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Keyboard: Microsoft's SideWinder X6

Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?
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Microsoft’s newest gaming keyboard is the SideWinder X6 , an $80 low-profile offering with red backlighting under the main key bed and orange backlighting for the macro keys on the left side of the keyboard. The X6 has media controls along its top edge and two knobs for controlling system volume and backlight brightness. The X6 was the only keyboard I tested that unfortunately couldn’t change backlight color.

The bank of programmable keys on the left side is switchable, just like the Logitech G19, so you can program one key up to three times. The SideWinder X6 also comes with a detachable numeric keypad that can connect to the left or right side of the keyboard. When not programmed, it works simply as you'd expect. But when activated, all of the keys are programmable, so you get the benefit of even more custom keys.

The X6’s low profile and chiclet-style keys are stylish and definitely fun to use. They give a softer kind of click, similar to a laptop keyboard blown up to desktop size. However, because the keys are closely spaced and low-profile, I often had to look at my finger placement to make sure I was in a proper position. This was especially problematic when moving my hand to press the programmable keys on the left.

Among its best features, the X6 has a series of textured rubber feet that keep the keyboard from skating around smooth desk surfaces. Actually, it’s pretty difficult to move the X6 without picking it up. In strange contrast, though, the detachable numeric keypad lacks textured feet, so it feels almost like it flops around a bit next to the main keyboard. 

The programmable keys were outstanding while playing MMOs and RPG-style games that could make good use of them, but the uniformity of the keypad and subsequent finger placement issues would occasionally put a damper on trying to sneak into position undetected while playing an FPS. Pressing the wrong key at a critical moment can be a little frustrating, especially when you’re going toe-to-toe with an opponent in a multiplayer match.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    Fortunex , November 26, 2009 6:58 AM
    I don't need the $100+ keyboards or anything, what REALLY makes a difference in my playing is how smooth the feet of the mouse are, and how comfortable the mouse is.

    I had a $10 cheap ass mouse, was the most comfortable mouse I've ever used, but then the cord wore down and it stopped working, and I lack the skills to fix it. Bought a Microsoft Habu, didn't like it at all. Bought a Logitech G5, love it. Bought a steelseries mousepad, OH MY GORSH. My KDR in games (particularly sniping in TF2, where headshots are near essential) nearly doubled. EVERYTHING is so much smoother when compared to my (what I thought was smooth) desktop. It just glides, no more rugged, scratchy mouse movements, it's amazing.

    For keyboards, I have a Razer Arctosa, which I bought because I LOVE the flat keys, and the low profile. No need for fancy backlighting or macro keys, I just want it to be easy to type with and the keys to not be curved.

    I'd advise ANY gamer who doesn't already have a mousepad to get one.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , November 26, 2009 5:36 AM
    Ive been looking at the G19 for some time now, ever since it came out, but I am not sure if I should just go for the Sidewinder x6 or the G15 which is still good and at a reasonable 80-100dollars where Im from....
    Should I get it or wait for my next build..... x6? g15?
  • 1 Hide
    scorc25 , November 26, 2009 5:45 AM
    I recently just purchased a Saitek Cyborg keyboard. Very impressed with it, loving it the moment we touched. Ive used the first Saitek Eclipse, and then the Eclipse 2. The Eclipse 3 is out there; the Cyborg is basically just the gamer edition of it.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 26, 2009 5:48 AM
    Keyboard: SteelSeries MERC Stealth
    Mouse : Roccat Kone
    Mousepad: Roccat Sota
    Headset : Roccat Kave
  • -6 Hide
    volks1470 , November 26, 2009 6:01 AM
    bah on fancy gaming peripherals. I'm still using a roller-ball PS2 port mouse and keyboard and they work great. Price? Free, because nobody wants cheap stuff like that!
  • 3 Hide
    fleeb , November 26, 2009 6:07 AM
    I am waiting for Logitech G110. Looks nice and will not cost $200.
  • 4 Hide
    JimmiG , November 26, 2009 6:21 AM
    Since I'm a flight simmer, I own both a CH Yoke+Pedals and a Saitek X52 Pro. I also bought an "A4Tech" laser gaming mouse - a discount brand but the mouse itself compares to any Logitech or Razer rodent...for half the price. For keyboard, I'm using a $10 no name corded keyboard :) 
  • 11 Hide
    Fortunex , November 26, 2009 6:58 AM
    I don't need the $100+ keyboards or anything, what REALLY makes a difference in my playing is how smooth the feet of the mouse are, and how comfortable the mouse is.

    I had a $10 cheap ass mouse, was the most comfortable mouse I've ever used, but then the cord wore down and it stopped working, and I lack the skills to fix it. Bought a Microsoft Habu, didn't like it at all. Bought a Logitech G5, love it. Bought a steelseries mousepad, OH MY GORSH. My KDR in games (particularly sniping in TF2, where headshots are near essential) nearly doubled. EVERYTHING is so much smoother when compared to my (what I thought was smooth) desktop. It just glides, no more rugged, scratchy mouse movements, it's amazing.

    For keyboards, I have a Razer Arctosa, which I bought because I LOVE the flat keys, and the low profile. No need for fancy backlighting or macro keys, I just want it to be easy to type with and the keys to not be curved.

