ROCCAT Horde AIMO review: A gaming keyboard for everyday use!

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

ROCCAT Horde AIMO is a gaming keyboard that is presented as being membranical. The idea behind this concept it is that the keys on the keyboard use membranes instead of physical mechanical switches, and the experience should resemble that of a mechanical keyboard. Among other extras, it is also equipped with RGB lighting and features dedicated macro keys and a tuning wheel that resembles the Surface Dial from Microsoft. As you can imagine, we were curious to see what ROCCAT Horde AIMO is all about. After using it for a while, here is what we liked and did not like about this keyboard:

ROCCAT Horde AIMO: Who is it good for?

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO is a good keyboard for:

  • Gamers and users who are fans of the ROCCAT brand
  • Users who want a membrane keyboard that is fast and silent when typing
  • People who do not like mechanical switches on their keyboards

Pros and cons

There are several positives about the ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard:

  • It is silent and accurate when typing
  • The ROCCAT Swarm software is useful and easy to use
  • It offers a pleasant experience when gaming
  • It comes with a tuning wheel which you can use to access the Windows 10 Dial
  • Its keys use an island layout, and that means that it is easy to clean (from dust, dirt, and other things)

On the other hand:

  • The illumination has a low maximum brightness when compared to other gaming keyboards, which makes it less visible during daylight
  • It does not have individually lit keys. It comes with only 12 LEDs that light up 6 zones
  • The responsiveness of the tuning wheel is not great. Also, it would have been more useful if it were placed on the left side of the keyboard
  • The build quality could be better
Product Rated
3/5

Verdict

When you read the specifications of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard, it looks promising. It offers a new type of "membranical" keys, RGB illumination, and a tuning wheel that could make our lives easier. After using it for a while, we discovered some shortcomings that lower the quality of the user experience, and the positive first impression. The tuning wheel deserves a better placement to make it more useful, and the illumination system is not as good as on similarly priced keyboards. Also, the build quality could have been better. As positives, we like how comfortable and relatively silent the keyboard is when typing, and the user experience you get when playing games. It is a good choice for gamers who do not care for individually lit keys, and who appreciate a silent keyboard, with a fast response time that does not use mechanical switches. The ROCCAT Swarm software is easy to use for personalizing the keyboard, and updating the firmware. ROCCAT Horde AIMO is not the best keyboard that we tested, and it is not the worst either. If you are OK with its weaknesses, it is a product that you can enjoy using.

Unboxing the ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard comes in a box made of premium cardboard. Its background color is dark gray, and on its upper side, you can see a large picture of the keyboard, printed in glossy colors. When you look at the box, you get the feeling that you just bought a premium device. You can also see that the keyboard supports AIMO, a feature that, according to ROCCAT, enhances the lighting effects across compatible devices by adapting and learning the way you use them.

The packaging of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

On the back of the box, you can find more details about the specifications and main features of the keyboard.

The bottom side of ROCCAT Horde AIMO box

Inside the box, you find the keyboard and its detachable wrist pad, some ROCCAT stickers, the quick start guide, and some leaflets.

The contents of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO packaging

The unboxing experience you get for the ROCCAT Horde AIMO is that of a premium gaming accessory. The box looks great, and the attention to details is evident.

Hardware specifications

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO is a new type of keyboard. It is not a keyboard with mechanical switches, and it is not a keyboard with membrane switches. ROCCAT developed a new kind of technology that combines membrane and mechanical. The company names its switches as membranical, a term born from the fact that the switches use a membrane but the feeling you get when typing on them is closer to mechanical switches.

The membranical keys also offer fast midway travel actuation and are both fast and silent. The keyboard has an island layout design, which means that the keys have a lower height than on regular mechanical keyboards. It also means that dirt and dust should not gather as fast as on other keyboards.

The keys on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

The keys on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO have an actuation speed of 7.8 ms, and the five low-profile macro keys found on its left side have an actuation speed of only 5.0 ms. In comparison, standard membrane keys usually have an actuation speed of 9.0 ms.

The macro keys on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

Another interesting addition to the keyboard is the tuning wheel found on its top-right corner. Together with the 11 special buttons from the top-right area of the keyboard, it lets you control things like multimedia content, the sound volume, illumination brightness, color, and effects. You can also use the Windows 10 Dial. This latter function is a first in the world of the gaming keyboards.

ROCCAT also says that it worked on improving the anti-ghosting technology and says that the keyboard lets you press as many keys as you want and every one of them is registered, but only in the gaming area, which you can see in the picture below.

The gaming area with the keys that have anti-ghosting on ROCCAT Horde AIMO

For the more technical users, it might be interesting that the ROCCAT Horde AIMO uses an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor at 50 MHz, 512 kB onboard memory, and it has a polling rate of 1000Hz. The illumination is provided by 12 RGB LEDs in six zones of the keyboard, which means that the keys are not individually lit.

To connect to your computer, the keyboard uses a braided USB 2.0 cable that is 5.9 feet or 1.8 meters long. The keyboard is all-plastics, but it still weighs 2.42 pounds or 1.1 kg.

Officially, the ROCCAT Horde AIMO supports Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8, and it needs an internet connection for driver and software installation. For more official specs about the ROCCAT Horde AIMO, visit this page: ROCCAT Horde AIMO.

