In an already overcrowded mechanical keyboard market, companies left right and centre are producing and manufacturing options, some with robust and tried/tested switch types and others breaking the mould and creating their own. Although the keyboard up for review today isn’t new to the market, we are taking a look at it regardless… I am of course talking about the Tesoro Gram Spectrum RGB mechanical keyboard.
Let’s take a look at the official specifications of the Gram Spectrum and see what all the fuss is about…
|Switch Type||Mechanical(AGILE Slim switch)|
|Report Rate||32bit – 1000 Hz|
|Programmable Keys||Full keys|
|Keystroke Lifecycle||50 Million|
|Backlit Setup||Per Key|
|Lighting Effects||Yes, Versatile, 8 preset lighting modes|
|Anti-Ghosting||6-Key / N-Key rollover|
|Instant Macro Record||Yes|
|Instant Lighting Record||No|
|Windows Key Disable||Yes|
|Double Injection Keys||Available with 104 key layout|
|Onboard Audio Jacks||No|
|Onboard USB Hub||No|
|Cable Length||1.8m detachable braided cable|
|Dimensions||445 x 136 x 24.5 mm|
|Weight (w/ cable)||1.12 kg|
Now this particular keyboard has a kicker, it’s been designed low profile which means a couple of things. First of all, the travel distance that the switch takes from key press to registering is lower which makes the switches quicker, but the action has been shortened by 0.5mm; the keys themselves are also shorter coming in at 6.2mm. The Gram Spectrum has a stylish and flat look which fits in with the design. It should be noted that the Tesoro Gram Spectrum is available in black and white options, I personally love the look of the white version and specifically wanted to review this particular keyboard… who wouldn’t want to right?
Here we can see the low profile nature with a side on shot; the keys as I have said are notably shorter than standard mechanical keys…
Like most keyboards on the market, the Gram Spectrum utilises function keys (marked FN). With these, it opens up more keys, but without physically having separate keys… basically smashing more than one function for a singular key. From F1-F5 and while holding down the FN key, you can select up to 5 different pre-set profiles. With these profiles you can select different colour layouts and access your created macros on the fly, without having to reload the software.
To the right from F6 to F12, we have a gaming lockdown key which disables the Windows key, but also included across the row are media keys for volume, skipping tracks, play, pause and so forth. What keyboard would be worth its salt without media keys right?
Due to the low profile nature of the Gram Spectrum, Tesoro have opted to use custom Kaihl switches which Tesoro are referring to them as the ‘Tesoro Agile Switch’. These particular switches sport a clear casing which allows the RGB LEDs to shine through for more vibrant and stronger colour/lighting options.
On the rear, we have a sticker in the middle which contains information regarding the brand, the model number, the serial number and other relevant information.
Tesoro have added kickstands which not only feel robust, but allow you to achieve better positioning to avoid ailments such as carpal tunnel etc.; a wrist wrest would of course be better suited to preventing this. Each corner of the keyboard has a rubber grip to stop it from slipping and sliding across whatever surface you intend to place it on.
Software & RGB Lighting
To use the RGB functionality of the Tesoro Gram Spectrum, you need the software which can be downloaded for free at the Tesoro website. The software itself features a very user friendly GUI and looks pretty straightforward to use.
Along the top bar, you can select PC (it’s obvious what that is) or one of the 5 profiles and set them to your wildest desires; you can create loads of different styles, although you can only programme 5 different profiles onto the keyboard which is in no short thanks to the on board CPU Tesoro have armed the Gram Spectrum with.
At the bottom, there are multiple options which allow for things like the setting macros, illumination, key assignments and lighting effects. The different effects available on the Gram Spectrum include trigger, ripple, firework, radiation, breathing, rainbow wave and spectrum colours. Quite a wide variety of options available and finding one to satisfy your needs shouldn’t be a problem at all!
Changing the colours via the illumination setting is very easy to do and to help you along, there is pre-set options available, but you can indeed select which colour you want from the palette or dial the R/G/B colours in manually for that specific shade of whatever colour you want. The Gram Spectrum has the ability to select up to 16.8 million different colours/shades which makes this proper RGB in my humble opinion.
