Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

[caption id="attachment_183342" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Overview[/caption] When it is time to replace a keyboard, everybody tends to have their favorite, and will find many excuses not to look at other models.  If a keyboard has lasted for a while, you are probably used to how it feels, and responds, so your first instinct is to go with one that you know.  Tesoro is a fairly new company that is building PC hardware, and so you might not be familiar with them; as such might overlook them for the more familiar manufacturers; I know that's what I did when I replaced my last gaming keyboard.  So when Tesoro offered their latest keyboard, the GRAM Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, I was excited to try it out. [caption id="attachment_183261" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Retail Packaging[/caption] The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is available in a several models.  The specific model that we have in for testing, is the black model, with Red Kailh AGILE switches, part number G11SFL, this particular model goes for $139.99 with free shipping; if you prefer the same keyboard is also available in white for slightly less $135.54 shipped.  In addition to the physical color, the Tesoro Gram's Kailh AGILE Mechanical Switches are available in blue providing a different tactile and noise response; there is a slight difference in pricing between the Red and Blue switches as the black keyboard with blue switches are available for $133.84 with free shipping. If you are unfamiliar with mechanical keyboards, there is some difference between Red and Blue switches.  First, let's consider the sound of a mechanical keyboard, one of the reasons people like mechanical keyboards is the "click clack" sound they make when typing; some like this.  Red switches are typically the quietest, but still give a satisfying audible response, while Blue switches are one of the loudest mechanical switches.  Next, we should take into account the amount of pressure needed to activate the switch.  Red typically requires the least amount of pressure to activate it, while Blue switches need a little extra pressure.  The difference in the pressure necessary to activate the switch leads us to the typical use case; Red is geared towards gamers who typically do a lot of repeated taps, while Blue is geared towards typists who need more accuracy.  This is just a quick overview of the Red and Blue switches, there are other switches that provide different responses.  Which one is best for you, you really have to try them out to find out. [caption id="attachment_183262" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Retail Packaging[/caption] While many will probably purchase the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard online, should you find it in a retail store the package provides enough information for you to know the capabilities of the keyboard.  For example, the GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard uses a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor to keep things running smooth, and 512KB of memory for macro's and color customization.   In addition, they tell you that the keyboard uses the Kailh AGILE mechanical switches, which have a lifespan of over 60 million keystrokes.  One of the leading features of the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum is that it uses low-profile keys which reduces the key travel distance to 3.5mm, which while isn't the shortest possible, but is still a very short travel distance.  The combination of low profile keys and red AGILE switches equates to not needing to press on the keys very hard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIA8Yf9DE1w Features and Specifications:
GRAM Spectrum
Color Black / White
Processor 32bit ARM Cortex Premium
Memory 512KB (4Mb) Onboard Memory
Switch Gaming Grade - Tesoro Agile Switch
Key Lifespan 60 million keystrokes
Material Plastic / Iron
Ultra-polling Rate 1000Hz
Connection USB
Key Rollover Full N-Key / 6 Key Rollover
Backlit 16.8M RGB Color
Lighting Effects Yes
Special Keys Keyboard Lock, Reset Hotkey, Instant Macro Recording, Instant Profile Switch
Multimedia Keys 6
Cable 1.8 meters, braided, detachable
Weight Keyboard: 1.06kg
Dimensions Keyboard: 445 x 136 x 24.5mm ( ?? x ?? x ?? in)
Warranty  1 Year
[caption id="attachment_183272" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Retail Package Contents[/caption] Almost everything you need to use the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum to it's fullest is included in the package.  The only thing that is missing is the software, which in today's world isn't a big deal and is probably for the best.  Requiring your to download the software helps to ensure you get the latest version, if you don't wish to use the software, the keyboard works out of the box with the default color settings built-in lighting options, and macro functions.

Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Closer Look

[caption id="attachment_183342" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Overview[/caption] For many years, one of my favorite keyboard was a mechanical Cherry MX keyboard that had an aluminum faceplate.  When it came time to replace it, sadly the replacement from the same company didn't include it on their current generation.  I was disappointed as I liked the metal faceplate, but got the replacement model anyways as I knew the company made quality products.  Something I wasn't aware of when I got the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum is that it has a metal faceplate!  This of course gives it some weight, and a much higher quality feel than I was expecting.  At first glance, it looks like a normal keyboard that isn't wasn't a lot of space with extra unnecessary space, all the keys are standard size, and everything is included as a standard keyboard.  There are extra keys but they utilize a Fn + key combination, which we will take a look at next. [caption id="attachment_183343" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Left Side[/caption] The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard uses a different style of lettering than I am used to, but gives it a unique look, which took a little getting used to; as a touch typer I don't usually look at the keys anyways.  Some keys have built-in extra function capabilities, on the left half of the keyboard, the F1 - F9 has a few added functions.  F1 - F5 selects the various profiles, while F6 locks out all keys.  F7 - F9 start the multimedia keys, controlling volume. [caption id="attachment_183344" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard Right Side[/caption] There are a number of keys on the right that have unique Function capabilities.  For example the arrow keys, in addition to the normal function the Up/Down keys control the LED brightness, while the Right/Left switch between the various lighting options.  Insert / Delete will switch between either 6-key or N-key rollover function; Home enables the instant macro recording capabilities (there are a few limitations on this though, which we will discuss later).  Pause switches between PC and Gaming mode.  F9 - F12 are the added multimedia keys. [caption id="attachment_183275" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Back Side[/caption] The back of the keyboard isn't too exciting, here we can see that there are four rubber feet, one in each corner, along with two riser feet. [caption id="attachment_183277" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Risers[/caption] There are also two risers that will elevate the keyboard around 0.5" from the desk.  These riser feet also have a rubber coating to make sure the keyboard isn't going to slide around when gaming.  Along the top edge of the keyboard (above the number pad) is the USB connector. [caption id="attachment_183273" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard USB Cable[/caption] The GRAM Spectrum uses a USB Mini-B to USB A cable to connect the keyboard to the computer.  This is a fully braided 6ft (1.8m) cable that uses gold plated connectors. [caption id="attachment_183278" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Low Profile Keys[/caption] On the left is a standard key, taken off a competing 2016 gaming keyboard, while the on the right is the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Low-Profile key.  As you can see, there is a big difference in height between the keys.  Of course, Tesoro isn't the only one that is implementing low-profile keys. [caption id="attachment_183276" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Red Kailh Switch[/caption] Removing the arrow keys, we can see that the keyboard is indeed using Red Kailh mechanical keys.   The switches are housed in a transparent case, which lets the LED shine through the entire cover.  These particular AGILE switches have a travel distance of 3.5mm, and an actuation distance of 1.5mm, and a lifespan of over 60 million keystrokes per key.  

Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Software

[caption id="attachment_183335" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software[/caption] Tesoro has designed their software to make configuring the individual profiles as easy as possible.  When opening the software you are presented with everything you need to set it up.  At the top it lists the pre-configured PC Mode profile, as well as the five user configurable profiles.  On the left, next to the keyboard there is a Profile Reset button which does exactly what it sounds like, it resets the specific profile to factory default.  Then Tesoro shows you how much of the built-in 512KB of memory is in use (currently it is at 0% as nothing has been programmed).  The blank key-cap will eventually show you what key you are customizing. [caption id="attachment_183336" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Macro[/caption] Selecting a key on the keyboard, you can begin to customize is.  First is the Macro Recording option, here you can setup a macro for the specified key under any of the five profiles.  When recording the macro, I found it to be very touchy, and had to make sure I typed slowly, as sometimes it wouldn't recognize I released a key before moving on to the next key, if this happens you can always reorganize the keystrokes, or if you miss a key, you can insert it.  After recording the macro, you can customize the speed the keystrokes, either individually, or selecting them all, the fastest possible is 25ms.  Macro creation is limited to 30 characters, and I found it to be a bit tricky to do.  For example, I wanted to setup a signature block for emails (Thanks, Steven Kean@LR), when I would activate the macro, it didn't like the t in my name and would skip it.  I tried this several times on different macros, and everytime it would do it.   If you create a macro, then delete it, the keyboard seems to keep the macro in place, unless you press "Default" or reset the entire profile.  Also, the macros are limited to single key macro entry, no Ctrl-1 type options. The other option to creating macros is to use the Instant Macro Recording function, which I found to be more accurate than using the software tool (the above missing letter appeared every time when using the Instant Macro Recording function), however there is no record of the macro within the software, so you have to memorize exactly what the macro is. [caption id="attachment_183339" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Sync Program[/caption] When you have set the keyboard up exactly as you want, you can have it automatically switch to that specific profile when any of 5 applications are launched by using the SYNC Program option.  Here you will find the .exe and when it is launched, the GRAM Spectrum RGB will switch to that specific profile automatically. [caption id="attachment_183337" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Illumination[/caption] The Illumintion option, allows you to select the overall backlit color, in the Lighting Effects option you can change individual key colors.  Within the Illumintion option you can use the standard Pantone color codes to select a specific color, use the built in colors of the rainbow or the color picker bar.  If you use the color picker bar to get a general idea of the color, then you can manipulate the color codes any further refinements. [caption id="attachment_183338" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Software Lighting Effects[/caption] In the Lighting Effects option, you have the choice of using seven pre-defined effects that effects the entire keyboard or use the Spectrum Color option to adjust the color on a per-key basis, here you have the option of three effects.
Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Lighting Effects
Standard All keys are lit
Trigger Single key lights when activated
Ripple Ripples to the Right and Left of key
Firework Lights up surrounding keys in selected color and white
Radiation Lights up surrounding keys and sends wave through other keys in that row to the right and left
Breathing Typical Breathing effect (fade in and out)
Rainbow Wave Lights up keyboard as a Rainbow, rolling from left to right
Spectrum Colors Lights up specific keys (by default shows typical gaming keys)
 

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

[caption id="attachment_183272" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Keyboard Retail Package Contents[/caption] The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB keyboard comes in Red and Blue Kailh AGILE switches, which if you are familiar with Cherry MX switches, then these should feel pretty similar. Which is better for you is a popular question, Blue is commonly desired by typists, while Red is desired more for gamers.  Once again, Blue switches are the loudest, and Red are the "quietest" of the mechanical switches.  Blue requires additional pressure to activate the switch, while Red requires less pressure.  Add in the low profile keys, and the pressure needing to activate the key is very minimal.  Whether Blue or Red switches are best, it really comes down to personal preference. The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB has some very interesting functions, with on-the-fly macro recording, and built-in per-key LED color options with up to 16.8 million color choices.  The built-in LED I found to be pretty bright on full brightness (there are four brightness levels), making the keys easy to see in the dark, and the colors vibrant.  Everything the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum does is designed with the user in mind.  The software is easy to use, as is the on-the-fly macro recording. Tesoro Gram Spectrum RGB Speaking of the software, there are a few little quirks I found.  First the issue of skipping letters when building macros, even if I re-organized the keys and verified the letters were within the macro it would skip letters, most commonly the T in my name for a signature block.  The on-the-fly macro recording option didn't have that issue, but the software didn't show those on-the-fly macro's so if I forgot about it, I could over-write it within the software.  There is a small missing function with the RGB capabilties, there are several built-in animated lighting options, but you can't program your own animated lighting function. Over the course of the review, I kept going back between three different mechanical gaming keyboards, a Corsair, Logitech and the Tesoro.  A Corsair mechanical keyboard has been my favorite for several years, and I have tried other keyboards throughout that time period, but always went back to the Corsair.  After typing on the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB, I have to say that I think it has become my favorite.  While all the mechanical keyboards are very responsive and comfortable to type on, the low profile keys and the metal face plate of the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum really sold it for me.  You can purchase the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard for  $139.99 with free shipping on Amazon, which places it near the higher priced end of the RGB Gaming Keyboards. LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line: The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a great keyboard for gamers and non-gamers.  It is extremely well built and the RGB lights are bright and vibrant.