Tom's Hardware Verdict
IOGear’s HVER Pro X is a stylish and flashy gaming keyboard that impresses with its looks but underwhelms with its performance. While there are relatively few mechanical gaming keyboards offering full RGB lighting at the $89.95 price point, there are several keyboards in that ballpark that simply blow the HVER Pro X away in terms of performance.
Attractive lighting and easy-to-use software
Rugged metal frame
Some keys are a little wobbly
No wrist rest
Actuation feels inconsistent compared to traditional mechanical switches
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The IOGear HVER Pro X has a lot of what players look for in the best gaming keyboard, like an edgy design, RGB bling, macro programming and full key rebinding. And at $90 at the time of writing, the optical mechanical keyboard has a tempting price tag, especially when compared to keyboards using mechanical switches.
However, the HVER Pro X falls short of being an essential component of a devastating offense. Its brown optical mechanical switches perform inconsistently; there are wobbly keys and a distinct lack of that double-tap ‘bounce’ we all know and love from traditional brown mechanical switches.
IOGear HVER Pro X Specs
|Switches||Brown optical mechanical|
|Media Keys||With FN|
|Cable||6 feet (2m)|
|Key Caps||Double-injected ABS plastic|
|Construction||Aluminum frame over ABS plastic chassis|
|Dimensions||18.4 x 7.1 x 1.2 inches (468 x 180 x 30mm)|
|Weight||2.21 pounds (1kg)|
HVER Pro X Design
The HVER Pro X measures 18.4 x 7.1 x 1.18 inches (468 x 180 x 30mm) and is remarkably light at 2.2 pounds for a full-sized keyboard. For comparison, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT (17.4 x 5.2 x 1.4 inches) is 2.88 pounds, and the HyperX Alloy Origins (17.4 x 5.2 x 1.4 inches) is 2.37 pounds The HVER Pro X’s lightness is attributable to its thin design. A slim, “aircraft aluminum” plate covers a svelte plastic body. Yet, despite its trim build, the HVER Pro X is remarkably free of flex.
The overall look of the HVER Pro Xo is certainly on the gamer side. The metal frame is slightly angular with a downward sloping front end and a pointy tab by the non-detachable, 6-foot power cord, both stamped with IOGear’s Kaliber Gaming logo. There are two sturdy, retractable feet located on the underside of the keyboard for tilting.
The HVER Pro X’s keycaps are double-injected ABS plastic, which IOGear claims will prevent lettering from wearing off over time. Unfortunately, the font used on the keycaps makes one wonder why wear is even a concern, when some keys are rendered nearly unreadable as a result of a strange choice of font.
Further exacerbating the confusion are symbols relating to alternate key functions that do not appear to have any relation to what the keys actually do. The plus and minus keys have odd symbols on them resembling the signal bars on a cell phone, and the left and right arrow keys each have an icon that looks like a wave. There is no clear indication of what these additional functions are supposed to be. We checked with IOGear, however, and the signal bars are for increasing or decreasing light speed, and the waves are for changing the flow direction of RGB effects.
One neat thing the HVER Pro X’s design does is that it has an option for lefties. Its W, A, S and D keys can serve as arrow keys, as a nod to left-handed, as well as MMO, gamers.
Typing Experience on HVER Pro X
The HVER Pro comes with brown optical mechanical switches, which use infrared (IR) beams to detect actuation instead of physical and electrical contact, like a standard mechanical switch does. IOGear claims that the use of this technology results in a 25% faster actuation speed and longer life span than traditional mechanical switches, since there are fewer moving parts.
In practice, the brown optical mechanical switches in the HVER Pro X felt very similar to traditional brown mechanical switches -- quiet with a defined tactile bump to inform the user of a registered keystroke. Overall, my typing experience with the HVER Pro X’s switches felt very close to that of a brown mechanical switch. But in side-by-side testing with traditional brown and blue (tactile and clicky), my typing speed didn’t increase. In fact, it was the opposite.
In optimal conditions, 25% faster actuation would be quite a boon, but I found that the IR-based actuation wasn’t 100% accurate. On several occasions, the tactile bump would inform me of a successful keystroke, but the output didn’t reflect this. This led to a lot of backtracking to add in letters that somehow never made it to my documents, despite the tactile response telling me otherwise.
Adding to this irritation, five keycaps felt loose and wobbly, most notably the backspace key that I found myself using more often than usual, due to the frequent actuation misfires. Those keys also emitted an annoyingly sibilant noise when struck.
A wrist rest, which many mechanical keyboards priced higher than the HVER Pro X include, may have aided the typing experience. The positioning of the HVER Pro X’s sloping front lip required me to type at an odd raised position that proved uncomfortable over time. I found typing to be much more comfortable with the keyboard’s feet extended to allow for a gradual downward slope across the board.
Gaming Experience on HVER Pro X
The HVER Pro X, with its full n-key rollover, fared better as a gaming tool, but ultimately it could not replicate what makes brown mechanical switches great for gaming. While the increase in actuation speed was noticeable in MOBAs like DOTA 2 and FPS titles like CS:GO, the real advantage of brown switches in gaming is the ease of double tapping.
Brown mechanical switches spring back after hitting their actuation point, allowing for another quick tap; this is a trait not really found in blue or the heavier green switches, due to their stiffer nature. The brown optical mechanical switches used in the HVER Pro X had a distinct lack of bounce that effectively eliminates the key thing that makes gaming with brown mechanical switches advantageous.
The included switches certainly performed well in games, but gamers who opt for brown mechanical switches for the double tap are in for an adjustment. This isn’t necessarily a negative mark against the HVER Pro X’s switches, but it’s an important mark of distinction. You’ll get a similar feel to traditional brown switches but the experience is quite different. The increase in speed may be worth the trade-off for some gamers.
HVER Pro X RGB Lighting
The per-key RGB lighting present on the HVER Pro X is bright and remarkably self-contained with very little bleed or spillover, resulting in less glare from the lighting reflecting off the metal plate. With the free Kaliber Gaming software, you can access 18 adjustable lighting effects.
You’ll find the usual suspects, like a Rainbow Ripple and 7-color cycle, alongside more interesting options, like the Rainbow Twist and Rainbow Explosion Keys effects, the latter of which almost literally results in an RGB explosion on each keystroke. While you won’t find anything too out of the ordinary in the HVER Pro X’s stock lighting effects, it’s obvious there was a significant amount of effort to make these offerings flashy, fun and satisfying to play with.
Software for HVER Pro X
The HVER Pro’s Kaliber Gaming software allows the user to create and assign macros, rebind keys and change the polling rate (125 - 1,000 Hz ). The latter may be useful for legacy systems, but 1,000 Hz is pretty much the standard across most devices nowadays. The app also lets you choose from several different baked-in RGB lighting effects (see above). Each RGB effect has adjustable parameters, such as brightness and speed. You can also customize lighting on a per key basis here and store up to three profiles.
While the HVER Pro X software isn’t as robust as packages from industry leaders such as Corsair and Razer, it is remarkably intuitive and easy to use. You won’t be building complex custom lighting effects like you would with Corsair’s CUE software, but the effects that are available by default (Rainbow Twist is particularly cool ) are flashy and satisfying. Creating and assigning Macros was also very simple.
My one gripe with the software is that it would close after I hit “OK” to confirm a change to my settings. My settings would save, but I had to relaunch the software if I wanted to make further changes. This happened every single time I clicked “OK” after adjusting lighting settings, and it’s a very confusing and counter-intuitive choice.
The IOGear HVER Pro X comes with many of the features gamers expect, and for $90 that’s all at a significantly lower price point than much of the competition. Construction is solid, featuring very flex-resistant aluminum, and the RGB is vibrant and colorful.
However, several annoyances drag the experience down, the first of which is a bizarre font that nearly defeats the purpose of double-injected, fade-resistant keycaps. While the build quality is admirable in the chassis, some keycaps were noticeably wobbly. Perhaps the most irritating flaw of the HVER Pro X, barely noticeable in gaming, is that the optical mechanical switches’ IR beams regularly failed to detect actuation, making typing a frustrating chore. Oftentimes, I had to bottom out for consistent performance while typing which defeats the purpose of owning a mechanical board. Though performance isn’t as bad in games, a keyboard is meant for typing too, making it hard to recommend the IOGear board.
The HVER Pro X has tough rivals in the mechanical keyboard realm at the same price point, such as the Patriot Memory Viper V765 ($99 as of this writing with Kailh Box White switches). IOGear’s board is a very capable gaming keyboard, but I found myself missing the bounce and double-tapping ability afforded me by my Cherry MX Brown-equipped Corsair K95. The increased actuation speed was definitely noticeable, but I’m not convinced the trade-off is worth it. We’d only consider this keyboard if, for some reason, you don’t plan on using it much for typing.
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Nate Rand is a freelance reviewer for Tom's Hardware US, covering gaming headsets, keyboards, mice, and microphones.