Review: Zowie Up Their Game With Celeritas II Keyboard
7.5Overall Score
Design7
Performance8.5
Value7

BenQ’s pro-grade eSports brand Zowie has been steadily accruing both product and reputation over the last few years. Their XL2540 offered up some really interesting innovations and performance gains in lieu of cutting edge picture quality. Their EC1 mice delivered a similarly-strong blend of practical ergonomics and extensive customization.

Now, the Celeritas II eSports keyboard promises to round out the range with a product that reflects the same sensibilities. Regardless, it does manage stand out from the rest of the gaming keyboard pack. Sure, at first glance, it does hold some aesthetic similarities with the kinds of products available through existing gaming brands. However, the big difference is that BenQ have opted go with an optical solution rather than a purely mechanical one.

It’s a stark contrast to both the original Celeritas (launched back in 2012) as well as Zowie’s current crop of competition. Fortunately, this decision ends up a calculated gamble that pays off. Without going too deep into the intricacies of how optical key-switches differ from physical ones, it feels fair to say the Celeritas II doesn’t suffer from their absence. In fact, the keyboard makes as a strong case for why they might actually be the better option for those who want to take their gaming more seriously.

After all, there are a lot of strengths offered up by expensive mechanical keyboards but also plenty of drawbacks. In light of those shortcomings, the Celeritas II makes for a compelling alternative. Where the inner workings of mechanical keyboards are subject to wear and tear, optical keyboards are able to hold up for much longer as a result of their streamlined pressure mechanism.

What’s more, the Celeritas II offers a pretty comparable – if not superior – level of speed (assuming you’re nimble enough to make use of it). Flaretech Linear switches used in the Celeritas II are almost 166x faster than the Cherry MX switches you’ll find in a lot of its rivals. This works out to a 0.3ms gap between you pressing a key and the switch reverting its rest state. You can even use Zowie’s RTR tech (a holdover from the original Celeritas) which allows you to push the repeat-response speed of a keystroke even higher – bumping it up 2, 4 or even 8-fold.

Like the other Zowie products, setup is quick and easy. It’s a plug and play affair that requires no drivers. The keys have a good size to them and, true to BenQ’s claims, deliver a really satisfying and responsive level of feedback. The technical wizardry behind this involves a high quality iron spring that allows each keystroke to be executed with a pretty consistent amount of force.

Unfortunately, the one and only aspect I felt a little let-down with was the design of the Celeritas. While it’s got a nice matte finish and weighty build quality to it, the Celeritas II plays things pretty safe when it comes to looks. The Celeritas features red LED backlighting across the board, with a white/blue alternative for the caps and number-lock keys. This brightness of these backlights can be toggled using a preconfigured set of function keys but you can’t really mess with it beyond that. Not that this limitation is really the issue – it’s more a case of the Celeritas II looking too similar to its competition.

Conclusion

If you squint there’s not a huge gap between the black-and-neon color scheme here and what you find in other gaming or eSports brands. However, on a performance and durability level, it stands out from the crowd in a big way. I just wish the aesthetics of the product aspired a little harder to convey the same quality. Still, if you’re looking at a gaming keyboard. The Celeritas II is a great option.

The BenQ Celeritas II will be available through selected Australian retailers at an SRP of $189.

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