Roccat Pyro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
The new sweet spot for price vs features?
The Roccat Pyro is launching boldly into a challenging space in the keyboard market. It’s priced directly against a plethora of other popular mechanical keyboards and also has the excellent legacy of Roccat’s products to uphold. Can it take on all that while also delivering a balance of price and performance as the new entry point into Roccat’s mechanical keyboard ecosystem?
Fortunately, yes, it more than delivers. This is an excellent keyboard option for those seeking an impressive and affordable take on keyboard fundamentals. I like it so much that it’s joining the Vulcan TKL Pro on my permanent gaming and work desk as one of my new favorite keyboards, and I think it’s an exceptional example of just what a sub-$100 mechanical gaming keyboard should be.
NOTE: Roccat kindly sent me an early production retail unit of this keyboard to review at my discretion alongside marketing assets and technical information. I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t paid to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
The Roccat Pyro sells for $99 (official site here), making it the most affordable mechanical keyboard option in Roccat’s current lineup. If you want to go cheaper but stay in their ecosystem, check out the beautiful Magma membrane keyboard I reviewed recently. The Pyro is a full size keyboard with a plastic and aluminum body, linear key switches made by TTC, and a detachable plastic wrist rest. The robust rubberized USB cable is permanently attached, which isn’t always the norm in this price range, but which doesn’t bother me since my keyboard sits in one spot on my desk most of the time.
Visually, the keyboard shares a new design language with the Magma. It has a plastic underbody with horizontal lines etched into it which are echoed across into the wrist rest. The top plate is a solid brushed aluminum piece, and it’s very sturdy. This plate doesn’t have quite the same eye-catching look as the transparent plastic plate on the Magma, but it does help the rigidity of the keyboard and improves the feel of both typing and gaming.
The keys here feel great, with a smooth travel action and a snappy response. This is my first time using TTC switches, after years of experience with every popular switch from the Cherry MX series to Roccat’s in-house models, but I’m impressed after my time with them so far. Travel-wise, these go a full 2mm before they actuate, which is a longer movement than you’ll often find in modern “gaming” switches, but in line with the actuation distance on the original linear Cherry keys. The Roccat Vulcan Pro keyboards I reviewed earlier this year have custom optical switches which actuate at 1.4mm and have a faster response and feel as a result, but the Pyro still feels excellent for both gaming and typing. The keys “thunk” firmly into the casing if you bottom them out, and are free of any wobble or unpleasant tinging noises. The larger keys are also stabilized very well. The spacebar in particular has a nice solid response to it that’s better than I’d expect from a keyboard at this price.
The keycaps are standard in both shape and profile with a soft matte coating that feels nice under my fingers. I’ve used this keyboard for a full week of gaming and work, and I haven’t noticed any shininess or other wear issues with the keys yet. I’ve had some cheap OEM mechanical boards I’ve used in the past show wear after a week, so the lack of any noticeable issues here is a good sign. If you step up to the Vulcan keyboards they feature Roccat’s thinner-profile custom key caps which help improve the response alongside their faster switches, but again the Pyro’s keys still feel very nice to use.
My favorite two bonus features on the Pyro come straight from Roccat’s more-expensive keyboard models. Firstly, it has full AIMO RGB per-key lighting. With the AIMO system turned on the keyboard will react dynamically to your activity, saving you from having to set up your own lighting profile. Still, you can use Roccat’s Swarm software to easily customize each key if you’d like to. On the upper right corner of the keyboard, the Pyro has the excellent Roccat Volume Knob. This knob is very similar to the one featured on the Vulcan models, and although the Pyro’s knob has a slightly softer feedback when twisted, it still feels wonderful and is my favorite way to adjust my headset volume. Dedicated media keys aren’t available on the Pyro, but F8-F12 fill in for those functions just fine when combined with the function toggle key.
Speaking of toggles, like their other boards the Pyro also features Roccat’s “Easy-Shift” system. By holding down the caps lock key while the Pyro is in Game Mode, you can toggle the keys in the gaming area on the fly to a new set of functions. This system has a lot of flexibility and customization options accessible through the Swarm software. It’s perfect for games that require a lot of hotkeys and controls. I also found it great for having a Steam screenshot shortcut mapped for my left hand, so I didn’t have to take my hand off the mouse or movement controls to hit F12.
There’s simply nothing wrong with this keyboard. It’s solidly built. It has a good set of features for the price, including nice lighting, a cool volume knob, and plenty of customization. And the feel of the keys is very good and satisfying in spite of the “traditional” longer travel distance that’s not currently in vogue in gaming keyboards. I’d be more than happy to use this as my main keyboard for years to come.
If you had asked me a few weeks ago what my favorite sub-$100 gaming keyboard was, I would have picked the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. Just like the Pyro, it has mechanical switches and a solid build. The HyperX model even has a fully aluminum case that’s much heavier than the Pyro’s plastic hybrid design.
However, the Alloy Origins Core comes up short on a few small details that the Pyro gets right. It doesn’t have the awesome Roccat volume knob. It doesn’t have an included wrist rest. It has a slightly more metallic noise overall. And its software can be cumbersome to the point where HyperX allows users to sidestep it in order to store profiles on the board locally.
In my review of the Alloy Origins Core, I said I was willing to give up the media controls in favor of the low price. Well, the Pyro is only ten dollars more, and it has my favorite little volume knob, a slightly better key feel, and far more robust software. It’s also a full size board, which I understand makes this not quite a one-to-one comparison, but in the battle of price/performance champions the Pyro just edges it out over the HyperX model.
If you need an excellent take on mechanical keyboard fundamentals, the Pyro is a wonderful choice priced exactly right.
The only thing that could make this keyboard better would be an optional set of PBT keycaps, and that would undoubtedly raise the price. As it is, this is a wonderful mechanical keyboard for $99. It has all the benefits you’d expect from going with a major gaming manufacturer, and the enhanced industrial design I expect from an experienced design team. You can find OEM mechanical keyboards online for less money with similar switches, but they won’t have the same high quality feel, robust software, or the excellent volume knob. Both the Pyro and the Magma prove that clever design has a place in lower-priced hardware.
The Roccat Pyro is an excellent choice for value-conscious gamers, and seems almost like it was secretly designed to respond perfectly to my small criticisms of the Alloy Origins Core. I’d love to see Roccat do more with this form factor in the future, and I think it’s the perfect complement to the more extravagant and industry-pushing design work on the Vulcan series. The Pyro has every feature you need in a mechanical gaming keyboard at a great price, and in an industry so obsessed with pushing forward, it’s awesome to see someone nail the fundamentals again in such a sleek and relatively affordable product.
Originally published at https://www.worldbolding.com on May 24, 2021.