Hey guys, I’ve got a very special Go! Gaming Giant Hardware Review for you guys today. On the testing bench this whole week, tying up all my hardware testing time, is the Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard.
This is no ordinary keyboard. The S7, as I’ll call it from here on out, is most likely the most advanced gaming keyboard on the market today – sporting all sorts of cool features like two different sets of macro keys, three separate wrist rests, and the main course, the Venom Touch Screen. So without further ado, let’s begin!
The S7 comes in arguably the biggest box I’ve ever seen for a keyboard. It’s got the same box design as that of the R.A.T. 7 Contagion, which some of you may remember happens to be my all-time favorite mouse. The front of the box doesn’t list any specifications, though it does claim that this is ‘the most adjustable gaming keyboard ever created. And that this has a US qwerty Layout (I hope so, or else I’m in deep doo-doo). There is also a striking image of the S7 (hehe, get it, stri… Nevermind) right in the middle.
The entire side of the box is dedicated to the V.E.N.O.M. touchscreen. They even go so far as to list each one of the supported apps included on it. The included apps are as follows.
- Windows Key Lock
- Media Buttons
- Program Launcher
- Program Volumes
- Macro Buttons
- Countdown Timers & More
Cyborg also includes several images showcasing a lot of the apps. The one thing I find interesting on this is that the bottom left image shows the time and date.. The date being 21/10/2015.. Obviously Cyborg developed this keyboard all the way into 2015, and then just sent it back in time to 2012 so that we can enjoy it sooner.
The back of the box showcases the fact that the S7 is a fully modular keyboard, meaning that the arrow key/ numpad section of the keyboard is completely optional. This is great if you are a professional gamer, or always going to LAN Parties, and don’t have the available desk space for your entire setup. Cyborg also lists several key features of the S7.
- Modular Components Adapt To Your Game Space And Playing Style
- 24 Programmable Macro Buttons (Including V.E.N.O.M. Panel) Over 3 Modes Create 72 Possible Commands
- Cyborg V.E.N.O.M. Panel — Innovative Full-Color Touchscreen
- Full RGB Backlighting With 16 Million Colors To Match The Keyboard With Your Gaming Rig
- Height-Adjustable Active Palm Rest Features Additional Thumb Wheel And Button For Even More Controls At Your Fingertips
- 2X Hi-Speed USB Ports
- 2 Year Warranty
One thing I noticed about the back of this box, is that it shows only the keys lit up. In reality the keyboard actually lights up the keys as well as backlighting the entire keyboard.. I have yet to find a way to only illuminate the keys like they are in the photo. The other side of the box just shows us the other available key caps for the arrows and WASD. I’ll cover all of that when we get to it.
What’s this? That’s not actually the box!! No, technically it’s just a sleeve. Sliding the real box out of the sleeve reveals to us a drawing of the keyboard on one side, and a picture of a very vicious look Scorpion on the other side.
Opening her up, we first come across the Parts & Accessories box. Inside is a slew of goodies (Cyborg’s way of making up for the lack of goodies last week I guess).
Once it’s all been removed, you can see the manuals, AC Cable, accessories mini-box, all three wrist rests (with the left wrist rest being adjustable), and the 5-button macro piece that plugs into the keyboard.
Inside the little mini accessories box is an additional Mini USB to L-Shaped Mini USB Cable (there will be plenty more), two different sets of keys. One having a rubberized red grip on the edges and a rubber finish, the others having support for LED lighting on their respective sides. Cyborg also bundles in a keycap puller, a specialized screwdriver, and the necessary screws to install all of the pieces to the S7.
Next we have the manuals. Included is the Cyborg Manual, User Manual, and Warranty Information slip. I would recommend giving the User Manual a flip through if you’re having any issues with.. Well anything.
This may not be considered a goodie, but I’ll include it here anyways. This is the Assembly Guide. Not many keyboards come with an assembly guide, but this keyboard genuinely needs one.
Opening it up. At the top Cyborg lists all the parts needed to setup the S7. Below that is steps 1 through 3. In the second photo here you can see steps 4 through 9. Once you’ve done step 9, the keyboard will be fully setup, and ready to go.
