Logitech G815 Review / Impressions

Logitech G815 Review / Impressions

I recently decided I wanted to upgrade my keyboard. I had two principle goals: the first was to find a production keyboard I could still buy. My former go to was the Logitech K740 (Logitech Illuminated Keyboard) which had been out of production for a very long time. The last time I tried to replace one I ended up buying about 3 keyboards off eBay before I suceeded in getting what I was actually after.

With that one now on the way out due to the key caps breaking off on frequently used keys like the backspace, and some suspected trouble with key registration it seemed like it was finally time to choose a new keyboard and adapt to it. The typing experience and it's ergonomics has become important to me, between age and profession, so it's a big decision.

Why a mechanical keyboard?

I've been curious to try a mechanical keyboard essentially due to hype, although there is some solid logic behind it. My K740s have failed due to the scissor-type plastic (nylon) mechanism failing, and once it goes there's nothing you can do. They also build up dust underneath the keys, but removing the key caps is not super-well supported - and I've lived with a very fiddly backspace for a while now, as well as some problems with key registration if I don't hit the larger keys (backspace, tab, enter) suitably dead-center.

To be clear: these are emergent problems - as new, the keyboards were solid but they failed in a predictable way.

So what I'm looking for by going with a mechanical keyboard is improved durability for key registration, and a nice typing experience. With the G815 I'm buying a gaming keyboard, but I'm buying it because I want good key registration for typing.


G815: First impressions - there's an ergonomics change

The K740 is a very thin keyboard, with a built in palm rest. It is 9.3mm thick - that is incredibly slender, and no mechanical keyboard is going to beat that. The G815/915 series is the thinnest mechanical keyboard on the market at 22mm thick, but that's still more then double. Up front: It's noticeable, my typing position was substantially changed.

The G815 doesn't come with a palm rest out of the box: people have said they don't think it needs it, I would disagree. The first thing I found myself doing was raising my arm rests to get my hands flat to the keyboard. It's what I'm doing while typing this review. I'll be buying a palm rest soon and updating this post when I do.

The G Keys

The bigger issue I found, which I did not see talked about before buying in the reviews and is probably universal to this type of gaming keyboard design is the addition of the G keys to the left hand side of the keyboard.

I did not realize this before I bought the keyboard because it's a habit I do without thinking about it, but I essentially use my left hand to find the top-left of the keyboard when typing with my pinky finger. On a regular keyboard, holding the top-left of the chassis like this works fine because it's pretty well lined up with escape and the top row of number keys.

The addition of the G keys however changes the ergonomics of this in a big way - my initial attempts at typing were frustrated and difficult because all my instincts about where the keys are were wrong: I'm so used to using that pinky to control where the top of the keyboard is that it was very difficult to adapt without it. If you are considering this keyboard, or any gaming style keyboard with extra left hand macro keys, you would be well advised to really check if this is something you're doing: it was a huge surprise to me, and the change in how I type is, as of writing (so about 45 minutes after unboxing it) still feeling rough. I'm expecting to adapt, but I'm also feeling a muscle strain in my left arm due to the new typing position so it's not an easy adaptation, and as noted above may involve more peripherals to get it comfortable.

I strongly encourage not underestimating this - this is a peripheral I use for 8 hours a day for my job. It's function and whether it causes muscle strain is vital.

The Key Action

Mechnical keyboards are all about the key action of th keyboard. I can't give any advice here: YouTube will show you people using it, how it sounds and tell you how it feels but it is something which needs to be experienced for yourself. I can say that despite my complaints about the additional G keys, and the fact it's not as thin as the K740, the "Linear" type key model fo the G815 feels great to type on when you're in the zone on it. The action is smooth, comfortable and feels solid - this is consistent with some other reviews which noted that the Linear key switches tended to feel the best after a little while of typing, and this I can believe.

Some very good advice when you get into reviewing keyboards and other "things you never think about" is that almost all of them can be criticized - perfect doesn't exist, and the criticisms always feel louder then the good points. The most I can add here is, if you can use one in person, then that's the best way to explore the space (this is an expensive keyboard, so just buying a whole lot of them - as I suspect gets most YouTubers into making YouTube videos about keyboards - is a danger).

Conclusions - we'll see

It's no fun getting a fairly expensive new thing and feeling "hmmm" about how well it works. The G keys might be the real problem here - that change in typing experience was a huge surprise to me, so if you find this review then that's my core take away: be wary of layout changes like that. There is a numpad-less variant of the G815 which can be had, but I like my media keys and numpad so that's why I bought the larger one. If you don't need or want a numpad, then I'd recommend that one at the present time - no G keys means no problems.

I'm hoping at the moment I'll adapt to the G keys: their potential utility is high (though you can't program them on Linux), but if I could buy a full-size variant without them tomorrow I'd do it and not bother with the adaptation.

But the keys feel great to use, so hence the conclusion: we'll see.

Conclusions Update (same day) - went back to the K740

This is probably a good gaming keyboard.

I say that because I'm sure the G keys are effective for gaming purposes. But for the way I type, which is not true touch typing, the presence of the G keys and the offset they introduce had two pronounced effects: (1) it was almost impossible for me to re-centre my typing of the keyboard when I moved my hands away without a pronounced and noticeable process of feeling out where the top-left edge of the keyboard is.

The problem of key-centering was replicable with my wife, who has much smaller hands, typing on the keyboard - she found the same subtle problem trying to line up, finding she inevitably ended up hitting the caps lock key when she did.

The second problem (2) was wrist strain: because the G keys are actual keys and live on the left hand side of the keyboard, my natural resting position for my left hand which is off to the side with my palm free introduced a great deal of strain to my left arm specifically. The pictures below of my hands sort of show the problem - on the top is my backup K740 and the bottom the G815:

K740 resting positionG815 resting position

This is with my hands trying to rest in a ready position on the keyboard: you can see the problem - I'm having to actively support the left hand to stop it from depressing the G keys. In my experience put a strain through the tendon running right up my arm and was quite painful after a short amount of use. It is possible a wrist rest would help fix this problem, but I'm not wild about the prospect since it's not an included feature of the keyboard unlike the K740, and I also do not experience this problem using other normal thickness keyboards - this seems to be an issue specifically with how I hold my hands to type and the existence of the extra macro row.

Wrapping Up

None of the reviews I read or watched for this keyboard before buying it mentioned this possible issue with the full-size keyboard and G keys, though I do recall that most reviewers favore using TKL (ten key-less) variants of the keyboard for endurance typing - which notably does not have the G keys.

Please keep in mind that if you're reading this, this is all based on quirks of typing which may be specific to just how I hold my hands - I am not a touch typist, just a decently fast one from long practice and most of my typing is done using two-fingers on each hand. You may have a fundamentally different experience with this keyboard then I do.

But, I have seen no reviews of gaming keyboards with these extra macro keys in this position which commented on the possible issues in use that they may introduce - it was a huge surprise when I opened this, and significantly impactful in a very direct way.