Gigabyte Aivia Osmium Keyboard Review
By André Gordirro on September 3, 2012
There’s no stopping the current “mechanical keyboard wave” that is taking over the market for gaming-grade peripherals. Gigabyte has just added a mechanical model to their Aivia line, the Osmium, which features USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, audio connections and five macro keys. Let’s first describe it, and then analyze the product.
The Osmium is a robust and heavy keyboard, weighing 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg). What first catches the eye is the bank of dedicated macro keys (G1-G5) on the upper left side and the two wheels that control the illumination and volume. The wheels are both dented and illuminated.
On the upper right corner, there’s a panel with the Aivia logo that houses the Scroll/Num/Caps lock LEDs and also serves as a button switch for the user profiles. The panel changes colors to indicate each of the five profiles chosen.
On the back of the keyboard, the user finds a USB 2.0 port to connect a gaming-grade mouse or a digital headset, for instance. Right beside the port, there’s a thick braided cable that ends in two USB connectors (2.0 and 3.0) and two 3.5 mm audio jacks (headphone and earphone). All connectors come protected by a plastic cover. The USB 3.0 port and the two audio jacks are located on the right side of the Osmium.
The underside houses four retractable feet and two latches for the non-rubberized plastic wrist rest.
Besides the wrist rest, the peripheral comes with a key extraction tool and four extra keys with symbols engraved on them. They can act as replacements to help the user visualize the functions and macros he or she programmed, or they can simply decorate the peripheral.
The Osmium’s best features are the mechanical keys, the beautiful illumination, and some innovative features like the USB 3.0 port and the control wheels. It uses Cherry MX mechanical switches; in this case, the Red model. The Cherry MX line has four different colors, each meaning the type of feedback (force or linear), the actuation force (from 45 g to 60 g), and if the keys are silent or click. As we explained in earlier models that feature Cherry MX switches, force feedback means the finger actually feels a small resistance when pressing a key; a linear feedback offers a smoother typing experience. The Cherry MX Red has an actuation force of 45 g with linear feedback.
Gigabyte’s software recognizes other peripherals from the Aivia line. We’d already used it before, and the ease of programming remained the same. It has a friendly iconography-based interface through which the user can configure the extra buttons, G1-G5, to perform simple tasks (open browser and other apps, copy+paste, etc.) or to unleash macros. The macro recording system allows the recording of seventy macros that can combine keystrokes on the Osmium with mouse clicks, and over five user profiles. It’s one of the best software programs that we have used for that purpose.
Mechanical keyboards really deliver a different gaming experience than regular membrane models. The precision is remarkable, and the basic commands for any FPS game, like the WASD cluster, have immediate and comfortable tactile response. Gigabyte says the anti-ghosting technology allows up to 64 simultaneous keystrokes to be registered. Well, it seems the company believes that 64-fingered aliens will be using the Osmium, but we didn’t notice any errors when we pressed eight keys at the same time.
Speaking of pressing, we didn’t like the positioning of the G1-G5 macro keys. In other models, this particular cluster usually rests on the left side of the mouse, where the keys can be quickly accessed. However, here they are located on the upper region of the Osmium, and the user’s hand has to leave the wrist rest and the conventional keys in order to reach them. So we ended up creating macros for less urgent tasks (like summoning a mount on World of Warcraft). Our suggestion to Gigabyte would be to put the macro keys in the conventional place on the left, for offensive actions, and even leave those five keys on the upper region. Another question: if the Osmium already has a cluster of extra keys on the upper left side, why is there no similar cluster on the right side for the multimedia keys? Instead, they got bundled with the F1-F4 function keys, and the user has to press a separate Fn key (located by the side of the right Ctrl) to access the multimedia controls. But not everything is negative criticism: the control wheels for the volume and illumination are a very good idea.
On the table, the Osmium is a beautiful keyboard thanks to the blue lighting. Since it is heavy, it takes a beating without moving an inch.
The main specifications for the Gigabyte Aivia Osmium keyboard include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Osmium is a very well-rounded product, from small details (like the plastic covers of the connectors) to the extra keys with helpful symbols. As a mechanical keyboard, it’s precise, comfortable and very solid on the table. It didn’t let us down when playing, except for the location of the macro keys. They are a bit far away, so we programmed only non-urgent tasks that could be activated without hurrying. It could have had separate multimedia controls. The wheels are great to quickly control the illumination level and the volume, and the extra connections are very helpful.