Introduction - The Meka G1

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The Thermaltake eSports division is looking to deliver the best of the best, in terms of components, to the gaming market.  Today, we get o look at the best of the best from Thermaltake's keyboard line up, the Meka G1. Coming in at $106 + Shipping, with a standard 1 year warranty, the Meka G1 may seem a bit on the high side considering it doesn't offer macro keys or back-lighting like other gaming keyboards at this price point.  The reason for this, is Thermaltake's Meka line of keyboards (featuring the Meka & Meka G1 currently, as well as the unreleased Meka G-Unit) are mechanical keyboards which offer longer reliability, better feel, and more durable construction compared to normal membrane or scissor switch keyboards.

If you are unsure what a mechanical keyboard is, I would suggest looking at the incredibly helpful, Mechanical Keyboard Guide at Overclock.net.  Specifically, this keyboard used the Cherry brand, MX-Black switches. These are linear switches, rated at 50 million operations (much longer than standard membrane and scissor switch keyboards, rated between 5 & 10 million operations.) Cherry MX-Black switches can have many advantages over standard membrane keyboards, but that lifetime is partially what gives Thermaltake the "military grade" durrability they like to advertise. Without going to in depth, I again, suggest you look at that guide to make sure you're familiar with the switches and terminology I will be referencing in this review. 

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The Thermaltake Meka G1, just like the Meka, and unreleased G-Unit; uses Cherry MX-Black key switches.

Cherry MX Black Switch

For reference, this is a visual representation of the Cherry MX Black switch. The reason many companies use these switches in gaming oriented keyboards is 3 fold; Cherry MX Black Switches are stiff, so the force required is similar to most membrane boards and usually does not feel too light or too stiff for most users used to standard keyboards.

Alternatively, these key switches actually register half way through their travel (at the 2mm point, when you first see the silver cross point bar in the picture move.) This feature of Cherry MX Switches allows you to double tap a key faster than normal membrane boards, where you need to push the key down all the way to get it to register.

Finally, and this is big for Thermaltake and their "military grade" marketing, is that Cherry MX-Black switches are used in many industrial applications because of their rated life times of 50 million clicks per switch, which is 10 times greater than a standard membrane keyboard.

Unboxing the Meka G1

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

On the front of the box of the Meka G1, we are greeted with some marketing bullets. This keyboard apparently is tuned to run at 1000hz poling rate over USB. This does not really effect the speed at which a key registers, nor your gaming experience though. Continuing with that "Military Grade" marketing blurb, the keys on this keyboard (Cherry MX-Black variety) are rated at 50 million operations.
Thermaltake says that the 1000hz Polling Rate on USB will give you up to "8x Quicker Gaming Speed" though, it's far beyond the limits of the human hand(s) to type or press a key that fast.

We're also informed that this keyboard comes with an included wrist wrest, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 Audio Jacks for microphone and headphone connections.

All in all, that looks rather solid for a gaming keyboard.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Here on the back of the box, just like the Challenger, we see the same marketing blurbs repeated in just about every language you can think of.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Unlike the challengers packaging, this nice little overview is not flipped upside down. We also get a few more marketing blurbs about this keyboard in that it features multi-media keys.
Play/Pause, Stop, Next, Prev, Volume Up, Volume Down, & Mute are all present.

We also get to find out that this keyboard is both USB & PS/2 compatible. With 6 Key Rollover on USB and N Key Rollover on PS/2.
If you read the guide earlier, you'll note that N-Key rollover allows you to press as many keys as you want, at one time.
6 Key rollover, limits you to any 6 keys on the keyboard. If implemented correctly (like it is on this keyboard) you will not have any ghosting present (where a key you did not press pops up), nor will you have any blocking when pressing up to 6 keys.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Lifting that little bit up, we get to see the accessories of this keyboard. They are a bit sparse when you first open it up as the PS/2 Adapter & wrist wrest are still packaged inside with the keyboard.

