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Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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Roccat SWARM Driver

Most of Roccat’s devices now use their SWARM driver. It’s a centralized, modular hub similar to Logitech’s Gaming Software and Steelseries’ Engine. The SWARM software acts as the starting point, and each Roccat device will automatically be detected and download its respective driver as needed. I’ve been using Roccat devices on systems for years, and other than some initial growing pains I’ve found it quite usable – I’ve read other reviews where users will experience version/update bugs or frustrations, but I can’t say I’ve experienced anything similar (especially recently).

Existing Roccat devices will already have their own drivers installed – when plugging in the Vulcan 120 AIMO for the first time, it will be recognized by SWARM and will get labeled by an exclamation point.

Clicking on the Vulcan 120 AIMO in the product list will provide a list of instructions and walk you through the rest of the process. Simply click the provided link (or check for updates) and the correct driver will be downloaded and installed.

Some devices use firmware that needs to be updated from time to time, and those updates get delivered directly through the SWARM auto-updater. Again, Roccat does a great job of providing relevant information and instructions walking you through the process, making the entire thing as simple and non-intrusive as possible.

With all firmware and device driver updates complete, your new Roccat product will have its own tab in the SWARM driver. All devices have a “pinned” tab, where you can customize which options appear on a single screen – I rarely use this feature (as I generally set preferences once and rarely touch it after), but I am very glad it exists. The first settings tab we’ll look at for the Vulcan 120 AIMO is the General Features tab. Here, the options for Character Repeat rate/delays and software sound feedback can be configured – or, a factory reset option can return your Vulcan to its original state.

The Key Assignment tab contains a pretty powerful macro editor, and allows for programmable customization of nearly every key on the Vulcan (other than the Function and Scroll Lock keys). A surprisingly plentiful set of preset macros can be found with the SWARM driver, containing common controls for a large number of popular games for easy configuration and assignment.

It isn’t completely obvious at first glance how to assign new functions to keys (especially if you miss the “Drag & Drop” subtitle on this tab), but it’s as simple as dragging a function on to whatever key you like. Alternatively, click on/select the key you want to program, and its existing configuration pops up for easy modification. Generally, the macros can only be assigned to the “Easy Shift[+]” Function category, but that can very per key. Once a key has been assigned a custom function, a small blue indicator will appear next to the macro in use making it easy to glance through and see which keys have been modified.

The Key Illumination tab contains all of the fancy lighting effects one would expect in a flagship RGB keyboard. It doesn’t have quite the customizability of Logitech’s Custom Effect Editor, but the Custom Mode allows for transitions and per-key custom illumination for easy creation of custom themes.

The full list of options are shown above. Again, there aren’t quite as many effects as some competing products, but it’s pretty apparent Roccat intends for the AIMO intelligent lighting option to take center stage. They may be on to something, for after playing around with the various effects I kept returning to this option myself. It’s – well, it’s mesmerizing, beautiful, and soothing enough that it isn’t distracting. It’s the first keyboard I haven’t just set a static color theme on, if that says anything.

View post on imgur.com

The other effects are quite interesting as well and consist of more than just the usual rainbow waves. The Breathing 2.0 pattern featured above was well done, and syncs pretty nicely with the Breathing 2.0 mode on the Kone AIMO mouse.

View post on imgur.com

Many keyboards have a “Ripple” / reactive mode, and the Vulcan 120 AIMO is no different. The Ripple FX mode was responsive with smooth animations.

View post on imgur.com

Of course, the AIMO effect is justifiably the star of the show. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, but it’s quite impressive on a keyboard. The Vulcan 120 AIMO is what sold me on this particular feature unique to Roccat. This “Intelligent Lighting System” didn’t make as much sense on the Kahn AIMO or Kone AIMO, but I’ve seen the light now, so to speak…if it was better at picking the color palette from the action on-screen, it would absolutely be a killer feature you’d hear me raving about to anyone that would listen. As it is, it’s certainly worth checking out in person if you get a chance. It’s impressive, but Roccat – if you’re listening – please find a way to incorporate the action on screen…that would be something to see indeed!


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