Meka G-Unit Illuminated Overview

Thermaltake is constantly looking at the market and developing products that exceed expectations.  The Meka G-Unit mechanical keyboard line has been around for several years; however, that doesn’t stop Thermaltake from expanding the line and making refinements.  The G-Unit line has integrated dedicated macro keys, Cherry Black switches, N-key anti-ghosting capability, and media keys.  Thermaltake has added another keyboard to the line, the Meka G-Unit Illuminated edition.  As the name indicates, it is illuminated, so it has LED backlighting.

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The Thermaltake Meka G-Unit line currently consists of five different models, all of which are slightly different.  G-Unit Combat White, and the G-Unit Battle Edition do not have the backlighting, and have a different color scheme.  G-Unit, the basic edition, is different in that it does not have the backlighting.  Finally the G-Unit Red Switch does not have the backlighting either, however it uses Cherry Red switches, instead of the Cherry Black switches.  In addition, it has a little suggested retail price, from $129.99 to $149.99.  However, it can be found online at a lower price, around $113 shipped at Amazon.com.

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The front of the Meka G-Unit Illuminated box has a nice view of the keyboard with the included palm rest.  A few of the major features is called out, specifically the macro capabilities, backlighting, Instant Shift System, and the polling rate.

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The back of the box provides a little information on what the Meka G-Unit is capable of.  With a few of the features highlighted anybody should know what this keyboard can do.

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Opening the box a picture showing the software interface is shown, this is the interface that will be used to program and use the Meka G-Unit to its full potential.  On the left of the GUI is an envelope that contains the documentation.

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In the little Thermaltake envelope the documentation is included.  This includes a warranty policy, two Thermaltake Dragon stickers, a driver CD and a multi-language user manual.

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At the very bottom of the box is a nice bag to carry or store the Meka G-Unit.  It can carry the cables, keyboard, and palm rest (detached).

Thermaltake Meka G-Unit Illuminated Features and Specifications:

 

Closer Look

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Taking a quick look at the keyboard overall, it looks to be a pretty standard keyboard with a few extra keys.  The included detachable palm rest is a great feature for those that wish to use a palm rest, especially during those long gaming sessions.  A 1.8m braided cable is included along with a small carry pouch.

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The bottom of the keyboard doesn’t have anything too exciting.  At the top edge are two feet to raise the keyboard.  Between the feet there is the cable guide so the cable can come out the opposite direction if necessary.  Finally, in the middle is the product sticker with appropriate certifications, and serial number.

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The top edge is where we find the necessary I/O ports.  The USB mini-b is used for the keyboard cable. There are two standard USB 2.0 ports and then the headphone/microphone ports.  In addition there is a cable guide to help guide the cable to the bottom of the keyboard into the guides if desired.

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The left edge of the keyboard is where the built-in macro keys are found.  These are identified as T1 – T12.  Previously it was mentioned that the G-Unit Illuminated is capable of 60 macros across three profiles.  That leaves 8 keys unassigned for each profile.  In Gaming mode, you can select any key to be a macro to make up those 8 unassigned macro keys.  In the top left corner, there are four additional buttons, the first selects normal or game mode, while the other three are the previously mentioned three profiles.

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The right side of the keyboard looks nearly identical to most keyboards.  On the far top right, the multimedia buttons are found, while right above the number pad is the volume keys and lighting option key.  If you notice I said “nearly identical”, there is a significant difference, the \ and right shift share the space normally utilized for the right shift key.  This makes the right shift key about half the normal size and with the new location for the \ it takes some getting used to.

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Taking a couple of keys off, we can see the Cherry Black switches.  Directly above the switch is the red LED.

Configuration Software and Macros

Thermaltake includes the keyboard configuration software in the box, however you should check the Meka G-Unit site for the latest version.  The software is only necessary to use the macro keys, without the software, the keyboard will work as a standard keyboard with the LED button and multimedia buttons functioning.  For Windows 8 users, you would be best served to go out to Thermaltake and download the latest software.

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When the software has been initialized, it will appear in the system tray.  Opening the software, will present a view of the keyboard, and the configuration options.

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On the right side of the main menu is an option for Macro Key, here custom macro’s can be created.  This is very user friendly and should be easy for anybody to figure out.  Basically, click on “New”, provide a macro name, then click on “Record” and type what you want.  It will record the delays between each keystroke, however this can be modified by the Delay Time adjustments; either individually or globally. 

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By default, the LED’s on the keyboard will light up the entire keyboard.  There are five modes for the LED’s; Off, Low, Medium, High and Pulse (aka Breathe effect).  The software also allows the LED’s to be deactivated, the LED button on the keyboard will not reactivate them, they can only be reactivated in the software.

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With Thermaltakes “Selective Lighting”, the software allows you to change the LED pattern from being all keys to two different zones (or both zones at the same time).  These are popular key combinations with gamers, however it would be nice if we could manually select the keys we want to have lit up.  Maybe even allow us to adjust the LED intensity for each key.

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The Instant Shift Sys option allows the use of all the macros at one time without having to change profiles.  Once configured, pressing one of the three key options, a macro will use that profile’s macro rather than the currently enabled profile.

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At the bottom of the main screen there is an option for Key Assignment, this determines what the macro buttons will do.  T, allows the selection of a macro, in addition the repeat options are selected  here.  S, is for single key replacement (i.e. j can become a), D is the default (non-use) setting.  L, stands for Launch Program which is pretty self-explanatory and brings up the standard browser window.

Using the Meka G-Unit Illuminated and Conclusion

The Meka G-Unit Illuminated continues the Meka G-Unit line by adding backlighting as the biggest feature.  With the exception of the G-Unit Red Switch keyboard, all the keyboards in the G-Unit line are pretty much identical, utilizing the Cherry Black switches, which have the heaviest operating force (typically around 60g) requirement to be activated.

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All in all, the Thermaltake Meka G-Unit Illuminated is a great keyboard.  The only issue I have with it is the placement of the \ and the size of the right shift (most gamers probably won’t use these keys all that often).  This takes some getting used to, however after using the keyboard for a week, I have become comfortable with it.  Now when I go back to a “normal” keyboard, it’ll be confusing.

I did not find a maximum number of keystrokes, creating a macro for an address and phone number came to 68 characters with spaces, and punctuation.  Once it is created, you can change the order of keystrokes, or delete them, however there is no way to edit or replace keystrokes.  It would be nice if we could edit the macro after it’s been created.  In addition, I did find a small issue with the macro system.  It would omit the comma “ , “.  While creating the macro for my shipping address, I would place the comma after the city, and once executed, either it would omit the comma, stop the macro from finishing, or would add in a bunch of spaces.  A comma would never appear.  Thermaltake is aware of this, and is looking into it.

mekag_keyboard

A gaming keyboard is going to take some abuse during intensive battles; as such Thermaltake provides a 2 year warranty on their gaming keyboards.  Being priced around $113 shipped puts the price in line with other high quality mechanical keyboard.  Keeping in mind the large number of macros, media keys, N-key anti-ghosting capability, integrated I/O ports and the backlighting, the Meka G-Unit Illuminated is worth the price tag.

Legit Bottom Line:  The Meka G-Unit Illuminated is very responsive, however the placement of the \ and right shift size takes some getting used to.  The macro capability is top notch, and allows up to 20 macros per profile, utilizing the 12 “T” keys and 8 keys of your choice with virtually unlimited number of keystrokes.