The hardware specs of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO are interesting, to say the least. It is made for gaming, it features "membranical" keys, and it comes with a tuning wheel that supports the Windows 10 Dial. You don't see that on other recent gaming keyboards.

Using the ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO looks robust, and its design is definitely created with gamers in mind. It has a large footprint on the desk, and although its shape is fluid, it still looks a bit bulky. Some gamers might like that, but if you have only little desk space to spare, you might not be one of them. The ROCCAT Horde AIMO does not follow the trend we have seen in other gaming keyboards during recent years, which is to keep things minimal and adapt more to function than to form. This keyboard is full of angles and shapes that evidently underline its gaming purpose.

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard seen from up top

Unfortunately, we do not like the fact that the ROCCAT Horde AIMO is all-plastics. There is not a bit of metal on it. If you apply a bit of pressure on the top-center area of the keyboard, you see how it bends.

The palm rest is also made of plastic. It is good at keeping your hands off the table, but it is also good at making them sweat. However, it would have been nicer to have a rubberized surface on it.

The palmrest of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

We liked the typing experience that ROCCAT Horde AIMO offers. The medium-height profile of the keys and the fast actuation point makes it a good choice if you type a lot every day. The slightly concave shape of the keys also helps in this matter.

How typing sounds on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

The illumination is also a nice addition for any keyboard, and the ROCCAT Horde AIMO has it too. However, the way ROCCAT implemented it is not as good as on other gaming keyboards. The keys are not individually lit. Instead, the keyboard has 12 LEDs that are used to illuminate six different zones on it. You could get used to that, but there are two big issues with it.

How the illumination looks on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO

First, the illumination has a low brightness, which makes it more difficult to see during daylight. Also, if you are looking at the etched characters on the keys, you can see that the backlight does not spread evenly, and that makes them look rather ugly.

Keys on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO where the backlight does not look great

Secondly, dividing the lighting into areas is OK for everyday use, but it is not that great for gaming. You cannot, for instance, light up only the keys that you use in first-person shooters or MOBA games.

The illumination zones on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

The tuning wheel is placed at the top-right corner of the keyboard, and it is designed to make it easier and faster to control and adjust things like playing multimedia content, the volume, the brightness, and the illumination. It also lets you access the Windows 10 Dial. The idea is great but the implementation could have been better.

Unfortunately, the tuning wheel is not as sensitive as it should be. When you turn it in any direction, the feedback you get is nice, with steps that you can feel. However, if you try using it to finetune volume or illumination, for example, you notice that it takes a lot of turning the wheel to see results. It takes at least a few turns to notice any difference.

The tuning wheel on the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

The tuning wheel can be useful if you want to access the Windows 10 Dial, and you might like the fact that you can do things like scrolling, zooming or adjusting the volume simply by turning it. However, the tuning wheel's responsiveness is disappointing. We tried using it for scrolling and zooming, among other things. However, it takes a lot of turning to initiate those actions, and once they happen, it is almost as if you cannot control them anymore. For example, if you want to zoom on a web page, it can take a few turn steps or even a whole rotation to enter the zoom mode. Getting back to normal zoom is often a hit and miss. Also, having the tuning wheel placed on the top-right corner of the keyboard makes it difficult to use if your right hand is on your mouse. It would have been a better if it were placed on the top-left corner of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO.

The Windows 10 Dial shown on the desktop

We used ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard to play a few of our favorite games. The feeling and gaming experience you get from it is nice, and the feedback you get from its "membranical" switches is good. It is a lot better than a regular membrane keyboard, although it cannot match the feedback you get from mechanical switches.

The ROCCAT Horde AIMO is a nice keyboard that can make you happy when typing on it, as well as when playing games. However, it falls short in some aspects, such as its all-plastic build, and inferior illumination. Its tuning wheel's is not placed in the best position and it lacks in responsiveness.

The ROCCAT Swarm software

You can customize the way that your ROCCAT Horde AIMO works and looks with the help of ROCCAT's software, which is called Swarm. With the Swarm app, you can:

  • Update the firmware on your ROCCAT devices
  • Change illumination themes and colors
  • Record and assign macro actions
  • Create and store up to five different game profiles

Additionally, if you have a ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard, Swarm also lets you enable sound feedback and character repeat.

The sound feedback is a feature that makes your computer play different sounds each time you press a key on it. We are not exactly fans of this feature, but some people might like their computers to sound like a typewriter for instance.

The ROCCAT Swarm app

The character repeat settings let you customize basic things like the repeat delay, repeat rate, and the cursor blink rate. These are things that you can do from Windows too, so they do not add much value to the ROCCAT Swarm app.

As for the key illumination settings, Swarm lets you use a few different profiles: AIMO, Wave, Snake, Fully Lit, Heartbeat, Breathing, and Custom Mode.

The illumination custom mode for the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard

We found the Swarm app to be useful in personalizing the keyboard. It offers an easy firmware updating process and quick creation of macro actions. It does its job well for illumination configuration too.

Do you like the ROCCAT Horde AIMO gaming keyboard?

When reading the official specs of the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard, it looked like a great device. However, after using it, we were a bit disappointed. This keyboard has some great ideas but the quality of their implementation is not that great. Before closing this review, we would like to read your perspective. Do you like this keyboard? Share your comments below and let's discuss.