Mechanical Keyboard review round-up - There's something for all

Tesoro Durandal G1NL Ultimate Review - The Sword of the Gamer

The next on our list is Tesoro's Durandal Ultimate G1NL, unfortunately, the only keyboard named after a mythological sword (as far as we know). I think, for appropriate metaphor reasons, more gaming keyboards should carry sword-names, because after all, they're designed for pretty much the same thing. The mythical swords of old were forged to hack someone to pieces, while a good-gaming keyboard is intended to complement a gamer's skill. Pretty much the same thing!

Tesoro Durandal G1NL - Title Image

Also, Tizona, Arondight, Excalibur, Angurvadal do have a keyboard-ish ring to them. (I know, I know, my nerd is showing.)

Durandal G1NL is one of the latest mechanical models produced by Tesoro, only recently replaced by the G3NL model, which will be available to the masses soon enough. It's time to take a look at this Gamer "Sword" and compare it with some of the more "well known" models out there.

Hardware

The G1NL sports a nice black metallic finish, with some construction steel-plate texturing on the side. The frame is entirely plastic, though it does do a pretty good job at mimicking actual metal. The mech also has a detachable wrist-rest, which clasps onto the board with two small flimsy looking clamps.

The model uses a stiffer linear switch type, the Cherry-MX Black. In many ways, the Black is akin to the Cherry-MX Red with only one difference, this one requires about 60g of force to actuate. This means more resistance on key press, and a more "decisive" feel when bottoming out. Tesoro also provides Cherry-MX Red, Brown and Blues alternatives for gamers who do not get along with the MX-Black.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL - Switches

UV coated keycaps, with a standard letter style. The outer coating is thicker than most other keyboards, with the exception of QPAD MK-85 that also has an additional layer of rubber coating on top.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL - Keycaps

Build

This is a full length mechanical keyboard so the build is pretty much as expected. Weighing around 1.4kg (3.1lbs), the Durandal Ultimate G1NL looks just as durable and resilient as the Logitech G710+. Alas, it is not. The plastic used to frame the keyboard feels pretty light and very rigid, not unlike an un-tempered sword.

The keyboard we've received sports a standard 104 key ANSI layout, with a wide right shift, large backspace and large Enter.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL - Layout

The braided cable ends in one gold-plated USB cable and two 3.5mm microphone / headset jacks.

Tesoro Durandal - G1NL USB Cable

Multimedia and Backlighting

All extra features are available via the function key, which turns F1-F6 into and play / pause / forward / rewind and volume controls, F7-F11 into profile management tools and F12 as the key that swaps between day-to day-use and gaming.

Individually backlit, the Durandal G1NL has 4 levels of intensity and two backlighting modes: normal and breathing mode. For control, the FN key adds extra functions to 2 and 8 from the numlock key, controlling both intensity and lighting modes. The highest level is bright, much brighter than traditional rubber domes, yet when compared to what we've looked at until now, it is by far the dimmest one. Yet, the lighting is purely a subjective matter, as many would actually enjoy a subtle light and not something that radiates a red glow more visible than the actual screen.

Hub

At the mecha's back we have two USB ports and a microphone and speaker 3.5 mm ports. These are USB ports not pass-through which means they are somewhat limited as to what they can power.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL - Hub

The 3.5mm audio is a pass-through, and the Hub's positioning right above the numpad reminds me why the standard is, well standard

Closer Look

Judging by the weight, I'd say Durandal's Plate-Mount is steel. The mount is pretty thick, surpassing Gigabyte's Osmium and Logitech's G710+ plate mounts, securing a second place behind the QuickFire TK.

Durandal G1NL - PCB

Turning it aside, we see the keyboard has one of cleanest soldered PCB, having almost no waste or extra residue. Looking at it, I'd honestly believe someone suffered from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when they were working on this.

 

 Durandal G1NL - PCB1

Software

In the original packaging there is a disk with the apropriate software, although the internetz may be a better place to look for an updated version. The software itself is pretty simple to use, with a large keyboard layout display dab in the middle, five macro profiles in the top-left and 10 available macros on the bottom.

Tesoro Durandal G1nl Ultimate Sortware general

Recording a macro does not require constant tweaking, the tool itself being rather simple and straightforward to use. If a macro is not what you want to bind to a key, the software also offers a few pre-made options and short-cuts. Yes, the software is rudimentary at best and it does not allow for application specific macros. Yet it is simple to use, the learning curve being somethin akin to a flat line.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL Ultimate Sortware Key Selection

Of course, these macros can be saved, exported and imported at will.

What is worth noting is that the Durandal G1NL Ultimate does not feature any additional macro-keys. Instead the software over-writes the original key-bindings with user-created ones.

Tesoro Durandal G1NL Ultimate Sortware Macro

Evaluation

Gaming

For the most part, the Durandal G1NL is a standard mech with a standard mech feel. Make no mistake, this is not a typist's wet dream, it is catered to gamers and this is apparent from more than just the red backlighting. The stiff keys feel quite good, and though it takes a while to get used to the stiffer switch after using the Browns or the Reds, it does also provide a much nicer pushback once you take your finger of the key.

The soft, while not the very best I have seen, does allow for macro assignment on any available key, which in many ways makes the Durandal a sure win compared to many other boards on this list (that allow for macro-building only for designated keys). This gives it an extra jolt, especially with games that rely on combos (like Magicka or Secret World).

NKRO

Tesoro's G1NL has NKRO via USB, which means that no matter how many keys you press, the keyboard will register all at the same time. Again, I did not manage to press them all at the same time, but 67 simultaneous key-presses is enough proof of NKRO being present.

Day-to-Day use

There is one gripe I have with the FN key. Unlike the Quick-Fire TK which allowed you to toggle it On and Off, the Durandal requires you to keep it pressed while using the F1-8 extra function keys. While not a hindrance, repeated use of multiple functions became a bit complicated.

Another thing worth saying is that the Blacks are not really apropriate for out-of-the game usage. After about two hours of typing (I usually have around 6 hours of typing a day) my hands were virtually screaming at me. The rather sharp angle the wrist-rest took also caused a series of creases further up my arm, but that might have been just because my desk is about 70cm tall.

Conclusion

I wanted to recommend this keyboard. As it stand it's a pretty strong mech, with the expected features. It doesn't break any boundaries, nor does it try to, yet what it does it does well. The price-point is relatively high, around Eur 132.00, $129.99 putting it in the same league as the G710+ and Gigabyte's Aivia Osmium.

 

 

Pros Cons

 

- Every key is a macro key;

- Nkey rollover;

Cherry MX-Black steel-mounted mechanical build;

- Easy-to-use software

 

 

 

- Lackluster software;

 

 

 

 

 

 
Build: 9.0
8.7 Performance: 8.8
 
Ergonomics: 8.5 
Features: 8.5

 
Design: 9.5

Price/Quality ratio: 8.4

 

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