    I'd advise ANY gamer who doesn't already have a mousepad to get one.
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , November 26, 2009 7:01 AM
    Are they worth it eh not really

    Are they pretty just about every time.
  • 0 Hide
    cyb34 , November 26, 2009 7:23 AM
    I got a G15 v2 and a G9. They are worth every penny.
  • -1 Hide
    anamaniac , November 26, 2009 8:41 AM
    Preiphereals are worth it.
    Full 7.1 sounds, 7000 DPI mouse, 9x 2560x1600 monitors, G(insert number here) keyboard, soft leather chair with fully adjustable tilt, proper desk...
    You could have a boring powerhouse, or a crappy computer but with all the fixings. It's nice having the extras.
  • 1 Hide
    aznguy0028 , November 26, 2009 10:12 AM
    @ Fortunex

    Totally agree w/you dude. I also have a Logitech G5 with a Steelpad 5L mousepad, it feels like my mouse is gliding each time i game. Flawless!
    I can't go back to anything after that combo :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 26, 2009 10:24 AM
    Gaming peripherals won't make a bad player good, but they can enhance a good player's game. Or at the very least, add some comfort to make the long hours of gaming less ergonomically stressful
  • 1 Hide
    Flying Sq , November 26, 2009 10:36 AM
    Should have looked at other brands other than the 2 big ones, OCZ's line of mice and keyboards are an amazing deal for their performance. I suggest anyone thinking about getting a gaming specific keyboard or mouse at least give them a check. I've used them personally, and my customers love them too.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 26, 2009 10:41 AM
    I like this article! Comparing products without having to find a winner is a nice change.
    Too bad you can't have the g19 display on a saitek chrismas lighting board with keys.
  • 1 Hide
    theubersmurf , November 26, 2009 11:43 AM
    Flying SqShould have looked at other brands other than the 2 big ones, OCZ's line of mice and keyboards are an amazing deal for their performance. I suggest anyone thinking about getting a gaming specific keyboard or mouse at least give them a check. I've used them personally, and my customers love them too.
    There are too many products out there for them to cover any but the most common...and perhaps some they'd like to point out to users.

    I have a bad habit of spilling beer on my keyboard while playing tf2 and destroying it. So I don't buy expensive keyboards anymore. Which is fine since I use a Logitech G13 gamepad anyway. The thing I noticed about nicer peripherals is that you don't notice too much change when you get them, it's when you have to go back to the ultra cheap stuff that it becomes bothersome. I have a gigabyte ghost mouse, plantronics gamecom headset, an old Q-pad, and my 15 USD Logitech USB keyboard...All of which I am glad to have. If I had to go back to some of the simpler hardware out there, I'd be a little unhappy.
  • -5 Hide
    timbo , November 26, 2009 12:08 PM
    To say good peripherals won't improve your game is silly. A good mouse & pad will make a difference, no matter your skill level. Get a good mouse like a MX518 & a good pad like a SteelSeries & your game will improve. Makes me think the author isn't that experienced @ fps.
  • -2 Hide
    x_microbe_x , November 26, 2009 12:42 PM
    I feel compelled to respond to this artical mainly from a highly competitive FPS perspective. Been playing FPS games for years and I am currently into QuakeLive pretty hardcore atm.

    I just wanted to disagree with the part about the very high DPI settings on some of the more expensive not being of much use. I've went from a plain M$ mouse, to a MX518 (1600dpi), to a G5 (2000dpi), to a G9x (5000dpi) and have seen notable gain in speed and control with each upgrade. Going from the $40 MX518 to the $100 G9x is a pretty remarkable improvment. A must say that using a good mouse pad can actually make or brake a high dpi setting.

    Obviously one needs to go into the console and fine tune the sensitivity in order to take full advantage of a high dpi setting. I recommend using the 360/inches method to figure out the exact sens you need when upgrading. I'm currently playing at .52 sens/ 5000dpi/ 1000 polling rate with my G9x (this comes out to 5 inches per 360 degree rotation, or 360/5") and I will never go back to my old G5.

    After trying many preiphereals, this is the best setup I've found so far

    keyboard: Wolf King Warrior $40, or Warrior Extreme $60
    mouse: G9x with smaller grip $100
    pad: Razer Destructor $40
    headset: Steelseries $80
  • -2 Hide
    DjEaZy , November 26, 2009 12:50 PM
    ... o... the G9... so many unreal frags... nice and heavy...
  • -1 Hide
    h83 , November 26, 2009 12:59 PM

    Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?

    For me, they aren´t. I have a cheap keyboard and mouse from Lifetech and they are more than enough to play Counter Strike Source at a very nice level. I prefer to spent that kind of money on PC parts like CPUs and graphic cards.
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 26, 2009 1:13 PM
    h83Are Premium Gaming Peripherals Worth Your Money?For me, they aren´t. I have a cheap keyboard and mouse from Lifetech and they are more than enough to play Counter Strike Source at a very nice level. I prefer to spent that kind of money on PC parts like CPUs and graphic cards.

    Using a cheap hp basic keyboard and noname mic is fine for me too, but I can't live without a proper wireless laser mouse. Since the day I got my first 'cordless logitech mouse' I can't imagine life with a generic noname thing. It just wouldn't work.
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