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Thermaltake Challenger Pro Gaming Keyboard & Black Gaming Mouse review

The Challenger Pro Gaming keyboard sports a futuristic design, with straight lines and sharp edges. A large red logo of the company can be seen at the middle of the wrist rest and the keyboard is sprayed with a matte black paint, with the exception of the small glossy areas at the left and right sides of the keyboard where Thermaltake placed the macro keys. It is not a mechanical keyboard or any other “special” kind of keyboard; this model is using classic rubber dome keys, which are slightly curved for higher comfort.

A total of ten macro keys can be found equally split between the two sides of the keyboard. Up to 3 groups of commands can be programmed into the macro keys, bringing the maximum number of macro commands up to 30. The command group can be selected via the key found at the uppermost right corner of the numpad.

At the top of the keyboard, four LEDs indicate the status of the keyboard’s functions. Besides the three typical LEDs, which are the Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock indicators, there is a fourth group of smaller LEDs indicating the selected macro commands group.

Probably in an effort to make this keyboard a little more compact, Thermaltake squeezed the F keys together and placed them close to the main keyboard area. This can become problematic for people who are frequently using the F keys and/or games which require frequent use of one or several F keys. It is not rare that F5 (Editor’s hint: Quicksave) is one of the most frequently used keys during a game.

At the top left and right side of the keyboard there are two rubber stoppers. By removing either of them you can install the tiny cooling fan Thermaltake provides, which is supposedly designed to keep your hands cool. This is probably something inspired by someone who visits the bowling lanes a bit too often, where high-level players dry their hands before taking a shot. We hardly think that this will be of any use to any gamer, no matter how long the gaming hours may be. Furthermore, a very small physical blow would easily destroy this fan and given its position we do believe that it is nothing less than an accident waiting to happen.

At the back of the keyboard, one can find two USB 2.0 ports. These ports are not powered and each can supply up to 100mA to a device, meaning that high-power USB devices (such as 2.5” HDD drives) cannot be powered up by the keyboard. Bluetooth and RF dongles, as well as many other self-powered or low power devices can be used.

There is also a storage slot for the tiny cooling fan, to be installed when not used and during transportation.

The bottom of the keyboard is relatively simple, with two keyboard risers and rubber anti-skid pads. The lower end area of the keyboard has a red accent.

Even though this keyboard is equipped with a variable brightness backlight, even at its maximum setting the backlight is very soft and subtle. This is a good thing which playing a game inside a dark room since you would not want a strong light drawing your attention. The lighting looks slightly uneven, a counter effect of lighting up the area beneath the keys and not the keys themselves.

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