The Tesoro Gram XS is not your average gaming keyboard. It differentiates itself from the competition with low-profile mechanical switches and chiclet-style keycaps. But what really stands out is its stylish, slim design and colorful lighting effects that glow beneath a fresh white paint job. Design quirks and overly simplistic software are definite shortcomings, but the Tesoro Gram XS remains a decent option for anyone looking to game on the go — and turn some heads while doing it.
Mechanical keyboards don't need to be hulking beasts to accommodate a marathon gaming session. The Tesoro Gram XS is a shining example. At 17.7 x 5 x 0.9 inches, the Gram XS is one of the sleekest gaming keyboards we've reviewed, and it's even thinner than the ultra-compact Logitech G Pro (14.2 x 6.0 x 1.4 inches). In fact, the Tesoro looks so unlike other mechanical keyboards that you wouldn't guess it to be one at all when the rainbow lights are turned off.
The Tesoro Gram XS has a plastic body and metal top plate, and while it's extremely slim, the full-sized keyboard isn't very compact due to its large, well-spaced keys and numpad. That said, there is no wasted space on the elegant chassis. The keys stretch out to its edges and it lacks discrete media controls and a wrist wrest. There is, however, a block of keys for controlling backlight brightness, recording instant macros, and disabling the Windows key button. Next to those are LED indicators for num lock, caps lock and default settings.
If it's not already evident, I'm a fan of the Tesoro XS's appearance. I was especially happy to have reviewed the white version (there's also a black version that doesn't look as interesting). While I worry about how it will hold up without constant cleaning, the unique finish looks great, and there's something about the way it contrasts with the bright colorful lights underneath that reminds me of paint splattered on a white canvas.
My main complaint with the Tesoro Gram XS's design is that it sits low, and while the rubber feet elevate it a bit, there is no height adjustment mechanism. Because of this, the Tesoro isn't very ergonomic, and it can become uncomfortable after hours of typing.
I also came across some small build quality issues that would nag discerning mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Most concerning is the loose USB that connects to the top panel of the keyboard, which disconnected a few times as I was shifting things around my desk (on the bright side, it has a detachable USB cable, something most keyboards lack). I also found the thin plastic keys to be a bit wobbly and the backlighting was inconsistent.
|Switch||Tesoro Slim Red (TTC)|
|Media Keys||✓ (function layer)|
|Microcontroller||32-bit ARM Cortex|
|Key Rollover||NKRO / 6KRO|
|Interface||micro USB, USB 2.0|
|Cable||1.8m, braided, white|
|Construction||Metal and plastic|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||450 x 126.5 x 23.5mm|
The flat chiclet-style keys on the Tesoro are clicky and easy to press. There is a nice tactile feel to them that offers rewarding feedback when you register a key press.
Available in both red and blue, the low-profile custom switches on the Gram XS should accommodate the preferences of most gamers. My review unit came with clicky blue switches that provided pleasant tactile feedback, but they were loud. I wouldn't hesitate bringing the keyboard to a LAN party where everyone wears headphones, but you should avoid unleashing it in the office if your coworkers are easily bothered (many of us have clicky keyboards of our own, so it’s not a problem here).
With a key travel of 2.7 millimeters and an actuation force of 52 grams, the blue switches on the Gram XS don't require much effort to press. For comparison, authentic Cherry MX blue switches require closer to 60 grams of actuation force and a total key travel of 3.3mm. The differences were apparent between the Tesoro Gram XS switches and the MX Blues on my Corsair K70. The Corsair keys sunk lower and felt weightier while the Gram XS were much snappier and shallow in comparison.
Once I got used to the Gram XS's wide spacing and large keys, I was able to fly through the 10fastfingers.com typing test, achieving 112 words per minute with an accuracy of 95 percent. That's higher than my 109 wpm average and right around my typically accuracy rate. Despite the high marks, the Gram XS was far from the most comfortable keyboard I've typed on because of its low profile and lack of height adjustment. It almost felt like I was typing on the desk below me. This won't be an issue for some, but I prefer a raised keyboard that's angled toward me.
I tested the Tesoro Gram XS on Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Once I got used to the flat keys, I had no issues dealing with hordes of Orcs — jumping, rolling, and diving around them in a desperate plea to avoid getting a sword plunged through my armor.
The Tesoro Gram XS similarly helped me navigated through a disorienting cave in Rise of the Tomb Raider. While they won't convert me from authentic Cherry MX switches, the custom blues responded quickly to my erratic taps. I didn't feel any discomfort after my 15 minute session despite the flimsy feel of some keys.
The Gram XS's "360" software matches its hardware in simplicity. The Windows-only program is very easy to setup and use, though there's certainly room for improvement. You're given two methods for changing lighting effects and setting key assignments: Quick Start or Advanced.
In Quick Start, you can choose between nine colors and nine different lighting effects, including star shining, spiral, cycling, trigger and firework. No, there aren't tons of choices, but what is available looks great. I was able to set it so only a small batch of neighboring keys would burst with color after I registered a stroke. When I wasn't using the keyboard, I adjusted the settings to send a rainbow of color cascading across it — an entrancing distraction for nearby coworkers indeed.
You can also set three different lighting profiles and switch between them using dedicated keys. There is an "Advanced" custom lighting menu for more tinkering, but it was frustrating to use and I eventually gave up on it
The Tesoro 360 software gives you the option to set hotkey assignments. It's not the most comprehensive feature, but getting it to work was relatively stress free. You simply have to select individual keys from an on-screen virtual keyboard and use a drop-down menu to reassign them. You can set macros or make keys launch programs, adjust media controls or perform mouse functions. I was able to map the "-" key to open an image I had saved on File Explorer. While I admit that's an impractical use of the key assignment tool, it did work surprisingly well. With little effort I was also able to macro the Q key to register a double mouse click every time I pressed it.
The Gram XS supports n-key and 6-key rollover, which means the keyboard will recognize individual presses regardless of how many other keys are being pressed or held down at the same time. It will also register up to six simultaneous key presses.
The ultra-thin Tesoro Gram XS is one of the most stunning mechanical keyboards I've ever laid eyes on. Its custom blue switches are a pleasure to type on and the RGB backlighting looks fantastic against a unique white chassis. It does have some shortcomings. There desperately needs to be a way to adjust its height and the accompanying software is somewhat crude. Ultimately, the Gram XS is a good option for those who are looking for mechanical chiclet-style keys in a slim frame.
For everyone else, there are simply too many other excellent keyboards in the price range to recommend ahead of the Gram XS. For example, the Logitech G Pro is a similarly-priced compact mechanical keyboard that comes with the company's Romer G switches and a built-in angle adjuster. If you can splurge, the $160 Corsair K70 RGB Mk.2 is the best gaming keyboard we've ever tested. While it's nowhere near as compact, the K70 Mk.2 has a beautiful design and a wealth of authentic Cherry MX switch options.
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