Acer Predator Aethon 500

Expect to pay: $299 AUD

The Predator Aethon 500 is Acer’s top-tier gaming keyboard, and features Kailh Blue mechanical switches (not to be confused with Cherry Blue switches). Rated for 70 million clicks, these mechanical switches feature light actuation force, an audible click and tactile feedback (a ‘bump’) when triggered, making them ideal for both gamers and typists. It also features media controls and volume roller, RGB lighting, programmable macro keys and full n-key rollover (meaning all your commands will register). Also, thanks to the black anodised aluminium face-plate, it looks sleek and feels extremely solid and sturdy.

When it comes to RGB lighting, powerful LEDs and a reflective backing beneath the keys mean that the lighting effects are fully visible even under bright fluorescent-lighting. These come pre-programmed with enough modes to keep all but the most die-hard of gamers satisfied, including a rainbow wave/spiral, colour pulse, solid backlighting and ‘fireworks’ (an effect which sends a ripple of colour out from any key pressed). Best of all, these are built-in to the keyboard itself, meaning that no extra software is required. Of course, if you want to customise the lighting, you will need Predator’s software. Not only does this let you change the keyboard’s polling rate and sync the lighting up with your other Predator devices, it lets you control the lighting and set colour presets for individual keys and even specific games. Bear in mind, however, that you can’t custom make your own animations as you can, for example, with Corsair’s high end keyboards.

The Predator Aethon 500 also features a magnetic wrist-rest. A 5mm high black bar with the Predator logo on it, all you have to do is line it up and magnets pull it against the keyboard and hold it in place (provided you don’t lift the keyboard up, that is). While compared to other keyboard’s flowing wrist-rests the Aethon 500’s rest is a simple rectangle shape, it was surprisingly comfortable, and I appreciated the use of the magnets (no more worrying over breaking the small plastic tabs which attach most of these rests).

There are a few niggles, though. Small, yes, but at this price worth mentioning. Firstly, the shift functions are printed below the normal function on each key. For some people this will be totally irrelevant, for others (myself included) a major irritation. Secondly, the ‘windows’ key is only on the right-hand side of the keyboard instead of both, which can lead to a certain amount of fumbling and confusion for those used to using ‘windows + e’ to access the Windows Explorer. Finally the media keys and lighting button have an unpleasant, stiff feel which is quite jarring after using the the mechanical keys (it’s a small detail, but if you’re paying top dollar for a keyboard, the details matter).

While these niggles and price point mean that it’s not for everyone, the Predator Aethon 500 is a good looking, well handling keyboard, with good RGB lighting and a pleasingly sturdy feel. ■

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