Creative is a brand best known for its wide range of audio products, including speakers, sound cards, headphones, and even amplifiers. Its Sound BlasterX line comprises mainly gaming headphones, but that family has now diversified to include Creative’s first ever mechanical keyboard.
The Vanguard K08 keyboard has dispensed with the more common Cherry MX switches in favor of custom ones designed together with Omron. Dubbed PRES, short for Perceive-React-Execute-Switches, they are rated for a total of 70 million keystrokes, compared to the 50 million on Cherry MX switches.
One of the main selling points of these switches is the shorter actuation and travel distances – 1.5mm and 3.5mm respectively – which Creative says helps reduce key response times and enables you to perform more actions per minute. This is actually in line with what other brands have done with custom gaming switches. For instance, Razer’s own Green, Orange, and Yellow switches and Logitech’s Romer-G also boast shorter travel distances.
In fact, the PRES switches appear identical to their Romer-G counterparts, the latter of which were also designed by Omron. They both feature the same surface-mounted LED in the center, which shines up directly through the keycap and enables brighter and more even illumination.
The PRES switches are also linear, so there’s no tactile bump midway. They have a 45g actuation force, and are probably best described as feeling closest to Cherry MX Reds.
Creative has put this to good use here, and the Vanguard is capable of some quite brilliant RGB lighting effects. There’s even support for per-key customizations, which opens the door to nearly limitless combi-nations. If not, there’s a good range of preset effects that make for quite a visual spectacle. The lighting customizations are done through Creative’s Sound Blaster Connect software, and while it’s intuitive enough to use, one glaring omission is the ability to bind custom commands to the row of five macro keys. This means you can bind them to specific controls only in the game settings menu.
Other features include dedicated media keys and a volume wheel, which can come in quite handy if you spend a lot of time on Netflix or Spotify.
A well-built keyboard with plenty of features to satisfy avid gamers.
AT A GLANCE
ActuatioN force: 45g
ActuatioN / Total Travel distance: 1.5mm / 3.5mm
Dimensions: 215 x 465 x 37.6mm (w/o wrist rest)149 x 465 x 37.6mm
The PRES switch allows for quicker response times thanks to its shorter actuation distance.
Text: Koh Wanzi / Pictures: Creative