Mechanical keyboards have evolved. For many of us, the thought of a mechanical keyboard conjures memories of typing class in primary school, an entire room click-pecking at IBM mechanical keyboards, attempting to reach a typing speed of 30WPM. The Whirlwind FX Element reactive mechanical keyboard shatters these memories and offers an alternative reality of mechanical keyboarding.
There is a wide swath of gaming keyboards on the market, each offering something different. From multiple hot keys to programmable keys to slim designs, there is something for everyone. There are two Razer Deathstalkers keyboards on my desk, the low-profile perfect for typing these words. But for gaming, the Element offers something completely different: programmable reactive lighting.
The RGB-back-lit Element not only offers dynamic RGB color patterns found in many back-lit gaming keyboards, but it can be auto-synchronized with on-screen content. The colors change based on what is happening in whatever game you are playing and offers preset themes for games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Fortnite.
Running low on health? The keyboard will flash white to red, if you so choose. Once the keyboard is linked to your active GPU and monitor, whatever you are playing or watching or listening to can be reflected in the RGB LED lighting in the Element keyboard.
This is powered by Whirlwind’s Ex Engine which analyzes on-screen activity and adjusts the keyboard lighting based on whatever is playing on your screen. The engine modulates based on things like damage, healing, new environments and so on. And, you can program it to do whatever you want if you so please.
It’s difficult to describe what using this keyboard is like. With so many options (outside of programming the thing) for interactive color schemes and behaviors, it’s either anxiety inducing or the ultimate immersive keyboarding experience. Playing an old version of Roller Coaster Tycoon didn’t really provide the experience most gamers would get using this keyboard, but then, I’m not most gamers. I like a nice relaxing, smooth color transition while I’m building roller coasters of death.
Where this keyboard really performs is with games like Fortnite, like Destiny 2 and likely with Doom: Eternal (which I don’t own yet). Games where there is always something going on, games that have colorful, constantly changing environments. That’s where the Element shines, literally. Being able to then program your own color schemes and behaviors is an added bonus.
All the while, it’s still a mechanical keyboard and in that, a solidly constructed one. It’s made with brushed aircraft aluminum and the keys are Kailh mechanical switches that offer optimal performance and light distribution. They are easily removable and interchangeable (Element offers matte and gloss keys), which means easily cleaned (you crumb-dropping savage).
This was a tough one for me. I abhor mechanical keyboards when it comes to what I do most (type words) but enjoy lots of pretty colors moving in adherence with the action on screen. When used for gaming, the mechanical nature of the Element keyboard was easily forgotten due to the wholly immersive nature of the RGB light effects and reactions, but I switched back to the Deathstalker for writing about the Element. Both keyboards are now plugged into my PC. So, take away from that what you will.