|Professional Mechanical Keyboard Comparison|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices|
|Written by David Ramsey - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Sunday, 27 September 2009|
Page 10 of 11
OCZ Alchemy Elixir keyboard
Our last non-mechanical comparison keyboard is the OCZ Alchemy Elixir. This keyboard splits the difference between the Dell and the Enermax: a flat keyboard layout, but with full-travel keys. Like the Enermax Caesar, it has some pre-programmed macro keys for various Windows and Media Center functions, but it also has 5 blue user-programmable macro keys on either side of the keyboard, which you can set to emit a sequence of keystrokes or launch specific programs. Settings for the user-programmable keys can be assigned to a profile, and you can switch profiles on the fly.
The key layout is "standard 104 key" which two exception: there's no Windows key to the left of the space bar, presumably for gamers who hate to press this key accidentally, and the arrow and paging key arrangement has been compressed horizontally to make room for the function keys on either side. The result is a keyboard that's somewhat wider than most but not as wide as the Avant Stellar or Enermax Caesar keyboards.
Except for the dedicated Windows/media center function keys, which are hard plastic, the Alchemy Elixir's keys are coated with rubber. OCZ calls out this feature on the keyboard's packaging but does not explain why it's an advantage. I've never had a problem with my fingers slipping off the keys of other keyboards, but the feel of the rubber-coated keys is interesting. Unlike Enermax, OCZ makes no claim about the durability of their key legends, but they do include extra key caps for the ASWD keys, the arrow keys, the space bar, and one shift key. These extra keys are not mentioned in the documentation with the keyboard but are presumably intended as replacements for the original keys when the printing wears off.
One odd item emerged during my testing: when plugged into a Mac running Snow Leopard, the "User Event Agent" process, which mediates the control of USB devices, pegged one of the processor cores at 100% as long as the keyboard was plugged in. The keyboard still functioned perfectly, but this was a somewhat disturbing thing that I've never seen with any other keyboard.
As far as typing goes, this keyboard slots in neatly between the Dell and the Enermax: the flat layout means it's not as good to type on as the Dell, but it's much (much!) better to type on than the Enermax. The rubber domes provide some feel but not as much as the Dell. Where this keyboard wins is price: at $22.99 at Newegg, you pay a single dollar more than you would for the Dell for a total of 26 extra function keys, 10 of which are programmable. If you're willing to give up a little feel for a lot of extra functionality, this may be the keyboard for you.