Introduction & Specification
Hey everyone, missed me? Holidays are great but now back to reality and another mechanical keyboard desiring my attention.
Speedlink have been around for quite a while, making peripherals for both gaming and office use. Generally aimed at the budget market, they do have some higher end kit available.
This brings me to the Speedlink Ultor Illuminated Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, a tenkeyless offering with backlighting and 64kb onboard memory for Profile/Macro programming.
- Professional gaming keyboard with mechanical keys
- Customisable LED keyboard illumination
- Freely configurable key/button functions
- Progressive Gaming Mode with 5 profiles, 6 macro keys, swappable WASD and arrow keys, remappable keys plus Windows key deactivation
- Red mechanical Kaihua Kailh switches, optimised for gaming
- Maximum gaming comfort thanks to extra-high raised keys for precise keystrokes
- Simple layout with compact, frameless design and aluminium body
- N-key rollover for extreme anti-ghosting Power
- Full macro editor integrated in the driver
- Internal memory (64kb) for importing/exporting profiles
- Auto-loading game profiles
- USB polling rate configurable up to 1,000Hz (ultrapolling)
- Selectable response-time down to 1 millisecond
- Rapid access to 12 practical additional functions
- Flexible USB cable with hard-wearing sheath (1.7m)
- Dimensions: 350 × 122 × 33 (W × D × H)
- Weight: 680g
Not a bad setup for a mechanical keyboard time to whip out the camera and get it to do some posing.
A Closer Look
Arriving in a suitable box, there is quite a lot of marketing on the front, spelling out the various features of the keyboard, along with an illustration of the keyboard itself showing a striking red top plate and some graphics giving it a gamer look.
The bottom of the packaging includes details in various languages with some extended for English and German, along with a panel dedicated to describing the Macro features and software available.
Unpacking the contents we have the Speedlink Ultor itself along with two booklets an info guide and a quick install guide.
Here we have the Speedlink Ultor keyboard, a very striking red textured metal top plate, a minimalist design with no excessive casing taking up any more room than it absolutely has to, I really like the small footprint. Another bonus having the keys raised off the main plate is cleaning, it’s easy to get a brush between them and of course less chance of getting dirt inside the casing. The keycaps are very lightly textured, which is actually enough to offer some grip, the legends are large and clear even without illumination and we also have a UK layout which is less common on TKL keyboards. The braided cable is fixed and not removable just off center between the F8 and F9 keys, the cable while not the thickest is well braided in red and black with a nice quality feel to it. The overall weight of the Speedlink Ultor keyboard is fairly light, so I imagine it would travel well.
Underneath the keyboard there are two flip out feet to raise the typing angle, both feet have rubber ends to stop the keyboard slipping around and the front edge has three rubber feet to help hold the keyboard in place. Other than that the whole thing is black plastic with a sticker detailing part number and serial etc.
Bringing up a side view we can see the switches and keycaps protruding from the top plate, there is quite a lot of height to the keys so I would likely recommend a wrist rest for those that don’t manage to hold their hands above the keyboard when typing.
Grabbing my keycap puller reveals the Kailh linear red switches used on the Speedlink Ultor keyboard. This is what I suppose you could call a classic design, the LED fits into the housing as a separate item unlike the latest switches that utilize transparent housing to allow more LED light to be spread around and under the keycaps. Kailh have come a very long way in the last few years from being a cheaper Cherry clone to receiving investments from some major manufacturers which has helped bring this switch incredibly close to a cherry in feel and operation.
As I prepare to hook the keyboard up to my PC here’s a quick snap of the end of the cable and the gold plated connector, there is also a ferrite ring near the end; although I am not entirely sure if these are of any benefit, it is nice to have one.
Well this is certainly different, the Speedlink Ultor keyboard lights up in two colours, for the most part we get blue LED’s but for WASD, arrows and the Print Screen/Gaming key there are white LED’s. A red, white and blue combination will limit the setups that would suit this keyboard and the lack of RGB needs to be considered. The old LED style switches causing the usual light bleed onto the top plate.
The software is only available on the website, there is no CD included in the package. After downloading and installing the software we are met with the main screen. Here we see the five available profiles which can be stored in the onboard 64kb memory, with each of the main keys assignable to a task. Software appearance and layout seems nice and straightforward without complicated menus.
Next up we have the macros area. Here the 6 macro keys which share the keys above the arrow keys, each can be assigned a macro, the macro manager opens up a separate smaller menu for recording and macro saving/loading.
Finally we have the advanced menu page, there are some great options on here, the USB polling rate is something I rarely play around with but I like to set it high anyway, there are four options right up to 1000Hz which should be plenty for anyone. The windows key can be turned off in this menu which causes the Print Screen key to also illuminate. Key response time is an interesting option, I couldn’t tell too much of a difference playing around with that however this may be a nice tuning option for more professional MOBA players. Finally Light Intensity changes the brightness of the LED’s. All in all a nice little software package to accompany the keyboard.
Performance & Testing
Despite it’s tiny footprint, the Speedlink Ultor keyboard feels well built, the keycaps have a wide slightly flatter feel, which gives more area for your fingers when typing, in short the keys feel bigger. Installation is easy and the software driver was located and installed without any hassle.
I have been using this keyboard for a while now and have found typing very accurate with nothing stopping me reaching my upper touch typing speeds. The keyboard is comfortable to use with a wrist rest and the Kailh red linear switches are fairly quiet, providing I don’t type too heavily. The switches feel extremely close to Cherry Reds in fact without prior knowledge it would take me a while to distinguish a difference, if at all. I am very impressed with the progress of 3rd party switch manufacturers as more quality competition means more development as we have seen in recent months with silent and rapid response switches appearing. Having a UK layout on a tenkeyless keyboard is also quite a novelty making it quite the ergonomic office solution should you be able to live without or with a separate numeric keypad.
It has to be said, this keyboard has performed flawlessly in all games I have tried, I have not suffered any lag or failed keypresses, what I input gets sent quickly to the PC. Comfort again is aided with a wrist rest, although if I am to be fair, this is the case for the majority of mechanical keyboards. CS:GO, Overwatch and Battlefield 1 all performed extremely well with the Speedlink Ultor keyboard and being back on a tenkeyless I find I have missed the ergonomic benefits of my arms being brought in especially in longer gaming sessions. The rubber feet keep the keyboard well grounded on the desk despite this not being the heaviest of keyboards, another bonus being that it’s a great option for taking to Lan parties.
Speedlink have taken aim at the dedicated gamer with this keyboard, offering features that might only benefit more advanced gamers, of course if you are on such a progression then this might just tick the right boxes.
The red linear Kailh switches provide an excellent option over the traditional Cherry switches, the springs feel even and the noise levels are acceptable. The Speedlink Ultor does not miss a beat while being used for just about any application, the configurable settings ensure further tweaking is available to some quite advanced levels, all with the ability to store five saved profiles in the keyboards’ onboard memory.
A tenkeyless keyboard is always going to be great at minimising desk space usage and the Speedlink Ultor goes even further ensuring a minimalist casing that almost brings the keyboard down to some 60% keyboard footprints along with supplying a TKL rarity that is a UK layout. The keyboard is mounted on a metal top plate which does give it a quality feel. The keycaps are of a very high quality with a slightly textured surface for anti-slip capabilities, the keycaps are also flatter at the top making them feel bigger. The keycap legends are clear and suit backlighting perfectly. The colour scheme is however not for everyone, in the market bracket that the Ultor is placed you can find RGB offerings at a similar price which lend themselves to pretty much any setup theme, here we have red, white and blue with no option for changing any colours without some serious modding.
This is the only area where I struggle to be most impressed. Priced at £70 and over at the time of writing, shopping around for this keyboard is a must. It is competing against some heavy players a couple of examples being the RGB enabled Tesoro Tizona with just about all the same features except a plastic construction. We also see the Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro M around the same price which includes Cherry switches, along with a more subdued colour scheme, so a price drop of £10-15 would help the Speedlink Ultor greatly. That said this is a quality keyboard that is a pleasure to use.
I find the Speedlink Ultor mechanical keyboard an absolute joy to use, I am a big fan of TKL designs mostly for the ergonomics but partly the portability. The colour scheme is an acquired taste and it does face some stiff competition, the supplied keycaps are great though which does set it apart from many offerings at this price point while they are no doubt ABS they are thick and well made. The keys sit quite high so a wrist rest is recommended. The software is easy to use and the features are just about everything you could need, just remember the competition also has most or all of these features. Choosing this keyboard is going to be down to personal taste, definitely do research on pricing because I have seen this at over £100 which was shocking, pay no more than £70 preferably less. I am delighted to award the Speedlink Ultor a performance award as this was as good as flawless and a Silver award as the design and value has some points that could be looked at.
- Excellent performance
- Great Keycaps
- Quality Build
- UK TKL Layout
- Good Software
- Colour Scheme Limited
- No RGB
- Pricing vs competition