The first thing we thought when we saw GIGABYTE’s latest keyboard was “Whoa! Ugly! My eyes!” That’s because we saw the horrific cholera-yellow model of the board that was sent to PC Authority, our sister magazine. Thankfully, GIGABYTE sent us the lovely matte black model to review, and it’s a much nicer colour (or lack thereof) for the eyes.
So if that was our first though, and our second thought was “Thank heavens”, our third was what a perfect keyboard this would be for owners of any of the Raven series of cases by Silverstone – the two products share a remarkable design similarity. The Raven’s obviously drawn a lot of inspiration from the B17 stealth bomber, and we suspect the design team behind the Aivia was similarly war-nerdy.
Thankfully, however, the Aivia doesn’t leak av-gas onto your desk.
What it does do, however, is take up a lot of desk real estate. It’s a full-size keyboard with a generous surrounding fascia and quite deep wrist rest – which you can remove if you’d rather a smaller footprint. If you’ve got the room for it, though, you’ll be quietly impressed the moment you plonk it down. Rubber feet hold the board very securely (there’s even rubber tips on the flip down feet beneath), and the wrist rest is surprisingly comfy – the Aivia has a real luxury feel to go with its luxury size, and this even extends to a cloth-braided USB cable, a switch to light up the keys with a soft red glow.
In other words, GIGABYTE’s pulled out all the stops to make a real gaming-grade keyboard – or, at the least, one that looks the part. There’s a even a touch sensitive strip along the top of the board that lets you swipe your finger up and down to change volume on your system. Finally, you can set the angle that the USB cable emerges from the keyboard thanks to a small cable run underneath.
In actual use, though, the Aivia is a very tiny let down.
As a gaming keyboard, GIGABYTE’s made loud noises about the board’s variable key weight – important keys, such as WASD – feature a heavier keypress weight of 70gms, while those keys you only want a light press of – such as the Shift Z and X keys – come in at only 50gms. All the other keys are set at a mid-range 60gm. It’s a good idea on paper, but in practice it merely made the WASD keys feel muddy and unresponsive. It also makes any kind of typing – and let’s face it, most of us do a lot of that – a little tricky, especially if you’re a touch typist.
The keys also have as slightly longer travel than our standard Razer Lycosa, which further adds to the feel of laggy performance. Another dark spot is in the Aivia’s built-in macro editor. It’s certainly powerful, if a little involved, but what really annoys is the GUI of the app – it’s full of metallic sheens, and little machine-like animations. Really, if we’re recording a macro we just want a useful interface; it’s a utility, not a game! Plus, for all the power of a fully-specced macro editor, unless you’re a serious raider in something like World of Warcraft, all that power’s a bit of a waste. You’d do just as well with the in-keyboard macro functionality of Microsoft’s X6 keyboard.
The Aivia’s bit of a mixed bag, ultimately. If you’re an MMO player, we’d suggest it’s a good option, but fans of twitchy shooters might feel let down by the key design. We’ve yet to get a locally confirmed price, too, but at $US59 we expect it to certainly be a good choice value-wise. Just know what you’re getting.