Some Assembly Required
Holy crap! My keyboard is broken!! Oh wait.. Some assembly required. Nevermind. The beefiest portion of the keyboard by far, the qwerty sections includes all the necessary keys to get yourself up and running. The S7 does use raised keys, which I have been hearing a lot of people complain about. I personally love raised keys. Mostly because every keyboard I’ve ever personally used has had them. But some people prefer the flat, laptop style keys, and if you’re one of them, then you will most definitely not like the S7. I also found it interesting, the design choice made my Cyborg with the space bar. It’s quite a bit shorter than the average space bar, while also having a unique design shape. All the keys are made out of high quality plastic, while the keyboard is coated with a matte rubber coating, which will lead to a long lasting finish.
You can kind of tell in this picture, but some of the keys on my S7 are faded! I’m not sure what that’s about, but that’s bad QC is they’re not suppose to be like that (which I assume they aren’t). Not all of them, but about 8-9 keys are quite a bit more faded than the rest of the keys. I do like the Nanosuit looking design that Cyborg put on the keyboard.
That was one half of the keyboard, and here is the other half. The right half of the keyboard has the same style of keys and rubberized finish as the left half (obviously), but does include some extra keys not normally found on a keyboard. As I’m sure you noticed right when you looked at the image below, the S7 includes an extra five macro keys around the arrow keys. This is honestly perfect placement in my mind. Especially for games like Call of Duty that won’t let you bind the numpad to commands. You can now use the C-Keys for those functions. Smart thinking Cyborg. None of the keys were nearly as faded as the left side, though the C2, C4, and C5 keys were a bit faded. Also note that the C-Keys are sunk in a bit, and feel more like flat keys compared to the raised style of the other key, I’m assuming this was done as to help prevent them being pressed by mistake when using the arrow keys.
Normally I don’t show you guys the bottom of a keyboard, but for the S7, I felt I would be doing it a dishonor not to. Look at that! That’s a metal plate on the bottom of the keyboard. This is the right side of the keyboard, but the left side also has a metal plate on the bottom. This not only adds a nice amount of heft to the keyboard, it also makes it super fricking sturdy. Also, look at those feet. They have little rubber pads on them on each side, so that if they’re flipped down they grip, and if they’re flipped up.
On the back of the right piece is two Mini-USB Connections, one labeled B/C for the Touchscreen, and the other A, for the 5-button macro piece. Moving to the left piece of the keyboard reveals the same thing. Two mini-USB connections. That slit you see next to the A connection is actually where the Touchscreen will slide in, so that it can be screwed down. You can connect the screen to either piece of the keyboard.
The Future, Touchscreen
There it is guys. The reason why this keyboard retails at a whopping $300 USD. This is the V.E.N.O.M. Touchscreen. Looking at it while unhooked, shows us that it has at the top right a, volume mute button, mic mute, and a volume rocker. Next to those is the little plastic screen which, in the photos, illuminates with the Cyborg Logo. Mine doesn’t, and actually illuminates with the Mad Catz Logo. Below is the back button, and then next to that is the most important feature of the touchscreen… The touchscreen.
Cyborg does include a plastic piece covering the screen, which I have felt no need to remove, since the screen is very functional even with the protective piece over it. Last but not least is the profile buttons. It doesn’t get any simpler than these. Button 1 is Profile 1 and Button 2 is.. Well you get the gist. The entire device is made out of high-quality plastic, while the mounting bracket is made out of solid metal.
Looking down the right side of the device, you can see the two power connectors. These are labeled B and C… You know, to go into the USB’s we looked at a minute ago. Turning her all the way around, there is the two Hi-Speed USB ports. The placement is ideal for easy usage, but plugging devices into them is a whole different story.
Cyborg bundles several cables with the touchscreen. They include the B and C Mini USB to L-Shaped Mini-USB cables needed to power the screen. And the cable that is actually attached to the touchscreen has two very important plugs on it. The USB Power Plug, and the male end of the A/C Plug. All cables included are gold plated and braided. With the main power cable for the entire keyboard being a much thicker cable. The finish, being read and black is quite fetching.
Driver Installation, Assembly, & First Thoughts
Assembling the S7 took no time at all, with all the required screws and tools being included, and Cyborg giving a detailed installation picture. Everything just latches together via the soldered on metal hooks, once hooked, install the included screws. Overall, I would rate the ease of installation a 10/10.
Driver Installation was just as easy as Assembly. I simply went to Cyborg’s website, clicked on the driver page and downloaded the drivers and software. Voila, a few minutes later everything was installed and ready to go! 10/10.
First thoughts were that this was the coolest looking keyboard I have ever seen. Everybody who has seen it so far agrees that it looks like something out of Transformers, or some other robot based program.