Below are some examples of the types of colours you can select and how vibrant colours can look especially with a white backdrop which is the keyboard itself. In my opinion, absolutely stunning…
Performance & Conclusion
What we have here isn’t the regular style mechanical keyboard, but more of a gaming focused slim option which not only combines the quality and feel of a mechanical keyboard, but reduces input time from each key press without sacrificing on any element of performance; Tesoro would have you believe it actually increases performance in this regard, but what do I think?
Having used the Gram Spectrum for a couple of weeks now like I do with all mechanical keyboards, I would have to say I’m pretty pleased with the performance overall. I really like what Tesoro have tried to do here and for gamers (which this keyboard is marketed towards), it’s fantastic. If you’re used to ‘bottoming’ out your key presses however, you’re going to be disappointed as I actually felt my fingers had to work harder than they would normally and after a long session, I could certainly notice more fatigue in my fingers. This was mainly the case in typing and as you might be surprised, typing up articles and reviews on a daily basis can be a little tiresome on the old fingers, comfort is an ever important factor. I can confirm the Gram Spectrum was indeed comfortable for my daily usage and aside from the relatively stiff switches with shorter actuation, I didn’t really notice any benefit from Tesoro’s Agile switch to regular Cherry MX switches. Overall however, I found the performance to be acceptable of a keyboard in the price range and I really appreciate what Tesoro have done with the Gram Spectrum, albeit nothing breakthrough or ground breaking in my opinion.
You want to know what I like best about this slim low profile mechanical keyboard… the fact there is an option for black AND white; I absolutely love how clean and crisp the white version looks and although unbiased, it sells it well for me. Aside from the colour availability however, I think Tesoro have done a great job with the implementation of the RGB backlighting as well as clear cased Kaihl custom switches. The Gram Spectrum sports a basic 104 key layout which is similar to ANSI, but isn’t exactly if you look at the official ANSI layout; this is mainly due to the bottom row of keys. Overall design wise, I really like this keyboard and although it took a while for me to get used to the US layout and lower actuation of the switches, it grew on me immensely over my time using it.
It should be noted that at the time of writing this review, Tesoro have an awesome offer on making the Gram Spectrum $119 from most major US retailers, including Amazon US which to me, is a pretty sweet deal. Outside of the offer however, it retails for $139.99 which to me, is a little steep given the use of the cheaper Kaihl switches. When you consider the keyboards in the same price range that the Gram Spectrum is competing with, you might be a little off put by what I just said above, but if you aren’t… then of course it doesn’t really matter what I say! If the full time price of this keyboard was $118.99 like it is currently on offer, it would be a solid 4.5/5 for value as it is a great keyboard in my opinion, but I have to review it fairly based on the overall package for the long term.
When I first received the sample, I was blown away with how clean, simplistic the layout was and how crisp/clean it looked. After using it for a prolonged period of time, my opinion hasn’t really changed and although I’m used to a UK layout, once I got passed the custom ANSI US layout it really grew on me and my overall consensus on the Gram Spectrum is very positive. As I have said throughout the review, I appreciate what Tesoro have done with their rebranded custom low profile Agile switches, but I would still expect a mechanical keyboard utilising Kiahl switches to be lower in price overall, but if you aren’t put off by what I’m saying, it’s a fantastic looking keyboard and the RGB lighting over the white keyboard looks amazing in a dark room… absolutely mind blowingly good!
If you’re looking for one of the cleanest looking low profile mechanical keyboards on the market and RGB is a deciding factor, then the Gram Spectrum is worth every penny, but if you’re not too fussed about having slightly lower actuations for gaming and spend more time typing than gaming, you might want to look at other options in their range as my fingers did get a little more fatigued using it than normal.
For more information on the Gram Spectrum, check out the Tesoro website HERE.
Huge thanks to Tesoro for sending the Gram Spectrum in for review.
– Available in black or white models
– White version looks absolutely stunning with the RGB backlighting enabled
– Feels good to type on and is perfect for gaming
– Low profile design has been implemented very well
– Reasonable price
– Software is easy to use
– Pricing could be better as at $139.99, it has a lot of strong competition
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