Gamdias Hermes gaming keyboard review



If you are in the market for a new gaming keyboard then there are no shortage of products available from companies such as Razer, Steelseries, Roccat and TTeSports. Today we are seeing how new kid on the block Gamdias fares against the competition with their flagship keyboard, The Hermes.

With a market as filled with fads and quality products as gaming keyboards, what can Gamdias do to stand out amongst the competition? As with most purchases to consider, you have got to balance cost against features to understand if you are getting genuine value.

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At the time of writing, the Gamdias Hermes is selling for around the £105 mark. That puts it almost £40 higher than the Razer BlackwidowTournament Edition Mechanical keyboard. More importantly, it cost £30 more than the multi award winning CM Storm Quickfire – which also has high quality Cherry switches, backlit keys and programmable macros.

So what does Gamdias give you for your money?

For this you get a Cherry MX blue switch mechanical keyboard with 13 programmable macro keys and USB and audio pass-through. Which is pretty decent, but not exceptional.
Cable Length: 2.2m
Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
Onboard Memory: 512KB
Dimension (LxHxW): 474.85 x 310.83 x 39 mm (w/ Wrist Rest)
Switch Lifecycle: 50 Million
Graphical UI: Yes (GAMDIAS HERA)
Key Switch: Cherry MX mechanical switches
Additional Macro Keys: 13
Multimedia Keys: 6
Backlit: All Keys with 6 Levels Brightness
N-Key Rollover: Yes, N-Key / 6-Key option
OTF Macro Record: Yes (with HERA)
Windows Key Disable: Yes (Game Mode)
All-Keys Lock: Yes
Onboard Audio Jacks: Audio-Out / Mic-In Jacks
Onboard USB Port: One USB Pass-through Port
Interface: USB

The website and the packaging make the usual claims gaming gear tends to. Every keyboard manufacturer has to claim (with standard paraphrasing), ‘You will be better than other people at computer games by buying our stuff.’

But the Hermes does actually offer some interesting features that may well be able to deliver on that claim.

To quote the website again, here’s why Gamdias (or GAMDIAS, as they’d have it) think they are onto a winner:-
GAMDIAS Element increases clicking speed by 20% and reduces keyboard clanking noise
Fully mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches with 50 million click life cycle
32-bits ARM Cortex premium micro-processor offers superior computing performance
512KB on-board memory for keys and profile assignments
13 additional macro keys
Anti-ghosting with full N-key roll over
On-the-fly macro recording
Ergonomically designed wrist rest magnetically attaches to keyboard for gaming comfort
Wrist rest doubles as a protective cover when keyboard is not in use
Windows key lock during In-Game mode
Built-in USB pass through port with additional earphone and microphone jacks for quick peripheral access
Military grade braided cable with Gold-plated USB connector
Designed for right and left handed gamers.


The Hermes ships in an attractively designed box, the only downside being some potentially overtly SERIOUS GAMER artwork, together with some of the graphic design elements on the keyboard itself that might cause a few frowns of disapproval.



Once you are in, there’s not much by way of extras to sift through, short of a brief manual and some stickers. The extended wrist support is neat and could help prevent injuries. Long term.



The keyboard is big, solid and in low light – has the look and feel of a Decepticon. Whether that is a plus or a minus is personal taste.

The one thing that really stands out upon first glance of this keyboard is the macro keys below the spacebar, which at first seem to be positioned really badly.

The design has found a way to make this positioning work however, with the main keys at such an elevation that the macros are out of the way when it comes to regular typing, but right where you need them when your left hand’s on the WASD keys.



Another nice touch that’s worth mentioning is the location of the macro keys on the right side of the keyboard, positioned perfectly for any lefties or arrow-key enthusiasts that might be out there.

To the touch, the Hermes feels nice and substantial, with a decent quality finish and a substantial, solid feeling build.

We’re reminded of Stallone’s bike in the original Judge Dredd film.

The finish on the underside is a nice touch, but the runes slapped underneath the numlock and capslock lights seem a bit unnecessary and only add to the overtly ‘serious gamer’ feel the keyboard exudes.


The backlighting is excellent, and the passthrough USB and audio ports are incredibly handy to anyone frequently LAN-ing or using their headphones away from the computer regularly.



There’s also a switch for disabling the Windows button, if you’re the type of hardcore gamer who’s hamfisted enough for that to be needed.

Typing on the board can take some getting used to, beyond adjusting for the row of macro keys on the left, (G5 and Ctrl are pretty good at pulling a switcheroo if you’re not used to these layouts).

But once you get going each keypress has the distinct, tactile click feeling you’d expect from cherry blue switches, but barely any of the cacophony you might expect. To top it off, each key has a cushioned effect, with a pretty long action distance. It’s certainly something to get used to, but it’s not an unpleasant device for typing on.

