? I get to have my cake and eat it too??? )
    Nyet! Nope! UhUH!
    An over the top overly toyified design for Logitechs new flagship keyboard with ROHMER keys instead of the MX blues.
    Which is fine if that's what u wanted. Just seems that all that was needed was the an RGB addition to their mech line. ( all that is needed is a nice original design and a range of choices )
    Reply
  • nirvana11 - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    This is one ugly looking phone. The pictures in this article are far better than the reality. Reply

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