Roccat Vulcan Pro Optical RGB Gaming Keyboard Review
NOTE: Roccat graciously sent me a final retail version 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 sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
At even a quick first glance, the Roccat Vulcan Pro looks different from basically every other gaming keyboard on the market. Its metal backplate sits lower than average atop the plastic body, completely exposing the upper part of each Titan optical switch. Atop each key switch sits a svelte low-profile keycap that further exposes the switch and the RGB light underneath, making this one of the most vibrant keyboards I’ve ever used.
Fortunately, the keyboard backs up its brilliant aesthetic with solid performance and some handy control features.
The Roccat Vulcan Pro is a full size wired gaming keyboard that sells for $199 (official site here) and sometimes receives discounts to around $160. That puts it near the top end of pricing for current gaming models. It’s available with either linear or tactile Titan Optical Switches, a custom key switch designed in-house by Roccat and built upon the work of their original Titan mechanical switch. Like the “Titan Click” featured on their mice, these switches are optimized for durability and improve feedback for the player.
Roccat sent me the tactile version to review, and it’s the first tactile keyboard I’ve actually enjoyed using.
In the past, I’ve tried Cherry MX Brown switches, and they felt too muddy and soft to me. I have similar feelings about Logitech’s tactile switches. No such muddiness issues are present here. The tactile Titan Optical keys have such a firm tactile bump that I thought they were fully clicky switches on my very first use. They aren’t as loud as a traditional clicky switch, but have a similar satisfying level of response and feedback. The bump provides resistance right in line with the actuation point, so it should be easy to learn a light press with this keyboard, but even if you do bottom them out the small key caps have a quick travel right back to neutral. I found them equally enjoyable for typing and gaming in spite of usually preferring a linear or clicky switch for both tasks.
The impressive feedback of the tactile switches is great, but it’s not my favorite thing about the Vulcan Pro keyboard; that would be the aesthetics. Call me shallow, but this is a beautiful thing. The exposed switches all prominently feature the Roccat logo, and look totally awesome with the lighting system turned on. The housings are clear enough that you can look through and see the inner-workings of each key. It reminds me of the transparent tech trend of the nineties, in a good way. The tops of the key switches are slightly angled to perfectly line up with the angled profile of the keycaps, further enhancing the aesthetic and giving the board a striking side profile.
I don’t know that I’ll ever get tired of seeing waves of light on the keyboard respond to my mouse clicks or scrolling through web pages. I know that RGB isn’t for everyone, but Roccat makes it easy and fun thanks to a simple on/off toggle for their AIMO lighting system. You can fully customize the lighting as well if you want to, but I left it on the automatic AIMO mode during my entire review process. It provides pleasant waves of reactive light that are only further enhanced by the exposed design of the key caps.
Other than the gorgeous styling, my next favorite standout feature here is the small volume knob/pot in the upper right corner. This is a firm, satisfying knob, and you can use it to control either your volume or the lighting effects with a quick press of a handy button right next to it. It has a stepped rotation and feels like it came straight off of an audio mixing console. This is a wonderful feature to have…and I was delighted to also see it present on the TKL model of this keyboard, which I’ll be reviewing later this week.
As I mentioned above, both typing and gaming are quite comfy and responsive on the Vulcan Pro. This surpassed my initial expectations. I was worried that I wouldn’t adapt to the wider-than-average spacing of the keys and the small curved convex key caps, but I found the keyboard comfortable within about thirty minutes of use. The keys look like they’d be too unstable on their high perches, but since most of that depth is also present on other keyboards and just covered up by the backplate, it’s not at all an issue. The keys have a light, snappy response that feels really fast even if it’s not dramatically more responsive than other gaming models.
There’s a magnetically-attached wrist rest included in the box, but I didn’t use it until day three of my week-long review process…and I haven’t taken it off since. I left it in the packaging those first few days because it seemed like it wouldn’t be great thanks to its total lack of padding. Indeed, even Razer includes a nice padded rest with their cheaper Ornata series. However, the shape and contour of the Vulcan Pro wrist rest so perfectly matches the profile of the keyboard that it’s shockingly comfy to use, in spite of literally being a big slab of plastic. The magnetic attachment is strong and the board hasn’t budged on my desk in a week of typing and gaming.
Time to nitpick a few tiny things that in no way make this a bad keyboard. The USB cable is permanently attached in an era where removable cables are increasingly common. Roccat themselves employ a detachable USB-C cable on the TKL version of this keyboard. I get that you might not want to carry a full size keyboard to your friends house or a tournament, but even a couple of cheap OEM keyboards I’ve purchased in the past year now use removable cables.
The underside and edges of the keyboard body use some glossy plastic which doesn’t totally match the matte aesthetic of the rest of the Vulkan Pro…but fortunately you won’t be picking up your keyboard much to look at the underside. There isn’t any kind of cable routing channel for your headset or mouse wire in the bottom of the frame, but I guess that more people are using wireless peripherals so this isn’t a huge deal. In general, the build quality here is exceptional.
As far as the key caps go, Roccat went for a matte coated ABS instead of the increasingly-popular PBT. That means the key caps are more likely to see some shiny wear over time. It’s also not clear whether Roccat sells replacement key caps, and using third party caps might be tough with the angled shape of the switches. I imagine that Roccat might take care of you through their support department if you did have an issue during the warranty period, and I haven’t seen any sort of wear in a week of heavy use. A future revision with a PBT option would be awesome, but I suspect the use of the lighter ABS material here helps give this keyboard its responsive feel, so PBT might not have the same crisp action.
In spite of these tiny complaints, this is an excellent keyboard. The brilliant AIMO RGB lighting is class-leading thanks to the lowered backplate design. The switches are the best-feeling tactile switches that I’ve ever personally used. The wide key spacing and light caps are comfy to both type and game on. And the small, precise volume knob is so essential that it feels like every keyboard should have it.
If you own any other product in the Roccat ecosystem that already supports AIMO lighting, this is an easy recommendation. If you’re looking for a gaming model that has its own fresh look and design, and isn’t just another clone board that yet again features Cherry MX switches, this is also worth a look. The Vulcan Pro is proof that innovative design can still work in a keyboard, and I ended up loving everything original that it does in spite of my initial skepticisms. Highly recommended for RGB fans and those tired of every gaming keyboard looking and feeling the same.