What's that there? A big Romer-G button?When Logitech came out with its G910 Orion Spark keyboard, it seemed more like a "me too" attempt at a mechanical RGB-lit keyboard than anything new. You may agree that the name for the keyboard, "Orion Spark," and the name for the switches, "Romer-G," seemed like marketing fluff, so when Logitech invited us to have a tour through its G-Labs in Lausanne, Switzerland, we decided to peek around a little and see if these Logitech products actually delivered.
Logitech was very open about everything, so we asked if we could interview one of the engineers. For this story we were not so much interested in the keyboard itself (because our sister site Tom's Guide already has a review up), but rather the Romer-G switches that it features because there is so little information on them out there. We already got a lot of information throughout the tour, but addressed any remaining questions to Peter Mah, the Sr. Program Manager at Logitech.
The first thing we were wondering about is why Logitech decided to make new switches. The answer to that was simple: the Cherry MX switches are old, and they were never designed for gaming. Also, while the Cherry MX RGB switches are somewhat redesigned to offer better lighting, they still aren't quite up to snuff. (We should also mention here that Cherry has an exclusive deal with Corsair for its Cherry MX RGB switches.)
So, what has Logitech done with its Romer-G switches? Quite a lot, it seems. For starters, they feature an entirely new design that uses seven individual parts. The switch itself has a spring inside, dual contacts to register the actuation, and a landing pad to soften the bottoming out of a keypress.
The design has a shorter travel distance, a higher actuation point of just 1.5 mm, and an actuation force of 45 grams. Logitech claims that the keys are therefore 25 percent faster, which should help responsiveness in gaming.
Unfortunately, due to the different stem design you won't be able to swap the keycaps for Cherry MX-compatible caps.
Logitech guarantees that the Romer-G switches will live for 70 million presses, which is 40 percent more than the 50 million keypresses that the Cherry MX keys are good for. On top of that, the company showed a video of the switches still working after 90 million actuations.
What's more interesting about the Romer-G switches, though, is the lighting. The stem of the key, on which the keycap sits, goes around the metal spring rather than inside it. This leaves enough room inside the spring for a lens that brings the light from the LED on the PCB up into the keycap. The reason Logitech designed them this way is simple: it allows the entire top of the key to be brightly lit up (as opposed to only half for Cherry MX keys), and it ensures that no light is leaked underneath the key. The best part is, Logitech achieved exactly that. The end result is very stunning.
Logitech also redesigned the keycaps. Rather than the standard cylindrical hollowing, Logitech built the Romer-G keycaps with angular sides that guide your finger into place. Originally, the raised part was 1.7 mm tall, which the professional gamers seemed to love but typists didn't, so the engineers lowered it to 1.2 mm above the top base of the keycap.
The feel of the Romer-G switch doesn't correlate to any Cherry MX switch. If I were to describe it, I'd say that Logitech's solution feels like a Cherry MX Brown switch with O-rings installed. It therefore feels a little more like a rubber dome than a mechanical switch, but not at all in a bad way.
In fact, after some getting used to, they are actually quite comfortable to type on. The keycaps on them aren't my personal favorite, though, as their different shape had my fingers getting lost from time to time. Peter Mah said that these take about two weeks to get used to, and after typing on a review unit at home for about a week I am slowly starting to agree.
The end result of Logitech's efforts makes one thing clear. The company did not build the Romer-G keys in order to circumvent the exclusive deal that Corsair has with Cherry, but rather because it saw that the Cherry MX switches simply showed their age. Having played with both of them, we can't disagree either, and Logitech has done an excellent job at building a new mechanical switch.
Now, if only the company would make a keyboard with this switch that features a more professional appearance and keycaps that are friendlier to typists.