Accessories wise, we have a product guide, eSports Catalog, and a Warranty Information booklet.

Thermaltake Meka G1 Overview

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Here we have the Meka G1 with the wrist wrest attached. On the top F1-F7 keys, you have the multimedia keys which are activated with the press of an Fn key, down in the lower left-hand side. This is optimal placement in my mind, as it eliminates a problem that some folks run into. Where they accidentally hit the Windows Key in the middle of a gaming session and either crash the game, or loose precious time.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Moving around to the back, you can see two flip-out feet. These raise the keyboard by an angle of 35 Degrees.
You'll also note the 4 rubber non-slip pads on the back of this keyboard.

The white circle that looks punched in, is the "Warranty Void" sticker that I voided to see the insides of this keyboard.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Move the keyboard onto it's side, we get a chance to look at the key profile. Besides the large Enter & + Keys on the num-pad section, the whole keyboard uses an ergonomically sloped profile with cylindrical keys. While this is very standard on many full sized keyboards, it's worth noting as some gamers prefer the flat profile of slim keyboards.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

A quick spin around the back gives us a look at the USB and Audio ports on this keyboard. While neither are "gold plated," it does not mean a lack of quality. Gold plating is just a marketing tool and nothing more.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What I love to see, and what I hate to see, all in one picture. The Thermaltake Meka G1 offers the ability to use PS/2 which comes with many advantages over USB. There's almost no latency between a key press and when it registers in the system. As well as offering NKRO, it is my preferred method of connecting a keyboard.
When I saw Thermaltake including the USB to PS/2 adapter I was overjoyed.

Unfortunately, This is the one blemish on a fairly spotless keyboard. Thermaltake opted to just go to the bin and get a standard purple PS/2 adapter. Personally, I  would have loved to see them choose a black one, even if I do not see this adapter besides when I disconnect my cables to clean the case.



Meka G1 Overview (Cont.)

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Remember when I said that gold plating a connector was just a marketing gimmick? Well, Thermaltake apparently chose to use these gold plated connectors on the main cables, but not actually include it in the marketing.
An odd choice, but it's no skin off my back.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

While it's very hard to tell, these keys use pad printing. Fortunately, the printing done on this keyboard is just about flawless, the pads used to print the letters on look so flawless on the keycap that it's incredibly hard to tell that the keys are printed in this way. A careful eye + magnification glass were needed to see the outlines of the letters themselves.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Opening up the keyboard and taking off the keycaps shows the cherry branded MX-Black switches. These are called MX-Blacks as the key stem (the little + sign, looking part) is colored black. Other Cherry MX switches are named in the same fashion.

The circular notches in the key-switch housings is for adding an LED to the key for back-lighting. Which is one of the reasons that Cherry MX Switches are so valued for "gaming" keyboards. Each key gets it's own LED, which adds to durability and gives the back-lighting a better look.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

My first clue as to the OEM of this keyboard, is the trademark Costar stabilizers used for the longer keys. Many users of mechanical keyboards feel that these are the best stabilizers, as they give you a more even feel across the key press, even though, only one switch is present.

Personally, the difference between different stabilizers is very small, at best. I will say that these stabilizers are much harder to use when you want to take off the longer switches like Enter, Shift, & Spacebar. Most users do not do that, so it's not really a concern.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Flipping it all over, here you have the keyboard PCB. Well routed, soldering is excellent on all the switches, and those 3 big holes you see are where the screws go through to hold the two piece casing together.

Key Rollover, USB, & Audio tests

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Typical of the standard Costar CST-104 keyboard model, you have a daughterboard which features a micro-controller which reads, analyzes, and sends key signals to the computer. The other, smaller, IC on the daughter board is for the USB ports  with a few small filtering caps for the Audio Passthrough ports.