We can’t pass through the software/usage section without mentioning that this product suffers from the same ‘false positive’ with virus scanners when you install the device. To be honest, in 2014, this is unacceptable and something that Gamdias need to address quickly if they really want to achieve any market share at all.

The Gamdias Hermes includes some ‘intelligent’ augmentation, but they did cause this review a tangential voyage of opinion.

<rant>
Gaming peripherals are always sold with one clear message; ‘BUY THIS AND YOU’LL BE BETTER AT GAMES.’ Bit like putting on David Beckham’s football boots will suddenly enable you to ‘Bend it like a pro’. Not always true, but we all buy into it at some stage.

Nobody selling really wants to accept that familiarity is more a factor in getting the most out of a gaming device than shaving a few milliseconds off input latency – or making a keypress louder.

Some brands are looking into other ways to improve your gaming prowess however, companies like Logitech with the G15 keyboards LCD screen that displays extra info and carries mod support to track other important bit of in-game information.

The Hermes drivers break new ground by offering programmable audio and visual alert timers, so you can be playing Quake and hit an easily-reachable macro when you grab the quad damage – set to ding when it’s 10 seconds off respawning etc. It has the same deal for jungle camps in any MOBA, Larvae injects in Starcraft 2 or any other gameplay element that asks the player to keep an internal clock.

Providing an easily accessible aid like this is definitely something that’s going to improve a beginner’s performance in a game, but then so is an aimbot or map hacks. To say that this kind of feature is a ‘grey area’ is an understatement. Given that they’re virtually impossible for anti-cheat software to detect, your advantage is likely to go unnoticed. It’s not like having a timer is a game-breaking advantage, but it IS an advantage – which all of the Gamdias peripheral marketing claims you will receive.

We encourage you to disagree but, in this reviewer’s opinion, this group of macros and timers are a crutch (at best) and a cheat (at worst). It is less offensive, but still comparable to, any other mode of cheating in games.
</rant>

To get back on track, the implementation of the macro keys, and their ease of use and versatility is really something that sets it apart from the competition, and they’re implemented very well.

Once all set up, we ran the Hermes through a few test scenarios.

The keys felt smooth and quiet enough on the action to feel comfortable over a few maps of TF2, without the immersion-breaking clatter of keys that can come from mechanical switches.

Through games of Dota 2 and Starcraft they feel solid and tactile enough to handle frantic input in a reliable and satisfying fashion.

Throughout all of this review we have managed to get by with only the occasional mistype that you will get from any new keyboard. Not once did we stray onto the big, suspiciously placed macro keys – so all seems good on that front.

The Gamdias Hermes more than measures up with the competition when it comes to performance, with a great feel when typing as well as gaming, easily accessible onboard audio and USB access as well as the excellently positioned and implemented macro keys. Outside of the questionable approach to aesthetic design it’s hard to find fault with the Hermes, so we’ll just look to the competition to see how it measures up.

It’s more expensive than similarly spec-ed rivals from known brands like CM Storm. In terms of raw features, the Hermes comes up short if you compare it with a high-end Logitech offering, which has more in terms of sheer mass of macro keys and user scripting that allows for practically any implementation of the 18 individual keys.

It’s got RGB customisable backlighting, more accessible multimedia controls and that little LCD screen.

The Hermes has a few things that the the G510s lacks though, it’s got the lovely mechanical switches, a considerably smaller footprint so you’ll still have room left on your desk for a mousepad, the macro keys are in far more accessible places – and the audio pass-through is analogue rather than USB, giving a bit more flexibility to people with intricate audio setups.

Ultimately, gaming keyboards are a personal choice. I loved this one, but we tried it with another gamer in the KitGuru office who was not impressed with the position of the additional keys.

In either case, there’s always the chance that the macro keys could drive people up the wall if they do a lot of typing. It can be hard to get used to.

The fastest typist in the KitGuru Studio knew that he’d hit the function key instead of the ctrl key, when nothing was selected, cut or pasted. It isthat quirky.

You can’t argue with the build quality – and it really feels as though it can take a beating. Ultimately, the kicker here is the price tag. You can buy direct from Amazon for £105.68 inc vat.




Pros
Interesting location for the macro keys and, once installed, really good driver support for them.
Typing and gaming feels like a dream with the cushioned, sound-dampened cherry blue switches.
Accessible audio and USB ports on the keyboard itself make it great for LAN users.
Looks like a Decepticon.

Cons


Expensive price tag puts it into a difficult position in the market.
At the very least, it takes getting used to for typing – some people will never get the hang of it.
Virus alert when you install software shoes how new these guys are to the market – and this would put off a less experienced gamer.
Weird position of some keys can fool you into hitting the wrong thing at the wrong time.
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