Now, please, don’t forget to plug in the included A/C Power Cable.. I sat here for a minute after hooking it up, trying to figure out why it wasn’t working.. You HAVE to plug it in for the keyboard to receive enough juice to work. Honestly, a single USB and an A/C Plug are not that bad, with many of the top gaming keyboards these days requiring both.
The first time I typed on it, made me realize that it would definitely take some getting used to, with the keys feeling just a bit different than any other keyboard I’ve ever used. In fact, I’m still getting used to it. Also, the Space Bar is extremely squeaky, so be prepared for that. This is a membrane keyboard, but Cyborg built it to have a mechanical feel, which also leads to a bit of a mechanical sound. You obviously don’t get the real audible clicking of a mechanical keyboard, but it still is quite a bit noisier than your average membrane keyboard. That Space Bar squeaking is obnoxious though.
The S7 uses a similar design when it comes to the GUI as the rest of the Cyborg products, with the first page being the actual product page (just in case you forget which product you’re using).
Next is the meat and potatoes of the GUI, the Programming page. Get ready for a long paragraph here. First up is the five-button macro set that we installed on the far left side of the keyboard. I’m going to say this now, so that I don’t have to keep repeating it. There are no pre-built macros for ANY of the keys, and all the keys use are macros. So for the five-button pad, you can set up to 15 different macros, when factoring in the three different modes available to you (red, purple, blue). To create a macro, simply click on the button of choice, and begin to record your macro, hitting whatever buttons you so desire.
The next set of macro programmable buttons is the actual Macro page on the V.E.N.O.M.. With this page we can program the first six buttons, and the next tab allows us to program the other six buttons, combine that with the three modes, and you have a whopping 36 available macros right there.
The wrist rest is an interesting one. They show that you can make macros for the Palm rest Button, which I figured, but they also say you can make macros for the thumb wheel, and this is news to me. How well they work is a whole different question.
Last for the macro sets is the five C-Keys around the arrows. Same drill as before, click on the key of choice, record your macro, and then bam, ready to go. Make sure when you’re all done you save everything, as to keep it safe.
The Launcher page does exactly what it looks like it does. Cyborg allows you to select any application on your PC, drag the app over to the screen and drop it, it’s really that simple. The software is so intuitive and easy to use, which comes as no surprise to me after working with the R.A.T. 7 awhile back.
Last is the Support Page. Not much to see here, you can view some start-up tips, download drivers and software, download game profiles, read the programming manual, or contact them.
Testing & V.E.N.O.M.
Before we get into the usual testing of the keyboard, let’s dive a bit deeper into this new V.E.N.O.M. touchscreen.
When you first plug it in, it will load up the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 logo, and then go to the default background, which is a mechanical scorpion. The whole screen is down in a tasteful black and blue color scheme, with the icons and text on the screen being white. The main apps page has a total of 12 app icons on it. I’m going to briefly run through all of them, while giving you a bit of information on the purpose of each one.
Launcher – Here you can go into the software that we looked at earlier and launch the shortcuts that you implemented into here. It’s nice to see that the icons show up in a high quality, making it easy to differentiate icons that may look similar.
Media Buttons – Pretty self-explanatory. You have track back, play, pause, and track forward for controls for your media player. Having them here means that you don’t need them to be function keys somewhere on the keyboard.
Volume – Again, pretty simple. Here you can control the main voice and volume, as well as any apps that may be running, like music, flash, etc..
Backlight – Simple, but one of my favorite pages. With the backlight page you can choose how bright you want the lighting (0-100), choose a preset color, or play with the red, blue, green sliders that go from 0-255. You really have full RGB color control.
Clock – This is the app that is always open for me. It is so freaking handy to have a clock right at your fingertips at any given time. The available options are either a digital clock, or your standard three-hand clock
Stopwatch – With Stopwatch you have three stopwatches available to you. There is the main counter, which is digital and classic — with three separate timers below the digital timer. Switching between the timers is as easy as hitting the switch button at the bottom, and when you’re ready to reset the timers, simply hit the reset button below the classic timer.
Countdown Timer – MMO Players, your prayers have been answered. Cyborg has been sweet enough to include an app just for you guys. Countdown Timer is exactly what the name entails. They include three separate timers, with default times of 5, 15, and 30 seconds. Tapping each timer starts it, resetting it is as simple as hitting the reset switch below each individual timer. The settings button at the top lets you change the time amount for each timer, all the way up to 59:59.
