Budget Boards: EVGA Z12 RGB Gaming Keyboard

Last week we looked at a budget gaming keyboard from Adata/XPG. This week we’re looking at another budget gaming keyboard that also happened to be on sale at the time for $29.99 CAD (now back to $44.99 CAD) at Newegg Canada. The EVGA Z12 RGB.

I have long been a fan of EVGA power supplies and their video cards though I rarely purchase the latter as I prefer AMD graphics cards. Recently EVGA has been spreading its wings into the PC peripheral market include mice and keyboards. I haven’t looked at their mice yet as they just look way to big for my hands and I don’t think I could offer a fair review of them because of that.

The box for the Z12 is a nice affair showing the product information while not being overly dramatic. The outer box holds an inner heavy cardboard box in which contains the keyboard. The keyboard is wrapped in a plastic bag and other than that there is only an small quick start booklet.

Taking the keyboard out of the box you can see that there has been much more attention paid to quality and detail with the Z12 compared to the XPG keyboard I reviewed last week. Everything feels really good to touch.

The case in this case is all plastic and it will twist in my hands. The good news is that while typing it does not bend in at all so it remains very stable to type on. Along the top of the case you have a centre- front EVGA logo that looks like, with the transparent letters in the logo, it should light up. But it does not. That is all the embellishment you will see on this keyboard. The front of the keyboard has the non-removeable cable coming out the centre. Not ideally where I would like it but it is probably the best compromise for such a large keyboard.

Speaking of large, this keyboard is enormous. Much larger than I would ever consider as a daily driver for myself. There are 114 individual keys on this keyboard including five dedicated macro keys and a button with the EVGA “E” that is dedicated to locking the Windows key. There are also dedicated next track, back track, play/pause and mute buttons.

The keycaps are smooth and the legends are shine-through they are still the cheaper dye sub ABS that will wear away over time. In a budget keyboard I have no issue with that. The switches have CherryMX style stems allowing you to install any compatible keycaps you wish which is a really nice feature. The legend font is decidedly gamer looking but very sharp and easy to read on the main keys. The extra keys between the main keyboard and the numpad use the same font but at a much smaller point making them actually pretty hard to read.

Keycap removed to show off the CherryMX style stem.

The actuation of the membrane switches here is much more comfortable than the XPG last week. It’s smoother and lighter and the keys make no weird sounds.

There is almost true RGB on board the Z12. It will display that whole 16bit colour gambit but it is limited to five zones across the keyboard. It still looks fantastic but some of the colours are not as bright as other. The scrolling rainbow effect looks really good though if that is your sort of thing. I typically prefer a static colour as I find changing colours distracting.

There is software offered by EVGA called Unleash. While basic it is still better than a lot of the other software out there. It does what it says it’s going to do with no thrills. That’s great because that often means little to no overhead to run the application.

Typing on the keyboard was a bit jarring initially. I wrote this review here and at the beginning a had a lot of trouble touch typing. This is all due to the size of the keyboard and the position I have it in to fit on my desk. After acclimating I have not had any issues and I really like the feel of the keys. They are decently light but tactile feeling. More so than a brown mechanical switch.

At $29.99 this keyboard was an actual steal. I still think at $44.99 CAD this is still a really great keyboard and those with space I think it’s a no brainer for a gamer on a budget.

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