I like flashy keyboards. I like how they can drastically improve both your working and home life. I like how they can simultaneously make your desk look professional and ridiculous. I like their over the top names and pretty lights. I like not getting RSI from using them thanks to wrist rests.
Needless to say, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of input devices over the years and have tried the very best (Corsair K100 anyone?) and the worst. So obviously, when a new keyboard by a previously unknown brand arrived for review, I was interested.
The unknown brand in question is Genesis, a European company than seem to be making a move to enter the UK market. At time of writing, their products are available to buy in most European countries, with the UK being an exception. The middle price-range they’re trying to hit is an interesting one, with little competition for good mechanical keyboards around the £75 mark (converted from RoI €88.19.) With the western market already cornered by big, recognised brands, will the quality of Genesis’ product break through or will they just end up stuck in the channel?
Techs and Specs
We’ll start off our look at the Thor 401 RGB with a glance at the official specs, as published by Genesis.
|Actuation force||45 g||Communication||Wired|
|Keys lifetime||50 mln.||Cable length||160 cm|
|Actuation point||1.8 mm||Connectors||USB Type-A|
|Response time||8 ms||Profile||High|
|Layout||US||Supported Operating Systems||Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux, Android 4.2.2|
|Switch type||Kailh Brown||Multimedia keys||Yes|
|Weight||810 g||Height||34 mm|
|Colour||Black, Slate||Length||435 mm|
|Number of multimedia keys||12||Number of keys||108|
The first thing to notice is the limited number of configurations; you can have a black/slate one with brown switches and a US layout. That’s it. Now don’t get me wrong, the US layout is fine; it’s just that my silly British fingers can’t handle having a smaller enter key. If they want to break our market, that’s the first thing they need to fix!
Jokes aside, the specs measure up well to most modern gaming keyboards. Whilst Cherry switches have been the go-to choice for many over the last ten years, Kailh have been improving their market share of late and it’s easy to see why – more on that later. The manufacturer doesn’t mention polling rate, ghosting or rollover, so I’m unsure on where we stand in those departments but a response time of 8ms is mentioned, suggesting a polling rate close to that of traditional keyboards on a PS2 connection and a world away from modern gaming peripherals. The actuation point is pretty deep, but it’s a high-profile device so that is to be expected.
In theory then, things don’t look good for the Thor 401. Limited options, sub-optimal switches, low polling and a brand-name that’s unheard of in the UK. Luckily, once you get one of these things in your hands those initial misgivings start to go away.
Upon first glance the Thor looks incredibly premium, with a lovely high-risen keyset and an overall modern finish. The design combines an almost industrial style with the commonly-seen “elite gamer” colours. The keyboard itself has a metallic aluminium top and black plastic bottom, with each key raised around a centimetre off the base. In terms of keys, there are all the standard keys for a full layout, plus three dedicated media/profile keys and a twist-able knob. Each key seems to be individually lit using some super bright LEDs which really pop out and create a visual feast for the eyes. On boot, the board plays an initialising zigzag pattern at incredibly speed and then defaults to a scrolling rainbow. Honestly, it’s some of the best LED RGB backlighting I’ve seen on a keyboard with smooth playback and mesmerising colours!
Lighting can be controlled through the downloadable software or (to a much more limited degree) through the various keyboard functions. Alongside a full suite of F-key functions (Open player, volume, mute, play/pause etc, email, web browser, file explorer and calculator,) there are lighting adjustment functions, a macro/lighting record button, three keyboard profile buttons and a dial which serves as both a volume switch and a brightness toggle. Unfortunately, none of these features are very well explained in the documentation, which led to quite a lot of confusion. It feels like whoever designed them was trying to be far too clever with how they work, and thanks to that they are near-indecipherable to the layman.
The overall hand-feel is also really nice, with the Kailh switches providing a different experience to those found in the Cherry line. I pulled out my old CoolerMaster Masterkeys Pro L (also reviewed for IGC) and found that compared to the Cherry Browns, the Kailh have a nice, deeper click and a more satisfying “pop” back up. If anything, they could best be compared to Razer’s new green switches – just a bit quieter. It’s a lovely switch that offers a great typing experience, so if you’re looking for a hybrid gaming and work keyboard I could easily recommend it. I also didn’t notice any real lag in the inputs, even whilst gaming. If you’re a high-level twitch-shooter-player you may notice some lag due to the seemingly low poll rate, but for most players I don’t think that’s going to be an issue whatsoever.
Overall, the design is excellent and well-executed. The only real quibble I have with the hardware itself is the hard nature of the magnetic, plastic wrist-rest. I ended up removing it eventually, as my wrists started to ache, so it’s something to be mindful of.
Whilst lesser-known brands can often offer superior hardware at a lower cost, the downside is often the software connecting it all up, and unfortunately the Thor is yet another victim of this.
The downloadable programming software, aptly named “Thor RGB 401”, is both well-featured and frustratingly basic. Individual keys can be remapped to a macro, a multimedia key, a text macro or another key, and whilst it’s a basic toolkit there are more options than many keyboards of this price have. The bigger issue is the lack of easy and meaningful LED customisation, which (considering the obvious quality of the LEDs themselves) is a massive shame. There are 13 presets to choose from with a few settings each (speed, colour etc,) and a custom mode. Whilst the 13 presets are all attractive enough, I like to set my LEDs up for individual games, so I attempted to use the custom mode to do so and found a strange, archaically built system. To be clear, it is possible to colour individual keys, but it’s a very long, awkward process that can only ever result in static colours from what I’ve been able to gather. Maybe, after using iCUE and Synapse, my expectations of customisable software are too high, but considering the vivid beauty achieved by the presets I would have hoped that the layman would be given the tools to make similar things themselves. It’s a bitter disappointment which isn’t helped by the dated design of the software either, and one which lets the product as a whole down.
The Big Picture
On the face of it, you could get the wrong impression of the Genesis Thor 410 RGB. The box wasn’t much to look at and the spec sheet itself really undersells the keyboard. If you’re looking for bells and whistles, the ability to program your keyboard to next Sunday and near-instantaneous reaction times you would be better looking elsewhere. However, if you just want an amazing typing experience with a couple of neat gaming features and very pretty lights, you could do much worse than the Thor 410…if you can find one for sale.
Grab your unit direct from the store https://genesis-zone.com/product/thor-401-rgb?ir=1
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