Windows Lock – Tap the button, lock the Windows Key. Great feature, moving on.
Settings – What can you do in settings? Calibrate the screen, change the language, alter the brightness of the touchscreen, and set the timer for when the screen should dim. That’s about it.. Though it’s more than enough. I personally raised the timer between screen dims to 10 seconds, giving me plenty of time between screen presses.
Macros – Yet another feature that is definitely catered towards the MMO Players. The Macros screen allows you to utilize any of the macros you may have built in the software, for your favorite games, or whatever else you use them for. Honestly using the screen in the middle of the game would definitely be unintuitive at first, but I’m sure with time it would become a feasible tactic.
Journal – Leave notes for yourself. This really is a handy and sensible feature. It’s a great way to remind yourself when your lost in a gaming trance that you need to go to the store before your significant other gets home.. In like 5 minutes.. D’oh! Should’ve used the timer as well..
Teamspeak – A great little app for those of you who use Teamspeak. With the app open, it will show everybody in you channel, as well as who is specifically talking, great for when you’re raiding and need to know who it is that’s barking out orders at you.. I personally don’t use Teamspeak, but I can definitely see how this would be a godsend for those who do (I’ve done many a raids in my day).
Honestly, I spent more time getting cozy with the touchscreen than I did gaming with keyboard. That’s not to say I didn’t do plenty of gaming, but that I have actually spent quite a bit of time with the keyboard as opposed to other keyboards I have reviewed.
I really haven’t had a lot of time to dump into each game, but I have played at least an hour of each title with the S7, and have come to the same conclusion each time. The S7 is one hell of a gaming keyboard. A lot of you may worry about it not being a mechanical keyboard, but I can tell you firsthand, that after using the S7, you won’t notice a perceivable difference between a mechanical keyboard and the S7. In fact, this keyboard is one of the most responsive keyboards I have ever tested. Period.
or gaming, the keys were responsive, smooth, and all within easy reach without having to look down. For typing, I have ran into some difficulties. Like I said, with the way the keyboard is laid out, it takes awhile for your hands to adjust to the news keys and everything. Still, I have typed up this review, as well as all of the reviews last week with the S7, and have been blown away with the quality of the S7.
This has been one heck of a review, but we’ve finally made it to the end. When it’s all said and done the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 may go down as a gimmicky keyboard, but below all of the flash and flare that Cyborg went for is an extremely solid keyboard, and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re paying money for.
That’s not to say that the flash and flare have no substance, quite the contrary. The V.E.N.O.M. Touchscreen works really, really well, the added M and C keys are well placed, and also work really well. The included palm rests look like patchwork, but they are actually super durable and comfortable for when you need to type up a 4,000+ word review (ahem..). I would go so far as to say that the bar set by the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is the one that all other companies need to try and beat if they want to say that they have the BEST GAMING keyboard on the market.
Not only does the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 look great, it is also built like a tank, uses high-quality parts, and handles exactly like a high-end keyboard should. The few QC issues I had (a few dull keys which led to uneven backlighting, squeaky Space Bar) are the kind you dream of when you receive a keyboard that just flat out doesn’t work.
In the future, I’d like to see Cyborg make the SDK for the touchscreen available to the public, so that we can start to make our own apps and stuff. But until then, what Cyborg has provided is more than adequate to get us going, and I’m sure with future updates, Cyborg will expand even more on what they’ve started.
So now comes the real question. Would I spend $300 on this keyboard? Yes and no. I cannot see myself EVER paying $300 for a single PC Peripheral (monitor excluded), but is the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 WORTH $300? Yes, it is, especially if you play MMO’s and can make full use of the cooldown timers and extra macro keys. If your guild happens to use Teamspeak as well, then this may be the absolute perfect keyboard for you.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Built Cyborg Tough
- Looks Stunning
- Functionality Is On Par With Other High-End Keyboards
- V.E.N.O.M. Touchscreen Is Innovative And Very Functional
- Plenty Of Macro And Function Buttons Available For Even The Most Hardcore MMO Players
- Extremely Adjustable
- Squeaky Space Bar
- A Handful Of Faded Keys
- No SDK Available For The Touchscreen Yet
- $300 Is Definitely The Elitist Price Range For Keyboards
If you are rich(er) and wish to pick up one of the most innovative keyboards in years, you may do so here.