Thermaltake Meka G1 Key Rollover Test

Here I'm going to use a simple program known as Aqua's Key Test to determine the key-rollover on this board. Thermaltake claims this board has N Key Rollover (NKRO) over PS/2 and 6 Key Rollover (6KRO) over USB. With the OEM design in mind, this is most likely the case, but I like to test these claims just to be safe.

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

With the simplest test first, it's obvious this keyboard does not feature any funny business. Often, "Gaming Optimized" key rollover will fail and either cause blocking or ghosting when you try to press keys in a line like what's present here.

I've also tried many common key combinations including:
These are all common combinations I use while gaming. I can safely say that with the combinations tried, this keyboard definitely features N Key Rollover. If you had a keen eye, on the pictures of the switches, you could see Diodes in place, which also denote (on Cherry MX switches) that N Key Rollover is present.

Thermaltake Meka G1 Audio Tests

For my audio tests today, I decided to see how this keyboard would sound directly connected to a sound card, or connected through a speaker setup. For these, I used my Corsair SP2200 speakers & Corsair HS1A headset.

Surprisingly enough, there was very little excess noise present in the line. Thermaltake had placed a ferrite bead over all of the wires coming into the keyboard, which filters out most excess noise which would come from electromagnetic interference.

With that said, cranking the HS1A up, I was easily able to identify a small portion of background noise present. Which was also noticeable if no connection was present.

This background noise was so minute though, I cannot blame Thermaltake for it, or really knock off any points for it. 

Thermaltake Meka G1 USB Hub Tests

For testing the built in USB ports, I decided to go back to my trusty Patriot Rage Xporter XT 32GB Flash Drive, as it's easily able to saturate the USB 2.0 bus at 25MB/s.

Both small file, and large file transfers were almost identical using the same files to transfer data from my hard drive to my flash drive.

I've seen a number of times where the USB hub is labeled as a 2.0 hub, but actually performs on par with a USB 1.1 HUB (around 12MB/s.)

When all is said and done, I'm fairly impressed with what this keyboard offers, as all the features are present and really none of it is marketing hype.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


After my last experience with Thermaltake and their eSports keyboard known as the Challenger, I felt it was quiet the challenge to use if you were anything but a WASD gamer. This time around, the Meka G1 has proven it's a keyboard to be reckoned with. Heavy duty mechanical key switches, casing, solid steel mounting plate, and unified cable have shown that the Meka was designed to take the market in sheer durability alone.

I was genuinely surprised when I saw this keyboard online for $100.49 + Shipping, while still sporting an array of features, including the heavy duty construction, USB 2.0 Hub, audio pass through ports (with some filtering) and multimedia keys. I won't lie when I say my last review left a bad taste in my mouth, but this time around, the Meka G1 completely cleansed the palate and left me feeling refreshed.

Audio on this board was a strong consideration to make it a top of the line option in the gaming market, as very little background noise is left in there, without using an external filter, amp, or DAC to manage the sound. Rightfully so, the USB ports also run at 1000hz and a full USB 2.0 speed, meaning that if your headset and/or mouse is connected to this keyboard, you'll experience no slow downs.

Build quality on this board, and it's "military grade" marketing were well matched. The thick heavy duty cable may bother some, as it's slightly harder to route behind your desk than a power cable for your monitor or PSU, but at the same time, it's built so well and does have a purpose, that I cannot argue with the implementation chosen by Thermaltake. More so, Thermaltake definitely chose a proven and reliable OEM to build their keyboard. Even it if it is based on the standard Costar CST-104 design, it is an exceptional choice.

The Meka G1 is definitely a fantastic product from Thermaltake, and being a bit of a keyboard enthusiast myself; I would highly recommend this keyboard to anyone looking to bust into the mechanical scene who would like a gaming oriented keyboard.

Legit Bottom Line: With top of the line construction, gaming oriented features, and an overall brilliant design; I can say that Thermaltake has a great product on their hand.


Legit Reviews Value Award

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard